Moussaka is a delicious Greek dish composed of layers of minced lamb, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and a bechamel sauce on top. You can, of course, use other meats such as minced beef, turkey, or pork if you don’t like lamb and you can even make a vegan or vegetarian moussaka.
Moussaka takes some time to prepare, so can you make a large moussaka and freeze half of it? The answer is yes, and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze moussaka and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Moussaka
1. Make your moussaka according to your favorite recipe.
2. Cool down the moussaka.
Put the dish on your worktop and leave it to cool down. It should take around an hour or so. You don’t want to leave it out for longer than two hours at room temperature, as after this time, bacteria can start to develop. However, you mustn’t put the moussaka in the freezer while it is still warm as it will bring up the temperature and other food may start to defrost and even spoil.
3. Divide the moussaka into meal-size portions.
It is a good idea to do this so that you only defrost the amount you need for each meal.
4. Put the moussaka into airtight containers.
Put labels on the containers with the date and contents. If you are freezing a whole dish of moussaka, you can wrap it in a double layer of cling film. Make sure that it is airtight otherwise freezer burn may occur. Freezer burn will ruin the taste and texture of your moussaka.
Tips For Freezing Moussaka
- You can, alternatively, freeze uncooked moussaka. Perhaps you want to prepare it ahead of a dinner party but don’t want to cook it until the day. It can taste fresher than if you freeze cooked moussaka. The important thing to remember is to wrap it well in cling film so that air doesn’t get in causing freezer burn.
- If you have leftovers and you think that you are going to eat them within three to four days, you can refrigerate them instead of freezing them. However, if you’re not sure, it’s better to freeze the moussaka straight away. This is because the sooner you put it in the freezer, the fresher it will taste when you defrost and reheat it.
- Try eating moussaka cold. Moussaka is eaten in the Arabic world as well and they eat it cold. Give it a go. If you don’t like it, you can always heat it. The Arabic version traditionally doesn’t contain potatoes or a bechamel sauce.
For How Long Can You Freeze Moussaka?
You can freeze moussaka for three months. This goes for both cooked and uncooked moussaka. The sooner you put it in the freezer, the fresher it will be when you defrost it.
How Do You Defrost Moussaka?
The best way to defrost moussaka is slowly and steadily as this helps it to retain taste and texture. Take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it and put it in the fridge to thaw. If you forget to do this or are in a hurry, you can defrost the moussaka in the microwave on a low setting. However, you might find that the texture changes.
For example, the cheese sauce may split, and the dish as a whole might be watery. The one thing to remember is to ensure that the moussaka is completely defrosted before you heat it otherwise it might not cook all the way through. The internal temperature of the moussaka should be 140 F. It is a good idea to invest in a probe thermometer.
Can You Refreeze Moussaka
Technically, moussaka can be frozen for a second time but the texture can change dramatically. Every time you freeze, ice crystals are formed and when the moussaka is defrosted, they will turn into water and your moussaka can end up mushy. It is much better to freeze in meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much as you need for one meal.
Is It a Good Idea To Freeze Moussaka?
Yes, as long as it is kept airtight, moussaka does freeze well, whether or not it is cooked. If you follow our instructions, you will find that there is very little change in taste or texture.
Freezer-Friendly Moussaka recipe
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 3 eggplants, cut into rounds
- 28.2 oz lamb mince
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 14 oz can tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 19.4 oz sliced potatoes
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ⅓ bottle of red wine
- ½ tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1/3rd pint water
- Bechamel Sauce
- 1.4 oz unsalted butter
- 1.4 oz plain flour
- ¾ pint of full-fat milk
- 1.4 oz grated parmesan
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Nutmeg for grating
- Heat 4 tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant in batches for five to seven minutes until they are golden in color and soft. Set them aside on a paper towel.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and brown the meat for eight to ten minutes. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until soft. Add the garlic, oregano, cinnamon, chili, and bay leaves, and cook for another minute. Put the lamb back in and add the wine. Reduce the wine to half. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, brown sugar, and water. Season and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 F.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes for six minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry.
- Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the milk, a little at a time. It needs to be smooth. Return to the heat and simmer for three minutes. Take the pan off the heat and whisk through the parmesan, nutmeg, seasoning, egg, and egg yolk.
- Get a large rectangular dish and assemble the moussaka. Spread a third of the meat on the bottom followed by half the eggplant and then half the potato. Then put in the rest of the meat, the rest of the eggplant, and then the rest of the potato. Finish with the bechamel sauce. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 50 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing moussaka but perhaps you are still curious. If so, we have answered a few questions here.
If the moussaka is uncooked, you can keep it in the fridge for up to five days, although the sooner you put it in the freezer, the fresher it will taste when you defrost and cook it. If the moussaka is cooked, we suggest you keep it in the fridge for just a couple of days. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the greater the chance of bacteria forming.
Perhaps you are a vegetarian and have made a vegetarian moussaka. The meat can be replaced with most vegetables. Zucchini and red peppers are good choices. You could also add spinach, mushrooms, and sweetcorn. Alternatively, you could make moussaka with soya mince, lentils, or beans. The good news is that you can freeze any of these varieties and they will last longer in the freezer than their meat counterparts.
Turkish moussaka doesn’t have bechamel sauce which, in a way, means that it freezes even better than Greek moussaka. There is always the chance of the bechamel sauce splitting when it is frozen. It will still taste good but it might not look as good as fresh moussaka.
Yes, you can. You can replace the meat with vegetables, lentils, beans, or a mixture of all of them. To make the bechamel sauce, use a plant-based milk such as almond, oat, or soya, vegan butter, and vegan parmesan. It will freeze in the same way as meat moussaka and will last even longer in the freezer.
Moussaka is a hearty dish that doesn’t often need to be served with anything. However, some lighter dishes could be put in the middle of the table for everybody to take what they want. The Greek salad, horiatiki, is a good choice. It is a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese. You could also serve roasted vegetables such as peppers, onions, and zucchini, garlic bread, green beans, zucchini crisps, or even fries if you are a potato fan.