The BEST Lasagna!

The absolute best lasagna recipe — easy to make, layered up with the most delicious flavors, and so incredibly cozy and comforting.

The BEST Lasagna Recipe

I’m officially declaring this Italian Week here on the blog!

Yep.  Get ready to do some seriously delicious recipe bookmarking this week, because I’m going to be sharing some of my all-time favorite recipes for a few of the classics, beginning today with…

…this life-changing lasagna recipe. ♡

So here’s the thing.  For years and years, I always admittedly tended to avoid making homemade lasagna in favor of other quicker and easier pasta recipes because — well, frankly — none of the homemade lasagna recipes that I tried seemed to be worth all of the effort!  As Barclay would say, they were always just kind of “whelming” — not overwhelming, not underwhelming, not particularly memorable, and definitely not worth all of the prep time.  And you know me, if I’m going to invest more than 30 minutes in a recipe, it had better knock my freaking socks off.

Well, our trip to Italy this spring convinced me that seriously good lasagna could indeed be worth the extra effort.  So once we arrived home from Amalfi, I set to work on a mega lasagna recipe testing spree.  And today — many many batches later — I’m happy to report that I have finally landed on a classic lasagna recipe that I legit love.

You guys, this lasagna recipe is simply THE BEST.

Mainly, I’m convinced it is the best because it is so dang flavorful.  It’s made with a rich, complex and deeply delicious meat marinara sauce, which is slow simmered with zesty Italian sausage (way more flavor than ground beef), easy canned tomatoes, a few special veggies, dry red wine, and lots of herbs.  It also includes three different cheeses (because lasagna), easy no-boil lasagna noodles (to save us all from having to mess with boiling them), and lots and lots of fresh basil (baked into and sprinkled on top of the lasagna).  The ingredient list isn’t complicated, but I’m telling you, all of these delicious layers are magic when baked together into a bubbly, melty, hot pan of lasagna.  And 100% worth the effort.

Speaking of effort, I also want to note that this recipe isn’t difficult at all to make technique-wise.  It just requires a solid hour or so of prep time.  So find an evening when you’re not in a rush, turn on some music, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine or some good fizzy water, and let’s make a pan of the most delicious lasagna together.  I’m certain you’re going to love it.

Meat Marinara Sauce for Lasagna

Lasagna Ingredients:

Alright, let’s load up your shopping cart!  To make this homemade lasagna recipe, you will need to the following easy lasagna ingredients:

  • Italian sausage: I’m a big believer that good-quality Italian sausage — with all of its rich, herby, zesty flavors — is the key to a stellar pan of classic lasagna.  So buy a good one!  That said, if you really prefer to add in some ground beef, you are welcome to do a 50/50 split.
  • Veggies: We will chop up an onion and lots of garlic for our sauce.  Plus you will also need 1/2 cup (about half a regular-sized jar) of diced roasted red peppers, which will add some nice smoky and sweet hints to the sauce.
  • Tomatoes + tomato paste: Three cans of good-quality whole tomatoes — I especially recommend the fire-roasted variety if you can find them — plus a few tablespoons of tomato paste. The quality of your tomatoes will really make a difference here, so it’s worth the extra few dollars to splurge on some go
  • Dry red wine: Which will add the yummiest depth of flavor to our sauce.  Or if you prefer not to cook with wine, you are welcome to sub in beef, chicken or vegetable stock instead.
  • Dried herbs + spices: Crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, bay leaf, sea salt and lots of freshly-cracked black pepper.
  • Fresh basil: When it comes to fresh basil, I vote the more the merrier with this lasagna recipe.  We will chop and stir a good amount of basil into the cheese mixture.  But then I also recommend adding extra on top as a garnish.
  • Cheeses: Lots of ricotta (you can use either whole milk or part-skim ricotta), Parmesan (freshly-grated for maximum flavor!), and shredded mozzarella.
  • Egg: This will help to bind the cheese mixture to the noodles.
  • Lasagna noodles: Finally, noodles!  I much prefer the ease and texture of the no-boil noodles for this lasagna recipe.  But if you purchase the classic noodles, just let them soak in hot water for about 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, before layering them into the lasagna.

