Close-up of Zucchini Bechamel Casserole

I have always been a fan of casseroles; one hearty dish and you're good to go! One of my faves is a zucchini bechamel that my mom used to make growing up. This is a classic Egyptian casserole recipe with basically four ingredients: zucchini, ground beef, mozzarella cheese (optional), and bechamel sauce (white sauce made of roux and milk).  Simple and yummy!

Although this is an Egyptian dish, I think it's origins are actually French. Bechamel is one of the most basic French sauces; my hunch is that a version of this zucchini bechamel was first introduced to Egyptian cooks during the French occupation of Egypt from 1789 to 1801. So I guess today's post celebrates flavors from two Mediterranean countries; here is to France and Egypt!

Before we dig in, I want to thank my friend Wendy for gifting me some giant zucchini from her own home garden. My dish is that much sweeter!


Here is how I made it:

Set the oven to 450F.

I sliced my zucchini in ½-inch rounds.  Mine was a giant zucchini, you may use eight store-bought medium zucchini; you can choose to slice lengthwise or in rounds. I oiled some large baking sheets; placed my zucchini in one layer; seasoned with salt and topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Once oven was ready, I inserted my zucchini to roast for 15 to 18 minutes or until nicely tender and slightly golden. Do check on your zucchini regularly; and turn them over midway through. Once I removed zucchini from oven, I lowered temp to 350F.

Zucchini slices Zucchini slices in a pan drizzled with olive oil

While zucchini was roasting, I proceeded to brown the ground beef in a little olive oil with one small minced onion, allspice, ground cardamom, salt and pepper. Be sure to cook the meat all the way through, it should be nicely browned.

I proceeded to make the bechamel sauce. First, I heated ½ cup olive oil and then added about six tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Stirred together on medium-low for about five minutes until flour was golden. Then increasing heat to medium, I added my first cup of room-temperature milk and began to whisk. Continued to add the remaining three cups of milk, one-at- a-time, and whisked until smooth. Added in salt and nutmeg, and continued to cook for another 7 minutes or so (still watching and whisking as needed). Removed from heat and let sit briefly to thicken into a nice creamy bechamel.

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce being whisked together

A cast iron skillet or an oven-safe baking dish are good options to assemble the zucchini bechamel casserole (could also do individual-sized ramekins if you prefer).

I oiled my cast iron skillet and added a bottom layer of meat.

Then I added the roasted zucchini, and layered the remainder of the meat and one cup of mozzarella cheese on top.

Cooked zucchini slices added to pot of browned ground beef Zucchini slices layered on top of ground beef in a pan Additional ground beef added to top of zucchini layerGrated cheese added to top of casserole

Finally, I topped the casserole with the bechamel sauce and evenly distributed.

bechamel sauce poured on top of Zucchini Casserole bechamel sauce evenly spread on top of Casserole


My mom and many other great cooks would typically place a zucchini layer on the bottom, then the meat layer, then more zucchini, cheese and bechamel sauce. I found that since the zucchini has been nicely roasted, I preferred to "protect" it from dissolving, so to speak,  in the bottom of the hot skillet.

Once assembled, I placed my casserole in the middle rack of my now 350F oven.  Baked for 40-45 minutes, or until the top bechamel layer is golden brown. I let zucchini bechamel casserole sit for five minutes before serving. Delicious!

Consider serving with side salads like our simple Mediterranean Salad or Tabouli.

Browned cheese on top of casserole after cooking

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Zucchini Bechamel Casserole Recipe

Zucchini Bechamel Casserole

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5 from 5 reviews


A French-inspired Egyptian casserole combining four main ingredients: zucchini, ground beef, mozzarella cheese and bechamel sauce. Easy and hearty! Your friends will beg for the recipe.


  • 8 medium-sized zucchini, washed, dried, sliced in rounds or lengthwise
  • 1 ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground green cardamom
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

For Bechamel Sauce

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups 2% milk, room temperature
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Arranged zucchini slices (cut in ½-inch rounds or lengthwise) in one layer in oiled baking sheet. Use two or more sheets if needed, do not crowd zucchini. Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Place in oven for 15-18 minutes, turn over once midway through.When tender and slightly golden, remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 350F.
  4. Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Saute minced onion briefly and add ground beef. Season with allspice, ground cardamom, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until meat is well-done (about 10 minutes). Sit aside.
  5. Prepare bechamel sauce. Begin with heating ½ cup olive oil. Add flour and cook on medium- low for 5 minutes or until smooth and golden. Raising heat to medium, add milk one-cup-at-a-time and whisk continuously. Cook for another 7 minutes or until mixture is smooth, begins to bubble and thickens a little. Remove from heat and let sit to thicken into a creamy bechamel.
  6. In an oiled baking dish or large cast iron skillet, assemble cassarole. Place first layer of meat, then add two layers of zucchini. Now add meat and one cup mozzarella cheese.Top the casserole with an even layer of the creamy bechamel sauce.
  7. Insert casserole into the now 350F oven for 45 minutes until the bechamel top turns golden- brown. Watch carefully, you do not want a completely browned bechamel.
  8. Remove from heat and let sit about 5 minutes before serving.
  9. For side salads, you may like to add our simple Mediterranean Salad or Tabouli. Enjoy!


