The Best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe

The best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe has a homemade meat sauce with beef and sausage as well as THREE kinds of cheese. No need to boil the noodles ahead of time, either! Freezer-friendly. 

I love Vegetable Lasagna for a Meatless Monday or Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup for lazy weekends. I love to make my favorite Chicken Parmesan for a special meal, but I keep it simple with Italian Sausages and Peppers for big parties. See more Italian recipes here.

The best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe has a homemade meat sauce with beef AND sausage as well as THREE kinds of cheese. No need to boil the noodles ahead of time, either! Freezer-friendly.
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This Make-Ahead Lasagna recipe is my personal favorite and something I made over 10 years ago and have continued to develop over time.

Here are the highlights:

  • The sauce is fantastic and homemade (ready in about 20 minutes)
  • The noodles go in uncooked (without being the gross, shred-on-your-fork, pre-boiled noodles).
  • You can make it the night before or days in advance.
  • But it only needs 5 hours of chill time in the fridge before you can bake it.

Watch out for:

  • The sugar. Leave it out if that's your style, be cautious with 2 tablespoons or throw your cares to the wind and add 1/4 cup. Some people in my family add 1/2 cup.
  • Recipe updates. An older version of this recipe contained 2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water. It also generated an additional quart of sauce. I have changed the recipe so you only make as much sauce as you need to make the lasagna.

Make it for your friends, family, neighbors, or the new mom in your life. Make it for yourself. Make it often. I hope you love it like I do.

How to Make Overnight Lasagna

This recipe is Make Ahead because instead of boiling the noddles, they soften in the sauce. This is the real genius of the recipe.

One pet peeve of mine? No-boil lasagna noodles (also called "oven ready").

Have you ever tried the no-boil lasagna noodles?  They literally shred on your fork.  I am not impressed.  At some stores (ahem, Target, and Walmart in Mexico) you will ONLY find no-boil noodles.

The best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe has a homemade meat sauce with beef AND sausage as well as THREE kinds of cheese. No need to boil the noodles ahead of time, either! Freezer-friendly.

Yet I've never met a person shopping in that aisle (and yes I'm that crazy person that interacts with the general public) who actually likes the weird shredding situation that accompanies no-boil noodles. So, we make THIS make ahead lasagna with regular noodles.

Need a make ahead lasagna to freeze? You're in luck! This is my go-to meal when my Mom friends have a baby because it can be eaten immediately or frozen, and also because it's comforting and there will absolutely be leftovers. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake it as usual.

4.94 from 31 votes

The Best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe

The best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe has a homemade meat sauce with beef AND sausage as well as THREE kinds of cheese. No need to boil the noodles ahead of time, either! Freezer-friendly.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beef, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 662kcal

For the meat sauce:

  • 2 pounds ground beef and/or ground Italian sausage (I like to use one pound of each)
  • 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cheese filling:

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For assembly:

  • 1 box lasagna noodles NOT no-boil
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • Minced fresh parsley for garnish

To make the meat sauce:

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add beef, 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, 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 1/2 teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts of sauce.

To make the cheese filling:

  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and salt. Chill until the sauce is finished.

To assemble the lasagna:

  • In the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, spread 2 cups meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of uncooked 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 1/2 cups (5 ounces) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of noodles, ricotta mixture (heaping 2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 1/2 cups) and Parmesan (1/3 cup). Repeat layers 1 more time, for a total of 3 layers.
  • Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.

To bake the lasagna:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 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 before serving if desired.

Recipe Notes

Add sugar to taste. For some, t means omitting it entirely. For others, you can increase the sugar up to 1/4 cup.


Calories: 662kcal


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  1. Allison

    I made this for a big crowd (one tray using ground turkey, and another tray vegetarian) and it was terrific! A few notes/changes besides the turkey instead of beef: be sure you really squish the top layer of noodles down into the sauce and cheese, so they soften properly. I also did not add any sugar. I got a zillion compliments on this, and it turned out great. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      This is amazing to hear Allison! Thanks so much! -Meggan

  2. Shara

    Can you freeze instead of sitting overnight?

    1. meggan

      Hi Shara, at some point the lasagna needs to sit so the noodles can soften. It is possible that could happen AFTER you freeze it, like when it’s thawing, but I haven’t tested that particular nuance of the recipe. What I know works is – let it sit overnight so the noodles soften, THEN freeze it, then you can thaw it and bake it as normal. So that’s what i would recommend. The other way might work, but I’m not 100% sure. Thanks!- Meggan

  3. Megan

    I’ve tried a lot of different lasagna recipes over the years and this was delicious. So nice to make it the day before and store it in the fridge — typically I am stressed and tired from an hours long process of making lasagna, so I never make it on a weekday, but this method actually made it possible to eat lasagna on a Tuesday night after a long day of work! My husband declared it the best lasagna I had ever made. I’m already planning what to stock the freezer with for when our second baby arrives in July, and this just made the top of the list. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

    1. meggan

      This makes me so happy Megan! All of it – a happy husband, a fresh baby on the way, delicious lasagna… perfection. I’m so happy to help, and I know exactly what you mean about lasagna potentially ruining your day. It’s nice when you can just pop it in the oven and then ENJOY eating it! Thanks for the comment and if you need anything else, just let me know. Congrats on your pregnancy also. :) -Meggan

  4. Sarah

    What brand noodles do you use? They are SO different from what I can get in my local shops!

