Easy Vegan Moussaka with Lentils
Vegan Moussaka is a delicious Greek-inspired eggplant dish made with layers of eggplant, potatoes and lentil ragu, topped with a rich and creamy cashew-based vegan bechamel sauce and baked until golden. Vegan Moussaka is a delicious vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipe.
What is Moussaka?
Let’s get straight to the point: It’s cold out and all I want to eat is warm and comforting foods. That’s where this vegan lentil moussaka comes in.
If you’ve never heard of moussaka before, it’s a layered casserole dish traditionally made with layers of eggplant, ground meat and bechamel sauce. There are many different variations of the dish, some of which include potatoes, zucchini or other vegetables.
This version of Vegan Moussaka starts off with a base of oven-roasted potatoes, eggplant, lentil ragu and a dairy-free bechamel sauce. It’s hearty, nutritious and perfect for a cozy meal.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Easy to assemble. Some recipes with different layers involved can feel complicated to assemble. The great thing about this Vegan Moussaka With Lentils is that it’s really easy to assemble. It doesn’t matter how you cut or slice the eggplant and potatoes, and even if you don’t have nice even layers I promise it will still taste delicious.
- Balanced vegetarian/vegan dinner. You’ve got plant-based protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fiber and everything you need to make a balanced nutritious meal! Each serving of moussaka is packed with 12 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein!
- Cozy earthy flavours. The spices and seasoning give this Moussaka bold rich flavour, so it will be loved by everyone!
What is Vegan Moussaka made of? (Key Ingredients)
- Lentils: to make the lentil ragu, you can use green, brown or black lentils. You can also use canned or dried lentils. If using dried lentils, just make sure to cook them before.
- Onion: to sautee with the lentils. Any white or yellow onion will work.
- Garlic: fresh garlic.
- Seasoning: the lentil ragu is seasoned very simply with a bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
- Crushed tomatoes: if you prefer diced or chopped tomatoes you can use those too.
- Tomato paste: this adds some richness to the ragu.
- Vegetable broth: any of your favourite vegetable broth.
- Eggplant: medium-sized eggplants will work best so you can easily layer the eggplant slices onto your baking dish.
- Potatoes: regular russet potatoes work well, but you can use any kind you like!
- Cashews: these are used to make a quick homemade cashew cream for the bechamel sauce.
- Nutritional yeast: bechamel for moussaka often has cheese in it. For the vegan bechamel, nutritional yeast will give the same cheesy flavour.
- Vegan butter: you can also use olive oil or refined coconut oil.
- Flour: I use gluten-free flour to keep this recipe gluten-free. You can use any type of flour you want.
How to make a Vegan Moussaka
Step 1: Lentil Ragu
Prepare the lentil ragu by sauteeing the onions and garlic in a pan, then adding the lentils, seasoning, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and let the lentils simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Vegan Bechamel
Add the cashews to a blender with some water and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Add the flour and vegan butter to a small pot on medium-high heat and whisk together. Then add the cashew cream and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.
Step 3: Assembling
Slice the eggplant and potatoes into round slices, about 1cm thick. Brush with olive oil and roast the vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes. Then layer the potatoes onto the bottom of a baking dish, followed by the eggplant, then the lentil ragu and finally the bechamel sauce. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. You can optionally broil for 2-3 minutes to get that golden brown colour on top.
What to serve with Moussaka
Moussaka can be enjoyed on its own or is great served with a side of salad, rice, grilled vegetables, zucchini chips or crusty bread to use to soak up the ragu sauce. Here are some of my favourite recipes from the blog to serve with this vegan moussaka:
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Massaged Kale Salad
- Greek Power Bowls
- Creamy Whipped Feta Dip
How to store, freeze and reheat leftovers
How to store in the fridge: you can store any leftover moussaka in the fridge directly in the casserole dish you made it in or in an airtight container for up to 6 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350 degrees until warm.
