The Best Lasagna
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it’s easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
When we welcomed our baby girl in October, we were so blessed to have multiple friends drop off dinner for us over the next few weeks. I had a tough go of it postpartum, and those meals were a lifesaver for me when I was exhausted and having a hard time keeping everything together. I had stocked the freezer before she was born with some easy to prepare meals for my husband to make, but it meant so much to me that people around us brought us food. Having food prepared for me makes me feel so loved and taken care of. Now that I’m feeling a little better, I’m on the lookout for friends or neighbors who might need a meal so I can pay it forward!
One of my favorite meals that was brought to us (although they were all incredibly delicious!) was a lasagna from one of my husband’s co-workers, Stephanie. She piled it high with a delicious meaty sauce, loads of cheese, and tender noodles. She brought over a giant pan for us, and I ate it for pretty much every lunch and dinner until it was finally gone. (I think I cried when my husband told me the pan was empty, though that may have just been the postpartum hormones…) As soon as I felt like cooking again, I asked her for the recipe, and she was happy to share!
My version of the lasagna isn’t exactly the same as Stephanie’s recipe, but it has all of the things I loved about it… a rich and flavorful meaty sauce and loads of gooey cheese! I used my trusty meat sauce recipe, and it worked fantastically in this lasagna. Since the meat sauce recipe makes a ton, I decided to make a giant batch of lasagna so I could store the extra in the freezer. This recipe will make enough for four 9 x 9 dishes, or two 9 x 13 dishes. One 9 x 9 dish of lasagna will serve my family of four for dinner, with enough left over for two adult lunches the next day.
I used no-bake lasagna noodles (I like Barilla brand) to eliminate a step and make things easier. I love the tender texture they give to the finished product! It’s important to use whole milk ricotta, because reduced fat ricotta has more water in it and will make your lasagna a soupy mess. For the sauce, I like to use a mix of mild Italian sausage and ground beef, but you can use all sausage or all beef. Stephanie told me she sometimes makes it with ground lamb, and it’s extra delicious that way!
The recipe looks like a lot of steps, but it’s really simple once you get started. To make things even easier, you could definitely make the sauce and ricotta mixture one day, and assemble the lasagnas the next day. To store the extra lasagna in the freezer, I assemble it in a disposable foil container, wrap the top tightly in plastic wrap, then cover it with foil. When I’m ready to bake, I just remove the plastic wrap, replace the foil, and put it in the oven. The frozen lasagna takes usually takes about 10-15 minutes longer to cook than a fresh lasagna. I always write the instructions on the foil so if someone else (like my husband) is baking it, they’ll know what to do (and not accidentally bake it with the plastic wrap on – ugh!).
This lasagna is completely delicious! Every single layer is flavorful and delightful, and all together it is just comfort food at its best. I can’t imagine making lasagna any other way from here on out!
The Best LasagnaPrint Recipe
for the sauce:
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
for the ricotta layer:
- 2 large containers 30 ounces each whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- to assemble:
- 2 pounds mozzarella cheese freshly shredded
- 2 boxes 9 ounces each oven ready lasagna noodles
- To make the sauce, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat, breaking them into smaller pieces as they cook. When all of the meat is browned, add the garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, basil, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot, and stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before assembling the lasagna. To make the ricotta layer, in a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, salt, basil, and oregano until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagnas.
To make two 9 x 13 pans of lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Add a layer of four noodles to the bottom of each pan (it’s okay if they overlap a little). Spread about 2 1/2 cups of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles in each pan. Spread about 2 cups of the remaining sauce on top of each layer of ricotta, then sprinkle each pan with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles to each pan, followed by the remaining ricotta. Add a third layer of noodles to each pan, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
To make four 9 x 9 pans of lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Add a layer of two noodles to the bottom of each pan. Spread about 1 1/4 cups of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles in each pan. Spread about one cup of the sauce on top of each layer of ricotta, then sprinkle each pan with 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles to each pan, followed by the remaining ricotta. Add a third layer of noodles to each pan, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
This looks amazing!! And perfect timing for me… I'm starting on freezer meals before baby arrives! If freezing, do you freeze them unbaked or bake and then freeze?
I froze them unbaked. They only take about 10-15 extra minutes of bake time to bake from frozen. Congrats on your little one!
Perfect, thank you!! Tried the recipe and it was so so good!! Already dreaming of eating it next time. Thank you!!