Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

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If you love lasagna, chances are high that you will flip for this dish.

Besides being stunning in presentation, the flavor of this classic Greek dish is truly incredible. It’s similar to Italian lasagna, but, distinctly Greek. Some of the authentic ingredients can be difficult to get your hands on, but, there are plenty of suitable substitutions that make the dish easy to prepare.

A straight-on view of a perfectly square piece of Greek pastitsio on a white dinner plate.

How To Make Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)


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The Ingredients You Will Need

A few of the ingredients for authentic pastitsio can be hard to find, unless you live in Greece or have access to a Greek market. No worries, we give you substitutions that will still yield a delicious and very authentic-tasting pastitsio.

For the Meat Sauce
Ground beef – We recommend 85% lean. You’ll need to spoon off excess grease. You can go with a combination of beef, pork, and/or lamb, but, traditional pastitsio is 100% beef.
Onion – Chopped.
Carrot – Chopped. This is optional, but we love the addition of carrots to the sauce. Use your food processor to chop it.
Garlic – Minced.
Wine – Red or white. We prefer red.
Tomatoes – Crushed or purée.
Tomato paste – Go with a good quality paste.
Bouillon cubes – Beef is best.
Bay leaves – Fresh or dried is perfectly fine.
Seasonings – Cinnamon (stick and a pinch of ground), ground cloves, allspice, salt, and pepper. See NOTES.

For the Greek Bechamel
Butter – Unsalted.
Flour – All-purpose.
Milk – Whole, not reduced fat or skim, please.
Egg yolks – Save the whites for the pasta.
Nutmeg – Grated from a whole nutmeg, or a healthy pinch of ground.
Salt – Kosher.
Cheese – Preferably Greek Kefalotryi or Kefalograviera, but grated Parmesan or Romano works perfectly well, too.

For the Pasta
Water – For boiling, liberally salted.
Pasta – Preferably Greek Pastitsio No. 2, but Italian bucatini, or even penne pasta will work, too.
Cheese – Preferably Greek Kefalotryi, but grated Parmesan or Romano works perfectly well, too.
Egg whites – Saved from the bechamel.

EXPERT TIP: The best dish to use is one that is deeper than your standard 9×13″. The dish (or pan) should be 2½ to 3 inches deep. Arrange the pasta all in the same direction in the pan so you’ll achieve the visual appearance that you see in our photos. Remember to cook the meat until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.

A person transferring a pastitsio meat sauce onto Greek tubular pasta in a large white lasagna dish.

Don’t Allow the Meat Sauce to Be Saucy – Be sure to cook the meat sauce until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. It will be much thicker than the standard meat sauce for Italian-style lasagna.

Add the Milk Slowly – Make a smooth and creamy béchamel, add the milk slowly to the roux (butter and flour), and whisk constantly. It will be lumpy at first, keep whisking and then stirring to remove as many lumps as possible.

Layer the Pasta, Meat Sauce, and Bechamel Evenly – When assembling the pastitsio, ensure that the layers of pasta and meat filling are evenly distributed to create a balanced and satisfying dish.

Allow the Pastitsio to Rest Before Serving – Let the dish rest for 20 to 30 minutes after baking to allow the flavors to meld together and to ensure clean slices when serving. It stays warm for at leas an hour.

EXPERT TIP: When adding the pasta, meat sauce, and then bechamel, use the back of a spoon or a spatula to smooth each layer and make them as flat as possible.

A person spooning a large amount of thick Greek bechamel sauce over tubular pasta on meat sauce in a white lasagna dish.

How to Serve

As mentioned, it is critical to allow the dish to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

When serving guests, use a large spatula to cut the pastitsio into square servings. Remove one of the corner pieces and set aside to eat later (we call this the “sacrifice” slice). Then go in for the slice next to the open space.

Be sure to bake until the top is golden and browned all over. This typically takes about an hour, but keep an eye on it, as oven temperatures can vary.

Also, we recommend serving each portion with a sharp knife. As the dish bakes, the pasta sets and forms a wonderful foundation but can be a little difficult to cut with just a fork. A knife cuts easily right through the pasta.

An overhead view of a large white lasagna dish filled with a casserole that is topped with a browned Greek bechamel sauce.

Other Amazing Greek Recipes To Try

We love Greek cuisine and will continue to grow this collection of recipes. Here are a handful of our all-time favorites:

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
Classic Moussaka (Beef and Eggplant Casserole)
Chicken Gyro
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki Cucumber Salad
Sheet Pan Green Chicken and Vegetables
Greek Salad with Grilled Steak

We’ll continue to add to this list, without a doubt, but in the meantime, isn’t this catching your attention?

A view looking into a lasagna dish that is filled with pastitsio which consists of a bottom layer of tubular pasta, topped with a meat sauce, and then topped off with a thick Greek bechamel sauce.

How To Store and Reheat

We can honestly say that this is one of those dishes that is almost better the next day.

Cut leftovers into squares and place in a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the fridge.

We find microwaving on HIGH for about a minute and a half reheats the slice perfectly and each bite is as tasty as the night before.

