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This vegan moussaka is smoky, comforting, and so easy to make! Prepared with sautéed eggplants, a meaty tomato sauce, and a rich bechamel. This family-friendly meal is flavorful, satisfying, healthy, and will please everyone! From the meat eaters to the kids, not to mention your grandma, we are sure they will all enjoy this delectable moussaka!

Vegan Smoky Moussaka

So the other day, I was craving lasagna…but had no pasta sheets in the pantry. But I had eggplants! So obviously, moussaka came to mind.

Moussaka is a dish that I discovered at school during my teenage years. It was completely new to me, and after taking a first bite, I instantly fell in love. The creamy bechamel, tender eggplants, and the meaty filling subtly infused with cinnamon sealed the deal. A decade later, it’s still one of my favorite dishes! After transitioning to a plant-based diet, I developed a meat-free version that tastes as good as the traditional one. It’s smoky and meaty, and has a bechamel topping that is browned to perfection.

Just a quick note: remember that while moussaka is an easy dish, it is a bit time-consuming since there are three different preparations: the filling, the eggplants, and the bechamel topping. With that being said, I believe it’s totally worth it and it’s a dish we make regularly, both for ourselves and our guests (vegans and non-vegans). I hope you will love this plant-based moussaka too!

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • A family-friendly dish. Over the years, we have served this moussaka to numerous guests and each one loved it. Moussaka is just like lasagna. It’s a dish that the whole family loves, even picky eaters!
  • Warming and hearty. Moussaka is the perfect casserole for the Fall and Winter seasons! It has that stick-to-your-ribs factor that leaves you satisfied and warms you up from the inside.
  • Packed with texture and flavor. This dish certainly doesn’t lack in flavor. The eggplants are fried until golden brown in olive oil, resulting in an amazing braised flavor. On top of that, the tomato filling has a smoky aroma and super meaty texture.

📘 What is Moussaka

Moussaka is a Middle Eastern dish popular in countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Each country uses a slightly different recipe. The Greek version, which is the most popular, was created in the early 1900s and consists of a tomato and meat filling layered with sautéed eggplants and topped with bechamel sauce. It’s a bit like lasagna but with eggplants!

🍆 Ingredient Notes

Here is what you will need to prepare this moussaka:

  • Eggplants – The base of any good moussaka. Pick fresh eggplants that are firm with smooth skin.
  • Tofu – Use firm or extra firm tofu. It will be crumbled to replace the meat. Alternatively, you can use vegan ground meat or rehydrated TVP crumbles.
  • Soy sauce – For umami and saltiness.
  • Smoked paprika – To add a hint of smokiness. In case you do not have smoked paprika, add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke.
  • Liquid smoke – Optional. It adds a smoky aroma.
  • Garlic and shallots – Feel free to substitute one onion for the shallots.
  • Cinnamon – Just a pinch of ground cinnamon elevates the flavor of the filling.
  • Diced tomatoes – You can use fresh diced tomatoes or canned. I personally use canned diced tomatoes to save time.
  • Thyme – Or your favorite dried herbs. You can even use Italian seasoning for extra flavor.
  • Vegan butter – To add richness to the bechamel. You can use store-bought or homemade vegan butter.
  • Almond milk – Use unsweetened almond milk or your favorite plant-based milk.
  • Potato starch – To keep this recipe gluten-free, I went with potato starch to thicken the bechamel. In this case, it’s a pretty good substitute for all-purpose flour, although your bechamel won’t be as thick. If you are not gluten-free, use all-purpose flour.
  • Nutritional yeast – For a cheesy flavor.
  • White miso – We will add white miso to the bechamel to add saltiness and umami.
  • Nutmeg and black pepper – To season the bechamel.

🥣 How to Make It

This recipe consists of three different steps: preparing the tomato filling, frying the eggplants, and making the bechamel. Then, it’s all about assembling everything.