How To Make Lasagna

How To Make Lasagna:

As I mentioned above, homemade lasagna is not at all difficult to make.  It just requires about a solid hour or prep time.  So gather your ingredients, settle in, and I promise it will be worth the extra effort.  To make lasagna, simply…

  1. Make the sauce: Follow the sauce instructions and then let it simmer until the liquid has reduced about by half.  You want the sauce to still be a bit juicy (so that it will cook the noodles), but not super liquidy.  Meanwhile…
  2. Make the cheese mixture: Stir together the ricotta, Parmesan, basil and egg until combined.
  3. Prep oven and baking dish: Heat the oven to 375°F and mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Assemble the lasagna: In this order:
    • First layer: Sauce + noodles + ricotta + mozzarella
    • Second layer: Sauce + noodles + ricotta + mozzarella
    • Third layer: Sauce + noodles + ricotta
    • Fourth layer: Sauce + mozzarella
  5. Bake: Loosely tent aluminum foil to cover the pan (try to avoid touching the cheese).  Bake for 45 minutes covered, followed by another 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the cheese is melty and golden.  Transfer pan to a wire baking rack to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve: Sprinkle on your desired toppings, slice, serve warm, and dig in!

Easy Lasagna Recipe

Possible Lasagna Recipe Variations:

Guys, the options for how to customize this lasagna recipe are practically limitless.  So feel free to get creative and experiment with whatever sounds best to you.  For example, feel free to:

  • Use a different meat: Ground beef, turkey or chicken would also be delicious in this recipe.  (I just recommend adding in a tablespoon of Italian seasoning if you use any of these, to replace some of the seasonings that are usually mixed into Italian sausage.)
  • Make it vegetarian: Nix the meat entirely to make vegetarian lasagna.  And in its place, feel free to sauté some finely chopped veggies (such as mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, etc) instead.  Just be sure to cook off any of the extra juices from the vegetables, otherwise your veggie lasagna may be too watery.
  • Add veggies: Even if you are still using meat in your lasagna recipe, feel free to add some extra veggies too.  I’m especially partial to chopping up a handful of baby bella mushrooms to the sauce.
  • Add spinach: Just thaw a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, squeeze as much of the moisture out of the spinach as possible, then stir it into the ricotta mixture to make spinach lasagna.
  • Add more fresh herbs: Feel free to add in any other fresh Italian herbs that you happen to have on hand too!  Chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage would all be delicious in addition to the basil in this homemade lasagna.
  • Add more cheese: If you like an extra cheesy topping, feel free to double the amount of mozzarella on top.  Also, feel free to add in any other cheeses that you love too.  (I’m especially partial to smoked mozzarella, or a touch of crumbled goat cheese added in.)
  • Make it spicy: Feel free to double or triple the amount of crushed red pepper flakes to make your lasagna recipe a bit spicy.
  • Use veggie noodles: In lieu of traditional pasta lasagna noodles, feel free to very thinly slice zucchini (lengthwise) and layer them in to make zucchini lasagna.  Or do the same with eggplant to make eggplant lasagna.  For either recipe, you will need to drain the veggie noodles first.  Just sprinkle them with salt and lay the veggie noodles out on paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.  Then rinse off with water, pat dry, and add to the lasagna.

Lasagna Recipe Easy

Freezer Instructions:

How To Freeze Lasagna (Before Baking): If you would like to prep the lasagna ahead of time and freeze it for later, just prepare the lasagna as instructed below.  But instead of baking it, cover the pan tightly with a layer of plastic wrap, so that it is actually sticking to the cheese on the top layer.  Then cover the entire top of the pan with aluminum foil, and freeze the whole pan for up to 3 months.  Remove the pan from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Then bake according to the instructions below, adding an extra 10-15 minutes to the covered cook time if needed for the lasagna to completely cook through, and enjoy!

How To Freeze Lasagna (After Baking): You can also freeze an entire pan of lasagna (or individual servings that you might have as leftovers) after the lasagna has been baked.  Just let the lasagna cool to room temperature.  Then wrap the entire pan as directed above, or store individual servings in food storage containers, and freeze for up to 3 months.

How To Reheat Frozen (Cooked) Lasagna: To reheat a pan of frozen lasagna that has already been baked, remove any plastic wrap and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350°F until the lasagna is heated through (the internal temperature should be around 165°F).  Remove the foil and bake for an extra 5-10 minutes to crisp up the top layer, then serve.

Lasagna Recipe

What To Serve With Lasagna:

Looking for sides to serve with this homemade lasagna recipe?  I would recommend:

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The BEST Lasagna Recipe
4.8 from 16 reviews

The BEST Lasagna!

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 100 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

The absolute best lasagna recipe — easy to make, layered up with the most delicious flavors, and so incredibly cozy and comforting.  See notes above for potential ingredient variations.


