Classic Lasagna is great for feeding a crowd, and also freezes well for new mom meals and quick thaw dinners. It’s comforting and delicious!
This lasagna is optimized for two things: being both delicious and easy.
I’ve been making 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 lots of personal experimentation, this lasagna is the best blend of limiting fuss and maximizing deliciousness.
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.
Additionally, I used to insist on making my own tomato sauce, but there are so many incredible high-end sauces you can purchase now at the store, that it’s worthwhile to just buy it.
I have no affiliation with them, but I LOVE Rao’s (and it seems that many people feel the same way). It’s expensive, but the sauce tastes incredible and is made with quality ingredients.
Those are probably the two biggest shortcuts that help make this lasagna a breeze, because then all you have to do is brown some meat and add tomato sauce to it, and layer it in a pan with a ricotta mixture, no-boil noodles, and cheese.
This pan of lasagna is also HUGE and makes for lots of leftovers.
It freezes beautifully too, and I have more info on that at the bottom of the post.
How to Make Lasagna:
Start by browning equal parts lean ground beef and sweet Italian pork sausage, then soak up the excess fat with a paper towel, if you desire:
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.
Next add minced garlic to the meat, 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 Tomato Sauce if you want to do it yourself.
Simmer the meat and tomato sauce together for about 3 minutes, and then it’s done.
How to Make the Ricotta Filling:
Combine ricotta cheese, grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, egg, fresh basil, salt, and pepper:
It will look like this when it’s all stirred together:
How to Layer It:
To build the lasagna, I like to use a straight-edge 9×13 pan, but you may use a glass one as well.
Cover the bottom with the tomato meat sauce, which is about 1.5 cups:
Add an even layer of no-boil lasagna noodles to the pan:
I used to boil my own noodles for lasagna, but using no-boil noodles is SO much easier, they’re the same price, and I think they have a fantastic texture.
If you wish to use traditional parboiled noodles, I have instructions for that in the recipe box below.
Spread an even layer of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. I like using an offset spatula (affiliate) for this:
Sprinkle an even layer of shredded mozzarella cheese on top:
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 sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan cheese:
Place the lasagna on a tray, then cover tightly with aluminum foil:
It’s SO important that you get a good seal on there when using no-boil noodles, as the trapped moisture and heat is necessary for cooking the noodles properly.
How Long to Bake Lasagna:
Bake the lasagna for about an hour at 350F, until the noodles are ruffled and cooked, 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.
More Favorite Pasta Recipes:
- How long can it be frozen? I recommend up to 2 months.
- How to prepare in advance: You can make the meat sauce and ricotta filling in advance, then assemble the lasagna and bake whenever you’re ready.
- Can lasagna be frozen before baking? I recommend baking it, then freezing. It reheats well.
- How to reheat: If possible, let the lasagna thaw in the fridge, then re-bake at 300F, covered with foil, for about 30 minutes, until warm and the cheese is bubbling. Or you can reheat it in the microwave, 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.
- 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 3/4 lb 90% 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.*
- Soak up any excess fat in the pan with a paper towel, then 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 9x13 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.