Greek Pastitsio Casserole Style

This simple Greek pastitsio knock-off (and I’m not claiming it’s authentic, people) is basically a deconstructed pastitsio in casserole form.

And it is downright, knock-your-socks-off delicious.

A lightened up, creamy sauce swirls around tender penne pasta and flavorful ground turkey or sirloin. Combined with the other gentle flavors (hints of nutmeg, tomatoes and garlic) and with just a touch of mozzarella cheese and fresh parsley, this dish reminded me of a kicked-up, unique and slightly Greek-influenced beef stroganoff.

Oh, and did I mention it’s quick? And easy?

We devoured this one. I couldn’t get enough of the creamy, flavorful sauce and fought for the right to the leftovers. Add this one immediately to your weeknight rotation. You won’t be disappointed!

Greek Pastitsio Casserole Style

What To ServeDivine Breadsticks or Cheesy Garlic Bread
Steamed vegetable like broccoli or peas
Simple green salad (or something more fancy like this Gourmet Green Salad)

One Year Ago: Divine Caramel Sauce
Two Years Ago: Chicken Spiedie Sandwiches
Three Years Ago: Peanut Butter Crunch Snack Balls

Delicious Greek Pastitsio {Casserole-Style}

Yield: Serves 6

Delicious Greek Pastitsio {Casserole-Style}


  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground sirloin
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (from about 1 large onion)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 2 cups milk, 1% of skim work great
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Coat a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water, cook the penne pasta according to package directions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add beef or turkey to the pan with the diced onions and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring to break up the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through. Drain excess grease from the meat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture, stirring to combine, and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the cream cheese in pieces, scattering it over the meat. Let it melt into the meat and stir to combine. Whisk or stir in the milk, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes. Stir to combine well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook 5-6 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and is thoroughly heated through.
  4. Stir in the pasta and spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta and broil for about 3-5 minutes (watching carefully so it doesn't burn!). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. Let it stand fora bout 5 minutes before serving.


Make-Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions. After the sauce simmers for 5-6 minutes, remove from heat and stir occasionally, until the sauce has cooled to room temperature. Stir the pasta into the cooled sauce. Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Cover the casserole with a double layer of aluminum foil and place inside a large resealable bag, if possible (if you don't have a jumbo-sized plastic bag, just make sure the edges of the aluminum foil are sealed well). Freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, place the frozen covered casserole in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour until bubbly and hot.

Recipe Source: adapted from My Recipes (a Cooking Light recipe), recommended to me by my friend, Lesli

84 Responses to Delicious Greek Pastitsio {Casserole-Style}

  1. what’s not to love about a casserole? Looks great!

  2. Kim in MD says:

    I have never had Pastitsio, but it looks and sounds delicious! Your timing posting this recipe couldn’t be better, Mel. My BFF and I are hosting a Greek theme party in March! This would be a great addition to our menu. Do you think it could be made the day before the party (you know me and my need to make everything ahead)? Perhaps cook everything but don’t assemble until just before putting in the oven? Thanks, Mel!

  3. This sounds great and very different. I could make this in lightened up form and I love the nutmeg in Pastitsio…with the creamy sauce it’s irresistible.

  4. Chris says:

    That looks so good.

  5. toni says:

    This looks delicious! I’m adding it to my menu lineup!

  6. Tomi Ann says:

    I know what’s for dinner at my house tonight!

  7. Jana says:

    Looks delicious! Pinned it…can’t wait to try!

  8. Oh My My mouth is watering! I will make this very soon!

  9. Oh, I must add this to my dinner menu!

  10. Sandee says:

    my fridge is looking pretty sparse (tuesday is grocery day) but i think i can pull this one off. thanks, mel.

  11. Dwight Blood says:

    nothing to do with this recipe, but I am your lone male recipe follower, at least of record. I previously raved about the clam chowder which I still make often. But you didn’t say your skillet mac and cheese makes enough for dozens of people. It’s really good and really plentiful. I still love your emails and your blog. Dwight

  12. BrookeO says:

    I love this Greek twist on casserole. My husband will love it and it will be perfect for a cold winter night’s dinner!

