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Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake)

by Nick Makrides
Slice of Pastitsio

This Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) is kind of like a Greek version of an Italian lasagne, but not really. It has all the basic flavours but looks and tastes different. It’s a glorious, layered dinner or lunch made of long tube like pastitsio pasta, topped with a rich and tasty meat sauce and finished with a cheesy bechamel and crispy cheese topping. Knowing how to make it right is key here because what you’re left with is a glorious looking layered meal that is a crowd pleaser!

Nick Makrides holding a slice of Pastitsio

My absolute favourite thing about Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake)!

I love how easy this pasta bake is to make and it’s so delicious. Plus it makes an awesome lunch or dinner. Visually, you don’t see many pastas like this or even used this way so it’s already really interesting to look at. But can I talk about how delicious Pastitsio is? Continued below!

Extreme close up of Pastitsio

What does Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) taste like?

Pastitsio is so yum. Again, kind of like a lasagne in that it has the same basic ingredients and flavours. Meat Sauce, bechamel (not all Italians use it), cheese and pasta.

Where Pastitsio differs is that it uses Greek ingredients. It’s a much simpler layered pasta bake. There are three layers:

Greek Macaroni Pasta

Also known as pastitsio pasta or Greek macaroni pasta.. You can use penne in its place if you can’t find Greek Macaroni pasta.

Meat Sauce

This meat sauce is just so tasty! It has a fair few simple ingredients, including beef and lamb mince, that when put together, result in a really rich, delicious and tasty sauce.

Bechamel Sauce

Made like most other béchamel’s, this is mixed into the pasta to help give it structural integrity and help it glue together. It’s also spiked with Greek cheese: kefalotyri.

Pastistio in the tray

The ingredients you’ll need to make Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake).

Meat Sauce

Ingredients image for Pastitsio 01

Red onions – these add a nice sweetness to the sauce. You can also use white or brown onions.

Olive oil – I used extra virgin olive oil.

Garlic – freshly minced is always best, but you can use 1 tsp garlic powder instead.

Lamb mince – I would use something with about 15% fat content.

Beef mince – same goes for the beef mince. If you don’t want to or cant use lamb mince, you can replace it with more beef mince.

Brown sugar – Light or dark is fine.

Cumin – I used powdered cumin.

Nutmeg – I made a mental note when filming to use freshly grated nutmeg, but I forgot and use ground nutmeg instead. Freshly grated is always better but powdered nutmeg is fine as well.

Cinnamon stick – I used a cinnamon stick in this recipe so there would be a cinnamon overload in the recipe.

Tomato paste – this helps intensify the tomato flavour in the sauce.

Crushed tomato – Chopped, crushed or whole would work. Although whole canned tomatoes will result in a chunkier sauce.

Beef stock – helps make the sauce flavour even richer.

Bullion cubes – also known as stock cubes. These help deepen the beef flavour in the recipe.

Bay Leaves – this adds a really delicious almost aniseed flavour ut not quite as strong. Its just another background flavour note.

Worcestershire sauce – this helps deepen the umami flavour of the sauce.

Red wine – optional, but certainly helps richen the sauce flavour.

Bechamel Sauce

Ingredients image for Pastitsio 02

Butter – I used unsalted butter.

All-purpose flour – also known as plain flour.

Milk – I used cow’s milk but you could also use plant based milk.

Kefalotyri cheese – The cheese I used is a hard Greek cheese. It kind of tastes like parmesan. If you can’t find it you can use Kasseri or parmesan cheese.

Eggs – I used large eggs.

Pasta – the pasta I used was ‘Misko Macaroni No 2 Greek Pasta 500g’. Similar pastas exist that are smaller tubes but just as long. Those are fine to use. If you can’t find something like this you can use penne pasta in it’s place.

How to make Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake)!

Meat Sauce

Instructional image for Pastitsio 01

  1. Add the oil to a large pot on medium high heat along with the chopped onion and minced garlic. Stir for 1 minute until aromatic and onion begins looking translucent.
  2. Next, add the beef and lamb mince and mix using a wooden spoon until mince is broken up and brown.

Instructional image for Pastitsio 02

  1. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes on low heat until thickened. Take the bay leaves and cinnamon stick out using tongs. Set aside to cool completely.

