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Classic Lasagna

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Comforting, familiar flavors but refined—my all-time favorite lasagna layers oven-ready noodles, a rich meat sauce, veggies, and plenty of cheese.

Classic Lasagna

I love this lasagna recipe because it beautifully combines the familiar flavors of the lasagna I grew up on with the refined taste of a restaurant-style dish. It’s also relatively easy to make, thanks to the use of oven-ready or no-boil lasagna noodles, which save time and effort while delivering a taste remarkably similar to fresh homemade pasta—a definite win! The noodles are layered with a flavorful meat sauce made with Italian sausage, vegetables, crushed tomatoes, and cream, as well as creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Baked until bubbly and golden, it’s the perfect cozy dish for a crowd, and it reheats and freezes well, too. This is definitely my go-to lasagna recipe!

“Best Lasagna recipe – ever! And that includes those prepared in notable Italian restaurants…Conversation at the dinner table was reduced to sighs of delight and the utterance of an occasional OMG or YUM.”

Angela

What You’ll Need To Make Lasagna

lasagna ingredients
  • Onion, Garlic, Carrots, and Celery: These vegetables are the base of the sauce, contributing to the depth of flavor.
  • Italian Sausage: The key flavor component of the sauce, it adds richness and depth of flavor with its spices and fat content.
  • Red Wine: Ådds acidity and complexity to the sauce.
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Provides body, acidity, and tomato flavor to the sauce.
  • Heavy Cream: Added to the tomato sauce to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and wine.
  • Thyme and Bay Leaves: These herbs contribute aromatic flavors to the sauce.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Mixed with egg, cream cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, used as a creamy layer in the lasagna, adding moisture and richness.
  • Cream Cheese: Adds extra creaminess and tang to the ricotta mixture, and prevents the ricotta from becoming grainy when baked.
  • Egg: Acts as a binder in the ricotta mixture, helping it to set and maintain structure when the lasagna is baked.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano: A hard, aged cheese that’s rich in flavor, added to the ricotta mixture and also sprinkled on top of the lasagna.
  • Oven-Ready (No Boil) Lasagna Noodles: These noodles do not require pre-boiling, which means you don’t have to worry about them slopping around and sticking together, which is always an issue when using regular lasagna noodles to prepare lasagna. They absorb moisture from the sauce and cheese during baking, cooking to perfect tenderness. I like the Barilla brand.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Adds stretchy, melty texture to the layers of the lasagna.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Make the Sauce

Begin by placing the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in a food processor. You need to give them a rough chop first, otherwise, they won’t chop evenly.

vegetables in bowl of food processor

Pulse until minced but not puréed, so that they melt into the sauce.

minced vegetables

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, and add the sausage.

raw sausage in pot

Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking the sausage into small pieces, until slightly browned but not cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the partially cooked sausage to a plate. Set aside.

browned sausage

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and add the minced vegetables.

minced vegetables in pot

Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce the heat if necessary.

Cooked vegetables

Add the wine and continue cooking, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the wine is mostly absorbed by the vegetables, a few minutes.

wine in the pot

Add the tomatoes, cream, salt, pepper, sugar, thyme and bay leaves.

adding crushed tomatoes, cream, and seasoning to pot

Stir and bring to a boil.

stirring lasagna sauce

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.

sauce after simmering

Add the sausage back to the pot.

adding sausage to the pot

Continue simmering until the sausage is fully cooked and the flavors all meld together, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fish out the bay leaves and discard.

lasagna sauce

2. Make the Ricotta Filling

Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

ingredients for ricotta mixture in food processor

Process until evenly combined, then add the basil.

adding basil to ricotta mixture

Pulse until the basil is finely chopped.

finished ricotta mixture

3. Assemble the Lasagna

Spread about 1-1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.

lasagna sauce in baking dish

Arrange 3 noodles over the sauce, and dollop a third of the ricotta filling over the noodles.

noodles and ricotta over lasagna sauce

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles.

spreading ricotta mixture onto lasagna noodles

Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

adding mozzarella cheese to lasagna layers

Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, ricotta filling and mozzarella 2 more times. Top with the remaining 3 noodles. Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.

lasagna ready to bake

Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the lasagna tightly with the foil, sprayed side down. Bake for 40 minutes in a 375°F oven. Carefully uncover and increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake, uncovered, until the noodles are tender, the sauce is bubbling, and the edges are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes.

baked lasagna

Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can lasagna be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time before baking. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold.

