The Best Lasagna Recipe EVER

4.78 from 35 votes

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This is hands down the Best Lasagna Recipe ever! Easy, cheesy, meaty and so so delicious! It’s the quintessential recipe for feeding a large family or bringing to a potluck. Layer up the hearty meat sauce, different cheeses, and lasagna pasta and then bake until hot and bubbly. So delicious with some Homemade Garlic Bread or Cheesy Breadsticks.

Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna | My Favorite Comfort Meal

So happy to be sharing this epic Lasagna Recipe with you today! This recipe is easy, cheesy, can be made in advance, baked right away and comes out perfectly every time! My family will lick their plates clean when this is on the dinner menu. This recipe is not dry, not soupy, cuts perfectly, holds together, and tastes amazing!

Like I mentioned above, this is the quintessential lasagna recipe that you need in your recipe box. Make this once and never need another lasagna recipe again. It’s meaty, cheesy, decadent and the perfect Italian dinner.

Below are lots of tips and tricks for creating the best lasagna ever which are reflected in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Follow these guidelines and you too will have success with this recipe.

ricotta cheese filling

Main Ingredients Needed

While this isn’t the complete list, it definitely covers the basics. And don’t forget: when it comes to lasagna, the better quality the ingredients, the better the finished product.

  • Lasagna Pasta Sheets: I used Barilla brand, but any other kind is fine, too. No, I don’t like the oven ready pasta. I find those give you a more starchy lasagna that doesn’t taste very good (in my opinion).
  • Ground Beef: for that yummy meat sauce. You can absolutely substitute sweet or hot Italian Sausage in place of the ground beef if that is your preference.
  • Onion + Garlic: a great base for that slow cooked tomato sauce.
  • Tomato Sauce + Diced Tomatoes: This helps make up the sauce. Use a good brand that you know and trust.
  • Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese: Use whole milk cheeses for the ricotta and mozzarella and grate the parmesan cheese yourself. If you can find it, absolutely use Parmigiano Reggiano. You’ll recognize it because it’s name is stamped on the rind.

Cottage Cheese vs Ricotta

Classic Italian Lasagnas are typically made with a blend of Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.

If you don’t like using ricotta cheese because of the taste or texture, you can definitely substitute cottage cheese in its place 1:1. Everything else in the recipe will stay the same.

noodle layer

How to Make Lasagna

Lasagna is essentially a layered Italian casserole made up of three parts: meat sauce, cheese mixture, and pasta sheets.

Step 1: Make the Meat Sauce

Give yourself a good couple hours (or more!) to make the meat sauce because this is a big part of why Lasagna is so good! In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and saute. Add in garlic and ground beef. Break meat apart as it browns. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, dried basil, sugar, Italian Seasoning and salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook sauce 1-2 hours or until very thick. You may have to add more water as you go to ensure it doesn’t scorch which is totally normal.

Step 2: Make the Cheese Filling

Classic Lasagna Recipes call for ricotta cheese, mozzarella and parmesan. I don’t recommend using fresh mozzarella because all different brands have different moisture levels and it can affect the finished product. If you DO want to use fresh mozzarella, be sure to slice it thin and press out all the extra moisture in paper towels.

Step 3: Cook the Lasagna Pasta Sheets

Regardless of the brand of lasagna you’re using, be sure to check out the packaging and cook it for two-thirds of the recommended time. Since you will be baking the entire lasagna in the oven after you layer it, your pasta will continue cooking, so give it a place to go! Overcooked pasta does not a good lasagna make.

cheese layer in lasagna

Step 4: Layer the Lasagna

Start with a bit of meat sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish or a plain 9×13 and line the bottom with pasta. Top with the cheese mixture and meat sauce. Add another layer of pasta, cheese, and sauce and then top with more pasta, more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. So, basically, here are your layers:

  • Meat Sauce (just a little so the noodles don’t stick to the bottom)
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Filling
  • Meat Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Filling
  • Meat Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Meat Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese

Step 5: Bake + Serve

Cover your layered lasagna with foil that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake, being sure to pull the foil off the last few minutes of cooking to brown the top: 375 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and finish cooking for 15 more minutes.

meat sauce in lasagna

Pro Tips for the Best Lasagna Ever

The best lasagna you’ve ever eaten is only steps away. Here are my golden rules for creating the best-finished product.

  • Cook your meat sauce for a long time. This not only concentrates the flavors, but it reduces the amount of liquid. If you want to cut perfect slices and not have a soupy mess on your hands, cooking your sauce for an hour or two until its very thick is a big step in the right direction. Bonus points for making the sauce 12-24 hours in advance. Red sauces of any kind always taste better the next day…in my opinion. Reheat the sauce before layering it up in the lasagna for quicker baking time.
  • Boil your pasta for two-thirds of the time, according to package directions. Most lasagna pasta will cook for 9-11 minutes. I pulled mine out at around 7 minutes. I don’t want to cook the noodles all the way through because once they hit the oven for baking, they can get mushier than al dente. So, draining them early means they will soak up any extra liquid in the sauce and after the hour in the oven, your pasta will be perfectly cooked, not mushy and help hold those beautiful layers together.
  • Don’t use fresh mozzarella. While I big puffy heart eyes love fresh mozzarella, I feel the added moisture isn’t worth the taste. Instead, reach for a block of sturdier mozzarella cheese and grate it yourself. If you think this is sacrilegious and would prefer the fresh mozzarella, be sure to cut it into thin slices and press it in between paper towels to get out as much moisture as possible. And please please please don’t use the pre-grated mozzarella cheese.
  • Let your Lasagna rest 20-30 minutes. Again, when trying to achieve those perfect slices, you have to let everything settle and rest before digging in. It will stay plenty hot, but the rest time really gives your lasagna those last few minutes to soak up that moisture and let the cheese firm up a touch.

