If you’re after a creamy, rich and flavour-packed dish that can feed lots of people, you can’t go past this vegan moussaka. A traditionally well-known Greek bake filled with potatoes, eggplant, a delicious mushroom and lentil ragu, topped with a creamy, smooth béchamel sauce.
This is a great combination of complementary flavours that will have you going back for seconds and thirds. I know I always do!
You can make the layers ahead of time and bake the dish just before you’re ready to serve.
It’s definitely not a dish that you can whip up last minute, but trust me, it’s worth every minute you spend preparing it. I’ve created the recipe so that it flows from one thing to another seamlessly.
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Kitchen tools needed to make this vegan moussaka
Considering that this is a four-layered dish, the kitchen tools needed for this bake are very minimal!
- Baking dish
- Baking sheet pan
- Unbleached parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Small & large bowl
- Chef’s knife
- Large skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Small & medium saucepan
- Pouring jug
Tips for making this easy vegan moussaka with a creamy béchamel
Here are some useful tips to get you the best lentil moussaka you’ve ever tasted!
- You want the lentil and mushroom ragu to be quite dry before adding to the baking dish as you don’t want extra liquid in the bake. If there’s too much liquid, the sauce will result in a soggy bake. Then when you cut it, there’ll be no structure, and the liquid from the sauce will go all over the plate. Unlike lasagna, there is no pasta to soak up the liquid.
- You can skip the red wine in this recipe if you like, however, I do recommend using it as it adds a vibrant and deep flavour to the ragu. If you’re concerned about the alcohol, don’t worry, it evaporates and will not be in the finished dish.
- You may notice that I didn’t salt the eggplant slices first and let them sit to have the moisture drawn out to remove any bitterness. This is because most of the modern eggplant that you’ll find in your local supermarkets will be sweeter, so there’s no need for soaking. If you know that the variety you purchase is the naturally bitter variety, you’ll need to salt them first, leave them for 30 minutes, give them a rinse, and then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- You can certainly add more vegetables to the ragu if you wish. I decided to keep the flavours simple and as authentic as possible since the traditional ragu is typically just minced beef or lamb with canned tomatoes, spices, onion and garlic.
- Speaking of adding more vegetables, you can also add slices of zucchini instead of the second layer of eggplant or even sliced carrot.
How to layer this vegan moussaka with lentils
The layering in this moussaka is simple. Here are some photos to show you the steps.
A healthier alternative to traditional moussaka
I remember when I was younger, my mum used to make a vegetarian moussaka for us. It was battered eggplant layered with a soy mince ragu topped with an egg, sour cream mix. It was sublime!
However, I didn’t want to make it the same way as the battered eggplants are shallowly fried, and as much as I love the taste of soy mince, it’s not the healthiest thing!
If you have some on hand, and you like using soy mince, simply swap it out for the lentils.
The other way that moussaka is made in Greece is by deep frying the eggplant first. This requires a lot of oil and can be pretty time-consuming. This can also make the dish quite greasy.
Popping it in the oven gives you the freedom to make the ragu and béchamel so that the flow of making this bake flows beautifully.
This vegan eggplant moussaka is:
- Melt in your mouth
- Easy to make, just time consuming
This recipe is something you can make a big batch of and freeze in portions for those days you need a quick meal.
I would thaw it for about 30 minutes out on the bench, then pop in the oven for around 30 minutes with aluminium foil covering the top.
This moussaka pairs perfectly with a fresh side salad of mixed greens.
Some other bake recipes you’ll love:
- Wholesome Vegan Lentil Lasagna
- Vegan Lentil Loaf With a Maple-Balsamic Glaze
- Creamy Vegan Potato Gratin
- Easy Vegan Baked Ziti
- Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Bake (7 Ingredients)
- Marinated Vegan Bocconcini (Mozzarella Cheese)
If you try this recipe, let me know! We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram, or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
- Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Rest Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 9 serves
Serve this wonderful bake hot or cold and enjoy the authentic flavours of moussaka. Layers of eggplants and potatoes with a mushroom and lentil ragu, topped with a creamy vegan béchamel make this a rich and creamy dish.
