Classic Lasagna

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Classic but elevated, this is the lasagna you’ll want to make for big family dinners and special occasions.

Classic but elevated, this is my go-to lasagna recipe. The secret is using oven-ready (or no-boil) lasagna noodles, which not only save a lot of time and trouble but also taste similar to fresh/homemade pasta. The thin noodle sheets are layered with a rich meat sauce made with Italian sausage, veggies, crushed tomatoes and cream, as well as creamy ricotta and gooey mozzarella cheese. Baked until bubbly and golden, it’s the perfect cozy dish for a crowd, and it reheats and freezes well, too.

No-boil lasagna noodles are a wonderful product available in the pasta section of most supermarkets. I like the Barilla brand. They do not need to be boiled before using, 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.

What you’ll need to make lasagna

lasagna ingredients

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

Cooked vegetablesAdd 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 potContinue 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 processorProcess 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.

sauce in baking dishArrange 3 noodles over the sauce, and dollop a third of the ricotta filling over the noodles.

noodles and ricotta over lasagna sauceSpread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles.

spreading ricotta mixtureSprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

adding mozzarella cheeseRepeat 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.

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Classic Lasagna

Classic but elevated, this is the lasagna you’ll want to make for big family dinners and special occasions.

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. 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.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The lasagna can be frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing it prior to baking, when you’re ready to cook it, defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then proceed with the baking instructions in the recipe. If the lasagna is already cooked, you can either put it in a freezer-safe container that just fits the leftover piece, or you can cut into individual pieces and wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Reheat it, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven until hot.

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

  • Hi Jenn-
    Great recipe! My family loves it. I have a question the cheese mixture, I always seem to have a lot leftover. Is that typical or am I doing something wrong?
    Still tastes good but just wanted to make sure!
    Thanks for all the wonderful recipe!

    • — Jenine on June 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad your family enjoys this! You really shouldn’t have leftover cheese. If you do, I’d just sprinkle a little more on each layer. 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • As everything I have made from your site has been a huge hit, I am planning to make this for the first time and serve it at a party. I normally use fresh pasta. Do you think it will hold up to the “heft” of this dish. Many thanks for all the great dinners.

    • — Pam Labelle. on April 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! Yes, I think fresh pasta would hold up fine here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can this be made a day ahead?

    • — Carol O'Neill on April 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yes, I’d assemble and refrigerate and bake before serving. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is fantastic. It was perfect with a mild sausage from a local company. I didn’t have crushed tomatoes, so used whole peeled tomatoes instead. I simmered the sauce according to the recipe and blended with my immersion blender before adding the sausage to the sauce and it worked great. I also didn’t have fresh basil, but used Italian parsley; tasted amazing. This recipe is totally worth the time that goes into it. My husband asked me to use this recipe from here forward!

    • — Jen E on April 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • This was amazing. I’ve made countless lasagnas and have always been disappointed. I did change out the ricotta mixture for béchamel sauce though (as I don’t like ricotta), and I made double the sauce (saved some for another use) and let the sauce simmer for over an hour. Seriously the BEST lasagna I’ve ever made. Thanks so much for this recipe.

      • — Emily Nilsson on May 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was fabulous! After many other recipes tried and tested, I’d pretty much given up on lasagna, immensely preferring the Baked Ziti on this site. But on a rare California rainy day this week, my sweetie declared it a day for lasagna so I gave this a try. Definitely a keeper – I should’ve tried this long ago! Didn’t change a thing, other than subbing hot Italian turkey sausage since we don’t eat red meat.

    • — Megan on March 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • By far the best lasagna I have ever had, restaurant or homemade. I’ve made this so many times. Thank you!

    • — Mia on March 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely incredible!!!!! Don’t change anything!

    • — Belinda on February 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m doubling the recipe and making 2 lasagnas for a dinner party tomorrow night. Should I increase the baking time since there will be 2 pans in the oven at once? Both pans can fit together on the same rack.

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes!
    Maura

    • — Maura Visconsi on February 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Maura, The timing shouldn’t be significantly different, but they may take a few extra minutes in the oven. Hope everyone enjoys! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Our FAVORITE lasagna!!! WOW!!!!!

