Easy Vegan Moussaka

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Ceramic pan of vegan moussaka topped with oregano

This vegan moussaka recipe was a work in progress for weeks until we got the perfected method just right! Layers of roasted eggplant meld perfectly with a hearty tomato lentil filling, which is topped with a show-stopping roasted garlic cashew bechamel.

Flavor is abundant here despite the 10 simple ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!

Eggplant, lentils, nutritional yeast, cashews, tomato, olive oil, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano, and sea salt

Origins of Moussaka

Moussaka is a popular dish in Greece and beyond. It’s typically made with layers of ground meat, eggplant, and a bechamel sauce. But other variations of the dish with different ingredients also exist and vary by region.

The exact origin of moussaka is unknown, but it’s believed to have Arab roots and may have been inspired by a Levantine dish called musakhkan. The addition of a French bechamel sauce is thought to be the contribution of Greek chef Nikolas Tselementes in the early 1900s.

Our version is not traditional but is our plant-based take on the delicious concept of layering roasted eggplant, a hearty filling, and a rich, creamy bechamel sauce. You can learn more about the history of moussaka and find a traditional recipe here.

Pouring lentil filling over baked eggplant slices

Vegan Moussaka

This vegan moussaka consists of three layers: 1) roasted eggplants slices, 2) a lentil tomato filling, and 3) a roasted garlic bechamel sauce.

Before roasting the eggplant, we sprinkle it generously with salt and allow it to sit in a colander or bowl. This helps draw out the moisture so that once roasted, it’s perfectly fork tender with sweet, caramelized edges.

The filling starts with sautéing onion and garlic. Next come the lentils and tomatoes, which are simmered with salt, pepper, oregano, and optional nutmeg.

But the star of the show is the roasted garlic bechamel. Roasting garlic turns it from sharp and pungent to mild and sweet. When blended with cashews, olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast, and water, it becomes a creamy, knock-out sauce.

Adding eggplant slices over a lentil tomato filling

With the three layers ready, it’s time to assemble. The lentil tomato filling goes between slices of roasted eggplant, then everything’s topped with the bechamel. Once baked, the top becomes golden and slightly caramelized. Swoon!

Pouring cashew bechamel sauce over eggplant and lentils to make moussaka

We hope you LOVE this vegan moussaka! It’s:

Savory
Tomatoey
Cheesy
Comforting
Subtly spiced
& SO delicious!

It’s a hearty entrée perfect for meal prep or impressing dinner guests. It would pair especially well with our Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad, 5-Minute Green Salad, and/or your favorite roasted vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, or potatoes).

Vintage spoon in a pan of easy vegan moussaka

More Delicious Eggplant Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Vegan moussaka with a lentil base and cashew topping

Easy Vegan Moussaka

Incredibly delicious vegan moussaka with layers of roasted eggplant, hearty tomato lentil sauce, and roasted garlic cashew bechamel! Just 10 ingredients and simple methods required.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Fork resting on a plate of vegan moussaka
4.93 from 28 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6 (Servings)
Course Entree
Cuisine Greek-Inspired, Middle Eastern-Inspired
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

ROASTED GARLIC (for bechamel)

  • 1 head garlic, average size
  • 1 tsp olive oil

EGGPLANT

  • 2 small to medium eggplant
  • ~2 Tbsp salt (for sweating the eggplant)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (if oil-free, omit)

BECHAMEL

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)

