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+ servings

Pastitsio Recipe

A classic pastitsio recipe - layers of ziti pasta with a beef and lamb sauce, bechamel and loads of cheese!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 servings
Calories 789 kcal
Author Michelle


For the Meat Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions grated
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • cup minced fresh parsley
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten

For the Pasta:

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese

For the White Sauce:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 egg yolks lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese

To Assemble the Pasta:

  • 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs divided
  • ¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish; set aside.
  2. Make the Meat Sauce: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the beef and lamb, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, breaking up the meat, until it is thoroughly browned. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is a thick meat reduction, about 1 hour, then remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
  3. Make the Pasta: While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the ziti to al dente. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and immediately toss with the melted butter; set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Make the White Sauce: In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until slightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking until the sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Assemble the Pastitsio: Sprinkle the bottom of the greased baking dish with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
  7. Stir the beaten egg and cheese into the pasta and spread half of the pasta mixture onto the bottom of the baking dish. Fold the egg white into the meat sauce and spread the entire mixture on top of the pasta. Top with the remaining pasta. Whisk the egg yolks and cheese into the white sauce and spread on top of the pasta. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ¼ cup breadcrumbs and cheese and sprinkle on top of the white sauce.
  8. Bake until the surface of the pastitsio is browned and bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition Facts
Pastitsio Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 789 Calories from Fat 468
% Daily Value*
Fat 52g80%
Saturated Fat 26g163%
Cholesterol 244mg81%
Sodium 1039mg45%
Potassium 920mg26%
Carbohydrates 65g22%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 46g92%
Vitamin A 1435IU29%
Vitamin C 11.6mg14%
Calcium 518mg52%
Iron 5.1mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.