This classic lasagna recipe features sheets of fresh homemade pasta noodles layered with a thick, hearty homemade meat sauce and ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. It takes a little more time and effort to make lasagna from scratch, but the results are definitely worth it!
Don't be intimidated by what I'm about to say but, this isn't a quick and easy lasagna recipe. In this dish everything is done from scratch, so it will take some time. But it's a great choice for an impressive special occasion or holiday meal for a crowd. It can also be doubled very easily and freezes very well, so you can make a double batch and enjoy it again later. I usually split my second batch into two 8 by 8 pans so I get two freezer meals.
How to make homemade lasagna noodles
Making fresh pasta is a lot easier than you may think and it is definitely worth the extra work for the BEST homemade lasagna. It just requires a few simple ingredients and using a stand mixer makes the process almost effortless.
Add the 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1-2 teaspoons olive oil, and 4 eggs to the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low until a rough, shaggy dough forms. Then increase to medium speed where it should form a ball.
Let the dough knead in the mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes then remove to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for another minute or two. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for around 30 minutes at room temperature.
You can also refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days. If refrigerating be sure to remove the dough about 1 hour before using to allow it to come to room temperature.
How to roll out fresh lasagna noodles
Once you're ready to roll out the pasta, cut the dough into fourths. Run each piece through a pasta machine, starting on the widest setting and decreasing the thickness with each pass until you reach your desired thickness.
Make sure to keep your work area well floured to avoid sticking and cover the dough that you're not working with using plastic wrap or a damp dish towel.
I like the noodles a little thicker for lasagna so that's about the middle setting on my pasta machine. After rolling out the dough, cut them to 8-10 inch sections or cut to fit you baking dish.
If you don't have a pasta machine you can roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a well floured surface.
Check out my full post on making homemade pasta for more detail and tips.
Cooking fresh lasagna noodles
I usually take my time though and assemble the lasagna with cooled sauce. So to be sure my noodles are cooked I do a quick blanch to soften them. Working in batches, cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for around 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until softened then drain.
You don't actually have to cook fresh lasagna noodles if you work quickly and assemble your lasagna while the sauce is still very hot. The hot sauce will cook the noodles while the dish bakes. If you go that route then you don't need to reduce the sauce as much either. The noodles will help soak up some of the extra moisture, so shoot for about 1 hour of cook time on the sauce instead of 1-2.
Can I use store bought lasagna noodles?
Absolutely! Some upscale supermarkets, such as Whole Foods, offer packaged fresh pasta. You can use these as you would homemade pasta.
Traditional dried pasta will also work. Just cook the noodles as directed on the package before assembling the lasagna.
Ingredients for homemade lasagna
- 1 batch homemade fresh pasta dough
For the meat sauce
- Sweet Italian sausage
- Ground beef - preferably 90/10
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato paste
- Red wine
- White sugar
- Fennel seeds
- Dried oregano
- Black pepper
For the cheese layer
- Whole milk ricotta cheese
- Large egg
- Fresh parsley
- Ground nutmeg
- Whole milk mozzarella shredded
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
How to make homemade sauce for lasagna
To make the lasagna meat sauce, cook sweet Italian sausage, ground beef, diced onion, and minced garlic in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until the meat is well browned.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, wine, sugar, fennel seeds, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low simmer then reduce heat to low and cook for at least 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by about half.
Let the sauce cool for around 30 minutes before assembling the lasagna.
The sauce can also be made in a slow cooker and cooked on low for around 6 hours.
You can prepare the sauce up to 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Making the ricotta cheese layer
While the sauce cooks, add the ricotta, egg, parsley, and nutmeg to a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Many traditional Italian lasagna recipes use a bechamel sauce in place of ricotta we typically use in America. That is a delicious option too if you want a more authentic lasagne.
What kind of cheese should I use for lasagna?
I highly recommend shredding your own cheeses anytime you are going to melt cheese. Store bought shredded cheese is coated with cellulose to prevent clumping and it also prevents melting properly.
For the mozzarella shred a block of low moisture mozzarella with the large holes on a box grater.
For the Parmesan, finely shred or grate a high quality chunk of aged Parmesan such as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If you want even more cheese, add thin sliced provolone cheese on top of the meat sauce before adding the shredded cheeses.
How to assemble lasagna
To assemble your homemade lasagna, set up an assembly line with the meat sauce, the ricotta mixture, the shredded cheese, and the cooked noodles. Lightly coat a 9x13 lasagna dish with cooking spray then:
- Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish then add a single layer of 3 to 4 noodles.
- Spread on a third of the ricotta mixture, then top with ½ cup of mozzarella and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheeses.
- Repeat that process 2 more times and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
The lasagna can also be assembled a day ahead then covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it.
How to cook the BEST homemade lasagna
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake and additional 20-25 minutes until the lasagna is warmed through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
If you like a lightly browned topping, turn the oven to broil for a couple of minutes. Just make sure your baking dish is broiler safe and keep a close eye to avoid burning.
Let the lasagna cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. This will allow the sauce and cheese to set up a bit and help keep those nice
How to store leftover lasagna
To store leftover lasagna, let it completely cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Or you can transfer individual portions to airtight storage containers before refrigerating.
Reheat in a 375°F oven for 20 -30 minutes, or until warmed through.
How to freeze lasagna
This dish freezes very well so it's a good idea to double up and make two. If you are making one to freeze, then skip cooking the noodles. I also highly recommend dividing it into 2, 8 by 8 disposable foil pans. You can also freeze in individual portions if preferred.
To freeze unbaked lasagna, allow all of the ingredients to completely cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can also freeze cooked lasagna for up to 3 months, but the texture and the yummy browned cheese on the topping and crispy edges will not be quite as good. To freeze baked lasagna I recommend storing in individual portions for easier reheating.
How to reheat frozen lasagna
When it comes time to reheat the lasagna you can either thaw it first or bake it from frozen.
To reheat frozen lasagna, it will take around 1 hour and 15 minutes for an 8 by 8 pan. Remove the plastic wrap and foil then cover with a new sheet of foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for an hour, or until warmed through.
Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese topping is melted and bubbly. Remove and let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
If you prefer to thaw the lasagna, allow it to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking. Then bake as above but shorten the time to 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Lasagna with Homemade Noodles
- Stock Pot
For the sauce
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 Tablespoons white sugar
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the cheesy layers
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for topping
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 batch Homemade fresh pasta rolled into thin sheets then cut into sections to fit your baking dish.
- Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until the meat is well browned, around 7-8 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, wine, sugar, fennel seeds, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a low simmer then reduce heat to low and cook for at least 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by about half. Let the sauce cool for around 30 minutes before using. The sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
- While the sauce cooks, add the ricotta, egg, parsley, and nutmeg to a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to assemble the lasagna.
- Using a pasta machine, roll out the prepared pasta dough into thin sheets then cut into 8 to 10 inch sections or cut to fit your baking dish.
- Working in batches, cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for around 30 seconds to 1 minute until softened then drain.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly coat a 9x13 lasagna dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
- To assemble, spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish then add a single layer of 3-4 noodles. Spread on a third of the ricotta mixture, then top with ½ cup of mozzarella and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheeses. Repeat process 2 more times and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake and additional 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.