Lasagna

Recipe updated May 23, 2013.

Simply Recipes reader Alton Hoover sent me his favorite recipe for lasagna which he has been cooking up since college days. His original recipe created enough lasagna for a small army so I halved it. What is posted here will easily serve 8 people. From what I can tell the secret behind Alton’s lasagna is the addition of a little sugar to the sauce and using a bit more cheese than most other recipes. There are a few minor tweeks to his original recipe that I found necessary, for example adding a dash of wine vinegar to the sauce and changing the amount of Parm.

Lasagna Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced, about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 large bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), seeds and veins removed, diced, about 3/4 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 6 oz can (3 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (preferably flat leaf), packed
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • Pinch of garlic powder and/or garlic salt
  • 1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste, optional)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 lb dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles - unbroken)
  • 15 ounces Ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 lb (24 ounces) Mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • 1/4 lb (4 ounces) freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cooking Utensils

  • Large skillet (for browning beef, onions, green pepper)
  • 8 to 12 Qt pot (for noodles)
  • 3 to 4 Qt pot (simmer sauce)
  • 13" x 9" x 2" lasagna pan (preferably a pyrex or stainless lasagna pan. Do Not Use Aluminum Pans - the aluminum will react with the acidic tomato sauce, leaching the aluminum and ruining the taste of your lasagna sauce.)
  • Large colander (drain/blot beef, drain noodles)
  • Large baking pan (to cool noodles)
  • Large slotted cooking spoon
  • Large cooking spoon
  • Paring knife

Method

1 Put a large pot of salted water (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water) on the stovetop on high heat. It can take a while for a large pot of water to come to a boil (this will be your pasta water), so prepare the sauce in the next steps while the water is heating.

brown meat in hot pan cook until meat is browned

2 Heat about a teaspoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the lean ground beef and cook it in the skillet until lightly browned and cooked through. Put a few layers of paper towels in large bowl. With slotted spoon, remove the browned beef from the skillet, draining off the excess beef fat, and put the browned beef on top of the paper towels to help blot away the excess fat. After you have removed all the browned beef from the skillet, drain off and dispose of excess fat. (If your ground beef is sufficiently lean, there won't be any excess fat to drain.)

add chopped bell peppers and onions to skillet add back in the browned meat

3 Add the diced bell pepper and onions to skillet (in the photo we are using yellow bell pepper and red onions). Brown for a few minutes on medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the browned beef back to the skillet, lower the heat to low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes stirring frequently.

add tomato sauce to the lasagna sauce simmer the lasagna sauce

4 Transfer browned beef, bell peppers and onions to a medium sized (3 to 4 quart) pot. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. Add oregano, parsley, Italian seasoning, adjust amounts to taste. Add a pinch of garlic powder and/or a pinch of garlic salt, to taste. Add a splash of red or white wine vinegar. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, until desired level of sweetness, no more than 1/4 cup of sugar. Note that it is hard to follow a pure recipe when it comes to pasta sauce. One Italian spice mix is not like the other, nor is one can of tomato sauce like another. So you really do need to taste the sauce as you are adding the spices, sugar and vinegar, and adjust for your preference.  Add salt to taste, and note that you will later be adding Parmesan, which is salty.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and lower the heat to low to maintain a low simmer.  Cook for 15-45 minutes to thicken (do not scorch bottom, stir frequently). Remove from heat.

cook and rinse the lasagna noodles spread lasagna noodles on sheet pan to cool toss with olive oil

5 By now the salted water you started heating in step one should be boiling. Add the dry lasagna noodles and cook then per package directions (al dente). (Note noodles may be cooked in advance.) Stir often to prevent from sticking. Make sure that water remains at a full rolling boil during the entire cooking to prevent noodles from sticking. When ready, drain in a colander and rinse with cool water, gently separating any noodles that may be sticking together. Spread a little olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet, and lay out the cooked noodles on this sheet, turning them over so that they get coated with a little of the olive oil. This will prevent them from sticking together.

spread some sauce on bottom of lasagna dish add a layer of lasagna noodles and a layer of sauce add a layer of grated mozzarella cheese add a layer of ricotta and parmesan cheeses

6 In a 13x9x2-inch casserole or lasagna dish, ladle one cup of sauce and spread it along the bottom of the pan. Apply one layer noodles 3 length wise (edge may overlap, depending on your pan). Ladle a third of the remaining sauce over the noodles. Apply a layer of a third of the mozzarella on top of lasagna sauce. Add half of the ricotta cheese, by placing cheese dollops every 2 inches. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese in thin even layer on top of ricotta cheese.

add another layer of lasagna noodles add another layer of sauce and cheeses

Apply second layer of noodles, top it with half of the remaining sauce.  Add half of the remaining Mozzarella, the remaining ricotta cheese, and another thin sprinkling of Parmesan.  Finish with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the top layer of noodles and sprinkle with the remaining Mozzarella cheese.

7 Tent lasagna pan with aluminum foil (not touching noodles or sauce). Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

May be reheated in conventional oven or microwave. Leave aluminum tent on for storage. (Do not allow aluminum to touch the sauce, as it the acid may cause the aluminum to leach into the sauce.)

