Potato Moussaka Recipe – Bulgarian

Potato Moussaka Recipe – a traditional Bulgarian dish made with cubed potatoes, ground beef and pork, tomatoes, onion and seasoning. Topped with thick Bechemel sauce. Perfect for a family dinner. Step by step instructions and photos how to make Bulgarian Moussaka.

This traditional Bulgarian meal has been a staple in my family for years. It is very popular in my home country and on the Balkan peninsula.

Made with cooked ground beef, onion, tomato sauce and rubbed potatoes in a shallow baking dish, then topped with a fluffy topping and cheese (optional). The best and easiest moussaka recipe, it may not be traditional Greek, but tastes amazing!

Potato moussaka on a white plate

What is Moussaka?

Source: Wikipedia

Moussaka is an eggplant or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, in the Levant, Middle East, and Balkans, with many local and regional variations.

In different regions, moussaka is prepared and served in slightly different ways.

For example, in Greece and Turkey it could be made with either eggplant or potatoes, where potatoes could be cubed or thinly sliced into rounds and eggplant is usually sliced into rounds and fried or baked, then layered with tomato meat sauce and topped with milk or yogurt based sauce or Béchamel.

Moussaka can be served either hot or at room temperature.

A square slice of potato moussaka on a white ceramic plate

Potato Moussaka

Moussaka made with potatoes is more popular on the Balkans – Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania Albania.

Potatoes are used instead of eggplant, pork or beef mince or a combination of both,  the top layer is usually milk or yogurt mixed with raw eggs, sometimes with a small amount of flour added.

You can either mix the potatoes and ground meat together, or layer potatoes, ground meat and tomato sauce in the middle, then top with another layer of potatoes. Bake and then add the topping, which needs to be baked for an additional 15 minutes until golden.

This is how pretty much everyone on Bulgaria makes it.

Moussaka in a square white baking dish

What ingredients do I need to make this Potato Moussaka Recipe?

  • vegetable or olive oil
  • ground meat (I used a mix of ground 85% lean beef and ground pork)
  • onion
  • tomato sauce
  • salt
  • tomato paste
  • black pepper
  • summer savory (or chubritsa – Bulgarian/Balkan seasoning)
  • water
  • potatoes
  • carrots (optional, I usually don’t use any)

For the top layer:

I made this moussaka with a Bechamel sauce topping. This is not how it is made most of the time in Bulgaria, but I do love how it tastes.

There is a different topping used in Bulgarian moussaka, made with plain yogurt, eggs, flour and sometimes cheese. While I do like the way it tastes, I prefer the taste of fluffy bechamel sauce and tends to not stay on top, but sink between the potatoes. I’ll include two top layer options on the recipe card.

  • butter
  • flour
  • salt
  • milk
  • egg yolks
  • feta (optional)
  • nutmeg

Topping of the moussaka:

Parmesan or any cheese of your choice for topping. I like to use a combination of Parmesan and Mozzarella, but even if you leave this cheesy topping out, it will still be delicious!

How to make moussaka with potatoes?

Making moussaka requires some prepping and cooking, but the final result is very tasty and worth it!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it down with a wooden spoon for 6-7 minutes, until browned. Add onion and garlic. Add carrots (optional).Add salt, black pepper, dried mint, summer savory, thyme (optional), tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Grease a 9×9 or 9×13 baking dish with oil.
  4. Add in the drained potatoes and meat mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the meat into the potatoes.
  5. Add cold water to the baking dish, so it just covers the top of the potatoes.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the water is absorbed by the potatoes and they are fully cooked.
  7. In the mean time prepare the Bechamel sauce (or the Bulgarian Style Topping).
  8. For the Bechamel:
  9. In a bowl, swish egg yolks. Add feta cheese, if using any. Set aside.
  10. Melt butter in a saucepan. add flour. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.
  11. Slowly add the milk, whisking to incorporate. Add salt and nutmeg. Cook for 3 minutes, until thickened. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks (with feta). Let the sauce stand at room temperature, while the potatoes and meat are cooking.
  12. Pour the sauce over the cooked potatoes. Top with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. You can broil for 1-2 minutes, if the top is not getting to the desired golden color.
  13. For the Bulgarian Moussaka topping:
  14. In a bowl beat together eggs, yogurt, milk, flour, then add salt and baking soda.
  15. Pour over the moussaka . Top with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Homemade moussaka recipe in a white ceramic baking dish

Seasoning used in this Bulgarian moussaka recipe:

While you can definitely make moussaka without this seasoning, I like to use traditional Bulgarian herb called Summer Savory or Chubritsa.

What kind of meat to use in this Potato Moussaka Recipe?

You can use ground beef, ground pork, a mix of ground beef and pork or ground lamb.

How to make topping for moussaka (variations)?

  • Bechamel Sauce – Whisk egg yolks in a bowl.Melt butter in a saucepan, add flour. Cook for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.Add the milk, whisking to incorporate. Add salt and nutmeg. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until thickened. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks (with feta). Let the sauce stand at room temperature, while the potatoes and meat are cooking.
  • Yogurt Based Topping – The yogurt topping is typical for Bulgarian moussaka and it is usually made with eggs, yogurt, salt and flour. You whisk everything together, pour over the baked potatoes and beat , smooth the top and bake until golden.

More potato recipes:

Servings: 16

Potato Moussaka Recipe

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr
Potato Moussaka Recipe - a traditional Bulgarian dish made with cubed potatoes, ground beef and pork, tomatoes, onion and seasoning. Topped with thick Bechemel sauce. Perfect for a family dinner. Step by step instructions and photos how to make Bulgarian Moussaka.

Ingredients

For the moussaka:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 lb ground meat — I used a mix of ground 85% lean beef and ground pork
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove — minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp summer savory — or chubritsa - Bulgarian/Balkan seasoning
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lb potatoes — peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots — optional, I usually don't use any
  • 1/4 tsp thyme — optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint

For the Bechamel sauce:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese — optional
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it down with a wooden spoon for 6-7 minutes, until browned. Add onion and garlic. Add carrots (optional).Add salt, black pepper, dried mint, summer savory, thyme (optional), tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Grease a 9x9 or 9x13 baking dish with oil.
  4. Add in the drained potatoes and meat mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the meat into the potatoes.
  5. Add cold water to the baking dish, so it just covers the top of the potatoes.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the water is absorbed by the potatoes and they are fully cooked.
  7. In the mean time prepare the Bechamel sauce (or the Bulgarian Style Topping).
  8. For the Bechamel:
  9. In a bowl, swish egg yolks. Set aside.

  10. Melt butter in a saucepan. add flour. Cook for 3 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.

  11. Slowly add the milk, whisking to incorporate. Add salt and nutmeg. Cook for 3 minutes, until thickened. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks (with feta). Let the sauce stand at room temperature, while the potatoes and meat are cooking.

  12. Pour the sauce over the cooked potatoes. Top with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. You can broil for 1-2 minutes, if the top is not getting to the desired golden color.
  13. For the Bulgarian Moussaka topping:
  14. In a bowl beat together eggs, yogurt, milk, flour, then add salt and baking soda.
  15. Pour over the moussaka . Top with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
Course: dinner
Cuisine: bulgarian
Keyword: potato moussaka

Nutrition Information

Calories: 213, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 387mg, Potassium: 409mg, Carbohydrates: 13g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Protein: 9g, Vitamin A: 648%, Vitamin C: 8%, Calcium: 95%, Iron: 3%