Can lasagna be frozen?

Yes, lasagna can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze it before baking, ensure it is thoroughly defrosted in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you follow the recipe’s baking instructions. For already baked lasagna, place any leftovers in a freezer-safe container, or cut it into individual servings. Each serving should be tightly wrapped first in plastic wrap and then in foil. To reheat, cover the lasagna with foil and warm it in an oven preheated to 325°F (165°C) until it is heated through.

Can I use ground beef instead of Italian sausage?

Italian sausage is the best choice for this recipe because it is loaded with spices and herbs, such as salt, oregano, basil, fennel, garlic, and red pepper flakes. In contrast, ground beef is completely unseasoned, which means it lacks these built-in flavors. If you decide to use ground beef, I recommend amping up the seasoning by adding a mix of herbs and spices mentioned above.

Video Tutorial

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Classic Lasagna

Comforting, familiar flavors but refined—my all-time favorite lasagna layers oven-ready noodles, a rich meat sauce, veggies, and plenty of cheese.

Servings: 8
Total Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1½ pounds Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casing)
  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Ricotta Mixture

  • 1 (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta (about 1¾ cups)
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil

For Assembling

  • 12 oven ready (no boil) lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
  • 16 ounces shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Instructions

For the Sauce

  1. Place the onions, garlic, carrot and celery in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse until finely minced but not puréed.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking the sausage into small pieces, until slightly browned but not cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the partially cooked sausage to a plate. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and add the minced vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce the heat if necessary.
  4. Add the wine; continue cooking, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the wine is mostly absorbed by the vegetables, a few minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, cream, salt, pepper, sugar, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, transfer the sausage to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces (big chunks don't work well in lasagna).
  7. Add the sausage back to the pan and continue simmering, covered, until the sausage is fully cooked and the flavors meld together, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fish out the bay leaves and discard.

For the Ricotta Mixture

  1. Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until evenly combined. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.

For Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread about 1½ cups of sauce in the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles over the sauce (there will be a bit of space between the noodles; they expand as they cook). Dollop a third of the ricotta filling over the noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layering of sauce, noodles, ricotta filling and mozzarella 2 more times. Top with the remaining 3 noodles. Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  3. Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the lasagna tightly with the foil, sprayed side down. Bake for 40 minutes. Carefully uncover and increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake, uncovered, until the noodles are tender, the sauce is bubbling, and the edges are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.
  4. Make-Ahead Instructions: The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time before baking. Allow a few extra minutes in the oven if baking from cold.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The lasagna can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze it before baking, ensure it is thoroughly defrosted in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you follow the recipe's baking instructions. For already baked lasagna, place any leftovers in a freezer-safe container, or cut it into individual servings. Each serving should be tightly wrapped first in plastic wrap and then in foil. To reheat, cover the lasagna with foil and warm it in an oven preheated to 325°F until it is heated

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 776
  • Fat: 45g
  • Saturated fat: 23g
  • Carbohydrates: 47g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 46g
  • Sodium: 1812mg
  • Cholesterol: 158mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Jenn, I am assuming I will love this but I have a question before we make it. Can I use fresh pasta noodles? My daughter gave me a pasta roller for Christmas and thought it would be fun to make this dish with fresh pasta. I would take any recommendations if you think this is a good idea.

    Thanks,
    Heidi

    • — Heidi on February 18, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Heidi, Fresh pasta should will work here. As long as you don’t cook it first, the bake time should be the same. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2024
      • Reply
  • This is the best lasagna ever! Over the last 3-4 months, I’ve tried several different lasagna recipes, including the popular one by the Pioneer Woman and the one from the New York Times and my family prefers this one, hands down. It’s a winner. There is a perfect balance of flavors. Using the no-bake lasagna noodles makes this an easy recipe to make. All your recipes are delicious and you’re my go-to chef!

    • — Lisa Jeanne on February 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • can i use ground beef instead of sausage?

    • — abbey on February 14, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Abbey, You can substitute ground beef – just make sure you season it well as the sausage adds a lot of flavor. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 14, 2024
      • Reply
  • Made this again last night for a Super Bowl party and it is a super good dish for a crowd. I made it the day before and so easy to pop in the oven, serve with a tossed salad with Jen’s Italian dressing (the best!) and garlic bread. A definite hit!

    • — sharon on February 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • Howdy,
    I’m making this tomorrow and am concerned I won’t be able to find fresh basil leaves. Any advice? Thanks so much.