FILLING

  • 1 Tbsp oil (if oil-free, sub twice the amount in water or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-oz) can green or brown lentils, drained and rinsed (1 can yields ~1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt + pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by soaking cashews in very hot water for 30 minutes. In the meantime, move on to the next steps.
  • ROASTED GARLIC: Heat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Slice off the very top of the head of garlic and set on a piece of foil. Drizzle the top with oil and wrap to conceal. Then roast directly on a center oven rack for ~50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cloves are tender, fragrant, and light golden brown.
  • EGGPLANT: Slice eggplant vertically, 1/4 inch thick. Then salt slices on both sides and add to a colander set over a mixing bowl or in the sink (to catch moisture). Let rest 30 minutes to draw out moisture and reduce bitterness. After 30 minutes, rinse and press between 2 clean towels to pat dry.
  • Transfer to 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper and brush both sides with olive oil (either spray or use a pastry brush). Then bake at 400 degrees F (204 C) for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
  • BECHAMEL: Drain your soaked cashews and add to a small blender along with roasted garlic (cool slightly then squeeze up from the bottom to the top to remove cloves), olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt, water, and nutmeg (optional). Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste or nutritional yeast for cheesiness. Set aside.
  • LENTIL FILLING: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onions and sauté until golden brown and slightly caramelized — ~5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat as needed if browning too quickly.
  • Add lentils and crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, oregano, and nutmeg (optional). Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered (if splattering, lower heat and cover with lid but crack to allow steam to escape). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more oregano for herbal notes, nutmeg for nuttiness, or salt or pepper to taste.
  • ASSEMBLY: To an 8×8 dish, add 1/3 of the eggplant slices (overlapping slightly if needed), then top with 1/2 of the lentil mixture and spread into an even layer. Then top with another 1/3 of the eggplant. Then add the remaining lentil mixture, and top with the remaining 1/3 of the eggplant. Pour over the bechamel and smooth into an even layer.
  • Bake at 400F (204 C) for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly and the top appears slightly dry and golden brown on the edges.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with only 2 tsp of the salt used for sweating the eggplant (since most of it is removed by the towel) and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 321 Carbohydrates: 27.9 g Protein: 8.3 g Fat: 22.2 g Saturated Fat: 3.5 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 14 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1115 mg Potassium: 881 mg Fiber: 8.8 g Sugar: 12.5 g Vitamin A: 200 IU Vitamin C: 14.47 mg Calcium: 70.32 mg Iron: 3.14 mg

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  1. Abby Z says

    I made this tonight and it’s a lovely dish. Eggplant slices massaged with minimal oil, salt and grilled in a pan on stovetop just until tender. No lentils on hand so used a combination of white beans lightly mashed with a fork and tvp. Roasted whole cloves of garlic on a tray in oven for 10 minutes. Then assembled and baked according to directions. Lots of flavor, a real treat. Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Abby! Love your creative modifications too. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Joanne says

    So good! This was really flavoursome and easy to make. I roasted the garlic a couple of days ahead, cooked the lentils that morning and it came together easily.
    My eggplant was a bit small so I created a layer from sliced potato (microwaved till tender) and some homegrown silverbeet (chard), which I highly recommend!
    I wasn’t super keen on the flavour of the bechamel, so I added some plant yoghurt, 1T flour and an egg yolk to increase the volume and thickness while tempering the nooch taste and it worked really well.
    Thank you for another fabulous recipe MB!

  3. Emily R says

    This is SOOOO tasty. But it was extremely time-consuming. The 2 hour recipe time is no-joke. I wish it didn’t take so long because I loved it so much. I might make again but just cube the eggplant and sauté it in the same pan as the lentils. Because you can’t really taste or see distinctive layers once it’s all cooked. Definitely recommend but not if you’re on a time crunch.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Emily. It is a more time consuming one, but hopefully worth it =) We’d love to know if your shortcut works out!

  4. Ginny says

    I’m not sure if I missed it, but I couldn’t find the oven temperature for roasting the eggplant. I kept the oven at 400 after roasting the garlic, but the parchment paper started to burn and some of the eggplant got pretty dark and crispy.

  5. Jen Maniaci says

    Holy crap, this was delicious. I have made a ton of your recipes (they are all good!) but this was one of my favorites. The bechamel was so creamy and delicious. I saved the recipe to make again in the future. Thank you for all you do, from a fellow plant-based dietitian. :)

    • Ginny says

      Hmmm. Maybe. Believe it or not, I actually pulled out a ruler to make sure I knew what 1/4 inch looks like! :^)
      At any rate my husband and I loved it! It was even better on day two!!

