This Pastitsio recipe will give you the most delicious Greek lasagna you’ve ever had, with beautiful layers of pasta, a classic cinnamon-infused meat sauce, and creamy bechamel for a comforting and wholesome dinner meal! This is the perfect recipe for a day ahead and is incredibly easy to whip together.
Pastitsio is one of the most delicious Greek dishes! This casserole dish is a Greek pasta bake featuring the tastiest meat sauce and a rich white sauce that work beautifully together.
Interestingly, the word Pastitsio means hodgepodge, and this dish is a true and delicious hodgepodge of everything we love about lasagna and pasta dishes! Have this Greek dish along with the tasty Greek donuts (Loukoumades) for a festive meal!
🥘 INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED
This dish requires simple ingredients that I’m sure you have stacked in your pantry already!
You can scroll down to the recipe card for further details and instructions.
Meat: We’ll use some lean ground beef in this recipe for the best results and perfect flavor.
Cinnamon and cloves: These two ingredients make Pastitsio’s meat sauce what it’s supposed to be.
Pasta: Ideally, you want to go for some bucatini pasta which looks just like regular spaghetti, but the hollow center soaks up the sauce! If that’s tricky to come across, then penne, spaghetti, or ziti will work fine and still give you the tastiest lasagna dish you’ve ever had!
Tomato paste: To get that rich flavor in our meat sauce, we’ll add some tomato paste. It’s not the same as tomato puree since tomato paste is much more concentrated.
🔪 HOW TO MAKE
Don’t let this dish's elegant and classic looks fool you into thinking it’s tricky to make! It’s one of the easiest recipes ever!
The full instructions are in the recipe card below, but let's look at the main steps to making this treat.
Let’s start by cooking our meat first and then the meat sauce. In a large pan or skillet, add the ground beef and cook it until the liquid evaporates and the meat turns light brown. Remove it meat and keep it covered to continue cooking it.
Now saute onions till they turn translucent, and add garlic and cinnamon stick to it. Then add in the browned meat as well as the spices. Let it cook for a minute, then add in your broth as well as tomato paste, water, and cloves. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Time to make our bechamel sauce! Melt butter with olive oil in a pan and then add flour. Cook until the flour turns golden. Pour in milk gradually while whisking, then add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and pepper. Then add the eggs and whisk them in along with some salt.
Let’s assemble everything! In a baking pan or casserole dish, place the pasta, add a whole egg, and mix them to spread evenly. Sprinkle feta, then spread the meat sauce. Top it off with the white bechamel sauce we made earlier, and add your favorite shredded cheese.
Bake your Pastitsio in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 30 minutes or until the top turns brown. Remove the pasta and let it rest for 45 minutes before cutting it for a clean slice.
Your delicious Pastitsio is ready to be served!
💭 COOKING TIPS
- Originally Pastitsio is made with bucatini pasta, but you can substitute that pasta with Ziti or penne. I have used thick spaghetti because all pasta tastes the same in flavor.
- The cheese usually used in this dish is kefalotyri cheese, but my family and I are not fond of its flavor. Hence I substituted it with Parmesan cheese.
- Do not use skim milk or low fat in this recipe it won’t taste as good.
- My chicken stock had salt. Therefore, I didn’t use much in the meat sauce.
📖 DELICIOUS VARIATIONS
This delicious recipe is perfect, but if you’re looking to customize it a bit, here are a few ideas to try:
Pasta: If you can’t find any bucatini pasta, don’t fret! Go with ziti, penne, or spaghetti, and you’ll still end up with an undeniably delicious dish.
Cheese: Traditionally, kefalotyri cheese is used in this dish. But if you can’t find it or don’t like the flavor, you can substitute it with your favorite cheese.
Meat: This is a meaty dish, but if instead of beef, you want to go for minced chicken or turkey, go for it!
💬 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Pastitsio is a delicious Greek lasagna dish made with different layers of pasta, hearty cinnamon, and clove-infused meat sauce, and it’s topped with some bechamel white sauce and cheese! It’s then baked to perfection.
As rewarding and delicious as this recipe is, it can take a little time to make from scratch. But the good news is that you can prepare pastitsio in advance by making all its different components. Assemble it as well a day prior and pop it in the fridge with some plastic wrap on top. Once it’s time to have it, pop it in the oven, and you’ll end up with the tastiest dish ever!
This is the perfect meal to have with some homemade breadsticks for a filling meal. And if you’re looking for the perfect dessert to go with it, you can’t go wrong with Loukoumades, which are Greek donuts that taste out of this world!
🍲 MORE PASTA RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
🌡️ STORING AND REHEATING
Fridge: You can store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can cover your casserole dish with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for three days.
Freezer: You can also freeze portions of Pastitsio by placing them in a freezer-safe container and popping them into the freezer. Store them for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Allow the dish to thaw in the fridge overnight, then warm it in the oven at 350F/180C before serving.
Pastitsio Greek Pasta
FOR THE MEAT SAUCE
- 500 grams ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 bay leave
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup hot chicken or beef broth
- 4 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 2 whole cloves
- ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- Salt to taste
FOR THE WHITE SAUCE
- 100 grams butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 ½ cup milk
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1 whole large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
FOR THE PASTA LAYER
- 300 grams cooked pasta (the weight before cooking)
- 120 grams feta cheese crumbled
- 1 large egg
MAKING THE MEAT SAUCE
- In a large pan, add the ground meat and cook until all the liquid evaporates, and the meat turns light brown. Remove the meat and keep it covered to continue cooking.
- In the previous pan, add the olive oil and onion, sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds then add the cinnamon stick and cook for a minute. Add in the browned meat and mix well on medium heat.
- To the meat add the bay leave, nutmeg, black pepper, and paprika. Mix well for a minute.
- Pour the chicken or beef stock, then add the tomato paste, water, and cloves. Stir for a minute on medium heat. Then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
MAKING THE WHITE SAUCE
- In a pan, add the butter and olive oil, when the butter melts add the flour and cook until the flour turns golden in color.
- Pour the milk gradually while whisking to prevent forming and lumps and have a smooth sauce.
- When the sauce is thick, add the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and black pepper. Mix well.
- Add the whole egg and the egg yolk to the sauce and whisk until well combined.
- Season with salt.
ASSEMBELING THE PASTITSIO
- In a 13 x 10-inch baking pan, place the pasta and add to it a whole egg. Mix the pasta with the eggs well and spread evenly.
- Sprinkle the feta cheese over the pasta.
- Spread the meat sauce evenly over the pasta and then spread the white sauce over the meat sauce evenly.
- You can sprinkle your favorite shredded cheese on top or bake it without.
- Bake the Pastitsio in a preheated oven of 350F/180C for 30 minutes or until the top is brown.
- Remove the pasta from the oven and let rest for 45 minutes before cutting it or the sauce will spread, and you won’t get a clean cut.
- Originally Pastitsio is made with bucatini pasta, but you can substitute that pasta with Ziti or penne.
- I have used thick spaghetti because when it comes to flavor all pasta tastes the same.
- The cheese usually used in this dish is kefalotyri cheese, but my family and I are not fond of its flavor, hence I substituted with Parmesan cheese.
- Do not use skim milk or low fat in this recipe it won’t taste as good.
- My chicken stock had salt therefore I didn’t use much in the meat sauce.