Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio, Greek Baked Ziti (AIP, Whole30, Low-carb)

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What’s Inside: Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio, AKA Greek Baked Ziti made with a creamy cauliflower bechamel sauce, perfectly spiced ground meat, and the recipe MVP… spaghetti squash! Make this decadent + comforting AIP-friendly dish.

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio, Greek Baked Ziti (AIP, Whole30, Low-carb)

OPA! What the heck is Pastitsio?! Well, it’s a Greek baked pasta dish that consists of a creamy, cheesy bechamel sauce, ground beef or lamb, and of course pasta. It’s like a white baked ziti. When I first started trying authentic Greek food (not talking Diner food, here.) this became one of my absolute favorites. And I haven’t had it in years… once the dairy intolerance got a little too real, I had to part ways. Recently, my husband was eating it and one whiff set me on the road to making my own Paleo and AIP version. No dairy, no cheese, no gluten nor grains… and somehow the consistency, the creamy cheese-like flavor is the closest match I’m going to get. And I’m not complaining anymore because now I have Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio.

GUYS. When I say I patted myself on the back after tasting this, I’m not joking. And I’ve basically never done that before… no really, I didn’t even know I could bend like that.

Easy, flavorful ingredients for Paleo Greek Baked Ziti:

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by MarsThe ground meat is MEGA flavorful. The cinnamon in here is a very Greek flavor. They love using cinnamon on meat and I fully concur. It’s fabulous. The onions give it a little sweetness, and it all comes together perfectly.

Bonus: Download The 20-minute AIP/Paleo Meal Prep System: Flexible Meals Everyone Will Love (Even The Picky Eaters)

The spaghetti squash is the pasta replacement, and you will not miss it. Try making this in “rings” for a quick way to roast the squash without the sogginess factor!

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars

How to make a Paleo Cheese Sauce?

And let’s not beat around the bush here, let’s talk bechamel. Bechamel sauce has to be one of the coziest, dreamiest satisfying sauces around. So I leaned on COCONUT CREAM and CAULIFLOWER to get the job done. With a few other odds and ends… this sauce was thick enough to coat the wooden spoon I used to stir it with, filled my kitchen with a cheese-like aroma and the color was spot on too. There’s no going back now, I can’t un-taste the sauce, folks. I will likely be making this Cauliflower Bechamel sauce on the regs.

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by MarsThese 3 components gel so well together, I was so stoked at the turnout. When I cut into the bubbly golden brown top I had deja vu, one taste of it and I was taking a trip down memory lane. Dates in Greek Tavernas in Astoria with my hubby when we were just two crazy kids in love… ah yessss – that’s the stuff!

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by MarsIf you’ve ever tried pastitsio, your jaw just might drop at this taste- & look-a-like. If you haven’t, I’m going to wager you’ve at least had a bechamel sauce and at least have had baked ziti, so it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the magic that Pastitsio really is. And you will love this… make this your next Sunday dinner project and tell me all about it.


Watch the full tutorial:

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio Recipe

4.41 from 20 votes
Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars
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Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Bechamel Sauce)

This dreamy favorite is getting a dairy-, gluten-, grain-free makeover. Spaghetti squash makes for a low carb “pasta” dish and the cauliflower bechamel just might fool you!! (AIP-friendly)
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 537kcal


Spaghetti Squash (“Pasta”) Layer

  • 2 small-medium spaghetti squash (you'll need approx. 4-5 cups cooked)
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Ground Meat Layer

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef or lamb
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (omit for AIP)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Dairy-free Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 cups cauliflower steamed
  • 1 cup coconut cream*
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast**
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch/flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Nutritional Yeast-Cinnamon Topping

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1-2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt


  • Prep an 8 in. baking dish (glass, ceramic or enamel), whatever you'd use for a casserole for example. Grease it lightly with coconut oil and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350f degrees.

