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What makes this Pasticcio Recipe Authentic?

Greek restaurants all over the world prepare Pasticcio (also known as Pastitsio or Pastichio).  Not surprisingly, families and taverns all over Greece also make it.  Most families follow a recipe passed on to them by a dear family member and then adjusted over time to satisfy personal taste.


What is Pasticcio?

Those unfamiliar with Pasticcio may wonder what is this romantic-sounding dish.  The easiest way to describe it would be as a Greek version of lasagna bolognese.   This is not entirely fair as a comparison.

In Greece, cooks customarily prepare Pasticcio with a special long and hollow pasta especially designed for this traditional Greek dish. Outside Greece, this special Pasticcio pasta is hard to find (see below for substitution suggestions). The meat sauce in Pasticcio contains fewer spices and vegetables than in Italian lasagna.  Ok, Pasticcio and lasagna bolognese are different dishes, even if they may share a couple points in common.

Holding a handful of Pasticcio Pasta
Pasticcio Pasta


Learning how to make Pasticcio from a friend

So let me return to my story about preparing an authentic Pasticcio recipe.   As many of you know, I’ve been staying in Xanthi, Greece a few weeks during my Journey to Greece.  An old university friend, Diamatis, and his family live in the city of Xanthi and generously offered me their home in a nearby village called Gerakas (population of 26 in 2001), in the Rodopi mountainside to the north of Xanthi.  The views from the Gerakas home are breathtaking.  Resting in this remote rustic setting has been exactly what I needed to rejuvenate.

My view of trees and mountains from my home in Gerakas
Gerakas View


My friend’s wife, Thomais, is a magnificent cook and has graciously offered to teach me how to make some of her favorite family recipes.  So far, she has taught me three traditional Greek recipes:  Pasticcio, Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes) and Papoutsakia (“Little Shoes” or Stuffed Eggplant).   Click on the above links to try these tasty authentic recipes brought from Thomais’ home to yours.  You will certainly be rewarded for your effort.


Pasticcio preparation

Preparing Pasticcio requires three basic steps before assembling and placing the dish into the oven: preparing the meat sauce, then the pasta, and last the improved Béchamel sauce.   None of these steps is very complicated or time consuming.  In less than an hour the Pasticcio will be ready to place into the oven.

Pasticcio with a special long noodle with a hollow center (see photo above).  Finding this exact noodle outside of Greece can be a challenge.  If you can’t find it, I’d recommend buying Anna Long Ziti Pasta #19 or using penne pasta or lasagna sheets.  The pasta should be semi-thick and long, if possible.

You can prepare this dish in advance and then bake it when it’s ready to be served.  Or cook it almost all the way in the oven and then store it in the refrigerator until the next day to be reheated before serving.

Try this authentic Pasticcio dish soon and share this reliable recipe with your friends using the social media buttons below.

Authentic Greek Pasticcio
Votes: 22
Rating: 3.91
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Prepare this homestyle Pasticcio recipe to bring a touch of Greece to your family's table. Enjoy the authenticity and flavor of this traditional Greek dish.
Chef:Belgian Foodie
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
10people 40minutes 25minutes
Servings Prep Time
10people 40minutes
Cook Time
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Servings: people
Servings: people
Meat Sauce
  1. Pour olive oil and butter into a hot pan over a high heat
  2. Add chopped onion and continue to cook about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.Pasticcio onions
  3. Add ground veal or beef meat and cook about 5 minutes until brown all over.
  4. Add nutmeg bay leaves, allspice, salt and pepper and continue to cook one minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste and tomato passata. Continue to cook a few minutes.
  6. Add water, mix and reduce heat to low. Continue to cook covered about 5 to 10 minutes until you have a thick sauce consistency.Pasticcio Meat Sauce
  1. Fill two-thirds (2/3) of a pot with water. Add olive oil and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the Pasticcio pasta or lasagna pasta. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes less than time indicated on the pasta package. The pasta will still be a bit firm, as it will cook further in the oven.
  3. Strain the pasta.
  4. Add a little butter so the pasta doesn't stick to each other. Put aside.
Béchamel (improved)
  1. In a pot, mix with a whisk the milk, flour, butter, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. All ingredients should be cold or at room temperature. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent lumps.
  2. Put the pot over a medium heat on the stove. Continue heating and stirring until you see small bubbles on top.
  3. Reduce heat and continue stirring until you reach a sauce consistency (like pancake batter). Remember, the sauce will probably thicken a little more when baking in the dish.
  4. Remove from heat. Add the cheese and mix.
Assembling the Dish
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Butter lightly a baking dish.
  2. Add half of the pasta on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle a couple pinches of grated cheese.
  3. Add all the meat sauce on top of the pasta. Sprinkle a couple pinches of grated cheese.Adding meat sauce to Pasticcio - Pastitsio
  4. Add the remaining half of the pasta on top. Sprinkle a couple pinches of grated cheese.
  5. Pour all the improved béchamel sauce on top. Make sure everything is covered with the sauce.Pasticcio Sauce
  6. Put baking dish into the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly brown on top.Pasticcio Finished
  7. Serve and enjoy!Pasticcio Serving Creamy
Recipe Notes
  1.  Kefalotyri is a hard salty yellow cheese made of milk from goat and/or sheep.  You want this cheese to be aged at least 3 months so it can be grated.  If you do not have Kefalotyri cheese, try substituting with a medium-aged Romano Pecorino or Manchego cheese.  To me, these would be the most similar in taste.
  2. The amount of flour you add will depend on how thick you want your Béchamel sauce.  If you want a thicker, more consistent sauce, you may want to add about 10% to 20% more flour and increase the amount of butter accordingly.
Written by:Belgian Foodie

This Pasticcio uses Kefalotyri cheese. If you want to discover more about Greek cheeses read this article about 5 white Greek cheeses you should try.