How to freeze moussaka: assemble the moussaka in a baking dish that is freezer-safe. Bake and let cool completely, then cover the moussaka tightly with plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Let defrost on the countertop then reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until warmed through. If you prefer you can transfer the leftover moussaka into an air-tight freezer-safe container and freeze.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Salt the eggplant before roasting. This will draw out any water from the eggplant helping it roast up without becoming soggy. Salt also helps to draw out any bitterness from th eggplant.
- Make sure the bechamel sauce is thick. When cooking down the vegan bechamel sauce, it should become quite thick, similar to the texture of yogurt. You need to continue to whisk the bechamel sauce as it cooks in order for it to thicken.
- Broil the moussaka for a golden brown top. Place the moussaka in the oven on broil for one minute before serving so the top gets nice and browned. If you want to broil the moussaka make sure to keep a very close eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
- Let the moussaka rest before slicing. While it might be tempting to dig right in, letting the mousska rest will allow everything to solidify slightly so the lentil ragu sauce doesn’t run out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Moussaka has a delicious taste of eggplant, tomato and a hint of cinnamon. It’s a very unique taste that is seriously flavourful!
This version of moussaka is made with potatoes, however, there are some versions of moussaka that are made with just eggplant, or with eggplant and zucchini.
Yes! Moussaka can be frozen unbaked or baked. To freeze unbaked, assemble the moussaka in a freezer-safe baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze. Defrost on the countertop and then proceed with the recipe.
Lasagna is a layered Italian dish made with lasagna noodles and moussaka is a layered Greek dish made with layers of eggplant.
I wouldn’t recommend using red lentils for the lentil ragu as they’re too soft and will break down and become mushy.
More Lentil recipes to try
If you tried this Vegan Lentil Moussaka or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!Print
Easy Vegan Moussaka With Lentils
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 65 minutes
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: Greek
- Diet: Vegan
This Easy Vegan Moussaka With Lentils is packed with flavour and easy to assemble!
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 cm slices
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm slices
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 can of lentils (approx 14oz), drained
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp flour (I use gluten-free)
- Roast the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant and let it sit for 10 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel. Toss the eggplant and potatoes with olive oil then spread evenly onto the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Cook the lentils: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and let cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Next add the bay leaf, thyme and cinnamon, lentils, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, salt and pepper then lower the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Vegan bechamel: soak the cashews in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain then transfer to a blender with one and a half cups of water and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth and creamy. In a small pot on medium-high heat mix the vegan butter and flour together until smooth. Add the cashew cream and whisk together until it thickens. The texture should be similar to yogurt. Remove from heat once thickened.
- Putting it all together: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grab a 9×9 inch or 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Layer the potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish, followed by the eggplant and lentil ragu. Pour the bechamel sauce on top and spread to evenly cover the baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Optionally broil for 2-3 minutes after baking for a golden brown top.
If you want to broil the Moussaka make sure to keep a very close eye on it so it doesn’t burn! It will only need 30-60 seconds on broil.
If your baking dish isn’t this exact size, it doesn’t matter too much as long as it’s a similar size.
Salt the eggplant before roasting. This will draw out any water from the eggplant helping it roast up without becoming soggy. Salt also helps to draw out any bitterness from th eggplant.
Make sure the bechamel sauce is thick. When cooking down the vegan bechamel sauce, it should become quite thick, similar to the texture of yogurt. You need to continue to whisk the bechamel sauce as it cooks in order for it to thicken.
Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.
- Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
- Calories: 560
- Sugar: 8g
- Fat: 25g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 60g
- Fiber: 12g
- Protein: 16g
Keywords: lentil moussaka, vegetarian moussaka, vegan moussaka
It was yum! family favourite. 🙂
Glad you loved it 🙂
This is my first time having Moussaka and I’m so glad I used this recipe. My partner and I absolutely loved this . I will be making this regularly now!
So happy you enjoyed it Miranda! 🙂
This was shockingly good. I admit I had doubts but even my moussaka-loving carnivorous husband was a big fan! My only comment is that it seemed to make much more than could fit in a 11×7 dish. I ended up filling a 2.5 qt casserole dish to the brim.