  13. marisa says:

    Love that it’s very light! Growing up in a Greek household we had plenty of this and plenty of it went to our hips! Excited to try this. Thanks!

  14. Devona says:

    I have a version of this but I use cinnamon instead of the nutmeg. I’m going to try it with the nutmeg next time. Looks great!!

  15. Allyson says:

    I came to your site specifically for a pasta dish for tonight – and didn’t make it past your home page! Looks delish. I’ve got everything but the fresh parsley – would I be missing much to omit it (and avoid an extra trip to the store)?

  16. Mel says:

    Kim in MD – I think this could definitely be made ahead, especially if you wait to assemble right before (otherwise, the casserole may dry out a bit if left assembled overnight thanks to the noodles sucking up the extra sauce). I hope you like it if you try it!

  17. Mel says:

    Oh heavens, Allyson, don’t run to the store just for parsley (unless you let me watch your kids for you!). It will miss a bit of the bright freshness but if you are so inclined, throw a teaspoon or so of dried parsley in with the sauce and I think it will fare just fine.

  18. Shelli says:

    This is SO bizarre… this is the second time in one week that I have been thinking of a certain recipe and you had it featured THAT VERY DAY! Awesome! My neighbor growing up was Greek and the ONLY thing she ever made was pastitsio. I couldn’t get it out of my head yesterday… I can’t wait to try this tonight! YAY!

  19. Libby P. says:

    How funny…I just came online in hopes of finding a new way of using the ground turkey I have! Got my answer on my first stop! Love it! And I already have all of these ingredients. Everything’s coming up Libby!

  20. denise mcentee says:

    Looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

  21. Holly W says:

    I have everything on hand to make this except the fresh parsley! It’s going to be replacing my previously scheduled meal on tomorrow’s menu plan. I’ll just use dried parsley unless I happen to drive by the store tomorrow on other errands. Thanks for posting!

  22. Made this tonight and my casserole-fearing husband loved it! Said we should add it to our rotation. Incredibly simple and quick to make…a very satisfying comfort meal for the cold(ish), dreary winter weather. Thanks for sharing, Mel.

  23. Chris says:

    It seems I’m on a pinning streak with your recipes! Our family loves casseroles, this one is definitely going on the must try list.

  24. Beth says:

    I love finding new weeknight recipes. This looks great!

  25. Heather says:

    Made this last night… it was a hit with everyone! Added oregano and parm cheese as well. It went into my daughter’s lunch, my lunch and will likely be the afterschool snack du jour when my oldest daughter gets home from basketball practice. Thank you for posting it!

  26. Deanna says:

    Oh, this is one of my favorite cold weather foods that I have never made. There is a restaurant near me that makes it, but now I clearly have to make it for myself.

  27. grace says:

    when i see a greek dish, i think about ‘my big fat greek wedding’ and automatically smile. it doesn’t hurt that this one is absolutely mouth-watering!

  28. Apryl says:

    Made this tonight and it was soooooo good! I admit I was nervous but it was amazing! Thanks!

  29. Heather says:

    Can I just say I’m on the last of the leftovers for lunch, mixed in w/ leftover Indian food (jeera saag – sauteed spinach w/ garlic and cumin) and when mixed up together, it tastes heavenly! Thank you, thank you thank you for this recipe!

  30. julie says:

    I just made this for dinner tonight and it turned out perfectly. FANTASTIC and DELICIOUS. I love how easy the recipe – I will make this often. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  31. Arcadia Girl says:

    I made this for dinner and LOVED it! The flavor combination is amazing. Thanks so much for posting it!

  32. Rhonda says:

    Just had this for supper and its awesome!! The only thing that could use changing is that it feeds 6 people. My husband, our three year old and myself almost ate the whole pan, and we had a vegetable and apple sauce to go along with it. Thanks for another great meal !