Spaghetti Squash (“Pasta”) Layer

  • Pre-heat oven to 400f degrees.
  • Cut squash into 1-inch "rings" and discard seeds.
  • Lightly drizzle olive oil on both sides of squash rings and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for approx. 30 mins, flipping half-way.
  • When done, remove from oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350f degrees and grease an 8in. baking dish, set aside.

Ground Meat Layer

  • Chop onions small and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the ghee/lard, let it melt. Once melted, toss the onions in the pan and using a wooden spoon, stir around, let cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent and soft.
  • Add ground meat and break up with your wooden spoon into small pieces, stirring with the onions. Sprinkle your seasonings over top and continue mixing. If using tomato paste, add in. Lastly, add the minced garlic so it doesn’t burn. 
  • Cook meat until the juices that release start to evaporate and no red meat remains. Taste the meat and season to your liking! When done, set aside.

Dairy-free Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce

  • In a pot, steam cauliflower florets with boiling water until it’s tender when pricked with a fork (approx. 8 mins.).
  • Make a "slurry" by combining the arrowroot starch with 1/2 cup of water by mixing it together until it thickens.
  • Blend all bechamel sauce ingredients including cauliflower, in a blender with HALF of the slurry mixture (use more as needed to loosen), and set sauce aside. You'll want the sauce to be thick enough to coat a spoon but still pourable.
  • Make a quick topping to set aside: mix 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast with 1-2 tsp of cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl. Keep for the very end!

Put it all together!

  • To your greased baking dish, add two-thirds of your spaghetti squash to the bottom and pack it in a single layer. I patted mine down with a fork to make sure there were no empty pockets.
  • Then, add all of your ground meat on top of that, also packing it in well with a fork in a single layer.
  • Now, pour two-thirds of your bechamel sauce over the meat. With your wooden spoon, lightly push the sauce to cover the meat fully. If at this point you feel more liquid will be needed, add that to the remaining sauce in the blender and blend it on high for 30 seconds. If two-thirds of the sauce covered the meat well and you have one-third left, you’re in good shape and don’t need the remaining liquid.
  • Now, with your hands, pull apart some of the squash to the width of your baking dish. Place the squash “in stripes” so you are controlling the amount of squash and can make sure it’s even but not sinking into the sauce. Make sure you’ve covered it in a single layer.
  • Lastly, add the remaining bechamel sauce over top, lightly pushing with your wooden spoon again to cover the squash. And add your nutritional yeast-cinnamon topping lightly and evenly over the whole dish. 
  • Bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden-brown and bubbling on the edges. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy! This will keep well in the fridge for a week.



Calories: 537kcal

Oh and hayyy, do you love my enamel baking dish and forks? I just got them, courtesy of!

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars
Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Dairy-free Bechamel) dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb, AIP-friendly via Food by Mars

More Paleo Comfort Dishes

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Irish Lamb Stew & Savory Paleo Soda Bread Biscuits (paleo, Instant Pot Recipe)

Paleo Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing

Baked Chicken Tenders with Peachy Dipping Sauce (Paleo, AIP, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free)

The Best Dairy-free Cheese Sauces To Make On Repeat (Paleo, Whole30, AIP)

Paleo Mashed Cauliflower + Parsnip Colcannon with Bacon (AIP, Whole30)

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Recipe Rating

  • GailNovember 8, 2017 - 1:45 pm

    This looks amazing. It seems the onions aren’t listed in the ingredients though-how many onions should I use?ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 12, 2017 - 2:50 am

      Absolutely, thanks for the call-out! I added it back in, 1 small yellow onion 🙂ReplyCancel

  • DAwnNovember 8, 2017 - 2:52 pm

    Could you please indicate the amount and type of onion? Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 12, 2017 - 2:50 am

      Added that in, thanks for notifying me!! It’s 1 small yellow onion.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn BudarickNovember 8, 2017 - 3:51 pm

    Is this weight watcher smart point friendly? Do you have the nutritional information so that I can plug it into the WW app please?ReplyCancel

  • EllisNovember 8, 2017 - 4:13 pm

    Your nutritional yeast link is taking me to the coconut cream link.
    Thanks for the recipe ????ReplyCancel