- 2 large / 400g / 14.11 ounces potatoes, sliced to half an inch thick
- 2 medium-sized / 700g / 1.5 pounds eggplants, sliced into ½ inch thick
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
Mushroom and lentil ragu:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 250g / 8.82 ounces portabello or button mushrooms, diced
- 2 / 425g / 14.99 ounces cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed*
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 / 400g / 14.11 ounces can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce, or soy sauce
- ⅓ cup / 80 ml red wine (optional, however, adds depth of flavour)
- 1–2 tablespoons maple syrup*
- You can find the recipe here.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (355 degrees Fahrenheit) and oil a large baking dish (approximately 22cm x 32cm / 8.66 inches x 12.59 inches) on the bottom and sides.
- Prepare the potato: In a large bowl, add the sliced potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 sprig of thyme, ½ teaspoon of salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Toss to cover the potatoes well.
- Line the bottom of the baking dish with the potatoes, slightly overlapping them. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the eggplant: While the potatoes bake, in that same large bowl toss the eggplant with the 4 remaining tablespoons of olive oil (alternatively you can brush olive oil onto each slice with a pastry brush to make sure they are all covered), 2 sprigs of thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Half of the eggplant will be to layer over the potatoes, and the other half needs to be baked on a flat sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Once the potatoes are done, bake the eggplant (both the layers, one over the potatoes and the other on a separate tray) for 40 minutes.
- Prepare the ragu: While the vegetables continue to bake, prepare the ragu. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil and onions. Saute until they start to turn a little translucent.
- Add in the garlic and saute for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg, giving it a good stir to release all the aromatics from the spices and then add in the tomato paste. Stir well.
- Put in the diced mushrooms and let it cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have softened and released their natural juices. If you’re finding that the saucepan is a bit dry, add a splash of water to deglaze the pan.
- Add in the lentils and give it a good stir and then continue to add in the thyme, tomatoes (fill half the can with water and add it in), tamari, red wine, and maple syrup.
- Let the ragu simmer for 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. (See image of ragu above for guidance.) Season with cracked pepper and salt if needed at the end.
- Prepare the béchamel: While the sauce simmers, you can make the béchamel using the recipe in the link above.
- Assembling the moussaka: Once you have all the components ready, it’s time to assemble. (See images above for guidance.) At this stage, you’ll already have the first two layers in the baking dish. The potatoes and the first layer of eggplant will already be in place. Now add in the ragu and spread out evenly. Top it with the second layer of eggplants and then finish it off with the béchamel (keeping the tapioca slurry aside).
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then add the béchamel and tapioca mix and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Once it’s done, let it sit out on the counter for around 45 minutes to 1 hour so that all the layers firm up and cool a little before you cut into it and serve.
Lentils: If you’re using home-cooked lentils, use 3½ cups worth.
Maple syrup: The maple syrup is added to help balance out the acidity in the canned tomatoes that have citric acid added to them. Start with 1 tablespoon and taste. Adjust accordingly.
- Diet: Vegan
This dish is super yummy. I made it for my mom and me and we both really liked it. It took a while to prepare (as it says in the recipe), but it was so worth it and I will definitely make it again. Thank you for sharing the recipe! 🙂 Best wishes from Germany 🙂
Thank you so much for the lovely review, Judith! Sorry, it took me a while to get back to you. Glad you and your mum enjoyed it ☺️
It takes a lot of time but is so worth it! I made this a while ago and keep thinking about it.
So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Tess! Thank you for the lovely review x
I loved this recipe and followed it exactly as stated. I may try it with only 1 layer of eggplant next time as I had difficulty chopping the eggplants due to their large size. The ragu is amazing and I didn’t think I would like the bechamel topping as much as I would. I would recommend doing this on a Sunday or when you have a few hours to spare.
We made this dish multiple times since you guys posted it and it has become one of our family favorites. I must admit though we ran in a bit of trouble the first time with the measurements – the 9 servings just were enough for the 5 of us ;-). So, next time we added more eggplants, few potatoes and ragu. I know that the serving size makes absolute sense, but it’s just so yummy!!!
This popped into my email box and I just had to try it! i set out to make it for a quick lunch without reading the whole thing through first so it was a little bit of a later meal then planned but totally worth it! I modified the recipe to shorten the time somewhat. I firstly only cooked the potato layer for 10 minutes alone before adding the aubergine on top. i also used a meat substitute mince instead of lentils so that was much quicker to cook and season. I was making all the elements at the same time and so really all in all i think it was ready in 1.5 hours. I also didn’t bake it for so long once the bechamel was added as it browned nicely in less time. It was very delicious and it made enough for 2 small trays worth so i froze one for another meal. We just ate that today and saved time again by cooking from frozen-worked great! Thank you for sharing such yumminess!