Classic Lasagna

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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

When I was growing up, my mother made lasagna whenever there was family in town or a crowd to feed. The lasagna was always delicious, but since my mom never used a recipe, each time there was a moment of nervous anticipation at the dinner table before slicing the lasagna — would it be too soupy, too dry, or (hopefully) just right?

I’m not one to wing it with a dish like lasagna, so I came up with this surefire recipe based on my mother’s version. It is classic but elevated and also relatively simple to prepare. The key is using no-boil (or oven-ready) lasagna noodles, which not only save a lot of time but also taste similar to fresh pasta. The noodles are layered with a flavorful meat sauce — full of Italian sausage, veggies, and crushed tomatoes, and enriched with cream — as well as creamy ricotta and melty mozzarella cheese.

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 festive 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
  • 1-1/2 pounds Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casing)
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Ricotta Mixture

  • 1 (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta (about 1-3/4 cups)
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil

For Assembling

  • 12 oven ready (no boil) lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
  • 16 ounces shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 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 1-1/2 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 3/4 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 1/4 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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Reviews & Comments

  • I made this lasagna and it was delicious! Loved it.

    I did 4 noodles in each layer instead of 3. Some parts of the noodles ended up hard/chewy – especially around the ends. I followed everything else the same. Is this because I added too many noodles ?

    • — Seena on March 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, I think the extra noodles were the problem. Glad you liked it despite the dry edges. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 31, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can you make this a day ahead and keep in the refrigerator? I have never used “no boil” noodles so I’m not sure if that would mess anything up. Thanks

    • — Stacy A Woods on March 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Definitely – Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made recipe, upping ingredients slightly, to put in 2-8” foil pans and freeze for my 23-year-old son as he started a new life on his own. Have been cooking lasagne for him his whole life, seen him order it multiple times in restaurants, and he has been in Italy several times where he enjoyed it as well. He cooked up one of the pans last night and called to exclaim that it was the best lasagne he had ever had in his life! This will be my one and only lasagne recipe going forward! Thanks for all the great recipes, Jen. Have found them to be foolproof and always get rave reviews. Not afraid to try any of your dishes with company before testing them out as I know they will be a hit!

    • — Jean on March 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am at a home that does not have a food processor. Should I pass on this recipe?

    • — liz shelledy on March 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, No need to pass on it. Chopping the veggies will just be a bit more time-consuming/labor-intensive. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe! My husband said it was the best lasagna he ever had. I left out the meat and was a bit concerned it would not come together; but it was awesome! Will definitely add to our rotation. Thanks for another great recipe.

    • — Alison on February 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • can you make this vegetarian without the sausage and still get great flavor?

    • — Linda R on February 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, If you’d want a vegetarian version, I’d use this recipe. Hope you enjoy if you try it!

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • I noticed you use your yellow 13x9x2 bakeware for many of your dishes. Would you please share the name of the brand and if you highly recommend it? Do you have another recommendation if I cut the recipe in half or 2/3? thanks.

    • — Kim on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, that baking dish is by Emile Henry and I really like it because it’s functional but also nice to look at. If you want to cut the recipe in half, I’d recommend using an 8 x 8-inch dish using two noodles for each layer. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve never tried making lasagna from scratch but thought I’d give it a try since Jenn made it sound simple enough. And it was, except it took me a lot longer to make. It turned out great though. This was a good lasagna recipe. Thanks Jenn for turning something intimidating to something doable!

    • — DJ on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great lasagna but it overflowed from the 13x9x2 Pyrex. Debating on getting a deeper Pyrex or nonstick aluminum lasagna pan. Any thoughts?

    • — RN on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi RN, So sorry to hear this overflowed! It’s designed to fit into a 13 x 9 x 2“ pan. Did you make any adjustments to the recipe? You could certainly try a nonstick aluminum lasagna pan next time around for insurance.

      • — Jenn on February 3, 2021
      • Reply
      • I didn’t get my layers right so I ended up only using 9 noodles which I think may have been a factor? 🤷🏻‍♀️

        • — RN on February 3, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hmmm… I don’t think that should’ve made a difference.

          • — Jenn on February 4, 2021
          • Reply
          • Which is better for dishes like lasagna Pyrex or non stick aluminum baking dish?