  6. Esther says

    I made this last night & loved it! The only changes I made from the recipe were to use unsweetened cashew milk instead of water in the bechamel (mostly because I had some that I needed to use, but also to try and make it a little creamier) and to add a little cinnamon (based on another review). It turned out great! I don’t typically love eggplant, but it basically melted into the rest of the ingredients and was so yummy. Will definitely make it again ◡̈ Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Esther! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications!

  7. Jennie says

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! My daughter is vegan, and for her 24th birthday she asked for a dinner that includes eggplant. I love to make moussaka, but have never made a vegan version before. I made my usual sauce and made hers in a separate pan, added lentils instead of meat to hers (waht a great idea!) and made this lucious bechamel to top it. It was a hit! Thank you so much for the great inspiration!

  8. Vicky says

    Great dish! Made me so happy to see this on here! I grew up eating an eggplant dish my mom made kinda similar, with ground beef and marinara and tons of chesse. I would crave it now and then but didn’t know how to attempt a healthy vegan version of it. This satisfied my craving! Loved how the cashew sauce baked on top, great texture. Thanks for all your amazing recipes!

  9. Hali says

    Absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe as written + a tbsp of balsamic vinegar in the crushed tomatoes. Always looking for cruelty free recipes that go over well with my omnivore house & this was a big hit! Thank you!

  10. Jim Gramprie says

    Such delicious flavors!! We haven’t had this since we decided to eat vegan. Although it’s a memory older than a decade this fabulous dish awakened those memories.
    Rather than lentils we used a pound of Beyond Beef. With this replacement it had the chewiness I recall.
    For our palate nutmeg was a definite plus.
    Thank you Dana❗️

  11. Amber Rose Reed says

    Hello
    this looks delicious although, I am highly sensitive to canned tomatoes. What can I substitute for canned tomatoes?

    Thank you.

  12. Kath says

    Delicious! I could have eaten the lentil mixture by itself too. The only thing I would do differently next time is wash the salt off the eggplant with more care – I could still taste the salt in the dish but otherwise – perfection!

  13. Amanda says

    This recipe is so terrific. A lot of prep, so definitely better as a weekend activity, but it made two evenings of meals for my partner and I (we had roasted veg on the side). It’s like a fancy lasagna, but doesn’t taste too rich or heavy. I’ve never had any kind of authentic moussaka but I would happily make this again.

  14. Dina Anestopoulos says

    Dana, I am so impressed with the flavor of this moussaka. It tastes so much like the real thing!!! AMAZING! You got this so right. I am Greek and from what I can remember from eating authentic Moussaka as a child
    this tasted infinitely better and is not heavy.
    I really appreciate all your hard work and thoughtful, delicious recipes.
    thanks!
    Dina

  15. Simone R says

    Made this for lunch yesterday and absolutely loved it. Easy to make and so tasty. The bechamel sauce took it to the next level! Froze the left overs for quick dinner options to reheat when cooking ther dishes for the rest of the family Definitely a keeper. Thank you.

  16. Eva Heller says

    This was one of the best things I’ve ever made!! Followed the recipe pretty closely, only sub was I used dried mixed lentils, added as stated in recipe and added water to cook for 15 minutes. Cooked them al dente so they added a nice texture to the dish. Thank you so much for this…I’m in love!!!

  17. Kelly says

    OMG…thank you so much. This dish is a 10 out of 10. It turned out perfect and the buchamel sauce so amazing. Keep doing what you’re doing because you are getting amazing results! Thank you so much!

  18. Susy Tucker says

    I made this and it was unbelievably delicious! The vegan bechamel sauce was so good I’m going to use it on everything now! I took some leftovers to my Lebanese mom who thinks eating vegan is “unnatural” and she loved it and can’t wait to make it for herself. I didn’t change a thing from the recipe- you spent all that time perfecting it and it was perfect. I was disappointed to learn I was out of nutmeg so looking forward to making it even better next time with nutmeg.