    1. meggan

      Hi Sarah, I typically use either Barilla brand or generic. I shop at Ralph’s in California so the generic brand is Kroger. I don’t know if that helps at all. If you have other questions, just let me know! Thanks! -Meggan

  5. Jessica

    Hi Megann,

    Can I put these right into the freezer without cooking and cook later?

    1. meggan

      Hi Jessica, I think so? I have always recommended that you let it sit in the refrigerator first, for a minimum of 5 hours, so the noodles have a chance to soften (since they go in uncooked). But, as long as you allow that time after freezing, before baking (time to thaw and time for the noodles to soften), you should be okay. Having said that, I don’t know for sure but I really hope it works! Thanks. -Meggan

  6. Gloria Fischer

    All I have on hand are the Oven Ready noodles. (And we have a winter storm advisory in effect, so I can’t get out!) Any idea of what adjustments I should make?

    1. meggan

      Hi Gloria! I haven’t made it with the oven ready noodles, but my suspicion is that you could just bake it immediately without waiting for the noodles to soften. It should be ready to go immediately. So tuck that lasagna in the oven and watch the bad weather from your cozy house! Take care and thanks. -Meggan

  7. Debra Connors

    I read in a comment that there was 2 cans of tomato paste and 1/2 cups of water in the sauce but it is not in the recipe. Can you help me out with that?

    1. meggan

      Hi Debra, I’m really sorry for the confusion. I was working on this lasagna recipe yesterday and made the changes last night, about 24 hours ago. In the previous version, you made enough sauce for the lasagna PLUS an extra quart of sauce you could use for something else. I didn’t like that, so I worked on the recipe so you’d only have as much sauce as you needed to make the lasagna. That meant removing the 2 6-oz cans of tomato paste and the water. They aren’t necessary. I also learned that the noodles will be soft enough to bake after just 5 hours, not the 8 hours I had previously written. I also updated some notes about the sugar – you can leave it out entirely, stick with the 2 tablespoons as written, or increase it to 1/4 cup if you love sugar in your spaghetti sauce. Sorry so much for the confusion, this changed literally 24 hours ago, but I think the recipe is better for it. I hope you agree. The lasagna was fabulous and I’ve eaten half a pan since it came out of the oven last night. Thank you! -Meggan

  8. Linda Madara

    Just made this for our family Christmas dinner. I was a little concerned with using uncooked lasagna noodles. But not to worry…it was fabulous. Everyone loved it. I will never cook a lasagna noodle again. So easy. THANK YOU. ⭐⭐🌟🌟🌟.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      You’re so welcome Linda! Thank you for the comment- it made my day! -Meggan

  9. Robin Macgillivray

    Can I substitute cottage cheese for the ricotta? And can I make on Sunday morning and bake on Monday night? Many thanks!

    1. meggan

      Hi Robin, yes and yes! You can sub in cottage cheese and you can make it Sunday morning and bake Monday night. Just keep it covered in the refrigerator until baking time. Thank you! -Meggan

  10. Naomi

    Do I allow it to get room temperature before baking?

    1. meggan

      Hi Naomi, no. I never have. Not necessary! Good question though. Thanks – Meggan

  11. Juli

    I’m curious what brand of lasagna noodles you use? In the video, they look like Barilla Oven Ready lasagna noodle (flat sheets).
    I’ve never seen NOT no-boil noodles that look like that.
    I’m making this for the family Christmas and want to do ahead of time…. so want to be sure I have the right noodles on hand.

  12. Robert

    I have been looking for the perfect recipe and this one doesn’t fail, who makes lasagna that often so if it’s not good it’s months before making again, your recipe will be shared with anyone who loves lasagna, also I feel your pain I’m from Wisconsin too and have to be extra cautious not to get sick, Thanks5 stars

  13. Dean Rodgers

    Give me a break. This is the best lasagna I ever ett.5 stars

  14. Kat dav

    Can i add some frozen spinach thawed to this recipe? To the ricotta mixture

    1. meggan

      Hi Kat! Yes, you sure can. I did that in my Vegetable Lasagna recipe, I added 1 thawed 10-ounce bag chopped spinach. Well, I actually added it to the mushroom mixture (the stuff that was standing in for the meat), but I think it would be fine mixed in with the ricotta. It should be great. You could also add it to the sauce if you wanted, that should work too (but I would probably add it to the ricotta like you’re suggesting, that sounds better). Thanks! -Meggan

  15. Erica Thompson

    Dumb question – Can I freeze this after making it or bake first then freeze?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Erica, not a dumb questions! You should refrigerate it overnight according to the directions to let the noodles soften. After it has had it’s refrigeration time, THEN go ahead and freeze it. No need to bake before freezing. -Meggan

  16. Don Hershey

    What is the proper way to seal/cover the uncooked lasagna before putting it in freezer5 stars

  17. SUE

    Do you have a comparable recipe for a vegetable lasagna?

  18. Tracy

    I made this for my son’s graduation party this weekend and it was a HUGE success! I made it exactly as the recipe stipulated and let it sit in my frig for three days prior (due to not having time to prepare it closer to the event). It turned out perfectly with such great flavor–even the sauce on it’s own would be great over pasta. I had the graduation catered by a local Italian restaurant and decided last minute to make the lasagna when the rsvps kept coming in– and the lasagna was the first to go! At the end of the party, family members were asking to take home what small amount remained. :-) The recipe’s definitely a keeper!5 stars

  19. Pam

    I would think 2 lbs of ground beef would work perfectly!

  20. AMBER

    Can’t wait to try. I am not a fan of sausage…would I substitute for 2lbs of ground beef instead? Or would 1.5 lbs be okay?5 stars

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