Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe

Yiayia's Traditional Pastitsio - Vayia's Kitchen

I’m so excited to share with you my Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio Recipe. Pastitsio is a quintessential Greek dish — it’s synonymous with being Greek: large parties, plenty of food, drink, and celebration. It’s true that Greeks love to celebrate. We love to cook, feed our friends, dance, and celebrate life.

Yiayia's Pastitsio - Vayia's Kitchen

Yes, that’s me! It’s 1984 and I’m celebrating Greek Independence Day.Whenever I think of pastitsio, I am instantly transformed back to my childhood. I become the little girl you see in the photo, dressed in my traditional Greek costume, anxiously waiting to recite my poem during the annual Greek School Independence Day program at my Church, The Cathedral of the Annunciation, in Baltimore, Maryland.

1984 Greek School Independence Day Program

It may look complicated, but it’s not too hard to prepare Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio Recipe.  There are, however, multiple steps involved, so give yourself a little extra time and patience.

Greek Pastitsio is definitely a showstopper and worth the effort! Your guests are sure to be impressed.

If you need a dish to take to a potluck function or for a special occasion, Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio is the one. You can make one large dish, or you can use two smaller pans with this recipe if you’d like to make one to store in the freezer. It tastes just as delicious thawed and reheated in the oven on low heat.

Vayia's Kitchen - Yiayia's Pastitsio

 

What I love about Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio Recipe is the delicious combination of flavors — the hints of cinnamon in the meat sauce, the sturdy bucatini noodles, and the nutmeg-flavored, creamy bechamel sauce that just melts in your mouth.

Plus, it’s the kind of dish that doesn’t need extra side dishes. Serve it alongside a plate of fresh greens, some olives and cheese and you have a balanced, delicious meal.

I hope you enjoy making my Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio Recipe and sharing it with your family and friends. It’s truly one of the best Greek main dishes I’ve ever had.

Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe

1 1/2 Pounds of Ground Beef (Or Ground Turkey)

1 lb. Pasta (I used bucatini pasta, but you can also sub penne or rigatoni)

1 28 oz. can crushed tomato

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Bechamel Sauce:

4 Cups 2% Milk

2 large eggs

3/4 cup flour

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Dash of nutmeg

Yiayia’s Greek Pastitsio Recipe: Step By Step Instructions
There are three distinct steps to making Greek Pastitsio
1. Boiling the pasta while cooking the meat sauce.
2. Preparing the bechamel sauce.
3.  Assembling the dish.
Preparing the Meat Sauce:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large dutch oven, cooking pasta according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked and drained. Add back to dutch oven and coat with a splash of olive oil to keep noodles from sticking. Cover and set aside.
Yiayia's Pastitio Recipe
This is the correct amount of salt needed to make delicious tasting pasta!
  1. In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and add in ground beef and onions. Saute until ground beef is browned and onions are translucent.
Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Brown the ground beef and onion – Yiayia’s Pastitsio
  1. Stir in salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  2. Stir in tomato. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off fire and move pan aside.
Vayia's Kitchen - Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Prepare a meat sauce for Yiayia’s Pastitsio
Preparing the Bechamel Sauce:
  1. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Make a roux (Flour and butter mixture to thicken bechamel sauce). Stir in flour and continue to stir until its coated in butter. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently.
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce - Yiayia's Pastitsio
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce – Yiayia’s Pastitsio
  1. In a large microwave bowl, warm 4 cups of milk in microwave for about one minute. Add in two eggs and whisk well.
  2. Turn heat to medium high and whisk milk mixture into flour/butter. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Yiayia's Pastitsio - Add in Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg
Yiayia’s Pastitsio – Add in Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg
  1. Whisk constantly to smooth out any lumps and prevent the mixture from sticking.
Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe - Whish the Bechamel Sauce
Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe – Whish the Bechamel Sauce
  1. Keep your full attention on this step, as the mixture needs to constantly be whisked. It takes about 5 minutes or so for it to thicken. Once it thickens and reaches a pancake batter consistently turn off flame and remove from stove.
Assembling the Pastitsio
  1.  NOTE: You will need either TWO 9 x 12 dishes or one DEEP 10 x 13 dish to properly fit the mixture and prevent the bechamel from overspilling.
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup meat sauce on bottom of pan — just enough to cover the bottom.
Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe - Layer the Pastitsio
Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe – Layer the Pastitsio
  1. Layer half of the noodles and top with the meat sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
  2. Layer the remaining noodles.
Yiayia's Pastitsio - Layer the Noodles - Vayia's Kitchen
Yiayia’s Pastitsio – Layer the Noodles – Vayia’s Kitchen
  1. Pour the bechamel sauce on top of the noodles evenly to cover.
Yiayia's Pastitsio - Ready for the Oven - Vayia's Kitchen
Yiayia’s Pastitsio – Ready for the Oven – Vayia’s Kitchen
  1. Sprinkle 1 cup of parmesan evenly on top of the bechamel sauce.
  2. Bake covered for 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, or until the top of the bechamel is golden brown.
Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Freshly Baked Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe
  1. Let the dish sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Yiayia's Pastitsio - Vayia's Kitchen
Yiayia’s Pastitsio – Vayia’s Kitchen
3.66 from 23 votes
Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 


Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Servings: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 Pounds of Ground Beef Or Ground Turkey
  • 1 lb. Pasta I used bucatini pasta, but you can also sub penne or rigatoni
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomato
  • 1 tbsp. OIive oil
  • 1 Medium Onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
Bechamel Sauce:
  • 4 Cups 2% Milk
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 Stick Butter 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg
Instructions
Preparing the Meat Sauce:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large dutch oven, cooking pasta according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked and drained. Add back to dutch oven and coat with a splash of olive oil to keep noodles from sticking. Cover and set aside.
  3. This is the correct amount of salt needed to make delicious tasting pasta!
    Yiayia's Pastitio Recipe
  4. In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and add in ground beef and onions. Saute until ground beef is browned and onions are translucent.
    Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
  5. Stir in salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  6. Stir in tomato. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off fire and move pan aside.
    Vayia's Kitchen - Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Preparing the Bechamel Sauce:
  1. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Make a roux (Flour and butter mixture to thicken bechamel sauce). Stir in flour and continue to stir until its coated in butter. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently.
    Prepare the Bechamel Sauce - Yiayia's Pastitsio
  3. Then, In a large microwave bowl, warm 4 cups of milk in microwave for about one minute. Add in two eggs and whisk well.

  4. Turn heat to medium high and whisk milk mixture into flour/butter. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Whisk constantly to smooth out any lumps and prevent the mixture from sticking.
  6. Keep your full attention on this step, as the mixture needs to constantly be whisked. It takes about 5 minutes or so for it to thicken. Once it thickens and reaches a pancake batter consistently turn off flame and remove from stove.
    Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe - Whish the Bechamel Sauce
Assembling the Pastitsio
  1. NOTE: You will need either TWO 9 x 12 dishes or one DEEP 10 x 13 dish to properly fit the mixture and prevent the bechamel from overspilling.
  2. Next, spread about 1/2 cup meat sauce on bottom of pan -- just enough to cover the bottom.

  3. Layer half of the noodles and top with the meat sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
    Yiayia's Pastitsio - Layer the Noodles - Vayia's Kitchen
  4. Layer the remaining noodles.
  5. Pour the bechamel sauce on top of the noodles evenly to cover.
    Yiayia's Pastitsio - Ready for the Oven - Vayia's Kitchen
  6. Lastly, sprinkle 1 cup of parmesan evenly on top of the bechamel sauce.

  7. Bake covered for 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, or until the top of the bechamel is golden brown.
    Yiayia's Pastitsio Recipe
Recipe Notes

Let the dish sit for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.

P.S. If you love Yiayia’s Pastitsio, you will be sure to love:

Ground Beef and Orzo

 



11 thoughts on “Yiayia’s Pastitsio Recipe”

  • Made this for dinner tonight for my family of 6. My kids are all between the ages of 10-15. This dish was not only low cost but was able to feed all of us and we even had leftovers! Will definitely be adding this to my recipes.

    • Hi, Christine. Yay! I’m so glad you tried out the pastitsio recipe. Isn’t it the best? Wait until you warm up a piece tomorrow. It’s even better the next day. : )

  • I was searching pastitsio recipes and came across your recipe. Can’t wait to give it a try. I attend Annunciation now with my family 🙂

  • 3 stars
    I made it for Christmas Eve with rigatoni and it tasted a little bland and heavy. Followed recipe but not sure what I did wrong

    • Hi, Cheryl. Sorry to hear that. Always taste for salt as you go along to correct the seasoning to your preference. Also, depending on the meat you used, you might’ve needed to drain any additional fat. Try again!

  • 5 stars
    I made this ahead for a Thanksgiving trip to the beach with friends and popped it in the oven when we got to the Air BNB. My friends ate this for breakfast,Lunch and dinner even though we had lots of amazing food to eat. My friends are all great cooks but this was a hit. Is the authentic Pastitsio made with ground lamb? And has anyone used lamb in this recipe?

  • 4 stars
    Made it at my daughters while visiting her in North Carolina .. My husband and Eleni my daughter loved it. She wants me to make it again for her when I come back to visit in July.

  • 5 stars
    Wow this was so good! Left out the onion but followed everything else. We actually halved the recipe and still have leftovers. Will def make again!

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