    PS I’ve made several of your recipes and they are DELISH!!

    • — Holly J Boeka on February 8, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Holly, so glad you like the recipes! I definitely prefer fresh basil here, but if you’re not able to get it, you’ll need just shy of 3 Tbsp. of dried basil. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2024
      • Reply
  • We make this recipe several times a year and every time we make it I think it’s the best lasagna I have ever eaten. We had it tonight and it was the BEST LASAGNA I HAVE EVER EATEN! Thank you so much for your recipes. We are big fans and have made many of them. All are outstanding! Thank you!

    • — Laura on February 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2024
      • Reply
  • This lasagna is AMAZING. It’s definitely a labor of love but 100% worth it.

    • — Karen on January 20, 2024
    • Reply
  • THE. BEST. Yes, it takes a while to make but I wouldn’t change a thing. This will be my only lasagne recipe going forward. Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Lyne H on January 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • I recently read a column in Yahoo-life in which the editor tested 4 famous Lasagna recipes by Giada De Laurentis, Martha Stewart, Ina Garten and All Recipes. Notably absent was Jenn Segals’ Classic Lasagna. Ina Garten’s was declared the winner, but I’m quite confident that there would have been a different result had Jenn’s Classic Lasagna been included. My husband and I declared Jenn’s Lasagna the best ever. The only modification I made was to use 1/2 pound of ground round beef with 1 pound of the sweet Italian sausage. After cooking the meat, I thought too much fat drippings remained in the pot so I removed some before adding in the 1 TBS of olive oil. Aside from that I followed the recipe exactly as written and didn’t need to add any additional seasoning. Every bite was delicious and we will enjoy the leftovers.
    Thank you, Jen for another amazing recipe.

    • — Nancy Davis on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • I needed to up my lasagna game. My family thought what I was making was great, but I wasn’t satisfied. For me, restaurant quality is a compliment and this is top restaurant quality! I am done looking. My family agrees – this is an improvement over what I was making and this is now my go to lasagna recipe. The BEST!!! Flavors and textures are perfect. Thank you, Jenn, for making me look good.

    • — Linda Jean on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • We had this for Christmas dinner and everyone thought it was super delicious and comforting! I did substitute 1/2 sausage and 1/2 ground beef instead of all sausage. I also added 1 tsp. italian seasoning and 1 tsp. salt since the ground beef doesn’t have any flavoring in it like sausage does. I will keep this in our rotation, but make sure I prepare the sauces a day ahead.

    • — Nancerino on December 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can Rao’s be used as a substitute? I’ve made the sauce before (delicious) but don’t have time today! Any other tweaks I should consider?

    • — Jennifer B on December 31, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, The sauce will be a different consistency (it might be more liquid) but it should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on December 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • Lasagna always takes longer than you think. And I haven’t made it in a long while so I’m out of practice. This is first time making it with the oven-ready noodles which are a game-changer. With all that said, my family announced that this was the best lasagna they’ve ever had … either home-made or at a restaurant. And I couldn’t agree more. We ate half and froze the rest in smaller portions to have another day. Can’t wait!

    • — Dina McCullough on December 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • Very time consuming recipie. It was OK but not a repeat recipie.

    • — Candace Weixel on December 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • I used my own sauce (gravy) but the lasagna was delicious! My family isn’t a big fan of a lot of ricotta, but this version is so good! Made the lasagna the night before with regular, uncooked noodles, and cooked a bit longer it next day after taking it out of the fridge about 1 hour before cooking. Will definitely make again! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Cindy on December 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Fantastic!

    • — Denise Lynch on December 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made for my Christmas Eve dinner and I must say it was a hit. My family all said it was the best lasagna they have ever had. It was a little bit of work but well worth it. I will make this again.

    • — Wendy on December 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • i have to say, i labored over this all day making sauce and the cheese mixture and was also very confused with the layering and missed one layer of noodles and had too much space around edges as well like some people mentioned. I think you need to clarify how many layers there are – after all the work, i hope it works out

    • — eileen brown on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Eileen, You should have 4 layers of noodles — 3 for each layer, and they should fit nicely with just a bit of space between them (they expand as they cook). I will clarify this in the recipe. It sounds like you used a larger pan, so I can see how that might have been confusing. How did it turn out?

