This will be the BEST Homemade Lasagna recipe you will make and your whole family will love! It is full of delicious layers of lasagna noodles, rich meaty sauce, melty cheese, and herby ricotta. Perfect classic Italian dinner!
It’s the comfort food my family requests for special occasions! The real bonus of this lasagna recipe, is that it can be made ahead or frozen for easier dinner prep.
Another similar layered pasta dish that is a little less work than a full lasagna is a Baked Penne Pasta.
This Lasagna Recipe is…
- super traditional with layers of rich Italian sausage tomato sauce, herby ricotta cheese, tender lasagna noodles and creamy whole milk mozzarella cheese.
- such amazing comfort food, perfect for a family dinner on Sunday night!
- a little easier to make using oven ready noodles and high quality store-bought sauce, like Rao’s. Those two short cuts will cut your prep time in half!
- a great meal prep dinner recipe because it can be made up to 48 hours in advance and kept in the fridge, or 3 month ahead and kept in the freezer. You can also make it in 2 smaller 8×8 pans and keep one in the freezer for later!
- an EXCELLENT dinner to take to as a meal train (a meal train is a meal for someone that just had a baby, has a sick family member, or death in the family, etc..) !!
Is it Lasagna or Lasagne?
Why do we sometimes see it spelled with an “a” Lasagna and then sometimes with an “e” Lasagne? They may seem interchangeable, especially in the United States, but there actually is a difference between the two!
In Italian, lasagne with an E is the plural version, meaning many flat rectangular pasta sheets. While lasagna with an A is the singular version.
Now in the United States we adopted Lasagna with an A, and the plural version being Lasagnas, meaning the casserole-like, layered pasta dish .
Clear as mud… that’s what I thought.
Lasagna can be a labor of love, as in it takes a bit of time to put together and bake. Pictured are the ingredients that you need to gather, plus some pro tips on a few supplies.
This lasagna is layered with a semi-homemade sausage sauce. Here is what you need:
Italian Sausage – there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the sausage in this recipe. Use a bulk sausage that your family loves- sweet, mild, hot, pork, or turkey, they all work. I have even used a combination of Italian sausage mixed with ½ lb. of ground pork or ground beef.
Store Bought Marinara – a big time saver in this recipe is the store bought marinara. We really like using Rao’s, their Homemade Marinara and Tomato Basil Marinara are both EXCELLENT, completely worth the higher price tag!!
Optional Fennel – We LOVE fennel around here, so I like to add 1 teaspoon of fennel seed (sometimes more) to the sauce. It isn’t necessary, but if you like fennel then definitely add it.
Ricotta – use a high quality whole milk ricotta for the best results in this Lasagna. It bakes up the creamiest and smoothest!
Cottage Cheese Sub. – I am from the Midwest and grew up eating lasagna with cottage cheese, so of course I still like it with cottage cheese from time to time. Subbing a 2% or 4% milk fat cottage cheese in this recipe will work just fine! If your cottage cheese looks watery, drain a little liquid before using. Actually cottage cheese tends to stay creamier in a lasagna… give it a try some time!
Egg – Don’t skip adding the egg to the ricotta (or cottage cheese), it is a binder that keeps the ricotta from spilling out of your lasagna layers.
Additional Assembly Ingredients
Lasagna Noodles – another time saver in this Homemade Lasagna are the oven ready or no-boil noodles. We highly recommend Barilla brand. It will cut your prep time in half.
Mozzarella & Parmesan– if you can find whole milk mozzarella definitely purchase that as it will melt creamier and richer. Most shredded mozzarella is low- moisture part skim, which will work, it just won’t be as creamy.
Parmesan cheese is also better when shredded fresh.
Raw Garlic Tip
Handling a lot of raw garlic, like in this Homemade Lasagna recipe, can make for stinky hands. To remove the garlic smell from your skin simply rub it on anything that is stainless steele. I usually rub my hands on the bottom of my sink and then wash my hands.
Step by Step Picture Instructions
There are 4 main steps to making Homemade Lasagna; making the Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce, putting together the Ricotta Filling, Layering, and then baking.
Italian Sausage Sauce
Start by sauteing the onion and Italian sausage in olive oil. Crumbling the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess grease.
Turn the heat to low and add the garlic, heat for 1 minute.
Finish the sauce by stirring in the sugar, black pepper, kosher salt, vinegar, Italian seasoning, (2) jars of your favorite marinara, and optional fennel seeds.
Simmer over low heat until it is time to assemble.
To make the ricotta mixture simply stir together all the ingredients; whole milk ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic clove, salt, pepper, and optional basil.
Time to Assemble!
Set up an assembly area; place your 9×13 deep baking dish in the center, spray with non stick spray or grease with olive oil. Then grab the sauce, ricotta filling, lasagna noodles, shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Pour approximately 1 ½ cups sauce into the bottom of the dish. Top with 3 noodles. Spread ⅓ of the ricotta filling over the noodles.