So happy you enjoyed the recipe Mel! 🙂
Wow!!!! I made this recipe today on a very cold day and it was absolutely delicious. It is involved but it is worth all the work! I don’t have much bakeware (only a few pie plates and a smaller casserole dish) so I used my 6 qt. Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven which worked beautifully. I think this dish would be great for entertaining. It’s so flavorful. I can’t see anyone not liking it.
Hi Johanna, happy you enjoyed it 🙂
Hi, if I add the vegan bechamel, do I add it on top of mashed potatoes and then bake. Thanks!
Hi Kris, you can simply add the vegan bechamel layer and then spread the potatoes on top and bake!
Made this for a birthday/Father’s Day celebration. The flavors of this meal were amazing. I did make one change, and I abhor those that say I made this recipe with a change, sorry. Your recipe was beautiful, but I did add red wine for and additional flavor profile. Otherwise, everything per the recipe. Absolutely wonderful. I really appreciate the effort you put in to making this recipe special!
Happy you enjoyed the recipe Andrea!
Is it just one layer of each, or multiple layers of each?
Hi Kristen, you can keep adding multiple layers until your baking dish is filled to the top!
Hello! Is this freezable? Looking for things I can prepare ahead of time.. or at least partly ahead of time 🙂
Hi Jennifer, yes it is!
It was totally awesome! I sprouted my own lentils and par-cooked them the night before.
Thanks Karen! Happy you enjoyed it!
This recipe looks great for my vegan friends;
Can it be made day before and how many is this recipe for
Hi Muareen, this recipe makes 4 servings. It can be prepared a day before and reheated in the oven!
This looks great and I’d love to make it! My fiancé is allergic to tomatoes unfortunately – is there anything I could replace the tomatoes with and still have it turn out?
Hi Anna, you can definitely make this without the tomatoes! You can try using some vegetable stock to add some moisture and you may want to add something like sauteed mushrooms to get that umami flavour.
We love this! I prefer using dry lentils, then you can cook them in vegetable broth too for more flavor, can do that while you prepare the onions and sauté!
Question, can you put in the crockpot do you think? Would like to prepare in the morning then cook for an hour or so for more flavor 😍
I’m sure you could! I’m not sure how the potatoes would turn out on top, but the base would still taste great!
How would the recipe be adjusted with dry lentils instead of canned?
Hi Sidra, you can use dry lentils and cook up the equivalent to 14oz cooked.
This recipe is so goood! I’m on weight watchers and this recipe (with a few modifications is so indulgent without the points! I got this recipe down to 1 point per serving!
I too used dry lentils. No wonder why I needed to cook it longer and added more liquid 🙂
Would we precook the lentals before adding to the vegetables? Thanks!
So happy you enjoyed the recipe Anastasia! And yes, precook the lentils before adding them in would be best if you’re using uncooked lentils 🙂
Hi, This looks great!
just a couple of questions. What size is the baking pan you used?
Do you simmer the tomato/lentil mix with the pan covered or not? Wondering how liquid the mix should be when it’s done.
Hi Joey, you can use an 8×8 inch baking dish if you have one handy! Simmer the mixture uncovered. it should be rather thick when it’s done!
Two potatoes was not near enough to spread over the whole dish (I even used three and still had to stretch it), so next time I will use more potatoes and there will DEFINITELY be a next time! Thank you for this recipe, it was delicious and my whole family loved it!
Hi Liz, noted! I probably had larger potatoes. Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
This was so tasty!! Will definitely make it again – thanks!
Thanks for the review Hayley! So glad you enjoyed 🙂
This looks amazing! I’m wondering if you can use any type of lentils? In general with the different dishes you make with lentils does it have to be the specific one you link to or can it be a different one (black lentils, green, red, etc)?
Hi Monica, yes you can use any kind of lentils!
Made this for dinner with my girlfriend and we both loved it! So good.
So happy you both enjoyed Ben!
This is fabulous! My husband declared it a do over after three bites! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much Anne! Glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe!
Wow! This looks so good, Jess!
Wanna make it for lunch today!
Great recipe ?
Lots of love,
Thanks so much Bianca! xo