1. Filling

  1. Crumble the tofu. Pat the tofu dry using kitchen paper towels and press to remove the moisture. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into 1/2-inch crumbles and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Season it. Add the soy sauce, oil, maple syrup, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and dark soy sauce if using (it’s only used to give the tofu a darker color). Toss to coat the tofu with the seasonings.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the tofu into an even layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking. The tofu should be golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Set aside.
  1. Sauté the aromatics. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or pot. Once hot, add the minced shallots, garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Add the tomatoes and tofu. Next, add the diced tomatoes, baked tofu, salt, thyme, cinnamon, and ground black pepper.
  2. Let it simmer. Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened. At this point, you can taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking. Set the tomato filling aside.

2. Eggplants

  1. Slice the eggplants. Slice the eggplants into 1/2-inch (1.2cm) thick slices.
  2. Sauté until golden brown. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Once hot, arrange a few slices of eggplants in an even layer. Make sure they are not overlapping. Sauté on both sides for 2-3 minutes or until the eggplants are golden brown.
  3. Drain the excess oil. Transfer the eggplant slices to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to remove the excess oil.
  4. Repeat. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. Be aware that this is the most time-consuming step of this recipe.

3. Bechamel

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan. Add the unsweetened almond milk, potato starch, nutritional yeast, vegan butter, white miso, salt, and nutmeg to a saucepan.
  2. Whisk. Whisk to dissolve the potato starch.
  3. Cook until thickened. Next, bring the bechamel to a simmer, whisking constantly until it thickens. This will take 5-7 minutes.

4. Assemble

The final step consists of assembling the moussaka. To do so:

  1. Arrange a layer of eggplants. Place half of the eggplant slices in a 9×7-inch (23x18cm) oven-safe baking dish. It’s okay if some eggplants overlap.
  2. Top with the tomato filling. Transfer the tomato tofu filling on top of the eggplant slices and spread it into an even layer.
  1. Arrange another layer of eggplants. Place the remaining eggplant slices on top of the tomato filling.
  2. Top with the bechamel. Finally, pour the bechamel on top of the eggplants and spread it into an even layer.
  3. Bake. Bake the moussaka uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil the top for 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Enjoy! I recommend letting the moussaka rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

📔 Tips

  • Let the moussaka rest. Moussaka is one of those dishes that benefits from resting a day or two before being enjoyed. Not only does it taste much better as flavors get time to merge, but it is also a bit less juicy as the tofu absorbs some of the liquid. If you have time, I highly recommend making it one day ahead and reheating it just before serving.
  • Thicken the filling. The longer you simmer the tofu tomato filling, the thicker it will become. I usually let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until it is thick but still creamy. However, if you prefer a thicker filling, let it simmer longer.
  • Use smoked tofu. If you want to save time and skip the baked tofu step, you can simply use smoked tofu. While it’s not available everywhere, it’s often fairly easy to find in organic supermarkets.

🥔 Variations

  • Add potatoes: Some moussaka recipes call for a layer of sliced potatoes at the bottom of the dish. If you want to add potatoes, boil or bake them until tender and slice them into thick slices before placing them at the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Top with breadcrumbs: For a crispy topping, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the bechamel before baking.
  • Top with grated vegan cheese: Want to add a cheesier flavor? Sprinkle some grated vegan cheese on top of the bechamel.
  • Tweak the filling: Feel free to replace a part of the tofu with diced mushrooms, cooked lentils, or vegan ground meat.
Vegan Smoky Moussaka

🥗 What to Serve It With

You can serve this moussaka with a green salad like this kale and carrot salad, Brussels sprouts salad, or even this hearty French potato salad!

❄️ Storing and Reheating

  • To store: This moussaka will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • To freeze: Once completely cool, cut the moussaka into portions and transfer them to freezer-safe containers. It will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat: Cover with aluminum foil and reheat for about 20 minutes in a 350°F (175°C) preheated oven.