  • TianaNovember 8, 2017 - 4:32 pm

    I have more of a question… This recipe sounds incredibly awesome.. but I hate coconut. What could I substitute for the coconut cream? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 12, 2017 - 2:48 am

      Hi Tiana!
      I went with the coconut since I could easily cover up the flavor with the nutritional yeast, lemon and the cauliflower mellows it out – so if it helps at all, you won’t taste the coconut at all. If you need a sub, I don’t think it will taste the same, but you can sub cashew “cream” instead if you’re eating nuts (soak cashews overnight, drain and blend – use the same amount as the coconut cream). For other nut-free options, you can try searching for a cauliflower cheese recipe! XOReplyCancel

  • Deborah DAWsNovember 12, 2017 - 12:22 am

    What brand nutritional yeast and yeast flakes? The link goes to Coconut Cream onlyReplyCancel

  • Kelly GuilloryNovember 12, 2017 - 10:47 pm

    Can this be frozen?ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 13, 2017 - 12:34 am

      Haven’t tried, but I don’t see why not!ReplyCancel

    • TraceyNovember 29, 2017 - 3:37 am

      I didn’t freeze the whole dish, since we finished it, but I froze a cup of the sauce to see how it freezes and thaws. Tonight I put the thawed leftover sauce on some cabbage rolls before baking them and it was perfect! I also made the sauce for “regular” GF lasagna and pizza last week and both were a hit.ReplyCancel

      • Alison MarrasDecember 3, 2017 - 1:25 am

        That sounds fabulous, Tracey!! Thanks so much for sharing. XOReplyCancel

  • MIcheleNovember 16, 2017 - 4:42 pm

    I tried it…sent to my sis who also tried and we all LOVED it! I am going to give this a try – what do you think: Next time I am going to mix the meat layer WITH the squash layer on the bottom (to give it a little more OOMPH)…and maybe add 3 beaten eggs in one for anyone who does eat eggs (to give it that stiffer pasta feel). I will let you know if it works!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 19, 2017 - 6:13 pm

      Hi Michele!
      I’m so glad you’ve all been enjoying it – thanks so much for sharing! Your ideas sound delicious… anytime we can add more OOMPH, I AM DOWN. haha – What’s funny is I had to tie my hands using eggs in this so I could make it Autoimmune Paleo Friendly.. but my instinct was to add an egg to either the bottom to make it stiffer OR to add yolk in the bechamel even. I was so impressed that I didn’t actually need it at all, but for those who tolerate eggs, it can only be a benefit to the texture and taste (and of course added protein). So you’re thinking the same! I think it could definitely have that effect since I often make frittatas with sp. squash as the “crust” and the egg seeps into it making it stiff. Let me know how it turns out!! XOReplyCancel

  • MarlaNovember 16, 2017 - 4:54 pm

    I made it twice already, my family loves itReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 19, 2017 - 6:13 pm

      I’m so stoked to hear that!! XOReplyCancel

  • EmilyNovember 17, 2017 - 9:52 pm

    Just made this and LOVED it! Thanks for the great idea and awesome recipe.ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 19, 2017 - 6:09 pm

      Yassss! So happy to hear this – you are most welcome. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • InduNovember 19, 2017 - 11:17 pm

    This looks fabulous! I can’t wait to try it soon! The béchamel sauce with cauliflower and coconut cream is genius!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasNovember 21, 2017 - 6:28 pm

      Thanks so much, Indu!! The sauce came out fantastic, I hope you try it and love it! XOReplyCancel

  • […] Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio from Food By Mars […]ReplyCancel

  • SarahOctober 13, 2019 - 4:36 am

    Hi there! Can I sub the cauliflower with zucchini by any chance? I am currently on a low-fodmap diet. ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasOctober 18, 2019 - 4:54 pm