Scale

Ingredients

Meat Sauce:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground Italian sausage (or you can do half sausage + half ground beef)
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or beef stock)
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans whole tomatoes*, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Cheese Mixture:

  • 2 (15-ounce) containers ricotta cheese (part-skim or whole milk)
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup tightly-packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg

Remaining Layers:

  • 4 cups (1 pound) shredded mozzarella
  • 15 no-boil lasagna noodles (or however many needed to make three layers in your pan*)
  • optional toppings: extra basil, Parmesan cheese and/or crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. In a large sauté pan or stockpot, cook the sausage and onion over medium-high heat until the sausage is completely browned, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Add the garlic, tomato paste and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Use the wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes into small pieces as the sauce continues to cook.  Once the sauce reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium to maintain the simmer.  Then let the sauce continue to simmer and reduce down for about 10-15 minutes, or until about half of the juices have evaporated.  (You still want the sauce to be fairly juicy, just not overly so.)  Discard bay leaf.  Remove pan from heat and set aside until ready to use.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmesan, basil and egg until combined.
  4. Heat the oven to 375°F and mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Next, it’s assembly time!
  6. First layer: Spread 1.5 cups of the sauce mixture evenly along the bottom of the pan.  Then add on a layer of lasagna noodles (so that the surface of the pan is covered, more or less), followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture (which I recommend adding in small spoonfuls, which you can then spread out into an even layer), followed by 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella.
  7. Second layer: Evenly layer 1/3 of the remaining sauce, 1 more round of lasagna noodles, 1/2 of the remaining ricotta mixture, and 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
  8. Third layer: Evenly layer 1/2 of the remaining sauce, 1 more round of lasagna noodles, all of the remaining ricotta mixture.
  9. Fourth layer: Evenly layer all of the remaining sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
  10. Loosely tent aluminum foil to cover the pan (try to avoid touching the cheese).  Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until the sauce is bubbly around the edges and the top of the cheese starts to bubble and turn golden.
  11. Transfer the pan to a wire baking rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with your desired toppings, slice, serve warm and enjoy!

Notes

Italian Sausage: Feel free to use whatever kind of sausage you prefer — hot, mild or sweet.

Tomatoes: If available, I recommend buying the cans of fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor.

Lasagna Noodles: Just use however many lasagna noodles are needed to fully cover your pan in three layers.  Different brands vary in size/shape, so the number 15 is just an estimate.  If using classic (not no-boil) noodles, you will need to submerge and soak the noodles in hot (not boiling) water for 30 minutes before adding them to the lasagna.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

The BEST Lasagna

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30 comments on “The BEST Lasagna!”

  1. YAY! Italian Week! I’ll definitely work this recipe next time – it’s on my radar! But first – Cacio e’Pepe!

  2. Looks delicious! I’m also interested in seeing a recipe with a bechemel sauce instead of ricotta (I think?). A traditional Italian restaurant here uses it and it is insane. The owners are originally from italy but it’s my most favorite dish.

  3. Hi! If using gluten free lasagna noodles (rather than veggie noodles), how would you recommend preparing them before putting them in the lasagna? Still soaking in hot water? Same amount of time? Thank you!!

  4. YES to soaking lasagna noodles! It’s made a world of difference when I make lasagna, the no-bakes never turn out quite right for me. Also, my husband is a ricotta hater (why?!) so I’ve learned that layering in bechamel is a great swap even though it’s a little more work. Can’t wait to make your meat sauce, it looks delish!

  5. I love and appreciate how many options you list for different variations to your basic recipe. I’m not a fan of basil or mushrooms ::shudder:: and my hubby doesn’t like ricotta (though I do slip it in sometimes) but we love adding spinach, rainbow carrots, squash, and eggplant. And we do mix 1/2 Italian sausage, 1/2 ground beef. My secret sauce trick which makes everyone ask “what’s in there?” is to add a little bit of beef soup base.

    Thank you for inspiring new options!

  6. Yummy!!! Really looks like the best lasagne recipe.

  7. Are the roasted red peppers a key ingredient? Hubby cant eat them.

  8. If you want a low-carb version, I’ve used cabbage leaves as a sub for noodles and it worked really well. Nice recipe, very similar to what my usual has evolved to over time :)

  9. This recipe is a “keeper”. Can I use FRESH spinach leaves? Thank you.

  10. 5 stars
    THIS WAS AMAZING! We used hot Italian sausage and also added in the spinach and it was outstanding. Thanks for all of your great recipes, Ali!