Have Leftovers? Here’s How to Store Them.

Half the fun of eating lasagna is being able to eat it AGAIN the next day. Store any extra lasagna in the fridge covered for up to 5 days. Whether that is in the same casserole dish or cut into individual slices in plastic containers, just ensure they are sealed airtight.

Individual slices can be reheated easily in the microwave. If you have more than a few slices in your casserole dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until heated completely through again.

Lasagna in Pan

Can I Freeze Lasagna?

Absolutely. Whether you are freezing it before or after baking, the instructions mostly stay the same!

  • Freezing Unbaked Lasagna: wrap casserole dish with assembled lasagna well with plastic wrap AND foil. Can stay frozen for up to two months. I like using a disposable 9×13 foil pan for freezing purposes.
  • Baking a Frozen Lasagna: unwrap lasagna completely. Cover with fresh foil and bake at 300 degrees for one hour and finish baking at 375 degrees for the last 30 minutes. Remove foil for the last few minutes of cooking to brown the cheese.
  • Freezing Baked Lasagna: wrap casserole dish with assembled lasagna well with plastic wrap AND foil. Can stay frozen for up to two months.
  • Reheating Baked Lasagna: unwrap lasagna completely. Cover with fresh foil and bake at 350 degrees until thoroughly warm.

What to Serve with Lasagna

With all these helpful tips and the video below, you should be able to make the best lasagna recipe ever! But if you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

4.78 from 35 votes

The Best Lasagna Recipe Ever

This is hands down the Best Lasagna Recipe ever! Easy, cheesy, meaty and so so delicious! Layer up the hearty meat sauce, different cheeses and lasagna pasta and then bake until hot and bubbly.
servings 15 servings
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins

Ingredients

For the meat sauce:

For the cheese layer:

  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 pound lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese grated, for topping

Instructions

Make the Meat Sauce

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and saute 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic and ground beef. Break meat apart as it browns. Once meat has browned completely, pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, dried basil, sugar, Italian Seasoning and salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook sauce 1-2 hours or until very thick. You may have to add a little extra water as it reduces down to prevent scorching. This is normal.

Make the Cheese Filling

  • While meat sauce cooks, make the cheese layer: stir cheeses together in a bowl with basil, parsley and salt & pepper. Set aside.
  • Cook lasagna noodles 2/3 of the time marked on the package. About 7 minutes or so. Drain and place noodles in a large bowl of cold water.

Layering the Lasagna

  • Spread 1/2 cup prepared sauce in the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Layer in 5-6 noodles across the bottom to completely cover. Spread half of the cheese mixture overtop of the noodles and then one third of the sauce. Top with another layer of noodles, the second half of the cheese mixture and another third of the sauce. Final layer is the last of the noodles and the last of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 lb. grated mozzarella cheese. So real quick, here is the order of the layers:
    Meat Sauce (just a little so the noodles don't stick to the bottom)
    Noodles
    Cheese Filling
    Meat Sauce
    Noodles
    Cheese Filling
    Meat Sauce
    Noodles
    Meat Sauce
    Mozzarella Cheese
  • To bake: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover lasagna with greased foil. Bake 45 minutes with foil on. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until cheese has browned and everything it hot all the way through. Remove from oven, cover lightly with foil and rest 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Sprinkle with dried parsley flakes, cut into squares and serve.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 554mg | Potassium: 218mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 1.4mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: best lasagna, classic lasagna, italian dinner, italian lasagna, lasagna, lasagna recipe, pasta

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Recipe Rating




88 Responses
  1. Roseanna Martinez

    5 stars
    I made this for Christmas dinner and it was a HUGE hit. My husband had 3rds and he is super picky on lasagna. I sent some home with my brother and he shared with his friend, who said it was the BEST lasagna he had EVER had! will make again. It was easy to make, I used the oven ready noodles and it still turned out great.

  2. Barbie

    5 stars
    I’ve been making lasagna for decades and this is hands down one great recipe! I did make a few changes mainly d/t preference and what was available in my cupboard. I did not cook my noodles. Once the lasagna is assembled I let it sit for several hours prior to baking. This softens the noodles and “cooks” them. You don’t need those special no cook noodles to do this. Also instead of diced tomatoes I used 2 (28 oz) cans of Italian tomatoe sauce. I added 2 cups of water to the sauce. As a side note: not cooking your noodles 1st you need a little extra liquid in the sauce. I used closer to 1 1/2 lbs of quality ground beef. Finally in my cheese mixture I used the entire carton of whole milk ricotta cheese which is 3 cups (didn’t want to waste the rest). Otherwise everything else was prepared the same. Everyone went crazy over this. Most had a 2nd serving. It is important as Lauren states to let the lasagna sit for 20 min. prior to digging in. This step is huge so don’t skip it otherwise your lasagna will not hold it’s shape and be a sloppy mess. Thank you Lauren for such a great recipe. I’m so glad I gave it a try. It will now be my base recipe. Might try adding sausage next time…….

