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Lasagna

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My best Lasagna recipe has three kinds of cheese, lots of ground beef, and one fantastic homemade sauce. Pre-cut the lasagna before baking for easier, cheesier, slices.

A white baking dish of lasagna.

I entered the Lasagna Arena with my popular Make-Ahead Lasagna, a recipe I created because I was interested in bypassing the step where you boil lasagna noodles (and the way that oven-ready, pre-boiled lasagna noodles shredded on your fork grossed me out).

The noodles go in dry and you let the whole thing sit for a few hours before baking (or overnight, making it a fun way to prep a meal ahead of time). It works perfectly, tastes great, and people love it.

But for everyone else, here’s the recipe you’ve requested: Similar flavors and equally delicious, but you cook the noodles first. There is no added wait-time, so you can pop it in the oven as soon as you’re done building it.

Labeled ingredients for lasagna.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Lasagna noodles: NOT “oven-ready” or “no-boil noodles.” Those pre-cooked noodles will shred on your fork in the most unappetizing way, while the “real” noodles will not.
  • Ground beef: This recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground beef, but doing 1 pound each of ground beef and ground Italian sausage is delicious, too.
  • Sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of sugar in your meat sauce, please leave it out. In my family, people add ¼ cup or even up to ½ cup.
  • Italian seasoning: It’s easy to make your own homemade Italian seasoning with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
  • Ricotta cheeseMake your own ricotta with just 4 ingredients: Milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.

Step-by-step instructions

To make the noodles and the cheese filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large stockpot or Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking (this also removes the starch so the noodles won’t stick to each other).
A colander with lasagna noodles draining in it.
  1. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and chill until assembling the lasagna.
Ricotta cheese mixture for lasagna.

To make the meat sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add beef (or sausage) and onion, and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Ground beef and onion cooked in a saucepan.
  1. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts of sauce.
Italian meat sauce in a saucepan.

To assemble and bake the lasagna:

  1. In the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, spread 2 cups meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of noodles over the meat sauce (I do 3 full-size noodles lengthwise and then a partial noodle crosswise).
Sauce and noodles layered to make lasagna.
  1. Spread with a heaping 2/3 cup of the ricotta mixture. Top with about 1 ½ cups (5 ounces) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
2 layers of unbaked lasagna in a baking dish.
  1. Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of noodles, ricotta mixture (heaping 2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 ½ cups) and Parmesan (⅓ cup). Repeat layers 1 more time, for a total of 3 layers (you will have extra sauce which you can pass separately).
3 layers of unbaked lasagna in a baking dish.
  1. Cut lasagna into twelve pieces (this makes it much easier to serve later; you can remove a piece without pulling the melted cheese off the entire lasagna). Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish.
Slicing an unbaked lasagna before baking.
  1. Bake, covered with foil, for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes longer.
A white baking dish of lasagna.
  1. Cool 5 minutes, then garnish with parsley or fresh basil if desired.
A piece of lasagna on a white plate.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: As written, the lasagna is made in a 9” by 13” baking dish, enough for 12 servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Make this recipe up to 3 days before you need it and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Wrap the unbaked lasagna tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed (preheat oven to 375 degrees, bake 25 minutes with foil, 25 minutes without foil). To bake the frozen lasagna straight from the freezer, bake 1 hour covered with foil and 24 minutes without the foil (the lasagna must reach 165 degrees on an internal thermometer).
  • Pesto: Got a jar of pesto in the pantry, or homemade pesto in the refrigerator? Add a surprise layer somewhere for lots of extra flavor.
A piece of lasagna on a white plate.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use store-bought sauce in this lasagna recipe?

You’ll need 2 quarts of sauce for one pan of lasagna, so look for 1 (32-ounce) jar at the store. No shame in store-bought!

Can I make this lasagna recipe in disposable aluminum pans?

Yes, I’ve made this recipe in disposable aluminum pans, and it worked really well. Cleanup was obviously easier too!

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A white baking dish of lasagna.

Lasagna

My best Lasagna recipe has three kinds of cheese, lots of ground beef, and one fantastic homemade sauce. Pre-cut the lasagna before baking for easier, cheesier, slices.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Calories 497

Ingredients 

For the noodles and cheese filling:

  • Salt
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (see note 1)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

For the meat sauce:

  • 2 pounds ground beef (see note 2)
  • 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste (see note 3)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (see note 4)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • fresh parsley minced, or basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions 

To make the noodles and the cheese filling:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large stockpot or Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil.
  • Add lasagna noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking (this also removes the starch so the noodles won't stick to each other).
  • In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and chill until assembling the lasagna.

To make the meat sauce:

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add beef (or sausage) and onion, and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts of sauce.

To assemble and bake the lasagna:

  • In the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, spread 2 cups meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of noodles over the meat sauce (I do 3 full-size noodles lengthwise and then a partial noodle crosswise).
  • Spread with a heaping 2/3 cup of the ricotta mixture. Top with about 1 ½ cups (5 ounces) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of noodles, ricotta mixture (heaping 2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 ½ cups) and Parmesan (⅓ cup). Repeat layers 1 more time, for a total of 3 layers (you will have extra sauce which you can pass separately).
  • Cut lasagna into twelve pieces (this makes it much easier to serve later; you can remove a piece without pulling the melted cheese off the entire lasagna). Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish.
  • Bake, covered with foil, for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes, then garnish with parsley or basil if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ricotta cheeseMake your own ricotta with just 4 ingredients: Milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.
  2. Ground beef: This recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground beef, but doing 1 pound each of ground beef and ground Italian sausage is delicious, too.
  3. Sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of sugar in your meat sauce, please leave it out. In my family, people add ¼ cup or even up to ½ cup.
  4. Italian seasoning: It’s easy to make your own homemade Italian seasoning with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
  5. Yield: As written, the lasagna is made in a 9” x 13” baking dish, enough for 12 servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: Make this recipe up to 3 days before you need it and keep it in the refrigerator.
  8. Freezer: Wrap the unbaked lasagna tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed (preheat oven to 375 degrees, bake 25 minutes with foil, 25 minutes without foil). To bake the frozen lasagna straight from the freezer, bake 1 hour covered with foil and 24 minutes without the foil (the lasagna must reach 165 degrees on an internal thermometer).

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 497kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 30gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 528mgPotassium: 355mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 350IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 323mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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