Gluten Free Pastitsio

Learn how to make this delicious traditional Mediterranean dish!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 140 minutes

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Gluten/Soy free

Pastitsio...the traditional pasta dish found in multiple Mediterranean countries ... Full of flavors... Full of layers... Downright delicious!

Commonly known as the "Greek lasagne", Pastitsio is a staple in Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian, and Maltese cuisine and it is made with a small tubular pasta, meat sauce, cheeses, topped with a creamy Béchamel sauce, and then baked to perfection. A true family favorite!

This is my version of pastitsio. I love placing the pasta in the bottom, meat sauce in the middle, and then the Béchamel on top. I find that by doing this, I get more defined layers.

What is the flavor profile?

Savory with cinnamon, nutmeg, and peppery notes.

What ingredients will I need to make Pastitsio?

Ground beef or lamb, red wine, garlic, onions, cinnamon, crushed tomatoes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, salt & black pepper, olive oil, milk, cream, unsalted butter, gluten free flour, nutmeg, Parmersan or Kasseri cheese, eggs, gluten free penne.

Can I make substitutions?

You can use either beef or lamb, any gluten free pasta available to you, Parmesan of Kasseri cheese, fresh or dried herbs, canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.

What is Pastitsio?

Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce found in Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian, and Maltese cuisine. Though derived from the Italian pasticcio, it has evolved to be a distinctive dish.

What is the origin of Pastitsio?

Pastitsio takes its name from the Italian pasticcio, a large family of baked savory pies which may be based on meat, fish, or pasta, with many documented recipes from the early 16th century, and continuing to modern times. Italian versions include a pastry crust; some include béchamel.

The word pasticcio is attested by the 16th century as "any manner of pastie or pye" and comes from the vulgar Latin word pastīcium derived from pasta, and means "pie", and has developed the figurative meanings of "a mess", "a tough situation", or a pastiche.

In Cyprus and Turkey, it is called "oven macaroni" (Greek: μακαρόνια του φούρνου, makarónia tou foúrnou, Turkish: fırında makarna). In Egypt, it is called macarona béchamel (Egyptian Arabic: مكرونة بشاميل‎ [mɑkɑˈɾoːnɑ bæʃæˈmel, -be-]).

What is Béchamel Sauce?

Béchamel sauce is a sauce traditionally made from a white roux (butter and flour in a 1:1 mixture) and milk. Béchamel may also be referred to as besciamella (Italy), besamel (Greece), or white sauce (U.S.). French, Italian and Greek Béchamel sauce recipes include salt and nutmeg as a seasoning base. Béchamel sauce is one of the Mother sauces of French cuisine.

What is Kasseri Cheese?

Kasseri is a medium-hard or hard pale yellow cheese made from pasteurized or unpasteurized sheep milk and at most 20% goat's milk.

"Kasseri" is a protected designation of origin, according to which the cheese must be made in the Greek provinces of Thessaly, Macedonia, Lesbos or Xanthi, but a similar type of cheese is found in Turkey, Romania, and the Balkans, where it is known as kashkaval. The same cheese is made with cow's milk, but in that case it cannot be legally sold as "kasseri" in the EU and is instead sold under names that are particular to each producer.


Meat Sauce

  • 2 lbs of ground beef

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup of red wine

  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

  • 20 ounces of crushed tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

  • salt & black pepper to taste

  • olive oil

Béchamel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of Pillsbury Best Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

  • 1 cup of heavy cream

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1 1/2 cups of milk

  • salt & black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups of Kasseri cheese or grated Parmesan


  • 12 ounces of Ronzoni Gluten Free Penne Rigate


  1. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the meat and sauté until it is not longer pink (about 10 minutes). Stir frequently to break any lumps apart.

  2. Drain liquid and add the cinnamon, garlic, oregano, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and add the wine. Let it all cook for 5 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

  3. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let it cook for 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the time has elapsed, remove from heat and set aside.

  4. Prepare the pasta as instructed in the package. Make sure that it is not fully cooked but "al dente". Drain and set aside.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350º F.

  6. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once fully melted, add the flour, cook for 2 minutes while whisking constantly. Pour the warm milk/cream over the butter/flour mixture while continuously whisking everything together. Cook for about 5 minutes, until it becomes smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese and the eggs. Remove from heat and set aside.

  7. Grease a baking dish and place 1/2 of the cooked pasta in the bottom, making the first layer. Mix the rest of the pasta with 3/4 of the meat sauce and pour on top of the pasta, making the second layer. Set aside the rest of the meat sauce. Spread the Béchamel sauce on top as the third layer. As the final layer, use the remaining of the cheese.

  8. Bake uncover for 50 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

  9. Serve and top with the rest of the meat sauce.


Printable recipe (pdf) below:

Gluten Free Pastitsio
PDF • 8.93MB

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