    • Hi Lisa I am trying to find somewhere in my town who sells Italian sausage do you know or has been suggested to you what alternative I can use

  11. 5 stars
    Another great recipe, you haven’t steered me wrong yet! I just leave out the salt as my hubby and I aren’t used to hardly any salt in our food (unless we are baking obviously, when it is needed!) and this was a HUGE hit. Even my picky 6 year old was devouring it. Will be adding it to the rotation!

  12. This recipe sounds super tasty! I love lasagne so will have to try this out sometime (especially as ricotta is probably a bit better for the hips than my beschamel!)

  13. Can you give me a recommendation on a good dry red wine (preferably not too expensive)? And how long does it stay good for once opened? Thanks

  14. 5 stars
    Best lasagna I’ve ever made!!!!!

  15. 5 stars
    This is so delicious! One of my favorite recipes for lasagna that I have found so far and can’t wait to make it again. Thank you!

  16. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. Well worth the time. Thank you so much for the recipe!!!!!!

  17. 5 stars
    I made this a couple of weeks ago and man was it delish! My Italian fiance loved it so much will add this wonderful recipe on rotation!

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe is AMAZING!!! Everyone loved it. I’m adding it to my Keepers List!!! It was very easy to make and the flavors were fantastic together.

  19. 5 stars
    First time ever making lasagna *gasp* and not only did this turn out great, it was super easy! The sauce is amazing. I’m going to use it whenever we eat pasta.

  20. 5 stars
    I never leave comments on anything, but this recipe I have to rave about! I have shared it now with multiple people because it certainly is the BEST lasagna ever! I felt particularly good about this recipe when my fiancé told me it was better than his mom’s lasagna also. I will definitely be saving this recipe and using it over and over again. I can’t wait to try more recipes!

  21. 5 stars
    This was truly the best lasagna I’ve ever had. My husband and I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to eat some of the leftovers tonight. Wasn’t able to find whole fire-roasted tomatoes (only diced ones) so just used the regular canned whole tomatoes. Best sauce ever. We will most definitely be adding this recipe to our monthly rotation!

  22. I must say this is the best lasagna I have ever made. I wa a little worried as my sauce was not as liquidly as I thought it should be but I still didn’t deviate from recipe. I did 1/2 and 1/2 Italian sausage and ground beef. I found the fire roasted tomatoes but they were diced, not whole…perhaps this is why there was less liquid. Either way, it turned out awesome. My husband enjoyed it as well. We have at least 2 full meals left! Will enjoy it! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. 5 stars
    So about a week ago I got the urge to make lasagna, I have never made lasagna but I have eaten a lot of it. I searched her recipes and I found this one and it sounded good so I gave it a try, none of us were disappointed did I mention that I cooked it for 40 (planned) people at my Lodge yesterday.

    I expanded the recipe to make 8 pans worth, it was not cheap but my God it was good. I varried a little bit and didn’t use the roasted red peppers, a little bit extra crushed red pepper, and a little extra whole tomatoes. I also used 1/2 ground beef 1/2 mild Italian sausage.

    This was awesome and I can’t wait to do this again just hopefully for a smaller crowd.

  24. The best recipe I’ve tried

  25. 5 stars
    This was amazing. I used 1/2 Italian sausage and 1/2 ground beef. I used lots of fresh thyme and rosemary in the sauce with some dry Italian seasoning. Used lots of fresh basil with the cheese and egg mixture. I would recommend letting it set up longer than 5 minutes because mine was a little bit runny.

  26. 3 stars
    It wasn’t terrible. Far cry from “Best Lasagna Recipe” but not bad. I wouldn’t be angry if a friend invited me over for this but it’s something of a plain lasagna with no distinguishing flavor or appeal that could be labelled a generic recipe, I wouldn’t serve in my restaurant. I’d give it a 6/10. Would probably take out 1 can of the tomatoes and replace it with tomato sauce, and just used crushed tomatoes instead of breaking down whole during the cooking process. Lighten up on the garlic just slightly, and maybe use a béchamel/soft cheese mixture in place of your ricotta based mixture.
    A few things to make it, best lasagna worthy.

  27. 3 stars
    Very dry but sauce is tasty. Ran out of sauce so I couldn’t even do last layer. Recommend making more sauce and keeping if saucier for more flavor. Will try a second time to perfect it and make it less dry.

  28. 5 stars
    This is super good! I have tried so many recipes from Ali’s blog and every single one is delicious!!!! Thanks for sharing your fabulous recipes.

  29. 5 stars
    Delicious and tasty I made this for my son on his birthday.