Greek Béchamel Sauce

Instructional image for Pastitsio 03

  1. Add the butter to a large saucepan and melt.
  2. Next, add the flour and mix using a spoon or spatula until well combined.

Instructional image for Pastitsio 04

  1. Add half the milk and mix until smooth. Then add the remaining milk and mix.
  2. Then add the cheese and nutmeg and stir until well combined and the cheese is mostly melted. It may look slightly lumpy after adding the cheese, that’s normal.

Instructional image for Pastitsio 05

  1. Slowly pour in the beaten egg as you mix until it’s all been added.

Pasta

Instructional image for Pastitsio 06

  1. Cook the pasta according to your packet instructions. Subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time to make assembling easier.
  2. Drain well and add back into the pot. Add about 1 1/2 cups of bechamel sauce and use tongs or pasta stirrer to mix and coat the pasta in the sauce.

Assembly

Instructional image for Pastitsio 07

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F. To get a nice looking slice of pastitsio lay the pasta in a deep rectangle baking dish (roughly around 9.6cm in height and 40.5cm in width) all in one direction. I used tongs to do this. It can be tedious but is worth it once you slice into it.
  2. Next, top it with the cooled meat sauce and use a spoon or spatula to spread out evenly.

Instructional image for Pastitsio 08

  1. Lastly, pour the bechamel sauce over it and spread around
  2. Before topping with more kefalotyri cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top goes golden.

My Top Tips!

Storage

Pastitsio can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. You can freeze it and re-heat in the oven on 180C

Pasta

The pasta I used was ‘Misko Macaroni No 2 Greek Pasta 500g’. Similar pastas exist that are smaller tubes but just as long. Those are fine to use. If you can’t find something like this you can use penne pasta in it’s place.

Kefalotyri cheese

The cheese I used is a hard Greek cheese. It kind of tastes like parmesan. If you can’t find it you can use Kasseri or parmesan cheese.

Adding bechamel to the pasta

This is done to help glue the pasta together and to help give it structural integrity.

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Slice of Pastitsio

Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake)

Serves 8

No ratings yet
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 2 large red onions
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lb lamb mince
  • 1/2 lb beef mince
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can canned crushed tomatoes (28 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup. beef stock
  • 2 beef bullion cubes stock cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup red wine

Greek Béchamel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup kefalotyri Greek cheese see notes
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Pasta
  • 12 goz Pastitsio pasta / Greek bucatini see notes


Instructions

Meat Sauce

  • Add the oil to a large pot on medium high heat along with the chopped onion and minced garlic. Stir for 1 minute until aromatic and onion begins looking translucent.
  • Add the beef and lamb mince and mix using a wooden spoon until mince is broken up and brown.
  • Next, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes on low heat until thickened. Take the bay leaves and cinnamon stick out using tongs. Set aside to cool completely.

Greek Béchamel Sauce

  • Add the butter to a large saucepan and melt. Add the flour and mix using a spoon or spatula until well combined.
  • Next, add half the milk and mix until smooth. Then add the remaining milk and mix.
  • Slowly pour in the beaten egg as you mix until it’s all been added. Then add the cheese and nutmeg and stir until well combined and the cheese is mostly melted. It may look slightly lumpy after adding the cheese, that’s normal.

Pasta

  • Cook the pasta according to your packet instructions. Subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time to make assembling easier. Drain well and add back into the pot. Add about 1 1/2 cups of bechamel sauce and use tongs or pasta stirrer to mix and coat the pasta in the sauce.

Assembly

  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F. To get a nice looking slice of pastitsio lay the pasta in a deep rectangle baking dish ( roughly around 9.6cm in height and 40.5cm in width) all in one direction. I used tongs to do this. It can be tedious but is worth it once you slice into it.
  • Next, top it with the cooled meat sauce and use a spoon or spatula to spread out evenly.
  • Lastly, pour the bechamel sauce over it and spread around before topping with more kefalotyri cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top goes golden.

Nutrition

Calories : 451kcal
Carbonhydrates: 19g
Protein: 17g
Fat: 33g
Saturated Fat: 16g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g
Monounsaturated Fat : 12g
Trans Fat : 1g
Cholesterol: 127mg
Sodium: 197mg
Potassium : 495mg
Fiber: 1g
Sugar : 8g
Vitamin A: 710IU
Vitamin C: 2mg
Calcium: 188mg
Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclosure

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