  33. tonya says:

    When this recipe posted I made a change on this week’s menu – had to have this! Forget raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens! How about pasta & cream cheese, ground turkey & nutmeg?? THESE are a few of my favorite things! DELICIOUS, Mel! DELICIOUS!! My husband agrees – this was just DELICIOUS!! Call me simple, but this turned out to be one of my very favorite dishes. Ever. In my life. Ever.

    AND we followed it with the lemon crinkles. Yes & Amen!! Together, my husband & I ate THIRTY-TWO of them. We did not evenly split those 32, but I will NOT tell you whose share was more like 2/3. I will tell you that she plans to hit her final weight loss goal by Valentine’s Day so she should not make more of these until after that. Just sayin’.

  34. Jen says:

    Okay, Tonya’s comments just FORCED me to pin this and make later.

    My husband HATES tomatoes… will I be thoroughly missing out if I totally omit them?

    Or, possibly, I could grind them up to a pulp and cook it with the ground beef so the FLAVOR is there, just not the chunks? (that’s my go-to technique for onions– he’s a “texture” guy, but doesn’t mind the flavor)

    Any advice? He’s a big boy, but he’s the PICKIEST eater and I’m the *only* one who cooks!!! ::sigh::

  35. Rachel Moody says:

    Oh heavenly Mel! You’ve done it again! I love it! I had never heard of this, but most of it was pantry ready for me, so I tried it out after a trip to pick up parsley and cream cheese. I must say, the whole pan was devoured by my picky family. Honestly, I was a little nervous about the nutmeg. I like it in pumkin pie, but a cream sauce? I had my doubts, but NO more!! Amazing. I do have to admit that I used diced chicken breast instead of ground meat. Not a huge fan of stroganoff stuff and well, to tell the truth I thought it was a diced chicken recipe and I didn’t realize it wasn’t until I had the recipe out to cook and defrosted chicken in the pan -ooops. BUT, it was amazing! So, anyone that doesn’t have ground beef or turkey- diced chicken works fabulously as well!
    Okay, I’m done raving about this one 🙂 Thanks again Mel, you really are my best friend!!

  36. Mel says:

    Jen – I don’t think I’d leave out the tomatoes completely. If your sweet, picky husband is ok with the pulverized option, I’d definitely do that. Then you’ll still get the flavor without the texture. Good luck!

  37. tonya says:

    Jen – my husband hates tomatoes, too. :o) I’m not as thoughtful as you so I figured he could pick them out – ha!! He ate them in this without hesitation (BUT he has no issue w/ texture). I’m glad you asked about grinding them – now I’ll know how to be more thoughtful next time. ;o)

  38. Erin says:

    I made this tonight for dinner and my pasta-loving husband LOVED it! I’m not exaggerating when I say he had no less than 4 helpings. He said to me “we HAVE to have this again.” And after dinner, he promptly emailed the link to his whole family. Thanks Mel for another dynamite dish! This is the first time I’ve commented but it’s certainly not the first time I’ve made one of your recipes…on the contrary, I use your recipes regularly. And you never disappoint. Thank you thank you!

  39. Rachel says:

    Love love love! kids both ate and husband already excited about left-overs!!

  40. Jill says:

    I made this for dinner yesterday and loved it. Thank you!!

  41. Julie in TX says:

    This was fantastic! I upped the veggies by adding bell pepper and celery with the onions, and I tossed in 4 oz fresh spinach at the end when mixing it all together. Thanks again for an awesome meal!

  42. Natalie in Maryland says:

    A new favorite at our house! Have now made it twice…once with turkey, once with beef. I recommend your recipes to whomever will listen.
    Thanks so much.

  43. Barbara says:

    Made this dish last night and it was a hit! LOVED IT!! I’m also looking to leftovers that I’m having on my lunch break!

  44. Deb says:

    Yum, yum, yum! I love it when a bunch of simple unassuming ingredients combine to be this delicious! Super easy to put together and hearty yet not heavy. And the leftovers were great too. Adding to rotation!

