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. Scroll down for a video tutorial!

I love making recipes that involve separate components. Lasagna is a great example.

You make the homemade meat sauce first, then you mix up the 3-cheese filling while it simmers, and then you layer everything lovingly in a pan.

So fun right?

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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However, as much as I enjoy making lasagna, I love eating it even more.

Especially this version, my unofficial Best Make Ahead Lasagna Recipe. It’s tried and true, made again and again (by my family members, friends, and me), and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

How to Make Overnight Lasagna

This recipe is Make Ahead because instead of boiling the noddles, they soften in the sauce overnight. This is crucial if you despise watery meat sauce in your lasagna as I do.

Another pet peeve of mine? No-boil lasagna noodles.

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

 

4.93 from 26 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 italian, lasagna
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 50 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 662kcal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (16 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 box lasagna noodles NOT no-boil
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook beef, sausage, and onion over medium heat until well browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the fat if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel, salt to taste (I like 1 tablespoon but you can use less) and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt. Chill until the meat sauce is finished.
  • To assemble, spread 1 cup meat sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange a single layer of uncooked noodles lengthwise over the meat sauce. Spread with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Top with 1/3 (about 5 ounces) of mozzarella. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Spoon 1 cup meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of noodles, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat layers 1 more time, for a total of 3 layers. (You will have about 1 quart sauce left which can passed separately or reserved for another use).
  • Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover baking dish. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • To bake, preheat oven to 375° F. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

If you have a tall 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, such as this one (which I have and love), you will have enough space for 4 layers of noodles. The total amount of sauce, ricotta mixture, and cheese is the same, but you can divide everything by 4 instead of 3 to make the extra layer.

Nutrition

Calories: 662kcal

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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  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Don Hershey

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

  4. SUE

    Do you have a comparable recipe for a vegetable lasagna?

  5. 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

  6. Pam

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

  7. 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

  8. TwirlyGirly

    I know this recipe was published long ago, bit since people are still commenting I thought I’d add my 2¢ regarding whether this can be cooked from frozen. It can. I don’t use the exact same sauce recipe (I’ve been making both lasagna & spaghetti sauce forever, so I don’t need to follow a recipe anymore). However, I’ve been making lasagna with regular lasagna noodles uncooked for years. As long as you let the lasagna sit in the fridge overnight after assembly before freezing it, it’s fine to just take it directly from the freezer into your preheated oven. As others have mentioned, the cook time is going to increase by at least 50%. One of the best investments I’ve ever made insofar as cooking equipment was the purchase of a Chef’s Alarm thermometer by ThermoWorks. Once the lasagna has thawed enough in the oven, I stick the probe right into the center of the lasagna, set the device to 165°, and forget it. It beeps when it’s done.

  9. Beth

    Hi Meggan, thanks for the recipe. I am planning a dinner party for 40 and plan on making your lasagna. I did a test run with the recipe last weekend and the family loved it. I was like many others and quite nervous that the noodles wouldn’t be done, but was pleasantly surprised and relieved when the knife went so easy into the pan for cutting into servings. Next week I will make 3 pans on Friday for cooking on Saturday. Thank you for sharing your overnight trick!5 stars

  10. Donna Ferrell

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I have made this for Christmas dinner for the last three years and it is always a hit. Making it ahead of time takes the stress out of cooking and gives me more time with family on Christmas Day. Usually, I double the recipe so there are leftovers to share or to freeze and eat later. Another plus is very little cleanup! Better than any I have had at a restaurant!5 stars

  11. KellyAnn

    This is really a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. A few notes to keep in mind for people trying it out for the first time. If you are using the foil “lasagna” pans, they are slightly bigger, and you will have to make adjustments for that. I had to purchase quite a bit more of all the cheeses to make up for that. Plus, the timing for cooking will be increased as well. A thermometer for checking doneness is a must in my opinion. I did make one change and added a basil paste since it’s winter, and I really wanted the basil flavor to shine. I’d highly recommend making this once before bringing it to a family affair, so you can work out any changes you need to make it your own. All in all, an absolutely great recipe!! Even my Italian relatives were clamoring for more! 5 stars

  12. Diane T

    Why does the problem of being to thick not get addressed?Diane

    1. meggan

      Hi Diane, it’s my fault and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been traveling a lot for the holidays, and I’ve been sick since I got in to Wisconsin a week ago, but I know your question goes back a lot further than that. I know you mentioned the 2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste, but you also added the 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and the 15 ounce can of tomato sauce, right? I’ve made this sauce a ton, even just on its own as a meat sauce and have never had a problem of it being too thick. I always have AT LEAST a quart left, and it sounds like you didn’t. So you could please let me know if you definitely adding the other 28 + 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce. Sorry for the delay, and thanks for your patience. Let me know what you think. I really don’t understand why the sauce is so thick for you and that you have none left over. Makes no sense! Just for your own info, if you want to see a picture of JUST the meat sauce, here’s the post for it. The only difference here is I reduce the tomato paste by 1 can (instead of 2) and omit the water. https://www.culinaryhill.com/homemade-meat-sauce/

  13. Jenn

    If I double the ricotta would I double the egg?5 stars

  14. Diane T

    Did not like the texture of the 2 cans of tomatoe paste, I added wine to help thin it, but there must be a mistake?? One cup in the beginning did not cover the pan??  No left over sauce!!

  15. Taunya

    I have made this once and was delicious. Can this sit longer than 24 hours in the fridge? For example, make Sunday night and cook it Tuesday early afternoon?5 stars

  16. Diane T

    The sauce was super thick!!  2cans tomatoe paste and “ only” 1/2 cup water??? No sauce left over!!

  17. Pam

    I took this to a family gathering yesterday and there was not a speck left!!  Thanks so much for this recipe!  I put it together last weekend and put it in the freezer.  However, I did not leave it in the frig long enough to thaw.  TIP for anyone who makes the same mistake I did — You will need to bake it 1 and a half hours.  5 stars

  18. Jen

    Hi! My sauce seems very thick and was more like dollops when layering rather than a liquid sauce layer. Is this going to make it too dry when i cook it? I was thinking maybe id add just some jarred sauce over top?4 stars

  19. Judy

    I would like to make this with just ground beef. Would it male a difference?

    1. Judy

      Since there was no answer I made a prego with ground beef sauce and it turned out fine.

  20. C

    Thanks for the recipe! I don’t know why, but every SINGLE time I make a lasagna, I only have ricotta enough for two layers (never 3). I wonder why? Any thoughts about what I might be doing wrong?

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