            • — RN on February 4, 2021
          • Really, either should be fine. I happen to use ceramic like this one, but pyrex or aluminum should be fine as long as it’s the correct size.

            • — Jenn on February 5, 2021
  • This lasagna is definitely “elevated”. In fact, I would venture to call it elegant. I substituted turkey sausage for the pork, and it was delicious. This will be my go-to lasagna recipe from now on!

    • — Toby Chanes on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn’s “CLASSIC LASAGNA”:
    This recipe yields a killer lasagna! We were blown away by how perfect the non-boil (oven ready) lasagna noodles provided the foundation for it and retained some structure instead of ending up soggy and falling apart when cut to serve.
    The sausage-based meat sauce is simply out of this world. When you see the other ingredients that go into the sauce you’ll understand why it takes a little extra effort, but the payoff is well worth it. Wow. SO authentic you’d think you were eating on Arthur Street in the Bronx’s Little Italy!
    Set this recipe up for your family or friends and bask in their reaction! Highly recommended.
    Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Mark Polis on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was huge crowd favorite! I entertained my family and we’ve been no strangers to Lasagna dinners over the years, but everyone agreed this one would be our new go-to favorite. Perfect balance of sauce, cheese, and flavor.

    • — Hailey on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for the first time last week when we had friends over; (I never worry about trying Jenn’s recipes out for anyone since every one I’ve tried has been delicious)! Needless to say it was AMAZING! I have made lasagna many times in my life, but nothing as good as this one. The addition of cream cheese mixed with ricotta (& basil) was so creamy and gave it such great flavor. I won’t make it any other way now. I used half sweet and half spicy Italian sausage which was a good choice because it added a special kick to it that everyone loved. Definitely a keeper!!

    • — Lynne B. on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve been searching for a great lasagna recipe for a long time . I’ve finally found it ! Thank – you .

    • — Lise Curtis on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this lasagna a few weeks ago and my husband and brother-in-law could not stop raving about how good it was. Jenn, I am so grateful for your creativity, time, and energy that go into making each recipe so special and perfect. Your recipes never fail to impress. Because of you I enjoy cooking because I know I can always put a smile on my loved ones’ faces with a delicious meal or dessert.

    • — Kelly on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this recipe for my family over the holidays. A huge hit! I modified the recipe and swapped out meatloaf mix (beef, lamb, pork) for the sausage due to preferences expressed by my daughters. The wine in this recipe adds a nice complexity. I like ricotta cheese as compared/contrasted to other recipes that use cottage cheese. Also, had some nice leftovers that re-heat well. This recipe is a winner and I will definitely make it again!

    • — Kathryn Hartrick on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this a few weeks ago and everyone said it was the best lasagna I’ve ever made. Love all your recipes and have made so many. Love your cookbook, so helpful with planning weeknight and holiday ideals. Your website is my go to for dinners, and ideas for planning. Thank you so much.

    • — Chris on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • We made this recipe for New Year’s Eve and it will become my go-to lasagna recipe. It was delicious! It has depth of flavor with the veggies. I had never added cream cheese to the ricotta mixture for lasagna, and I was a bit nervous every about it, but it created a smooth cheese layer that really works with this dish. I used regular lasagna noodles, instead of the no-bake, and didn’t boil them, and they were perfectly cooked at the end of the cooking time. This recipe was even better the next day and my family loved it – thank you for posting and I look forward to making this dish in the future.

    • — Amy on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made lasagna two nights ago. This recipe sounds great but one tweak that adds another element of delicious is to make a bachemel and dip the noodles into the bachemel sauce when assembling. Really takes it to another level.

    • — Judy on January 29, 2021
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  • This recipe was absolutely amazing! I love love love lasagna and have tried many recipes. This is by far one of the best! The only thing I did different to this recipe was added some fresh parsley. I love the freshness of parsley. Adding the extra ingredients to the ricotta made a huge difference also. That was definitely a bonus!

    Thank you so much Jenn for sharing this delicious dish with us!

    • — Nicky Brittain on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • One thing I have learned from reading reviews and making your recipes, is to follow the recipe! Of course one can replace this ingredient with another, and so on, but let’s face it, we rely and love you, Jenn because you have done all of the work for us, and all we have to do is put it together!
    I love how easy this lasagna is. I love that it has many veggies in the sauce making it healthy and substantial. I love that it can be made ahead and that it can be stored for later. This lasagna has a rich taste, without making one feel too full. My family loves it! I will make this again and again.