  45. Shalie says:

    I made this dish the other night and it was such a crowd pleaser. I actually made it for a group of girls who came over the watch “The Bachelor” and some boys caught wind of food and came running… lets just say they enjoyed this dish more than the bachelor 😉

  46. Shannon says:

    We are in the middle of a move. I didn’t worry about bringing a cookbook, because I knew I could find plenty of good recipes right here! This was another hit. There are only two of us, so I cut the recipe in half and it worked great. The only trouble I had was that I can’t seem to find it in your recipe index. I had to just follow posts backwards to find it. How am I missing it?

  47. Susan Bowman says:

    Mel, This was so very easy to make. It took no time at all. I halved the recipe and used a smaller casserole dish. Came out absolutely delicious! Definitely will be a great new mother one!

  48. Kristin says:

    Made this tonight – awesome! Having a huge Greek step-family, I love love love standard Pastitsio, but this deconstructed option was perfect for tonight…I did end up using a 50/50 mix of lean ground beef and ground lamb which kept it a bit truer in taste but I know that’s not for everyone, and I’m sure other meat choices would be fine too. Hubs and kids have already declared dibs on the leftovers for lunch tomorrow 🙂

  49. Emily says:

    Thanks for another winner, Mel! This was absolutely delicious. I’ll probably save this for weekends, though, since it dirties quite a few dishes. I’m looking forward to enjoying the leftovers for lunch the rest of this week. 🙂

  50. Vicky says:

    I have no idea what patitsio is, but this recipe was so yummy. I used ground turkey and loved the peppery flavor of the sauce. Also, I didn’t have cream cheese, but substituted a cup of thick, homemade yogurt, and it was delicious.

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  52. Betsy says:

    The ingredients say 3/4 teaspoon of salt, but the only salt mentioned in the directions is 1 teaspoon on the ground sirloin. Mine turned out really tasteless – missing much-needed salt and I’m assuming that 3/4 teaspoon in the ingredients was supposed to go in at some point? I’m surprised no one else has commented about this…

  53. Mel says:

    Hi Betsy – thanks for catching the salt error. I’ve updated the recipe. I usually add 1 teaspoon salt to the ground beef and the 3/4 teaspoon salt (originally listed in the recipe) to the sauce. I’ve edited it to include both amounts. Thanks!

  54. Cerissa says:

    Mel, I am thinking about making this dish for a pasta loving family of 9 that just welcomed a new baby into their family. What do you think would be the best way to prepare it to take over early in the day… any tips (should I have them heat it in the oven, then add cheese, etc)? Also, do you think it will fit in a 9X13″ pan if I double the recipe? Thank you for the great recipe and your help!

  55. Mel says:

    Hi Cerissa – good luck to the family of nine. Oh my – that is wonderful (and undoubtedly busy!). If you plan on taking the meal to them earlier in the day, I’d put it all together complete with putting the cheese on top and cover it with foil. It could then be baked covered at 350 for 30 minutes, uncovered and baked another 15 minutes. That should do the trick, I think. Also, I think if you double it you would need to make it in two 9×13-inch pans or one really large roasting pan (the disposable aluminum kind)…although if you make it in a large pan like that, I’d increase the baking time by another 15 minutes probably. Good luck!

  56. Cerissa says:

    Wow, thank you so much! I will do two dishes and have them bake it. Thanks!

  57. Jenn W says:

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was really good, and we’re not so much of a casserole family. This will be added to my list of “go to” recipes. Plus, it would be something that I’d feel comfortable taking in to another family. Keep ’em coming!!

    Hope you’re settling into Minnesota!

  58. Cathy V P says:

    I am 100% Greek and love pastichio! It is very time consuming to make so it’s not a weekday thing for us. I made this casserole yesterday and it was fantastic! My boys loved it so much and said it totally tasted like pastichio. Thank you for the recipe and the blog. Glad I stumbled onto it

  59. Dana says:

    I have made this recipe several times now! I love it, thank you for such great recipes… I can always count on your site when I want to find something new to expand my recipe box!

