Greek Pastitsio Recipe – Layered Pasta with Ground Beef and Cheese Sauce

greek pastitsio
greek pastitsio recipe

Greek Pastitsio Recipe WITH VIDEO

My mother spent a lot of time having her friends over to eat some Indian food. She also learnt a lot of cooking from their diverse ethnicities. Mrs Pandelis was a lovely lady who I would often see in our kitchen with mom. We loved her yummy greek cookin!!

My absolute favorite which I have prepared many a time is the Greek Pastitsio made of ground beef and penne pasta. This pasta dish is ‘a must try’. Thankyou Mrs Pandelis.

I am told that ‘Pastitsio’ loosely translated means  ‘A Mess’ :) This is a truly authentic Greek Pastitsio Recipe.

Greek Pastitsio 2

greek pastitsio - heres a serving

A yummy mess! Greek Pastitsio

Greek Pastitsio Recipe

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Recipe Type: Main
Author: Shana c/o Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Marination/ Resting Time : 1 hour 15 minutes
Prep time: 30
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30 min
Serves: 6-7


For the pasta:

  • 500 grms Penne pasta / Penne Rigate
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • I cup grated cheese plus some  more

For the filling:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter ‘+’ (or a bit more) / May use olive oil
  •  1 Kg  ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (Large Yellow preferred but Red is fine)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic ‘+’
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp allspice (optional)
  • ½ cup apple juice (wine is used traditionaly)
  • 2-3 Tomatoes, diced small
  • 450 gms canned tomatoes or canned tomato sauce
  • finely chopped parsley as needed
  • 1 egg white

For the Sauce (Bechamel):

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 4 cups hot milk plus extra if needed for thinning of the sauce
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg (grated) to taste (about 1 tsp of each)
  • 2 eggs  + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Kefalotyri or mozzarella cheese, grated


For the pasta:

  • Cook the pasta till al ‘dente in salted boiling water.
  • penne
  • Greek Pastitsio - add pasta
  • It will take approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, proceed with steps for the filling.
  • Drain the cooked  pasta. Add butter to prevent stickiness. Set aside.
  • Greek Pastitsio- butter pasta

For the filling:

  • Heat Butter in a deep wide pan. Don’t allow to brown.
  • Saute onion and garlic till transclucent.
  • Greek Pastitsio. chopped ingredients 1 Greek Pastitsio. - saute onion and garlic
  • Add minced beef. 
  • Greek Pastitsio. - add mince
  • Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes. The liquids will be released from the mince.
  • Allow these liquids to evaporate and the beef to change color.
  • Greek Pastitsio.- stir
  • When the liquid has evaporated, add all remaining ingredients for the filling except egg white. (Canned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley, apple juice, salt, pepper, allspice).
  • Greek Pastitsio. add all other ingredients
  • Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, till all the liquid evaporates again.
  • Greek Pastitsio. cook stirring
  • greek pastitsio - cook till liquids evaporate
  • Allow to cool. Then add egg whites. 
  • greek pastitsio - add egg white when cool.
  • Stir till meat mixture is glossy. Set aside
  • greek pastitsio - egg white stirred in
  • Preheat the oven now to 180°c/350F. If using european setting, have heat elements from top and bottom switched on, while preheating. 

For the Sauce (Bechamel):

  • Melt butter. Add the flour.
  • greek pastitsio - cook flour in butter
  • Stir quickly, till all the flour is mixed. Allow this ‘roux’ to cook briefly without going brown.
  • Add milk, a little at a time. Stir to remove lumps. Use a whisk for this.
  • greek pastitsio - add milk greek pastitsio - to remove lumps greek pastitsio - whisk
  • The  milk will be absorbed and the mixture will thicken.
  • greek pastitsio - bechamel 2
  • Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to suit your taste. Stir again till smooth. You can add a small amount of milk, little by little if it seems too thick.
  • greek pastitsio - add spices greek pastitsio - spiced
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the eggs, yolks and cheese. Stir till smoothly incorporated.
  • greek pastitsio - for bechamel sauce
  • greek pastitsio - till right consistency

To Assemble:

greek pastitsio - for layers

Cooked Pasta, Meat Sauce, Bechamel Sauce and Grated Cheese – For layering

  • Lightly grease an oven proof dish with butter. Use a dish that is large enough to hold all the layers.
  • greek pastitsio - butter dish
  • Make the first layer with half of the cooked pasta.
  • greek pastitsio - layer 1 pasta
  • Sprinkle some cheese over this.
  • greek pastitsio - sprinkle cheese 1
  • Add one layer consisting of all the cooked mince meat sauce.
  • greek pastitsio - layer 2 meat sauce
  • Add the remaining pasta.
  • greek pastitsio - layer4 more pasta
  • Sprinkle cheese over this layer too.
  • greek pastitsio - layer 6 more cheese
  • Spread the  béchamel sauce over the top to seal the dish.
  • greek pastitsio - layer 7bechamel sauce
  • Sprinkle some more cheese over the top.
  • greek pastitsio - laste layer more cheese
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 180°c/350F  on the lower rack. When the dish is put in, I like to turn off the top heating element so that cooking is done from bottom only.
  • greek pastitsio - bake in preheated oven
  • Bake for 30 minutes in total.
  • For the last 7 minutes I like to switch on the top element and turn off the bottom heating element.
  • greek pastitsio - bale 30 minutes
  • Watch carefully for the last few minutes, you want a nice golden top with cheese that is melted and not burnt.

Greek Pastitsio Recipe

  • In the original recipe Dry white wine is used in place of apple juice.
  • Apple juice is a good substitute for those who avoid alcohol. Make sure it’s not one of those extra sweet types though.
  • You may decide not to use all the sauce and set some aside for another snack. Depends on whether you like a more hefty serving.
  • Allspice can be substituted with a combination of powdered cinnamon and cloves.
  • Read more about Greek Cuisine.

Key Ingredients: Beef, Penne Pasta, Onion, Tomates, Garlic, Flour, Cheese, Spices, Salt, Butter, Egg, Apple Juice/Wine, Hot Milk.

Let us know if you tried it – Greek Pastitsio Recipe . Comments from you provide motivation to keep up the driving force behind this blog, bringing you more delicious and perfected recipes regularly. Please do leave a comment. We love to hear from you.

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About Shana Shameer

Love Cooking and discovering the very Best recipes out there.

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