    • — Teri Rogers on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my new go-to lasagna recipe. It was absolutely delicious. The only thing I did different was swapping 1/2 lb of the sausage for ground beef because that’s what I had on hand. Next time I’ll make it as is. Thanks Jenn for another great recipe.

    • — Elsa on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is hands-down the best lasagna recipe I have made. It is packed with flavor and reheats beautifully. I love that sausage is the meat in this specific lasagna; it is savory, decadent, and is the ultimate comfort food.

    Every single one of Jenn’s recipes is spot on and everything I make of hers comes with rave reviews from those I serve. This dish does not disappoint; it tastes like it has come from the best authentic Italian restaurant in town.

    I served it with Jenn’s Big Italian Salad recipe as well as her Rosemary Focaccia on Christmas Eve. It was such a hit, we all agreed that this will be a part of our tradition moving forward. As a bonus, leftovers were as good, if not better! It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

    • — Tami R. on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this lasagna on a Saturday for our Sunday family dinner. Everyone raved about it. The addition of cream cheese was different and made the filling extra creamy! Delicious! My new go to recipe! Thanks Jen!

    • — Sally G on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Lasagne is one of those dishes where you almost always have a heavenly experience from start to finish. Depending on how much or little time you have or better yet want to invest determines the quality of your lasagne. What I love about this recipe is the time an effort that goes into the sauce. It’s such an integral part. Take the time to make it. A fun tip would be to add about a 1/4th teaspoon of cinnamon to the sauce. Cinnamon enhances the flavor of the tomato, and most people won’t know it’s there but will feel the warmth. 🙂

    • — Zoë Flippen on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! It made so much that I set 1/2 aside and gave to my elderly neighbor who was very happy.

    • — Matt on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for Christmas lunch and it was a hit. I followed the recipe and got my picky nephews to eat.
    It was time consuming but all worth it.
    Freezes well and tastes the same.

    • — Zipporah on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolute love this recipe ! Love the homemade sauce with garlic, onion, celery, carrot. I am lactose intolerant do I substituted the ricotta cream for lactose free cream cheese and used lactose free mozzarella, not as delicious as the real thing but works well! Turned out really really yummy, love it and will definitely be making it again 😋😋😋

    • — Luci Silva on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was so delicious and it’s way better than spending so much money at a restaurant when you can make it at home and feed your entire family.

    • — Benhur Goitom on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was amazing, huge upgrade to my prior lasagne recipes!

    • — Jeff on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this delicious lasagna for Christmas dinner and it was a huge hit! I think this will be a new tradition at my house.

    • — Mary R on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My college aged kids hooked me onto this page and I haven’t left! Every recipe we have made has been delicious. I love the simple instructions. This recipe I made in stages as I only had time for a little here and there. We threw it together after dinner one night and cooked it the next. I also used regular noodles as that was all that was available. Fantastic! Just took some of the leftovers out of the freezer tonight and had it for dinner after following the reheating instructions. I think it might actually improve in the freezer…. thanks for another winner! (Chicken tenders, cashew chicken, Peruvian chicken have become staples here!)

    • — Sheryl Clark on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this for Christmas Eve, it was a huge success!! Substituted the homemade sauce with jarred sauce from Trader Joe’s to save some time. And if you mess us on the layers, I sure did, it still comes out heavenly!!

    • — Martha Lampros on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this lasagne several times now. It is my new go to lasagne recipe. I have never used to no boil lasagne noodles before and I absolutely loved to taste and texture. These noodles tend to be a little thinner than the usual lasagne noodles which is so much better because you can really taste the filling.

    • — Lois B on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Followed the recipe to a T…this will replace the one I’ve been using for 20 years!! All of your recipes are amazing, please keep them coming!

    • — Kelly Youngblood on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this lasagna following the recipe exactly. This was my first time using oven-ready lasagna noodles, and they came out perfectly! The carrots brought lots of flavor to the party. Next time I am going to use half spicy Italian sausage and half mild to make it more interesting. Thanks for sharing this recipe; it was really good!

    • — Howie in Coachella, Ca on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious. Grating real parmesan cheese (I used the grater on my food processor) really added to the flavour.

    • — cathleen on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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