      • — Jenn on December 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • i accidentally bought gluten free noodles….does this matter? and my pan was a tad too big so i did 4 noodles across because 3 left big gaps

    • — eileen brown on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Eileen, Gluten-free noodles should work fine here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • Simply the best, well worth the effort! I did put the cooked sausage into the food processor separately and pulsed a few times. Made for a more consistent sauce. Everyone enjoyed the lasagna!

    • — Wendy Fair on December 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • pulsing in the food processor is a great idea, thanks! I did the chopping on the cutting board which would never have occurred to me either but it was messy.

      • — Dina McCullough on December 30, 2023
      • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious! Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Kelly S on December 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • I am going to make your Classic Lasagna for Christmas but have to transport it to my son’s house which is 20 minutes away. Can I cook it for the 40 minutes as directed, take it to their house and do the last 20 minutes there.

    • — Nancy Malkin Gottesfel on December 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I would cook it the whole way at your house and then just reheat when you get there.

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thanks, how should I reheat it?

        • — Nancy Malkin Gottesfeld on December 19, 2023
        • Reply
        • I’d reheat it, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven until hot.

          • — Jenn on December 19, 2023
          • Reply
  • Made this for my extended family last night. Everyone raved about it. Thanks, Jen!

    • — Amy G on December 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was a hit with my family! I wouldn’t change anything except a few process tweaks for next time: (1) For the sauce I’d first chop the carrots a bit in the food processor before adding other vegies, just because the carrots take more time to become minced. (2) Since the food processor is already in use here, I used it to pulse-chop the sausage instead of hand chopping on a cutting board. Super quick and easy. (3) I need to reduce the final baking temp/time because as written, my lasagne was overcooked and blackened on top.
    Thank you Jenn

    • — Brae on December 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • Have made this the day before Christmas Eve for the last few years–favorite lasagna of all time for my family. This year I want to use freshly made lasagna noodles–can I assemble as usual? Should I bake the lasagna and then reheat it on Christmas Eve, or can I wrap it in foil, pop it in the fridge, and then cook it 24 hours later? Do I need to pre-cook the fresh noodles? THANK YOU for your thoughts so I can figure it out–we love this recipe!

    • — Kathryn Brandin on December 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathryn, So glad your family enjoys the lasagna! You can use fresh noodles and assemble as usual (no need to pre-cook the noodles). And you can go either way with cooking/reheating it. But I’d probably assemble, refrigerate, and cook the next day.

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • I have someone that cannot drink alcohol so I do not want to add wine. Is there a substitute?

    • — Joan on December 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Joan, you can just omit it – the lasagna will still taste great. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite recipes. It never disappoints! Do you know if a convection oven’s cooking time would be the same? I recently purchased a Breville Joule Smart Oven and would love to be able to make this in it. I wasn’t sure if I would need to adjust the cooking time.

    • — Noreen on December 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Noreen, so glad you like it! I never use the convection setting on my oven, but I suspect it will require less time if you use it. If you want to use the same timing with your convection, setting, the rule of thumb is to reduce the temperature by 25°.

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2023
      • Reply
      • What can I use in place of the wine?

        • — Karly on January 11, 2024
        • Reply
        • Hi Karly, you can just omit it. It will still be delicious.

          • — Jenn on January 11, 2024
          • Reply
  • Jenn, I made this lasagna today for Christmas Day Dinner. I placed a small portion aside for my dinner and froze the dish. It is so special. I’m not sure what part of the preparation made it extraordinary – perhaps pulverizing carrot, onion, garlic and celery. But you are indeed very talented and all the combinations of the sauce enhanced the final result. Thank you for sending me this email today. (I was going to order the lasagna from some restaurant but decided to try your recipe as you are by far my “go to” chef for so many dishes.) Thank you

    • — Janet Horn on December 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this again. So glad I did because I had forgotten just how incredibly delicious this is, even with gluten free noodles.

    • — Marie Taylor on December 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Just reading this makes my mouth water! I have a sneaky husband that will not eat any tomato pieces. I think I can get away with the carrots and celery blended and cooked. What to do with the tomatoes? Use puree or even tomato sauce?
    Thank you for these wonderful recipes.
    Sue

    • — Sue on December 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sue, So glad you like the recipes! Crushed tomatoes actually don’t have any chunks so I’d just stick with those. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can I use sweet Italian Turkey Sausage ?
    Thank you for all your amazing recipes. You are my go to Chef.

    • — Catherine on December 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! And yes, sweet Italian turkey sausage is fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2023
      • Reply

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