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Stove Top Pastitsio (dairy-free)

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Stove Top Pastitsio is a simplified version of a classic Greek pasta dish with regular and dairy-free options. Lean ground beef seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with penne pasta and a creamy tomato sauce will become a family favorite!

To complete this Greek meal experience, check out my Greek Lettuce Salad and Creamy Feta Dressing recipes!

Looking down on Stove Top Pastitsio in a large skillet.

Traditional Pastitsio is one of my all-time favorite dishes! It was my go-to order EVERY time we went the The Greek Place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I even recreated my own version at home, back before I had to eliminate dairy from our meals.

You can imagine my excitement I saw that my friend Tanya at Lemons for Lulu posted a recipe for Stove Top Pastitsio! I realized immediately how I could tweak it and finally have my favorite dish again <insert happy dance>!

Stove Top Pastitsio is a faster version of the traditional Greek version!

Recipe updated September 2022 with new images and more detailed instructions.

What is Pastitsio?

Pastitsio –“pastítsio” – is a traditional Greek baked macaroni casserole, or “Greek Lasagna” that combines savory nutmeg and cinnamon spiced beef, layers of tubular pasta, topped with a cream and butter based béchamel sauce and baked to perfection.

This version is so much easier to make, you will not have to stand on your feet cooking each layer and assembling before baking in the oven. Best of all, you do not have to sacrifice any of the original flavor.

Tubular pasta in a meat sauce topped with grated cheese in a large skillet.

Okay it does loose it’s fluffy, yummy, souffle like top, but we will survive! I am pretty sure that The Greek Place used a combination of beef and lamb, but I decided to just use the ground beef.

What you will need

Ingredients needed to make stove top pastitsio.
  • Olive oil to sauté the onion and minced garlic.
  • 90% Lean ground beef will eliminate the need to remove any grease from a higher-fat beef. It is also delicious with a combination of half ground beef and half ground lamb.
  • Tomato paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried basil add the distinctive flavors that this dish is known for.
  • Canned coconut milk (or half and half) add the creaminess this dish need without having to make a separate cheese sauce!
  • Any tubular pasta like penne, rigatoni, or macaroni will work great. Cook according to package instructions, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Grated parmesan (see notes below) or Romano finish this dish off perfectly.

Be sure to check out the detailed printable recipe card below

How do you make Stove Top Pastitsio dairy-free?

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with a handful of salt for best flavor. Add the pasta, stir and cook to al dente according to package directions.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes to soften.

Chopped onion sautéed in oil in a large skillet.

Add the ground beef and garlic, and cook until no longer pink.

Ground beef and sautéed onion in a large skillet.

Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, salt and pepper

Tomato paste, herbs, and browned ground beef in a large skillet.

Add the coconut milk and stir until well blended. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute to thicken.

Milk added to the beef mixture in a large skillet.

Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the beef mixture, and stir to combine.

Cooked pasta on top of the cooked meat mixture in a large skillet.

Add the Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Grated parmesan cheese on top of the beef and pasta mixture in a large skillet.

I am very lucky that I managed to get any photos taken before the vulchers with their plates swooped in! I think Alex came back for two more helpings. This is definitely a hit and will be made many more times in the future!

Tube shaped pasta in meat sauce topped with grated cheese in a serving bowl.

Dairy-free cheese options

Not all brands are available in all areas but this should give you an idea of which brands to look for in your local grocery store.

  • Violife Vegan Parmesan Wedge that you grate yourself.
  • Follow Your Heart Grated Parmesan
  • GoVeggie Grated Parmesan
Got Leftovers?

Leftovers can be kept stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes depending on your particular brand. Stir halfway through to distribute the heat.

Pasta absorbs moisture so you may need to add additional liquid to achieve desired consistency.

Can you freeze leftover pastitsio?

Yes you can. Allow the pasta to cool completely before placing in an airtight storage container. Freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.

Tools used to create this recipe

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More delicious pasta recipes

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Enjoy!!

Looking down on Stove Top Pastitsio in a large skillet.

Stove Top Pastitsio (dairy-free)

Stove Top Pastitsio is a simplified version of a classic Greek pasta dish with regular and dairy-free options, ground beef, and penne pasta.
4.50 from 8 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: pasta, recipe, greek, beef, dairy-free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 555kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Equipment

  • Large Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 0.5 cup yellow onion diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef 90% lean
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • .25 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk or half & half
  • 1 pound penne pasta cooked al dente, drained -reserve 1 cup of pasta water
  • 0.5 cup vegan Parmesan cheese plus more for serving – or Peccorinio Romano

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with a handful of salt. Add the pasta, stir and cook to al dente according to package directions.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes to soften.
  • Add the ground beef and garlic, and cook until no longer pink.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, salt and pepper
  • Add the coconut milk and stir until well blended. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute to thicken.
  • Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the beef mixture, and stir to combine.

Tip:

  • Use a spider strainer to drain the pasta directly over the pot and place into the skillet. The cooking liquid will remain in the pot until needed.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Notes

  • Leftovers can be kept stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes depending on your particular brand. Stir halfway through to distribute the heat.
  • Pasta absorbs moisture so you may need to add additional liquid to achieve desired consistency.
  • To freeze leftover pastitsio: Allow the pasta to cool completely before placing in an airtight storage container. Freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 631mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 5mg

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22 Comments

  1. I’m go hungry!!! This looks amazing Lisa! I think the coconut milk was an extraordinary substitution! I have to give that a try myself! While I love the traditional pastitsio and always will, this is an excellent substitute! Great work Lisa!

  2. YAY! You made it lighter. I LOVE Pastitsio. The last time I had it was at Cat Cora’s restaurant in Disney World. Full on fat and SO yummy! I’ve been subbing greek yogurt in a lot of things lately!

  3. Hi Lisa! I found you on SITS Girls. This looks yummy! I’m loving your blog. Wish I would have found this when I was teaching my high school foods class! You have so many yummy ideas. Great photos too. It is often hard to take great pics of food!

  4. This recipe is AWESOME! I am Greek and an absolute lover of pastitsio. I have recently gone dairy- free and to find a recipe for one of my favorite Greek dishes without the dairy is amazing! Thanks so much for posting!! 🙂

  5. Hi Lisa, I love recipe redux’s. This sounds delicious, it’s a Greek version of an Italian pasta bolognese style. Thanks for sharing with FFF 30 Minute Meals. I’m pinning and sharing on my FB page. Looking forward to seeing you again soon,

    Joanne

  6. 5 stars
    I want to give this recipe the credit it deserves. While I do have to add a little salt and pepper for our tastes, I make it for every one of my friends who is dairy free and even there picky kids eat it!! They always want the recipe every time. This is also a biweekly meal for us. Idk if it’s close to patitsio but we love it as a different pasta meal. Try it!!

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