  60. Marissa Kubinski says:

    Delicious dish with the ground turkey! Made this for dinner tonight and it was quick and easy to make. The cost of all the ingredients together was under $10 and there are plenty of leftovers.

  61. Stephanie says:

    I was introduced to your blog by my sister in law a couple months back and had just been looking around, reading all of your wonderful recipes. I made this recipe for dinner last night and it was a total hit!! I did substitute ground lamb for the turkey, since we both enjoy the taste of lamb and it was on sale. My husband could not get enough of it and we had to force ourselves to put it away before we ate the whole dish! Thank you for a great recipe!! 🙂

  62. Laura D says:

    This is so, so good….looking forward to making it again.

  63. Kat says:

    I knew when I saw my secret cheese sauce ingredient (nutmeg) being used, I found a kindred soul and blog to follow!
    We decided to celebrate Christmas in Tahoe this year. I made this at home using the make ahead directions . Viola – an easy and tasty dinner for all. All four of my sons devoured this!

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  65. jules says:

    I have a pastitsio recipe too and I absolutely loooove it. The one I use has mint in it and it makes it even moooooore wonderful. A little goes a long way, but it really adds a litle extra yum…some depth. Love.

  66. Erica says:

    I am making a bunch of these and freezing them for my cooking group. I am worried about over-cooking the pasta, did you put the pasta in under-done when you make it ahead of time and freezing it? do you add the parsley in or just wait until cooking day?

    • Mel says:

      Erica – I cook the pasta slightly shy of al dente so maybe a minute less than the package says. I add the parsley before freezing and it seems to do just fine.

  67. Amy Y. says:

    Wow!! Super Yummy!! Whole family loved it! I forgot to drain tomatoes…not a big deal. I did add a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes while browning the meat…cause I do this to all hamburger recipes. So Good! Thanks Mel!!

  68. Melissa says:

    My family LOVED this!!

  69. Amanda Z says:

    This was easy and delicious, my two favorite qualities in a recipe 🙂 It was creamy and wonderful. I was bad though, and may have added more then a cup of mozzarella…. we love a cheesy casserole!

  70. Sharon R says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and we were all very happy with dinner. I thought my husband would be unsure because of the cream cheese, but he approved. Our 10 month old couldn’t get enough either. I use slightly less cream cheese and more spices, but sooo good. Thanks for all your yummy recipes.

  71. Melissa says:

    I made this tonight! I like it even better than the Spaghetti Pie and I used rotini instead of penne and it was really delish and effortless to make! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  72. Norabel says:

    I’ve enjoyed trying many of your recipes and they’ve all been a hit! When I came across this recipe I knew it’d be a favorite. I used some leftover bratwurst and added some olives. It is now my favorite pasta dish! In my house we are huge fans of yours and the fact that you are now a fellow northern minnesotan makes your recipes that much tastier!

  73. Holly W says:

    I’ve commented on this post before but had to come back and tell you I’ve made it TEN times as a take-in meal for families in our neighborhood / congregation. It’s been a huge hit every time. I add 1 8-oz. container fresh, sautéed mushrooms and 1 green pepper (also sautéed) to bulk up the servings and the veggie content. We love this recipe! Thank you!

  74. Stephanie says:

    At the risk of sounding repetitive, you are a total rock star! I made this tonight for a friend (going through chemo) and her family. Huge hit!! My only alteration was using ground lamb. I can’t wait to make this again!

  75. pamg says:

    Would this recipe work w/ground lamb?

  76. Marleen says:

    Am planning on fixing this for a holiday dinner party. Am thinking of fixing a greek salad and need another side. What would you suggest that would be easy as I am preparing for about 30 people.

  77. Kathie says:

    I’m late to this pastitsio-party but oh my, it was scrumptious!! I used some Penzey’s Greek Seasoning when I was cooking the sirloin. I want to try it with ground lamb, since it’s only one pound of meat I can splurge! I just love your site, thank you for helping me expand my menu and look forward to cooking dinner again 🙂

  78. Nita says:

    Very tasty and so quick and simple! My kids loved it,even my picky eaters.

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