Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

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This recipe for traditional Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) was given to me by a Greek family who has had this recipe in their family recipe collection for a very long time.

Watch the video showing you how to make Pastitsio, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.

slice of pastitsio sitting on a white plate on a white napkin

Pastitsio is a favorite traditional Greek dinner recipe.  It’s a Greek version of lasagna- characterized by a white and creamy bechamel sauce used in place of marinara and a hint of cinnamon.  And I think you’ll find that this is one of the most delicious dinner recipes you’ve ever had!

overhead shot of making pastitsio in process looking at noodles and cheese in the casserole dish

How do you make Pastitsio?

It’s layered just like traditional Italian lasagna.  The layers are as follows:  noodles tossed in egg are topped with Greek cheese.

overhead shot of making pastitsio in process looking at the meat and cheese

A generous layer of meat sauce makes up the next layer.

overhead shot of making pastitsio in a casserole dish in process - noodles and cheese

Then, more noodles and cheese!

overhead shot of pastitsio in a casserole dish ready to go in the oven

On top is the final layer of the bechamel sauce and more cheese!

overhead shot of pastitsio in a casserole dish just out of the oven

It’s baked for 40 to 45 minutes, blending all of those layers together to create a fabulous meal.

overhead shot of pastitsio in a casserole dish using a spatula to take out a slice

The best tip I received about making Pastitsio is to make it early in the morning (or the night before), and then warm up individual slices when ready to eat.  You certainly don’t have to make it this way, just know that the pasta dish will be more “loose” and will not likely cut into neat squares as you see in the photos here.

overhead shot of pastitsio in a casserole dish with spatula taking a slice out

It will be tremendously delicious either way you decide to make it!

slice of pastitsio sitting on a white plate on a white napkin

I do love how the layers are clearly seen in the slices.  They’re a little mesmerizing.

My family LOVES, LOVES, LOVES this recipe.  The bechamel sauce is a welcome change over the usual marinara, the hint of cinnamon in the meat layer is an interesting addition, and the Greek cheese connecting all of the layers is delicious!  Authentic Greek recipes are the absolute best!

slice of pastitsio sitting on a white plate

If you enjoy Greek recipes, you might also like my Greek Spinach Pie or my Greek Butter Cookies.  You definitely have to try making Greek Tzatziki too!

Slice of Pastitsio on a white plate with a white napkin
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4.84 from 30 votes

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

This is truly a unique dinner recipe that is very different than traditional lasagna!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 707kcal
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Keyword greek, Lasagna, Pastitsio

Ingredients

BECHAMEL SAUCE:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk, warmed until hot
  • teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs

MAIN DISH:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • teaspoons salt
  • 12 to 16 ounces Kasseri or Kefalotiri cheese, grated (see notes below)

Instructions

PREPARE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce is lukewarm, whisk in the eggs. Set aside.

PREPARE THE MEAT LAYER:

  • Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute until softened and golden. Crumble the beef into the skillet and cook with the onions until the beef is browned. Stir in the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir in the water and tomato paste, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

PREPARE THE PASTA LAYER:

  • Cook ziti according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cool water. When pasta has cooled down, stir in the beaten eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

ASSEMBLE THE DISH:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a deep 9x13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. You really need a deep casserole dish for this recipe (deeper than the usual 9x13-inch pyrex).
  • Scoop half of the pasta into the bottom of your prepared dish. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Spoon on the meat mixture to create an even layer; sprinkle with another layer of cheese. Scoop the remaining pasta on top of the meat and sprinkle with more cheese! Top with the cream sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden on top. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving (but it is suggested that you refrigerate to let the layers set... and then warm up later to serve).

Video

Notes

  • *Whole Foods carries Kasseri cheese- or check a specialty cheese shop.  If you have trouble locating Greek cheeses, you can sub Parmesan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 233mg | Sodium: 1417mg | Potassium: 664mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 980IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 558mg | Iron: 4mg
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Comments

  • Judy wrote:

    Made this for the first time, so good! Used penne pasta, only 1 onion, added some nutmeg into the sauce, and used parmesan cheese. Reasonably seasoned meat beforehand (salt, pepper, garlic powder). Added about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper with the cinnamon when ground beef was browned. My non greek bf even loved it. Tastes like the pastistio I remember!

  • Lois Taylor wrote:

    Did I miss the pasta in the list of ingredients? What kind? How much?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      One pound of ziti pasta is listed in the ingredients 🙂

  • Susan wrote:

    Very VERY compelling video, I can’t stop looking at it! One question: It looks like it might be dry wtihout marinara. Would it do better for me to serve marinara on othe side, could I add some,, or does the (bechmel?) sauce moisten it enough?

