Pastitsio is a comforting Greek lasagna with layers of pasta, a tantalizing cinnamon-spiked meat sauce, and creamy bechamel. I'm sharing my mom's recipe, and it is a must-try! It is easier to make than you think, and you can prepare it in advance.

Greek Pastitsio Recipe | The Mediterranean Dish. A delectable Greek baked pasta casserole with flavor-packed meat sauce and a creamy bechamel topping. This is a lightened up pastitsio recipe that is every bit as indulgent with only 230 calories per serving. And it serves a crowd! See the full recipe on

If I were to ask you about a dish that might have defined the holidays for you as a child, what would it be? For me, it’s Greek pastitsio, but in our Egyptian household, this casserole was known by a more literal name: macaroni béchamel. And it is all the comfort!

What is Greek pastitsio?

Pastitsio (pastichio/pasticcio/pastizio) is a Greek pasta bake or Greek lasagna made of layers of pasta, a delicious meat sauce, and a topping of creamy béchamel that gives it an extra luxurious silkiness and hearty finish. It's one of those legendary dishes similar to moussaka, but of course there is no eggplant here.

Incidentally, the word pastitsio translates to “hodgepodge.” Aren’t the best of homemade casseroles basically a glorious hodgepodge?!

Piece of Greek lasagna cut out of the baking dish

What is in pastitsio?

There are three different components or layers that make up this Greek lasagna recipe:

  • Pasta. What kind of pasta to use? Traditionally, the pasta used in this dish is a thick bucatini-style pasta that's referred to as "Pastitsio pasta No.2". You can use penne or ziti pasta instead.
  • Pastitsio meat sauce. The hearty meat sauce for this pastitsio recipe is made of lean ground beef that's cooked in a tomato and red wine sauce with onions, garlic, bay leaves and warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, and a dash of nutmeg (the Greek's use mainly cinnamon)
  • Béchamel. Basic béchamel sauce is typically made of all-purpose flour cooked in fat and thickened with milk to create a creamy white sauce that serves as the topping for this Greek lasagna. Greek béchamel also included eggs, which I've kept pretty classic but used extra virgin olive oil instead of butter to lighten things just a touch. It's the same beloved béchamel I use to give my Spanakopita-Style Baked Mac and Cheese its creamy top layer.
baked pastitsio in a baking dish with a serving spoon

How to make pastitsio (Greek Lasagna):

Making this Greek pasta casserole is similar to assembling a lasagna dish.

First, prepare each component of the Greek lasagna--cook the pasta, make the meat sauce, and make the bechamel.

Use a large casserole dish or a 9 ½ x13 baking dish. Give the dish a quick brush with some good extra virgin olive oil, then assemble the Greek lasagna layer by layer. Spread about one half of the cooked pasta first. Next, add the meat sauce and spread it well. Add the rest of the pasta on top of the meat sauce, then finally spread the bechamel sauce on top.

Bake your Greek pastitsio at 350 degrees F heated-oven for one hour or until the bechamel topping bubbles nicely and turns golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

Important tip: after baking, allow the pasta casserole to sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting it into pieces, the bechamel sauce needs the time to settle a bit.

Can you make it in advance?

If you need to prepare Pastitsio in advance, you can prepare the different components--pasta, meat sauce, and bechamel--the night before. Store separately in the fridge and assemble before baking. Or, you can certainly assemble the pastitsio in your casserole dish, but do not bake. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Bake the next day when you are ready.

Greek lasagna served with a side of balela salad

Can you freeze it?

If you end up with leftovers, you can certainly freeze cooked pastitsio in portions and thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready, heat in a medium-heated oven until warmed through.

What to serve along?

You might find this Greek lasagna situation served next to the Easter leg of lamb, but it can be the main dish. You can add a couple of vegetarian small dishes to serve next to it. Here are a few ideas:

Watch the video for this pastitsio recipe

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Greek lasagna served with a side of balela salad

Greek Pastitsio Recipe

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4.8 from 42 reviews


BEST Greek pastitsio recipe. Delectable and flavor-packed baked pasta with Greek-spiced meat sauce and a "lightened up" golden bechamel topping. A must-try!


  • 3 ½ cups uncooked Penne pasta
  • Salt
  • Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan

For Meat Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • ½ cup red wine such as merlot
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • ¾ tsp ground allspice 
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 
  • pinch sugar

For Bechamel 

  • ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt, more if you like
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups 2% milk, warmed
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta to al dante according to package instructions. Be sure to add salt and olive oil to the boiling water. Drain and transfer pasta to 9 ½" x 13" baking pan like this one. While still hot, drizzle pasta with a little more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle grated Parmesan. Toss to combine. Set aside for now.
  3. Make the meat sauce. In a large pan or skillet like this one, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Saute onions until just golden, then add lean beef and garlic. Season with salt.  Cook until meat is fully browned, tossing regularly and breaking up the meat with your wooden spoon (about 8 to 10 minutes). Carefully drain any excess liquid and return pan to heat. Add wine, crushed tomato, bay leaves, spices and pinch of sugar. Mix to combine. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or so. Taste and adjust salt to your liking.
  4. While the meat sauce is cooking, prepare the bechamel. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook until golden (if needed, added a little more olive oil). Gradually add the warmed milk, whisking continuously. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add nutmeg.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of the hot bechamel mixture with the 2 eggs in a small bowl. Then return all to the pan with the remaining bechamel mixture. Continue to stir or whisk the mixture bringing to a gentle boil for just 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken a little more (you should have a creamy, thick and smooth bechamel sauce).
  6. Assemble the pastitsio. Top the cooked pasta with the meat sauce; smooth with a wooden spoon to fully cover the pasta. Now top the meat sauce with the bechamel topping. Again, smooth with your wooden spoon to cover the meat sauce evenly.
  7. Bake the pastitsio in 350 degrees F heated-oven for 1 hour until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into square pieces and serve.


