Papoutsakia Recipe (Little Shoes)

Papoutsakia, also known as “little shoes” in Greek, is a delicious traditional Greek dish made with eggplants, ground meat, and a rich tomato sauce. It’s a popular dish in Greek cuisine and is often served as a main course. Here’s a classic recipe for making papoutsakia at home:


  • 4 large eggplants
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Wash the eggplants and remove the stems. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the flesh from the center, leaving about 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin. Set the scooped-out flesh aside.
  3. Place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until they are slightly softened.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the ground meat to the skillet and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.
  6. Add the reserved eggplant flesh to the skillet with the ground meat, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, dried oregano, ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. In the meantime, prepare the bechamel sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it turns slightly golden.
  9. Gradually whisk in the milk, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook the sauce, constantly whisking, until it thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
  10. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly whisk the beaten eggs into the cooled bechamel sauce. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.
  11. Once the tomato meat sauce is done simmering, remove it from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.
  12. To assemble the papoutsakia, spoon a generous amount of the meat sauce into each baked eggplant half. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
  13. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the stuffed eggplants.
  14. Bake the papoutsakia in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the bechamel sauce is golden and bubbly.
  15. Remove from the oven and let the papoutsakia cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serve the papoutsakia hot, garnished with additional chopped parsley if desired. It’s traditionally served as a main course with crusty bread or a side of rice or mashed potatoes.

Enjoy your homemade papoutsakia, a delicious Greek dish that’s sure to impress! Opa!

Leave a Comment