Easy Homemade Lasagna
This Homemade Lasagna is optimized for two things: being both delicious and easy. This lasagna recipe is great for feeding a crowd, and it also freezes well for new mom meals and quick thaw dinners. It’s comforting and delicious!
I’ve been making homemade lasagna for a long time, and there are quite a few variables to play with. To name a few:
- The ratio and types of meat you use
- The type of sauce you use and whether it’s homemade or storebought
- Boiling your own noodles vs using no-boil
- The types of cheeses you select
After a LOT of personal experimentation, this homemade lasagna is the best blend of limiting fuss and maximizing deliciousness. My family absolutely loves it!
Tips for Best Results
Use really good tomato sauce – This is half the battle in making a really great homemade lasagna! I have personally never tasted better tomato sauce than Rao’s, and yes, I’ve even made Marcella Hazan’s Life-changing Tomato Sauce. The advantage of using a really good sauce is then you won’t need to add extra ingredients like italian seasoning or tomato paste to bump up the flavor. Stay away from cheap options like Ragu or Classico.
Use no-boil noodles – For years I’d parboil my own noodles whenever I made lasagna, but I’ve deemed this extra work and time as unnecessary. I’ve found no-boil noodles to have a fantastic finishing texture, and they’re the same cost.
Layer with an offset spatula – For the most precise and even layers, I recommend using an offset spatula, which is ordinarily used for frosting cakes. This will help you spread all the filling evenly.
One great thing about using a quality storebought sauce and no-boil noodles, is that then all you have to do is brown the meat and add tomato sauce to it, and layer it in a pan with a ricotta mixture, no-boil noodles, and cheese.
The dish becomes more about assembly and less about laboring in the kitchen for hours.
Step by Step Overview:
Start by browning equal parts 80% lean ground beef and sweet Italian pork sausage in a large skillet. I find there’s enough fat in the meat that I don’t add olive oil, but you may add a tablespoon or two as needed.
The sweet Italian pork sausage is very important for adding different flavor, not only from the actual pork but also the spices they add to the mix, such as fennel seed.
Then add minced garlic to the pan, and stir for 1 minute, until fragrant:
Next add tomato basil sauce or marinara sauce:
The high-end store-bought tomato sauces these days are so amazing and delicious that I prefer using them over making my own, however here’s a recipe for Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce if you want to prepare it yourself.
Simmer the meat and tomato sauce together for about 3 minutes, and then it’s done.
To make the ricotta filling, combine ricotta cheese, grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, egg, fresh basil, kosher salt, and black pepper in a large bowl:
I recommend spending the money on a good quality whole milk ricotta cheese here, and resisting the urge to swap in a lower fat cottage cheese. My favorite ricotta cheese is made by Bellwether Farms.
Stir everything together, and the ricotta cheese mixture will look like this:
Now it’s time to assemble everything in the pan!
To build the lasagna, I like to use a straight-edge 9×13 pan, but you may also use a glass or ceramic lasagna pan, if you prefer.
Cover the bottom with the tomato meat sauce, which is about 1.5 cups:
Add an even single layer of no-boil lasagna noodles to the pan:
If you wish to use traditional parboiled noodles, I have instructions for that in the recipe box below.
I used to boil my own noodles for homemade lasagna, but using no-boil noodles is SO much easier, they’re the same price, and I think they have a fantastic texture. I love not having to get a large pot out for boiling, and fussing with cooked noodles.
Spread an even layer of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. I like using an offset spatula (affiliate) for this so it’s very uniform:
Sprinkle an even layer of shredded mozzarella on top to complete the cheese layer:
I prefer the shredded mozzarella cheese over the fresh mozzarella balls, as those are too watery for the lasagna.
Repeat this layering process until the final top layer, which should have noodles, then pasta sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan cheese:
Place the lasagna on a tray, then cover tightly with aluminum foil:
Seal It Tightly
It is SO important that you get a good seal around the pan when using no-boil noodles, as the trapped moisture and heat is necessary for cooking the noodles properly. Really crimp the edges!
Once the edges are nicely sealed, your homemade lasagna is ready to hit the oven!
How Long to Bake Lasagna
Bake the lasagna for about an hour at 350F, until the noodles are ruffled and cooked (but still al dente), and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
A lot of recipes I see call for baking the lasagna for extra time uncovered, to brown the cheese, but I prefer it more gooey.
How to Serve
The nice thing about this easy lasagna recipe is it can be served right away once it’s done baking. Cut it into squares, then plate.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep in an airtight container or tightly covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Absolutely, and it freezes beautifully! I recommend fully baking the lasagna before freezing. Keep in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave the frozen lasagna in the fridge overnight.
You can make the meat sauce and ricotta filling in advance of up to 3 days, then assemble the lasagna and bake whenever you’re ready. I do not recommend holding an assembled but unbaked lasagna in the fridge for several days, as the noodles will get bloated.
If possible, let the lasagna thaw in the fridge overnight first, then re-bake at 300F, covered with foil, for about 30 minutes, until warm and the cheese is bubbling. If you must reheat straight from frozen, you will likely need to add another 15 minutes or so, and the results might be a bit more dry. You can also reheat in the microwave, in 30 second intervals, either in individual portions or the entire dish. You can also try to microwave directly from frozen in a pinch, it’s just more difficult to get it evenly heated because you can’t stir lasagna.
Easy Homemade Lasagna
- 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 3/4 lb 80% lean ground beef
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 6 cups tomato basil sauce (I love Rao’s)
- 3 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (1.5 ounces by weight)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp chopped basil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 lb box no-boil lasagna noodles
- 1 lb bag shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat, then brown the sausage and ground beef until fully cooked, about 5 minutes.*
- Add the garlic, and stir for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat**.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, egg, basil, salt, and pepper.
- To build the lasagna, spread enough meat sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan to cover in an even layer, about 1.5 cups.
- Arrange a single layer of no-boil noodles on top of the sauce, then spread a thin layer of ricotta on top of the noodles. I use an offset spatula to make this easier.
- Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella over the ricotta, then repeat this layering process about 3 more times, with meat sauce, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella.
- When you get to the last layer, finish with noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a little extra parmesan if you’d like.
- Place the pan on a baking sheet, then cover the top tightly with aluminum foil. This is essential for cooking the no-boil noodles.
- Bake for 1 hour, until the noodles have cooked through, and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in March 2020. Originally published January 2012.