      I haven’t tried it so I’m unsure but if you do, please report back!ReplyCancel

  • EmilyDecember 29, 2019 - 5:02 am

    My husband and I spent the past three Christmases in Greece, so we were feeling nostalgic back in the States this year. This Christmas was also my first with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I was so SO happy to find this recipe — it was the perfect Christmas dinner for us. Every bite transported us to our favorite Cretan restaurant. Thank you so much. Any chance you’ve figured out a Hashimoto’s-friendly version of vasilopita? 🙂 ReplyCancel

  • DonnaMarch 30, 2020 - 3:18 am

    Being at home now with the quarantine I have lots of time to find good healthy recipes and cook! I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! It tasted as if I had mashed potatoes as the crust. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasMarch 31, 2020 - 2:07 pm

      so glad you’re enjoying cooking at home! it’s definitely a silver lining 🙂 love that you enjoyed this recipe!!ReplyCancel

  • AnneJune 1, 2020 - 8:34 pm

    Hi Alison!  Thrilled to find your site – I may have missed it, but what are the directions for doing the squash in the Instant Pot?ReplyCancel

  • KatJune 14, 2020 - 9:43 pm

    This is AMAZING! One of my husband’s favorite’s!  I use the whole can of coconut cream. I also use a pound of ground beef.ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasJune 16, 2020 - 7:59 pm

      Wonderful! So happy to hear this, Kat!ReplyCancel

  • DianeJuly 17, 2020 - 1:57 am

    I just discovered this recipe and it is AMAZING!!! I make at least once every couple of weeks. The Bechmel sauce is sooooo good. I’ve even contemplated making a batch and drinking it straight from the blender. Thank you for coming up with such a fantastic recipe! ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasJuly 22, 2020 - 5:05 pm

      Why thank you so much, Diane!! I’m excited you enjoyed it! Perhaps you didn’t realize it, but you rated the recipe with 1-star but seemed to love it, was that intentional? Please let me know if I can help at all!ReplyCancel

  • Kayla P.September 3, 2020 - 12:55 am

    Whoa! That beschamel is beyond amazing, I like it better than the milk/flour based ones I’ve had. Will make again! I think I messed up a little by using an 8×8 glass dish, it made it too thick and I think l it let the squash take over. Next time I’ll use a more rectangular dish and perhaps more meat and a little less squash. Recipe was so delicious! Thank for for posting this.ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasSeptember 6, 2020 - 3:16 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear it, Kayla!! And ahhh yes finding a good dish can be tricky 😉ReplyCancel

  • bethOctober 11, 2020 - 2:03 am

    This was SO good! I don’t think my son realized it wasn’t pasta and cream!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasOctober 14, 2020 - 3:42 pm

      love hearing that!!ReplyCancel

  • AndreaJanuary 14, 2021 - 4:00 pm

    Wow, this looks fabulous!  I love that it is paleo! A perfect meal for my familyReplyCancel

  • KushigaluJanuary 14, 2021 - 4:14 pm

    What a delicious looking meal. Love bechamel sauce. This looks fantastic. Trying this soon. Thaanks for sharingReplyCancel

  • DanniiJanuary 14, 2021 - 4:26 pm

    Now this is my kind of comfort food – so much flavour! I love anything Greek too.ReplyCancel

  • BethJanuary 14, 2021 - 5:11 pm

    Yummy! This looks so delicious and tasty! Can’t wait to give this a try! So excited!ReplyCancel

  • JuliaJanuary 18, 2021 - 10:47 pm

    This looks awesome…but sadly (cry for me?) it’s nearly impossible to find spaghetti squash in my area (northeast England.) I can get cans of hearts of palm you think it might work? No cassava pasta here either, unfortunately! ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasJanuary 19, 2021 - 8:03 pm

      Aww!! Yes, any noodles you like should work, it won’t be exactly the same but it will still be tasty!ReplyCancel

  • PeyinaMarch 21, 2021 - 8:58 pm

    What can be used to substitute coconut cream? We have trouble digesting such a fatty ingredient. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Alison MarrasMarch 29, 2021 - 10:18 pm

      You can try skipping it and adding less liquid!ReplyCancel

hey thereI'm Alison

I believe your healing journey with real food can be a stress-free lifestyle, filled with joy and flavor.