Bulgarian Moussaka

December 26, 2019
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6 to 8
Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Moussaka, but Make It Bulgarian. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely minced button mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried savory leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 bouillon cube (optional)
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound ground beef or pork
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish (about 12 inches long).
  2. Set a large pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add mushrooms, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions soften and mushrooms release liquid.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, savory, paprika, cumin, nutmeg, white pepper, and bouillon cube, if using. Fry for a little bit until mixture is well combined and fragrant, and tomato paste slightly changes in color.
  4. Add potatoes and stir to coat them with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup water and stir. Cook potatoes until they are mostly cooked through, stirring occasionally so that they do not stick to the bottom. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove pan from the heat, add ground meat and stir to combine thoroughly. (You are not cooking the meat here, just combining it with the potatoes and seasonings.) Put the meat and potato mixture into the casserole dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes until the meat is cooked. The top should be lightly browned and the meat should be solid like a meatloaf or burger patty. Drain the excess liquid and fat from the casserole dish, if necessary, and set aside.
  6. In a bowl, beat together yogurt, flour, eggs, and baking soda. Season with salt and pepper lightly. Pour the yogurt mixture over the meat and potatoes and return to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden and the yogurt is just set. (Do not overcook. The yogurt layer should be just firm enough so that it is not pure liquid. If you cook it too long, the yogurt will curdle.)
  7. Let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Danna Farabee
    Danna Farabee
  • Eleanor Goodman Gipson
    Eleanor Goodman Gipson
  • Sian Dart
    Sian Dart
  • erin.bruner.7
  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.

12 Reviews

NXL January 23, 2023
This dish is a little on the bland side for me, even though I added some hot pepper flakes. I enjoyed the tang of the yogurt topping.
Danna F. September 12, 2022
I found the yogurt topping to be the most interesting part of the recipe. Will definitely make this again.
Eleanor G. December 31, 2021
I LOVED this recipe! Ok, partly because I am so frigging sick of my own cooking and this was something I never would have come up with. I went off-course a couple of times-used antelope instead of beef because we have so much game in the freezer. Also, got tired of waiting for the potatoes to soften up and just put the skillet in the oven, which did the trick quite nicely. The dish ended up being like some kind of exotic frittata. And we scarfed up every bite. Thank you!
sadiemkd June 17, 2020
I made this tonight for a sweet Bulgarian friend who is missing her home. I even made a vegan version for some of my guests. Everyone loved it. She said it was perfect and that it made her night. Thank you.
laurenmat August 28, 2020
How did you make it vegan?
Sian D. April 1, 2020
Has anyone ever managed to boil chunks of potato (and I'm talking 1cm wide, maybe 2cm long) in a thick sauce and had them soften within an hour? I gave up and microwaved my pre-meat sauce dish for 6 minutes but the tatoes still seemed quite firm. Fingers crossed the half hour in the oven will cook them through.
erin.bruner.7 January 29, 2020
I seasoned the veggies to taste, but by adding raw ground meat prior to baking the seasoning was diluted. Be sure to salt your veggies heavily or be mindful of adding extra seasoning with the raw meat. This dish was easy to prepare and probably a crowd pleaser for many families. For me it was just ok.
Claudia January 6, 2020
This was absolutely incredible. Served it with the salad as suggested, and all 6 of my kids gobbled it right up. This will be a regular on our menu for sure.
Carlos C. January 6, 2020
Oh I am so glad you guys enjoyed it!
Sabine G. January 3, 2020
Made this tonight and it was excellent! I loved how flavorful this was and a breeze to prepare. I followed this recipe to the t with the exception of using lamb instead of pork or beef- and an addition of sumac spice to the onion mixture. I loved the topping- it was perfect. Nice and light, but added nice color and flavor. Will be making this many more times!
Carlos C. January 6, 2020
I'm so glad you liked it. The sumac and lamb are nice touches. I may need to try that.
Tankerswife December 7, 2021
Never heard of sumac spice. Where might I find it down here in AL?