  • Pro Tips: 1. You can prepare Pastitsio the night before up to step #6. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Bake the next day when you are ready (budget 1 hour for baking per step #7.) 2.This recipe makes a large amount for big gatherings or if you like leftovers! But you can simply cut the recipe in half for a smaller crowd (you'll need to watch baking time). 3. You can freeze leftovers in portions. Thaw in fridge overnight. When ready, heat in a medium-heated oven until warmed through.
  • Featured Ingredients: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed koroneiki olives); ground allspice; ground nutmeg. 
  • SAVE! Shop our Greek Olive Oil Bundle and our all-natural and organic spice collections: The Mediterranean Ultimate Spice Bundle; Mediterranean Essentials Bundle; or create your own 6-pack of spices! 
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Category: Entree or Side Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Greek

*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2017 and has recently been updated with new information for readers' benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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  1. Marisky says:

    My Bechemel looks perfect after I make it, but it puffs up in the oven, is it’s supposed to? It tastes fine.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Yes, Mariska... that can happen. No worried!

  2. Tina Ridenour says:

    Hello just wanted to leave you comment telling you I’ve been slowly switching over to Mediterranean diet and loving it. Food is amazing and I feel healthier and loosing weight that I need to loose to be at healthy weight .
    Thank you for the recipes that you put out.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much for the sweet comment, Tina! So great to hear you're feeling great and loosing some weight eating the Mediterranean way. You definitely don't have to sacrifice yummy food when you're trying to live a healthier lifestyle!

  3. Bougainvillean says:

    This recipe is pure comfort food. Suzy, you’ve got the spices exactly right. I love the fact that you switch olive oil for the butter. Your recipes always work and are so popular with my family here in Egypt.
    I would love to see the oven temperatures listed in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit please!!

    1. TMD Team says:

      What a sweet review! Thank you so much! We hear you on the temp listing and it's something we're working on!

  4. Lin says:

    Do you have a vegetarian version of patitsio? As you do for your moussaka. Thanks!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Lin. We don't at the moment, but it sounds like a great idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Jeanette E Derleth says:

    Where can I find private reserve olive oil or can I just use regular ex/vir/olive/oil like Bertoli?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Jeanette. We sell the Private Reserve extra version olive oil in our online shop. You can click here to find it.

  6. Evie says:

    Best to use noodles for pastistsio #2 long noodles that you can now get on Amazon or a Greek store or specialty Mediterranean market . Instead of Parmesan cheese use kefalotiri or Gouda
    My Mom and cousin put egg whites on the noodles cheese and butter . The egg yolks go into the cream sauce .

  7. cathy says:

    I would like to make this for a Christmas get together but have a couple of of people who cannot have dairy, will oat or almond milk work for the bechamel? thanks and PS I am such a fan of your recipes!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Absolutely! We've had several readers try this with plant-based "milks," so totally go for it! Hope everyone enjoys it!

  8. Kelly says:

    Hi. The recipe is off. Too much pasta and not enough meat and bechamel.

  9. Angela says:

    For the bechamel it mentions stirring in flour, salt and pepper. I don't see the amount of pepper listed in the ingredients. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Angela. It's really just "to taste" here... no exact amount. I would just just start with a little bit, taste, and add more as you desire.

  10. Silvana Macri says:

    Thank you for this recipe. Can I use full cream milk in place of 2% milk?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Silvana. We have not tried cream with this particular recipe, but it should work. It will just be a very rich sauce :).

  11. Auggie. G says:

    This might be a weird question so forgive me in advance, But is there anything that could be used in place of the red wine? If/when I ever make this recipe I would prefer to stay away from any & all alcohol if possible. 🙂

    1. Devin Fuller says:

      Hi, Auggie! Devin here from The Mediterranean Dish team. Thank you for your question - it's a good one! I would recommend beef broth or chicken broth (my favorite being beef) as a substitute for wine in this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

  12. Gayle Cormie says:

    I like it and it's very good with pasta mix with minced all together.

  13. Joyce says:

    I love this dish as alternative to lasagna, and I plan to make it for Sunday dinner. One thing I wondered is, why don't we use ground lamb? It's so popular in Greek and Mediterranean cooking, I thought it would be good to use for this dish.

    Do you think it would be an okay substitute for ground beef? Or is there a reason to use beef instead of lamb? Thanks!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Joyce. We use beef here because it is more readily available, but you can totally use ground lamb if you prefer. Enjoy!

  14. Stacy Kozik says:

    Such an easy recipe to follow and delicious results. I made this for a family dinner and everyone loved it. Thanks, I will definitely make this again.

    1. Beth Grimm says:

      I have a question. Recipe list of ingredients calls for 4 eggs. However in the instructions it only mentions using 2 eggs. I split the difference and used 3. What happened here?

      1. TMD Team says:

        Hi, Beth. I just double checked, and the recipe only calls for 2 eggs throughout. It does call for 4 cups of milk in the ingredient list, so maybe that is where you got that number 4.