I’ve tried a lot of traditional moussakas in the past, but this one really stands out as my favorite. The addition of smoky tofu, nutritional yeast, and miso adds a deeper flavor to the dish. Plus, each serving boasts over 15 grams of protein!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Note: This recipe was first released in 2016 and was updated in February 2024 with new photos and process shots.

Vegan Smoky Moussaka
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Recipe

Easy Vegan Moussaka

4.84 from 6 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This vegan moussaka is smoky, comforting, and so easy to make! Prepared with sautéed eggplants, a meaty tomato sauce, and a rich bechamel. This family-friendly meal is flavorful, satisfying, healthy, and will please everyone!
Prep Time : 45 minutes
Cook Time : 30 minutes
Total Time : 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 366 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 large eggplants

Smoky Tofu

Tomato Filling

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Bechamel

Instructions
 

Smoky Tofu

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Crumble the tofu. Pat the tofu dry using kitchen paper towels and press to remove the moisture. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into 1/2-inch crumbles and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Season it. Add the soy sauce, oil, maple syrup, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and dark soy sauce if using (it's only used to give the tofu a darker color). Toss to coat the tofu with the seasonings.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet. Spread the tofu into an even layer on the baking sheet.
  • Bake. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking. The tofu should be golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Set aside.

Tomato Filling

  • Sauté the aromatics. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or pot. Once hot, add the minced shallots, garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and tofu. Next, add the diced tomatoes, baked tofu, salt, thyme, cinnamon, and ground black pepper.
  • Let it simmer. Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened. At this point, you can taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking. Set the tomato filling aside.

Eggplants

  • Slice the eggplants. Slice the eggplants into 1/2-inch (1.2cm) thick slices.
  • Sauté until golden brown. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Once hot, arrange a few slices of eggplants in an even layer. Make sure they are not overlapping. Sauté on both sides for 2-3 minutes or until the eggplants are golden brown.
  • Drain the excess oil. Transfer the eggplant slices to a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to remove the excess oil.
  • Repeat. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding more oil as needed. Be aware that this is the most time-consuming step of this recipe.

Bechamel

  • Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan. Add the unsweetened almond milk, potato starch, nutritional yeast, vegan butter, white miso, salt, and nutmeg to a saucepan. Whisk to dissolve the potato starch.
  • Cook until thickened. Next, bring the bechamel to a simmer, whisking constantly until it thickens. This will take 5-7 minutes.

Assemble

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F °F (175°C).
  • Arrange a layer of eggplants. Place half of the eggplant slices in a 9×7-inch (23x18cm) oven-safe baking dish. It’s okay if some eggplants overlap.
  • Top with the tomato filling. Transfer the tomato tofu filling on top of the eggplant slices and spread it into an even layer.
  • Arrange another layer of eggplants. Place the remaining eggplant slices on top of the tomato filling.
  • Top with the bechamel. Finally, pour the bechamel on top of the eggplants and spread it into an even layer.
  • Bake. Bake the moussaka uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil the top for 1-3 minutes or until golden brown. I recommend letting the moussaka rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  • This moussaka will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Let the moussaka rest. Moussaka is one of those dishes that benefits from resting a day or two before being enjoyed. Not only does it taste much better as flavors get time to merge, but it is also a bit less juicy as the tofu absorbs some of the liquid. If you have time, I highly recommend making it one day ahead and reheating it just before serving.
  • Thicken the filling. The longer you simmer the tofu tomato filling, the thicker it will become. I usually let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until it is thick but still creamy. However, if you prefer a thicker filling, let it simmer longer.
  • Use smoked tofu. If you want to save time and skip the baked tofu step, you can simply use smoked tofu. While it’s not available everywhere, it’s often fairly easy to find in organic supermarkets.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 366 kcal | Carbohydrates: 26.4 g | Protein: 15.1 g | Fat: 23.4 g | Saturated Fat: 4.8 g | Sodium: 627 mg | Potassium: 840 mg | Fiber: 9.5 g | Sugar: 9.7 g | Calcium: 321 mg | Iron: 3 mg
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Greek, Mediterranean
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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4 stars
Hi Thomas,
This recipe looks delicious, I do love moussaka, haven’t had any since going vegan a few years ago, so I’m eager to try this out. I haven’t seen smoked tofu in the stores, is there a brand or a store that you could recommend? I am in easy driving distance from a Whole Foods and most of the major grocery chains, or if I have time to kill there is a Chinatown with several markets about an hour’s drive away. I’m not sure where to look for it. Thanks!

