Pastitsio with Phyllo and Kefalotiri

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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Greek “Pastitsio”  is a very common casserole found in the Greek cuisine, and there are just as many versions of this recipe as there are casseroles in the U.S.  The meat can be substituted for ground lamb if you choose. Originally, this calls for a bechamel topping, but when I came across this version it’s been my favorite ever since. For me it’s easier and fool-proof. I remember hearing my mother and aunts screaming from their kitchens when the bechamel sauce, their version of the white sauce separated or it somehow collapsed.  Boy, this is so simple and no worries. This is my go -to recipe when company is coming!

Greek Pastitsio with Phyllo
Greek lasagna layered with phyllo dough and penne pasta, wine meat sauce, and cheese, truly a traditional Greek dish.
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Greek
  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup wine, sherry, or marsala
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1½ pound penne pasta
  • 1 pound phyllo dough, defrosted
  • 3 cups cheese, pecorino, or kefalotiri,grated
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 quart milk
  • ½ pound of butter for brushing phyllo
  • ½ cup butter for pasta
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute onions in 2 tablespoons of butter until softened.
  3. Add ground beef, salt and pepper, cook until browned.
  4. Add wine, tomato paste, and water to beef. Reduce until no liquid is present.
  5. Cook pasta until al dente (almost done).
  6. Remove, drain, and add ½ cup melted butter.
  7. In a 14x11 pan, brush bottom of the pan with butter, and layer ½ pound of the phyllo in pan, brushing each layer with butter.
  8. Place half the pasta over the phyllo spreading evenly.
  9. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, spreading evenly.
  10. Add all the ground beef to the pan.
  11. Add the remaining cheese.
  12. Add the remaining pasta.
  13. Beat the eggs until fluffy and light, add the milk.
  14. Carefully pour the milk over the pasta,allowing it to soak in.
  15. Layer the remaining pound of phyllo over the noodles.
  16. Trim the edges of the phyllo with a knife around the rim of the pan.
  17. Cut into 3x5 pieces, or 4x6 pieces.
  18. Place on a sheet pan to catch drippings while baking.
  19. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until golden on top and firm.
  20. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Can be assembled ahead of time and placed in freezer. If frozen: Bake unthawed for 1½ hours. Can be made a day ahead of time baked and re-heated. Pyrex makes a 14x11 inch glass pan. Recipe adapted from : The Complete Book of Greek Cooking- St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral


If you need help with working with phyllo, please take a look at this post on Working with Phyllo.

Invite the family over and enjoy this dish!


© 2012 – 2020, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna

Hi Mary,

Love, love, love your site. I find it extremely informative and have enjoyed many of your recipes. I have learned much from your “Olive Oil” book …… Very well done and love sharing the information and teaching my grandkids from it.

I would like to know how I can get a copy of the ” Complete Book of Greek Cooking” from St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral? I am in Canada and love everything Greek, especially Greek cookbooks.

Thank you for your blog and recipes I only remember eating but now can make for my kids and grandkids.

Big hugs to you, Anna

2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Hi Anna, Thank you for your support and kind comments.
Locate the church and write to them for a copy of their cookbook. I live on the west coast and live to far away.
Good Luck,

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