  19. NB says

    This recipe was lovely. It def takes some time to prepare, I think next time I might prepare the lentil stuffing and bechamel ahead of time. It was so good we had more than 1 serving!

  20. Mary-lu Spinney says

    Hi there. The recipe looks Devine. Can’t wait to make it. From the picture it looks like you have added chick peas yet it’s not in the ingredient list. Was it missed?
    Thanks for all your great recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Mary-lu, no, this one doesn’t contain any chickpeas. In which photo are you seeing chickpeas?

  21. missi weinhart says

    U N B E L I E V A B L E !!
    I could eat this every night for the rest of my life. The topping tasted like it had egg in it- soufflé like. So delicious and a gorgeous presentation too. I didn’t make any changes to this brilliant recipe and I can’t wait to make it again.

  22. Wendy Pedersen says

    I made this today for my boyfriend and his Greek mother. Really delicious!!! I left out the oil on all steps and nobody missed it! Will go into my rotation! Thanks!

  23. Beth Ann says

    Made and ate this this tonight and it is absolutely melt in your mouth delicious !😋 Prepping the eggplant with salt definitely helps give a velvety texture and mellowness. The roasted garlic in the bechamel makes it pop.
    I’d suggest planning for another half hour for prep time, but ABSOLUTELY worth it!

  24. Jacqueline says

    I’m going to make this for dinner tonight. I’m going to use lasagna noodles instead of the eggplant. I’m hoping that it works out!

  25. Alex says

    I haven’t gotten a chance to try the recipe yet, but my mother-in-law is Greek and they cook all of their tomato sauces with a cinnamon stick inside. Cinnamon in tomato sauce is extremely common in all of Greece. I personally am not a huge fan of cinnamon in my savory dishes, but for those who are they should totally give it a try for a more authentic flavor!

  26. Wendy Pedersen says

    I’m making this for my Greek mother in law but am wondering if I can leave out oil in the bechamel. I’m trying to go oil free!

  27. Morgan says

    So excited to make this recipe! Just wondering, is there a preference for a specific type/color of lentils to use? Thanks!

  28. Jodi says

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try this, however, having a severe and deadly nut allergy, what would be your substitution for the cashews?

  29. Sheila says

    So excited to see Vegan Moussaka on the blog! Had to make it tonight!
    Delicious! Loved Every bite. Had trouble stopping at 1 portion. Alas, tomorrow is another day! Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes! I might try adding potato slices, roasted first, like the eggplant in this recipe. Otherwise, simple and yummy! Needed the full 2 hours but not attended the whole time. Will make again! The Béchamel is so
    Delicious and easy! Will be great in other recipes! Thanks again!

    • KitKat says

      I made this today to test run for a birthday dinner next weekend and it was a huge hit! I did make a few changes to lower the FODMAPs. I didn’t think it was overly time intensive. Easy to do a step and then something else until time for next step so even though it’s 2 hour total it didn’t feel like an all day cooking endeavor. And again, everyone loved it. That in itself makes it a keeper for me. I’m definitely going to make again! Thanks for the perfect timely recipe!! I love your site and recommend to others often☺️

  30. Liz says

    I would love to make this as it looks amazing, but lentils really upset my digestive system … would it be possible to substitute some type of beans e.g,. Black beans, white northern beans, chickpeas etc? Thanks so much!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Liz, we think it would still be delicious. We’d suggest white beans or pinto beans. Let us know if you try it!

  31. Cheryl says

    Hi There! I usually peel eggplant before cooking it. Do you think there will be an issue if I do for this recipe? Also, what is the equivalent of dried lentils instead of using canned?
    Thanks!!

  32. Stacia says

    This is a little time consuming for a weeknight meal. Can it be assembled the night before and baked the following day?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We think it might get soggy, but let us know if you try it! Another idea would be to prepare the components separately and then assemble and bake the following day.