    I admit it – I was forced to make 2 tiny variations in the recipe. Used traditiona lasagna noodles as that is what sat in my pantry. No heavy cream & I subbed in FAGE GREEK YOGURT & held my breath – fantastic!!! Creamy sauce and no one knew. Searched your reader comments to see if anyone did that – and sharing here in case anyone else finds themselves in my predicament. (Does that mean I was eating healthy since I combined it with your Italian Salad?)

    Jenn thank you for the flavor you bring to our kitchen table and the excellent instructions.

    • — Barrie Mirman on February 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • If I prefer not to use red wine, should I substitute something else or simply omit that step?

    • — Trisha on February 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Trisha, it’s fine to omit it — enjoy!!

      • — Jenn on February 11, 2022
      • Reply
  • My husband who says he’s never been able to find a good lasagna recipe has now made this four times in the last couple of months and absolutely loves it. Another fantastic recipe. Thank you, Jen!!

    • — Stefanie on February 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this last night for the first time – but since we are practically a vegetarian household, I substituted the sausage with Impossible meat and added italian seasoning for that “italian sausage” essence. It turned out wonderfully! We’ll be eating this for the next few days. Thank you!

    • — Kat on January 31, 2022
    • Reply
  • Thanks for another great recipe Jen. Made this for my mom’s birthday and it came out perfect. I haven’t made lasagna in years because assembly was just a pain with the cooked noodles sliding around, and I didn’t think the oven-ready noodles would be any good. Boy was I wrong. Best lasagna recipe I’ve ever used. Didn’t make any changes and I can’t wait to make it again.

    • — Noreen on January 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen. Thanks for all the great recipes; I’ve not found one we didn’t thoroughly enjoy.
    We try to eat reasonably healthy, so I was wondering about using ground turkey and turkey sausage (akin to your wonderful turkey meatballs) for the sauce. Do you think that would work and still have good flavor? Thanks for your thoughts.

    • — Diana on January 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Diana, Turkey sausage would work well here, but I’d stay away from the ground turkey as the sausage adds so much flavor. Hope that helps (and please LMK how it turns out if you try it)!

      • — Jenn on January 22, 2022
      • Reply
      • Turned out great using turkey sausage (I followed your advice and used Shady Brooks) as the only meat. Thanks for the counsel; left to my own devices I would have mixed ground turkey and turkey sausage and it would not have been nearly as flavorful. We loved it.

        • — Diana on February 10, 2022
        • Reply
        • Glad it came out well — thanks for the follow-up!!

          • — Jenn on February 10, 2022
          • Reply
  • Just made this lasagne for the first time. It is by far the best meat lasagne recipe out there. Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfect. Thanks Jen for another fabulous recipe.

    • — Deb on January 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • My son told me, after lunch today, that this is the best lasagna he has ever had! My husband and I really enjoyed it too. Hope to make this a lot.

    • — Sarah on January 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi! If whole milk ricotta is not available in our country, what is the best substitute?

    • — Melz on January 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Melz, Do you have access to reduced-fat ricotta? If so, I’d use that. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try this for NYE!! Question- did you use the Emile Henry 11×13 or 11×8 for this recipe? It’s hard to gauge on your pictures, but they look more like the 11×8 pan I saw at the store today 🙂 Beautiful dishes! Thanks so much!

    • — Rebecca on December 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, I actually use a 13 x 9-inch pan. You can find that referenced in the instructions under “For Assembly.” Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on December 30, 2021
      • Reply
      • Sorry for my typo. Meant 9×13! Great, thanks for clarifying.

        • — Rebecca on December 30, 2021
        • Reply
        • This recipe is the best homemade lasagna. From the first bite, I could see everyone’s eyes rolling back on their head. That was a quiet dinner. I froze some, pulled it out 6mos later, still as good as the day made it. I would give this one 10 stars. Tastes better than any Italian restaurant. Salute

          • — Kirk Kerkove on January 30, 2022
          • Reply
      • Another fantastic recipe. My wife says it’s the best she’s ever had. Just ordered your cookbook. Thanks to you, I rock in the kitchen.

        • — Frank on January 19, 2022
        • Reply
  • Can this be baked frozen?

    • — Pam on December 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • I would recommend thawing it before cooking.