This was amazing! Loved it!!

C’était délicieux ! J’ai cuit les aubergines au four (tranches étalées en une seule couche et généreusement nappées d’huile), remplacé la béchamel par de la crème végétale de soja toute prête et mesurée toutes les quantité à l’oeil. Merci pour cette recette gourmande, on la refera !

Eager to try this, but no stores here carry smoked tofu. Is there a way to approximate the flavor by using regular tofu and adding smoke flavoring (in a bottle)? Or do you have a different suggestion?

Absolutely gorgeous recipe! Thank you so much for sharing! I will be making this asap! Just one question: I don’t have potato starch on hand nor do I know where to get it…Do you have any other suggestions as to what I can use? I have some arrowroot powder and agar agar lying around – you think any of these might work?

5 stars
Excellent recipe. Very comforting without the calories. I didn’t have smoked tofu on hand so I used smoke paprika. Turned out amazing. Thank you so much!

5 stars
Hello, this recipe is so great, I’ve made it lots of times for my family now. There’s a few variations for me – I cook the eggplant slices in the oven instead of in the pan because I can fit more in and not have to stand and watch, I just place it on baking paper and brush with oil and sprinkle with salt, then flip them over and do the same again. I think it’s about 200c for about 10 minutes a side, roughly.

I don’t have smoked tofu available so I just crumble normal firm tofu and add a few drops of liquid smoke and stir through, it absorbs while I prepare the other ingredients and seems to work great.

I have made the bechamel with soy, almond, and even a fortified rice milk recently and it was always great. I’m using cornstarch in place of potato starch (couldn’t find it), but I had to double it to about 4tbsp to get the milk to turn to a custard consistency. I also use about 4tbsp of nutritional yeast for more flavour.

I’m so glad I came across your recipe for vegan moussaka!

5 stars
Well, since I had only 2 eggplants – but I did have Lasagna Sheets… – I made one layer lasagna sheets and one layer of eggplants. It was delicious.

The smoked tofu – is according to your recipe – so yummy.

Thank you, Thomas

This recipe did not feel like cooperating. The bechamel sauce never thickened, even after 10 minutes of whisking on the stovetop, and remained a liquid even after 30 minutes in the oven. I would appreciate any advice you can give about what to do next time. Thanks.

5 stars
Although this recipe was posted years ago, I just made it this week and had to comment.

First, I’ll say it has been added to my regular rotation list, and I’ve already gone back to buy more eggplant (lots, in fact!). Cooking your recipes is always such an adventure in great tasting food, while learning so much while making them.

Like others mentioned, I wasn’t able to find smoked tofu (baked, spicy, etc., yes – just not smoked). So I used plain, and then added a huge section of roasted elephant garlic that has wonderful, sweet/smoky juices from the roasting.

The rest of the recipe was done as written, and it made a beautiful dish, filling the kitchen with wonderful aromas.

Somehow, it turned out a little too juicy, and I didn’t want to burn the bechamel topping by baking it longer. So I cooked up some pasta and used this moussaka as a topping. Talk about a great combination!

Now I’m going to make it again, watching the liquid content more closely. And I also want to make the ‘juicy’ version again, to keep on hand in the freezer for when I need a pasta sauce.

I’ll be serving to all my family and I know they will love it too!

Merci beaucoup!

5 stars
Yummy! We loved it. Thanks for sharing.