  • Dawn Conklin wrote:

    Delicious and the whole family loved it 🙂 I did have to use parmesan cheese due to lack of finding Greek cheese locally. I have never had either of these Greek cheeses and would love to try it one day with them – when I can find them. I am not sure we have a Whole Foods close to us here, but maybe one day I will find it in another store.

  • Paula K. Pacente wrote:

    This is NOT authentic. I have a recipe from the 1970s. It calls for one clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/2 cup of white wine. Plus 2 pounds of ground lamb—not ground beef. I’m from the Chicagoland area, and have been cooking for 54 years. I also cooked professionally for 17 years. I know what I’m talking about, and I’m making this today.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Hi Paula, I’m sure your recipe is really good! This recipe was given to me by a Greek friend. The recipe came from her family, who still live in Greece. Perhaps there are different versions of Pastitsio.

  • john matheson wrote:

    I’m rating five stars cause it looks great. fresh fresh fresh. now my question would be how about a mixture of venison ground with sausage for the meat? about 50/50. I’m going to try this recipe sometime and I love this meat combination for other dishes I make like shepherds pie. we have a really great restaurant nearby in a town of about three thousand run by Greeks and the food there is amazing all hand done to the highest standards. A real gem of a place out here in the middle of nowhere and pastitsio is one of their offerings and I get it often.

  • Linda Straczynski wrote:

    I am Greek, and do lots of cooking and baking. Love to explore new recipes. Amazing, this recipe is exactly how we make this Pastichio, ala Yiayia’s old recipe, which through the years , I had to nail it down. After all, no Yiayias had recipes. Love your recipes..

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Glad to hear, thank you!

  • Tyler Larocca wrote:

    Second time making this. It’s now a family favorite!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Great!!

  • Lisa J Alexander wrote:

    I am Greek, and have always been afraid/too lazy to try this. I now have made it three times, and everyone tells me how wonderful it is. I took Nadia’s advice, and baked it for 45 minutes the day before, then took out of the fridge and brought to room temp. the next day, before baking it another 45 minutes. It comes out perfectly. Thanks so much for this post. Great instructions and photos.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Happy to hear!

  • Tyler Larocca wrote:

    Family loved it! It’s a bit labor intensive for one person even with my wife cleaning as we went. I used a lamb beef 50/50 mixture which was amazing. Next time I will drain the grease from the meat, add some oregano and pepper flake (We are Italian) but overall, great step by step. Well written recipe. I think I spent $20 (1/2 on lamb) and it’s enough to feed 5 twice!
    My own twist (based on your advice). I let cool for 15 mins, refrigerated for 30 Mins and reheated.it held together very nicely. Thanks!

  • Patricia Trampler wrote:

    This is the best pastitio I have ever tasted. My family is Greek and my Yiayia use to use handful of this and that.
    This is how the older generation use to cook. When I want to make a something Greek I look for a recipe and then
    I doctor it up to see if I can come up with something that tastes like family. So far so good at least I have the basic
    Recipe.

  • Nicky wrote:

    I followed the recipe and what a disappointment. It was so bland that even my family said there was no flavour.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Sorry you didn’t care for it!

  • Meg wrote:

    When you re-heat the slices after making the dish in the morning do you put them in the microwave or put them in the oven?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I think the microwave should be fine. Maybe sprinkle a few drops of water on the slice before microwaving.

  • Nette Smith wrote:

    Made this for dinner tonight. So delicious!! Thank you for sharing!! Also, I am obsessed with your baking dish. Do you mind sharing where you found it?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Glad you enjoyed! My Mother in Law got it for me as part of a set, and I think it was from QVC or something!

  • Betty wrote:

    I am Greek and Pastitsio is a staple from waaaayyy back in the day! This is an incredible recipe. Clear instructions and perfect finish! The only thing I found challenging was translating some of the measurements.For example, 1 pound of pasta, 2 pounds of meat, 1 quart of milk and the ounces in cheese. I had to do some sleuthing to figure it out. But WOW , when I followed it exactly, it was and is a HIT in our home. I’ve served it to crowds and my little one requests it regularly. Thank you for sharing!

  • Loreal Furfaro wrote:

    First time making this dish and I love this recipe tastes just like I remember it tasting when I was a kid. I am vegetarian tho so I used Gardein vegetarian beef crumbles and followed everything else the same and even my meat eating friends loved it. I did add some black pepper to my Bechemel sauce.

  • Yanna Vlachakis wrote:

    The white cheese in between your layers looks like a soft cheese like mozzarella. Kasseri and Kefalotiri are both hard cheeses. As is parmesan. So what dis you use here?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I used Kasseri in the photos.

  • Jennifer wrote:

    Can I freeze this?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I think that would probably be okay, but I haven’t tried it.

  • Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert wrote:

    YUM!!! I love this delicious version!!!

  • Charity wrote:

    Our local diner serves pastitsio and it’s so good! Excited to try making it at home!