  3. HIllary

    5 stars
    My gosh! Ok, so I’ve followed you for years because you are Canadian 😘 every recipe we have loved, but I’ve never left a review. While visiting family in Canada this Christmas, a lasagna was served at a gathering & I wanted to go back several times! I knew I had bookmarked your recipe a long time ago & it’s been on my mind for over a month; tonight I gave it a try and …Bam, this is it!! This is my new lasagna recipe – the sauce & the tips make this the best ever! So inexpensive, yet I feel like I served a million dollar meal! Your details make me a better cook, so thank you!

  4. Breana

    I am making the sauce ahead of time for tomorrow’s dinner. Should I leave it on the stove, covered on a simmer over night?

  5. Tara C.

    5 stars
    Hands down the BEST lasagne I’ve ever had or made! I’ve tried several times over the years to make it but was never happy with how it turned out, it was either to sloppy or too dry, never what I’d hoped it would be, until now. Your instruction were perfect, easy to follow & the most important instruction was to have it sit for 20-30 minutes after out of the oven. That gave it time to set up & her firm so it was easy to cut & serve, perfection! Thank you for tracing me how to finally make the perfect lasagne!

  6. Yasmine

    5 stars
    I’ve tried this recipe several times and it’s by far the best lasagna I’ve ever had but the one thing in shocked that no one has mentioned is the amount of salt. The first time I made it it was pretty good but I couldn’t get over how salty it tasted which is VERY surprising For me because I usually have to add salt to all new recipes after their made. Ever since then I’ve been using half the amount of salt (one teaspoon instead of two.) I recommend if you make this recipe for this first time only use one teaspoon because it’s easier to add salt than risk a 4 hour dish being a little too salty. 10/10 though.

  7. Joyce Montgomery

    5 stars
    I can’t remember making a Lasagna ever! But I Love Lasagna and my favorite Italian restaurant is Charlie Trios in South Pasadena, Ca. They make the best restaurant Lasagna that I have had. Saw this recipe and gave it a go. OMG!!! This is The Best lasagna Recipe Ever, it turned out so good. Very favorful, Yes, I did cook the sauce for two hours and Amazing!!!. And it was easy to make, just prep, everything goes easy. This will be a Family favorite. Again LOVE IT! ;-D

  8. Steven Owsiany

    4 stars
    Hello Lauren,
    This is a very nice and easy recipe, thank you so much for sharing. My grandma and entirely family introduces a small batch of raw spicy Italian sausage in the sauce since it’s going to be cooked for an extended time. The spices from the sausage adds a ton of foreshore to the sauce and there is absolutely no work involved. It can be broken down afterwards to incorporate into the lasagna or served in the side. I hope you get the opportunity to try it and let me know what you think.
    V/r
    Stevie

  9. Deb S.

    5 stars
    This lasagna was amazing!! My hubby even suggested we make it every Sunday, he loved it that much! Thank you for yet another fabulous recipe!

  10. Nancy Self

    Which way is best if planning to freeze this lasagna – bake then freeze and then baking frozen for about an hour to thaw and heat through, or freeze assembled but not baked then adding an hour to baking time?

  11. Rayna

    5 stars
    I had a hard time finding the right recipe and I am so glad I clicked on this one. I fudged the ingredients a bit because I had to work with the amount I had and what I had. First lasagna I have ever made and let me tell you it was so darn good. I used venison because it’s leaner meat. I used one cup of ricotta cheese, fresh basil in cheese mixture, one teaspoon of salt and half prego (garlic and herb) half pizza sauce. It smelt so good in the oven once I got it out and let it sit for 20-30 minutes I had (not even kidding) 3 pieces. This is going to be the carb dish I will continue to make. I am looking forward to having more tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  12. Dawn

    5 stars
    I made this lasagna today, Nov 14, 2020 exactly as directed and it is absolutely delicious! Well done Lauren! Not soupy, perfectly done noodles, perfectly spiced. Definitely a repeat!

  13. Kirk Johnson

    5 stars
    I’ve made this about 12 times in the past year. The sauce alone is wonderful. I often substitute beef with a meet substitute. Sometimes I add a layer of spinach. Thanks for the great recipe.

  14. Donna Smietana

    5 stars
    I made this just as the recipe says, & it was delicious, served it tonight @ our Card Night & everyone really enjoyed it… thanks for sharing!!!!

  15. Theo

    4 stars
    I literally am making this as I type this. only used 2 layers of noodles as I was looking at the layering section and not the actual recipe. (a little confusing there Laura) but nonetheless I’m sure it will turn out fine. fingers crossed, more later!!

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