  33. Karyn Quackenbush says

    So excited to try this!! Quick question… I can’t find canned lentils in my area for some reason. But I do have dried lentils. Any suggestions???
    Thank you so much!!
    Karyn

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      You can cook dry green or brown lentils in vegetable broth and/or water. 1 can yields ~1 1/2 cups cooked lentils. So you’ll need ~1/2-3/4 cup dry lentils. Hope that helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      You can cook dry green or brown lentils in vegetable broth and/or water. 1 can yields ~1 1/2 cups cooked lentils. So you’ll need ~1/2-3/4 cup dry lentils. Hope that helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We used canned lentils which are pre-cooked. If making from dry lentils, you’ll need to cook them first.

    • Liz says

      Thank you for your lentil substitute suggestions! Def. going to make and will let you know!
      I do have one more question: As a Nutritionist who counsels and helps clients on how to convert to a plant-based diet, using both my recipes and theirs, I am often asked for the nutritional analysis … Of course I know how to do it item by item , but it is SO time consuming, as I like to do Pro, Fat, Carbs, Cals, Sodium and more. Would you be willing to share which programme, resource, or whatever you use for your excellent nutritional breakdowns? (Which are HUGELY appreciated by the way as so few bloggers offer this service) . At almost 77 I can assure you I have NO interest in starting a blog or even an Instagram page !! I just do this to help anyone who needs it. My college education was at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) where I took a 2 year programme in Dietary Technology, graduating in 1977. I became a Personal Counsellor for Weight Loss in a business I started called Dial-A-Diet. I also owned a gourmet party catering service for 4 years. I’m passionate about the plant- based, whole food way of life, and happy to share my decades of culinary adventures with anyone! I’ve been plant-based for almost 4 years, and was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for several years before that. Thank you – your blog is incredible Dana, and you work SO hard.. I am a HUGE fan! Warmest wishes, Liz, Victoria, BC Canada 🥰

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kai, perhaps macadamia nuts or 3 parts soaked sunflower seeds, 1 part hemp seeds? Let us know if you try it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Maria, almonds won’t get quite creamy enough. Perhaps macadamia nuts or 3 parts soaked sunflower seeds, 1 part hemp seeds? Let us know if you do some experimenting!

  34. Mary says

    Hi, at what oven temp do you roast the eggplant? I’m thinking that if it’s 400, I can do the garlic and eggplant together.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      400 degrees F (204 C). If you have enough racks in your oven that might be okay. Let us know if you try it!

  35. Rachael says

    I’m so excited to try this, it looks delicious!
    Quick question: if I omit the nutritional yeast will that mess with the texture or is it just added for a cheesy flavor?
    Thank you for sharing this! I love your recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rachael, thanks so much! It won’t be quite as “cheesy” but should still taste good. Let us know how it goes!

  36. Lani Strom says

    I just love your recipes and am dying to make this. However, for the béchamel sauce I don’t use oil or nuts. Is there any possible substitutions?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lani, thanks so much! The eggplant really benefits from oil. For the cashews, perhaps 3 parts soaked sunflower seeds, 1 part hemp seeds? Let us know if you try it.

  37. Monica Sardina says

    We love your recipes, and can’t wait to try this one! My daughter, however, is not a fan of lentils. What are your thoughts about subbing beans?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Monica, we think it would still be delicious. Perhaps white beans or pinto beans? Let us know if you try it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Deborah, you could try leaving it out and then taste test and if it needs a little something extra, add a squeeze of lemon to the sauce before baking. Let us know if you try it!

  38. Rebecca says

    My housemate is allergic to eggplant, would you recommend an alternative? I would love to make this for my household.

  39. Sibyl says

    Thank you for posting this!! After I saw your bechamel I was hoping this wasn’t too far behind. My partner doesn’t like eggplant really – I could get away with making this with eggplant for him but wondering if there is any feasibility substitute at all? (i think literally every other veg is on the table here).

  40. Nina says

    Hi, Greetings from UK in Lockdown 3 ☹️ Thanks for the fabulous recipe nd video 👏👏👏 I am going to make this at the weekend. There will be leftovers as I am making for 2 people. How do you recommend to
    re heat? Thanks again…