A person holding up a spatula that has a perfectly square slice of pastitsio on it.

This is comfort food truly at its very best. It’s always stunning in presentation.

Pasta dishes are popular in Greece in celebration of the New Year. This dish has become a New Year’s Eve tradition in our house, but, we also love preparing it throughout the year.

Every bite is truly a taste sensation.

A straight-on view of a slice of Greek pastitsio with a bite take out of it on a white dinner plate with a fork nearby.

Ready to make the best Greek pasta dish this side of Athens? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A straight-on view of a perfectly square piece of Greek pastitsio on a white dinner plate.

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) is uniquely Greek and just so delicious. If you can't get the Greek cheese or pasta, see the notes for perfectly acceptable substitutions. Be sure to let the dish rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Leftovers are excellent.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: authentic pastitsio recipe, Greek recipe, how to make pastitsio
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 642kcal


  • 1 Deep lasagna pan or dish 2½ to 3 inches deep


For the Meat Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lbs ground beef 85% lean
  • 1 cup red wine
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato purée or sauce
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 bay leaves fresh or dried
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the Greek Bechamel

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cups whole milk warmed
  • 1 pinch nutmeg ground or grated from a whole nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cups Kefalotryi Greek cheese Grated, sub: Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 large egg yolks save the whites for the pasta

For the Pasta and Final Assembly

  • 1 lb Pastitsio No. 2 pasta or bucatini, or penne
  • cups Kefalotryi Greek cheese divided, sub: Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 egg whites


Make the Meat Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté (stirring often) until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
    2 tbsp olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 large carrot, 3 cloves garlic
  • Add the beef and cook until no longer pink. About 8 to 10 minutes. Tilt the skillet, and use a large spoon to remove most of the rendered grease (leave about 1 tbsp). Discard grease safely.
    2 lbs ground beef
  • Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, another 5 to 8 minutes.
    1 cup red wine
  • Stir in the tomato paste, and then the crushed tomatoes, crushed bouillon cube, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until most of the liquid is gone and the sauce is thick (stirring frequently), about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely (cover with plastic wrap if preparing in advance).
    ¼ cup tomato paste, 2 cups crushed tomatoes, 1 beef bouillon cube, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 pinch ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp ground allspice, 1½ tsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper

Make the Bechamel

  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour until fully incorporated into the butter. Cook (stirring often) for 1 minute.
    8 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Whisking constantly, slowly add in about half of the warmed milk. Whisk and then stir to help incorporate the milk into the roux (flour butter). Slowly whisk in the remaining warm milk. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, working to remove as many lumps as possible, for about another 5 minutes.
    4½ cups whole milk
  • Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt, and cheese. Let rest for a few minutes.
    1 pinch nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, 1½ cups Kefalotryi Greek cheese
  • Quickly stir in the egg yolks until fully combined. Set aside.
    2 large egg yolks

Prepare the Pasta

  • Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil.
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente (about 1 minute less than package instructions). The pasta should have a little resistance to the bite, but should not be tough.
    1 lb Pastitsio No. 2 pasta
  • Drain and then place in a large bowl and let cool for about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and then the egg whites until fully coated.
    1½ cups Kefalotryi Greek cheese, 2 egg whites

Assemble and Bake the Pastitsio

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add about ⅔ of the pasta to the bottom of the dish, arranging the pasta all in one direction (as much as possible).
  • Spoon on the meat sauce and then use the back of a large spoon, or spatula, to smooth it over the pasta.
  • Next, add another single layer of the remaining pasta over the meat sauce (you may have a little pasta left over).
  • Spoon the bechamel over the pasta and gently smooth it over the pasta and to the edges of the dish. Top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned (but not burned).
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes (or up to 1 hour). Slice and serve at once.


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Be careful to measure the seasonings (especially the cinnamon, ground cloves, and allspice) accurately. Too much of any of these seasonings will overpower the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Be sure to cook the meat sauce until most of the liquid is gone. It should be moist, but not thin (saucy). 
The meat sauce and the bechamel can be made hours in advance. Keep covered until ready to assemble the dish. 
See the video for tips on how to get clean slices out of the dish.
Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. The dish freezes beautifully (pre-baked) for up to 3 months. Reheat leftovers in the microwave on HIGH for 1½ minutes, or in a 350°F oven (covered with foil). 


Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 756mg | Potassium: 910mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 2398IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!


  • Lovely! I’ve made pastitsio, but never had the patience to make it look so pretty! When I was in high school, my older sister taught me to put cinnamon in red sauce, and I still often do that, even if I’m not making something of Greek origin! So good. Happy New Year!

  • THANK YOU for putting the cinnamon in! People always go huh? but we use it in a lot of savoury cooking. 🙂 Cinnamon and garlic butter under the skin of a roast chicken is…wow…

    • It adds such a warm depth of flavor! Cinnamon and garlic butter under the skin of a roast chicken sounds divine! We’ll try that for sure! YUM!! Thanks for sharing! xoxo Kris & Wesley

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