Sprinkle with ¾ cup mozzarella cheese.
Repeat this layering process 2 more times (sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella).
For the last layer finish the lasagna with 3 more noodles and spread the rest of the sauce over top, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and the ¼ cup of grated parmesan.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Pro Tip: spray the under side of your foil with non stick spray, that way your cheese won’t bake to the foil!
Place the lasagna dish on a large rimmed baking pan. This will catch any boil overs or spills in the oven!
Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes then remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
Optionally, if you like those slightly golden brown pieces of cheese you can broil for 2 minutes.
Let the baked lasagna cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting. It needs time to set up before slicing.
Watch this quick video to learn how to assemble and layer a lasagna perfectly!
Cut the lasagna into squares, 3×4 so you have 12 servings. Or for a really hungry bunch cut the lasagna into 2×4 so you have 8 larger pieces.
Lasagna is a classic Italian dinner that goes perfectly with a Caesar salad (this is our favorite homemade Caesar dressing), or green salad with a tart vinaigrette, like this basil vinaigrette. And don’t forget the garlic bread!
How to Make Ahead
This Homemade Lasagna recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance! Which is great at the Holidays when there is a lot of meals to make!
Simply assemble completely, but do not bake. Cover the unbaked lasagna with foil and place in the fridge.
To bake: preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
How to Freeze
Lasagna freezes really well and so it can make for great meal prep. If you are cooking for a smaller crowd make your lasagna in two smaller 8×8 pans!
Assemble the lasagna completely but do not bake. Cover tightly with a couple layers of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to label and date the lasagna for food safety!
To bake your frozen lasagna, you will want to place it in the fridge overnight to slightly thaw.
Bake covered with foil at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
Tips for the BEST Homemade Lasagna
- This is a layered dish that requires space, so make sure you use a 9×13 dish that is about 2 inches deep.
- Use quality ingredients, like Rao’s marinara sauces, whole milk ricotta, and whole milk mozzarella.
- Fresh shredded cheese is always best because it melts the creamiest.
- Don’t skip the sugar in the sauce. It counters the acidity in the tomatoes and balances the sauce perfectly.
- Set the 9×13 lasagna pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch spills in the oven.
- Don’t cut into your lasagna until it has cooled for at least 15-20 minutes, it needs time to set.
- If you are feeding a smaller group, divide the recipe into two smaller 8×8 pans and freeze one for later!
More Lasagna Recipes to Try!
Homemade Lasagna Recipe
Lasagna Ricotta Filling
- 12 oven ready-no boil lasagna noodles (I highly recommend using Barilla Brand)
- 16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese whole milk is best if you can find it
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese shredded
- non-stick spray or can use olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grab a deep (2 inches) 9×13 pan.
- In a large, deep skillet heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and chopped onion, crumble and brown the sausage. Breaking it up into small pieces. Once the sausage is cooked through, drain any excess grease.
- Turn the heat to low. Add the minced garlic to the sausage and heat through, stirring for 1 minute.
- Pour in the 2 jars of marinara sauce and add the pepper, sugar, Italian seasoning and vinegar (and optional fennel seed).
- Let simmer, uncovered, over low heat while you prepare the ricotta mixture.
- For the ricotta mixture, combine the ricotta, egg, garlic parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and optional basil. Stir until thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Set aside.
Assembly & Layering
- For assembly, spray the 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Pour approximately 1 ½ cups sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Arrange 3 noodles over the sauce. Place ⅓ of the ricotta filling over the noodles and spread it out as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the mixture with ¾ cup mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat this layering process 2 more times (sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella).
- Top the final layer with 3 more lasagna noodles and pour the rest of the sauce over the noodles, spreading it out evenly and into the edges.
- Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and the ¼ cup of grated parmesan.
- Spray a large piece of foil with non stick spray, then cover the baking dish tightly with the foil, sprayed side down.This prevents the cheese from baking to the foil.
- Place the pan on a large rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills!!
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the lasagna and bake for another 25 minutes. Finish by broiling for 2 minutes. The edges should be bubbling and the noodles should be tender.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.
Make Ahead – up to 2 days!
- To make this recipe ahead assemble completely, but do not bake. Cover and pop in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- When it is time to bake, cover with foil and bake at 375° for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
- Lasagna freezes really well! Make it in a freezer safe 9×13 dish, or for smaller portions and more meals make in (2) 8×8 pans.
- Assemble completely in a freezer safe container, but do not bake. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Pro Tip: don't forget to label and date the lasagna so you know what it is in the freezer!!
- Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To bake, thaw in the fridge overnight. Then bake, covered with foil, at 375° for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
If nutrition facts are provided they are calculated as an estimate to the best of our knowledge.