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Best lasagne ever! I was initially hesitant because lasagne takes so much time. This recipe was more than worth it. I didn’t have the tomatoes on hand I thought I did so I used Midi brand marinara sauce and added a small amount of tomato paste. Our son, who has had great classic Italian food at the home of a friend and her extended family members, called this called “great classic lasagne”. Then I knew it was a hit! So delicious!

    • — Cindy Simerly on December 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made two pans of this lasagna for Christmas dinner, and it was a huge hit! All the guests loved it and a few even said it was the best they’ve ever had, including my husbands grandma ;). That’s a big compliment! Thank you for yet another great recipe. I have both your books and visit this site regularly and I’ve never been disappointed!

    • — Katie on December 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    Can I use ground beef instead of pork ? will it a alter the flavour?

    • — Cezanne on December 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Cezanne, Ground beef will work here, but make sure it’s well seasoned (sausage adds a lot of flavor). Some spices I would add — a bit of oregano, Italian seasoning, whole or ground fennel seeds, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hello Jen! This recipe looks fabulous and making for dinner party. Can I substitute the Quattro Formaggi blend from Trader Joe’s (Parm, Asiago, Fontina, & Mild Provolone) for the Mozzarella or Parmesan Cheese in the Ricotta mixture? Thanks- Having made many of your recipes, I am sure this one will be fabulous also 🙂

    • — Liz on December 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, So glad you like the recipes! You can substitute the cheese blend for the mozzarella but I would not recommend using it in place of the Parmesan. Hope that helps and that you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, made this a few times and its soo good. I would like to use the regular Barilla lasagne noodles instead of no bake noodles and freeze it. Can you tell me if I should cook the noodles and then just proceed with your recipe? Thank you!

    • — Vicki on December 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like it! Yes, what you’ve described sounds like the way to go. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – love your recipes and the cookbooks!!
    What kind of salad would you serve with this? (Dinner party Saturday night). So many of them seem heavy to serve with lasagna. I’d like a simple green salad but am leaning towards your home made Cesar dressing. Thank you!

    • — Karen Lynch on December 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes!
      The lasagna would pair nicely with this Big Italian Salad. BTW, I have a feature on the website– for all main dishes, I suggest one or two sides that I think would pair nicely with them. To see what I’ve suggested, scroll down to the bottom of the recipe. Immediately under the recipe, you’ll see the dishes that I’ve suggested. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks a million!

        • — Karen Lynch on December 9, 2021
        • Reply
  • Quick question please. I have sliced fresh mozzarella in my frig and wondering if fresh would work as sub for regular shred type mozzarella in this recipe? Thoughts? Love this site and have used many of your recipes with great success! Thanks Jen

    • — Dawn on November 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Dawn, I don’t love fresh mozzarella for dishes like lasagna because it doesn’t melt as well so you don’t get that gooey result, but if you’d really like to use it up, it will work. Also, thanks for the nice words about the recipes; so glad you like them!

      • — Jenn on December 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • I haven’t made lasagna in years and it almost felt like I was cheating on your baked ziti recipe! This was an enjoyable dish to make on a slow Sunday. My family gobbled it up and my 5 year old asked for seconds. My only regret was that I didn’t double it and make one for the freezer. Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Kristyn on November 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Would this recipe work with the gluten free version of this type of noodle? If so, are there any special directions? I’ve never cooked with gluten free noodles and will be entertaining someone with dietary restrictions. Also, I would like to make it in advance and freeze it uncooked until the event. Will this work when working with gluten free noodles?
    Thank you!

    • — Trudy on November 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Trudy, I’ve never made this with gluten-free noodles but a number of people have commented that they have successfully. One reader mentioned that she used Catelli gluten-free no-boil lasagna noodles if you can find those. And I would assume that like regular noodles, you could freeze this unbaked. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2021
      • Reply
      • Barilla GF no bake noodles work great and can be frozen, just like wheat noodles. My only observation is they seem to need even more moisture, so an extra can of good quality tomato sauce is a good idea. I like lasagna con sucre (with a pinch of sugar per 14 oz of sauce). More veggies keep moisture higher too… Crimini mushrooms, zucchini, and/or frozen or fresh spinach. I often use small curd cottage cheese in lieu of ricotta.

        • — Lauren B in California on December 16, 2021
        • Reply
        • All good to know — thanks for your input!

          • — Jenn on December 16, 2021
          • Reply

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