Nutrition Facts
Authentic Greek Pasticcio
Amount Per Serving
Calories 616 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 48%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 171mg 57%
Sodium 914mg 38%
Potassium 701mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 46g 15%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 14g
Protein 37g 74%
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 14%
Calcium 38%
Iron 17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

24 thoughts on “Authentic Greek Pasticcio (Pastitsio)

    1. Hi, I hope you will enjoy making this yummy dish. If you do not have Kefalotyri cheese, try substituting with a medium-aged Romano Pecorino or Manchego cheese. The taste will still be very good. Kefalotyri cheese might be difficult to find where you are.

  1. I will be making this delicious Pastitsio this weekend for a family get together! Wish me luck! Thank you!

  2. Evening Belgian Foodie,

    Made this dish for an evening Mothers Day meal (4 moms here and several kids/grandkids around) and was a hit. My wife has never been fond of this dish as it usually has too much nutmeg in the sauce however with a mild tweak I have nothing left to send in some photos. Great recipe. We could not find kefaloytre and substituted with a high quality Romano. Only thing I will adjust next time we cook is allowing more time to cook the bechamel, it was a little thin for my liking.
    Overall, great recipe, great dish!

    1. Hello Mark, thanks so much for your positive feedback! I’m honored you chose this recipe for your Mother’s Day meal! This Pasticcio recipe is one of the most popular on this site. It always helps to hear from people who have tried the recipe. It sounds like you adapted it very well. For the Bechamel, let it cook until you get the thickness desired. It won’t be the same amount of time for everybody as there are other factors in play. I’d love to hear your feedback if you make it again.

  3. 2 liters of milk for the bechamel seems like too much. I made the recipe today and had extra bechamel when I assembled the dish.

    1. Hello Shep, how much extra sauce did you have? People have different preferences re: how saucy they want their Pasticcio. The one I made with my Greek friend used this amount. I can understand it might be too much for you. I’d like to read how much extra you had. I will try making it again and see what happens. Thanks.

      1. The recipe has a lot to do with ones conditions. What type of pan you use, how deep it is, how thick is your bechamel sauce. Ideally you need a two finger hight bechamel layer. But that changes to liking and how deep your pan is. Also if the sauce is not thick enough it will run through the pasta; a small layer of grated cheese before the bechamel sauce might help if the sauce is not too thick.

      2. Hi! Just checking back in as I am making this again today. I want to surprise my daughter with it. I Huss I do t do as thick a layer of becamel as others. My baking dish was filled to the rim with maybe 1/2 the benchmark left over. I used mushrooms and fake meat crumbles for the filling to make it vegetarian, and I think it was more volume than real meat filling. All in all I still loved it.

        1. Hello again, your daughter is lucky that you make an effort to surprise her! Did you end up making a thinner sauce? Did you have 1/2 of the Béchamel left at the end? I appreciate your feedback!

  4. Hi Belgian Foodie, what a great recipe. Made it last night and it tasted awesome. The only small suggestion would be to use half the milk. I used half (4 Cups or 1 litre) and it was spot on. Thanks for recipe.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for this suggestion. I’ll have to try the recipe again to see if I should change the quantity of milk. I appreciate your sharing this feedback and hope it might also help others.

  5. Anyone ever made pasticcio using gruyere cheese? I had the best pasticcio at a Greek restaurant and I think that was (one) of their secrect ingredients.

    I was curious to ask before I tried it.

    1. Hi, Gruyere is a mountain cheese, as are most cheeses made with sheep milk typically used in Pasticcio. Gruyere may not be traditional for this dish, but if it tastes good, go for it. A younger Gruyere cheese can have fruity and nutty tones. A more mature Gruyere, which is likely a bit more salty, would a better match for this Pasticcio dish. Try it and let me know how it goes! Thanks!

  6. I make this meal about twice a year. I usually double the recipe in my large roasting pan. This way I have room for all of the ingredients and everyone can take a little home with them. Got the recipe from my husband’s side of the family who is from Greece. Everyone loves it! I’m happy to see so many of you have tried it and loved it! I’ll be making it again this year for Christmas. YUMMY!

  7. What did i do wrong if the top wouldn’t brown? Finally put it under the broiler. Tastes good but when we cut into it, it just falls apart in a puddle of noodles and sauce, not able to keep it in a square shape like yours at all. 🙁

  8. This Sicilian loved the Greek recipe! It’s subtler than a traditional lasagna, hearty enough to warm you up on a cold winter night, and aromatically delightful. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Hi, I would like to know if I can make the bechamel sauce with cornstarch instead of flour since some family members are gluten free Celiacos in spanish). I wonder if it would have the same consistency. Thanks

    1. Hello Susana, great question! Yes, you can replace cornstarch for flour in the bechamel sauce. Generally, you can substitute the flour with half the amount of cornstarch. For instance, replace 2 tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. You will need to dilute the cornstarch with a little cold milk beforehand and then add it to the rest of the milk while it’s warm and heating up. Don’t add it when the milk is too hot because you might get lumps. Alternatively, you can replace the flour with one-half rice flour and one-half tapioca flour. For instance, replace 2 tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of rice flour and 1 tablespoon of tapioca flour. Hope this helps! Let me know how it works out.

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