  • Recommended for this Recipe: Our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives!)
  • Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: French/Egyptian/Mediterranean

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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. ~Chrissie O. says:

    Hi, Suzy!! Question for you: Have you ever found the skin and/or seeds to be bitter when you use an oversized zucchini? I found one in the garden that might mistake itself for a short baseball bat, and I'd considered doing thick rounds of "Zucchini Parmesan" but then saw this recipe. Just don't want it to come out bitter. Thoughts??? Do you think the bitterness tempers as it roasts, or better to deseed it?

    Thank you so much! ~Chrissie

    1. Summer Miller says:

      Hi, Chrissie! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. I am an avid gardener as well, and I have also had a baseball bat sized zucchini to deal with! I would remove the seeds, not only for bitterness, but also texture. Sometimes the skin can be thicker/tougher on larger zucchini so you may want to peel off a few strips with your vegetable peeler. Not all of the skin, but some. Otherwise, it should still work great.

  2. Ali says:

    I can’t find any mention of when to add the nutmeg. I’m guessing it was to go in the béchamel sauce, but I realized it was left out after putting the casserole in the oven; too late!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Ali. So sorry about that. For next time, yes, you'll want to add the nutmeg in the bechamel sauce (after all the milk has been added).

  3. Tracy says:

    I just made this dish for the first time. It was superb! Thank you for such a yummy approach to its preparation and finish.

    1. Suzy says:

      So glad you enjoyed it, Tracy!

  4. Reem says:

    Making this tomorrow. Looks so good! How big of a baking dish or skillet would you recommend here? I don't think I saw it in the directions. Thank you!

    1. Suzy says:

      Hi, Reem. I used a 12" cast iron skillet here. Hope you enjoye the recipe!

  5. Reem says:

    Hi there, this looks yummy! How big of a baking dish or skillet would you recommend here?

  6. Margaret H. says:

    This was such a fun dish to prepare and it's enjoyable to eat every time! The bechamel sauce layer is like a cloud and the zucchini hold up well between the meat layers. I will be having this again in the future. Thank you for doing what you do, Suzy!

    1. Suzy says:

      My pleasure, Margaret! So glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Mary says:

    I've had this wonderful dish once and am planning on trying it out on guests.
    Can I make it a few hours ahead of time and let it sit before baking? Will the sauce thicken too much while sitting?

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Hi Mary, you can prepare this dish and cover and refrigerate for a few hours until you're ready to bake it. It should be fine.

  8. SJ says:

    Yum, everyone liked this recipe.. I will definitely make it again!

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Wow! An oldie-but-goodie. The photos don't do it justice 🙂

  9. Milena says:

    Loved it! It is a version of the Greek musaka, but the eggplant is substituted with zucchini. I used only 5 zucchini and next time I'll increase a bit the proportion of the meat (in which by the way I included some minced pork for juicier taste). Didn't have cardamom and didn't turn the zucchini midway, instead just grilled them 10 min more. The ready casserole I baked for 35 min.
    Really great result! Can't wait to try more of your recipies.
    PS. My supper fussy toddler loved it and licked his plate, which is a "say no more" compliment

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Milena, thanks so much for sharing. This is an oldie-but-goodie recipe, and one that totally needs a photo make over 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. New says:

    Too much sauce. And it didn't get as thick and creamy as the pics.... not sure what went wrong

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Hi there, I'm not sure what might have gone wrong in your case. Bechamel sauce does thicken easily if you leave it a few minutes off heat.

  11. Tala says:

    Happy holidays!!! Wish you a great one filled with happiness and success.
    Thank you so much for the recipe, loved it! It was my first attempt to cook Mediterranean comfort food at home. Besides I was craving for Zucchini big time. It helped me very much and encouraged me prepare it the right way and to kind of multitask with passion. Love to cook and eat. Posted it on Instagram too, peace and love from Canada

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Tala, thank you so much for your kind comment! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe. And thank you for sharing!

  12. Alexandra Laing says:

    Thank you for the recipe! This is one of my favourite dishes my MIL makes and I ate it all the time when I lived in Egypt. I've been craving it so badly since being home in Canada so I will defiantly try this out 🙂

    1. Suzy Karadsheh says:

      Alexandra, thanks so much for taking the time to share! I love zucchini bechamel as well very much. So glad you found the recipe. Let me know how it turns out for you.