Lasagna on Simply Recipes

56 Comments

  1. Cathy

    Well I tried this lasagne recipe last night and I have NEVER attempted to make lasagne before. I couldn’t believe how great it turned out! It was fantastic! My boyfriend took some to work today and was the envy of his workmates :-) Mind you we will be eating lasagne for the next week so perhaps next time I’ll halve the recipe. Thanks for a great site.

  2. Trish

    Thanks Elise! This was wonderful – I made it to take to a family dinner tonight (along with your garlic bread) six adults and a 14 mo. old (who loved the noodles!) polished off the whole pan! No leftovers – son & daughter both asked for the recipe which I just mailed. We will fix this again and again! Trish, Omaha, Ne

  3. Michael Marchand

    Hey, I have a quick question. Is it possible to prepare a lasagna up to the point immediately prior to baking, freeze it, and then thaw and bake when ready?

    I’ve started to do all my cooking for the week on the weekend, and would really like to try this recipe and save it for a later day in the week. Any suggestions?

  4. coco

    Thank you for the recipe. This is definitely an easy recipe for a first-time lasagna cook like me. The lasagna turned out really good and I will absolutely make it again in the future.

    The only thing I remind myself if i make it next time is to make sure that the lasagna pan is not filled too full with the red sauce before baking.

  5. Nic Tenthorey (Orangevale, California)

    I just wanted to let everybody know that this lasaugna is EXCEPTIONAL!! Everybody who ate it loved it…Thank you for such a good recipe, I just finished up the left overs. The only thing I did different was used grated cheese instead of cheese slices of motzerella.

  6. maria

    Fred–I don’t know how the original recipe has the proportions, but since the parmesan cheese is only used as an additional layer (as opposed to being an integral part of something, like a bechamel), I would just use your own discretion as to how much cheese you want to have on each layer. That way you can determine how much cheese you do or do not have to buy.

  7. Leon

    For storage I substitute plastic wrap as aluminum foil always gets crushed onto sauce while stored in fridge.
    I also do not precook the noodles but make my sauce slightly thinner. I make enough sauce held in reserve in case the lasagna turns out drier than expected.
    Ps. I also tried sausage sometimes as substitute and other times in conjunction with hamburger.
    I agree, this is a great dish.

  8. Jericho

    I am an excellent cook, and I knew how to make lasagna but the last time I made it, the noodles burnt to a crisp on the bottom of the pan. Now, when I say I am an excellent cook, I mean that at the age of 23, I can out cook the typical guy, and as long as I keep my creativity in check, most of my food is delicious. Well, I hate making the same mistake twice if I can help it, your recipe explained to me the importance of saucing the bottom of the pan, as well as using aluminum foil. Thank you, this advice solved both of my problems. Even cooking Elise, and please keep teaching us your secrets.

  9. Jules

    Nervously and excitedly tried this recipe for Christmas meal (my first lasagna ever!).. and nearly 3 hours later (yup, amateur I am)..it turn out soooo delicious. Thank you very much! Now we only need a recipe for shedding off those extra kilos (it served 2 in my case :p )
    Thanks again.. really appreciate it..

  10. Yvette

    My family loved this recipe, especially my picky little girl. Will be making this again, tonight, along with your Chicken and Dumplings. Thank you for sharing your recipes. I’m one who definetly is benefitting from them as a cook, and my family enjoys eating the foods that I prepare. THANK YOU!!

  11. Jolanta

    This was my first time making lasagna. I’m a special occasion cook (have no time and energy on a daily basis). So I am very inexperienced when it comes to making anything in the kitchen. But I can follow directions very well.

    My Husband said this was the best lasagna he’s ever tasted, he wasn’t just tring to be nice. It really was the best I have ever tasted.

    He did take some to work to brag to his buddies.
    Hint to everyone making it for the first time: don’t skip any steps, do it exactly according to recipe.
    It can’t go wrong. Fantastic!

  12. Vega

    I was cooking this for dinner tonight and it obviously turned out quite well.The only question I have is,there is so many juice came out from somewhere during baking it.Is it a common issue for lasagna?(This is my first lasagna ever).

  13. Michelle

    You can absolutely make this lasagna up to the point of baking and then freeze. Just allow enough time for it to thoroughly thaw before cooking. A great recipe!!

  14. K. G. from jamaica

    Hello everyone. Well I tried this recipe today and my husband is still smiling. It was fabulous. I will defintely try this again. I just wish lasgana wasn’t so fattening. But it’s defintely enjoyable calories.

  15. David Edelman

    This is a great recipe! For those that have diabetes or eat low-carb, it’s possible to make this recipe using Dreamfields pasta noodles. They only have 5g of digetsable carbs per serving – but be careful not to overcook or the amount increases.

  16. Lynnette

    This lasagna recipe is excellent! I’m a great cook but I have never made homemade lasagna so this was my first time out the gate, so to speak. It has a lot of steps but it’s fairly easy and it came out great. I accidently bought the oven ready lasagna but the recipe still turned out great with those. My husband loved it!

  17. Shelly

    This recipe calls for both “garlic power” and garlic salt. I assume the former is a typo and meant to say garlic powder. I see where the garlic salt is added in the recipe, but when do I add the garlic powder? Do I really need both?
    Also, I am the one who posted the question about using the no-cook noodles. I went ahead and tried it and it worked fine. San Giorgio makes “no boil” lasagna noodles. You just lay the noodles width wise instead of length wise (these noodles come shorter than normal lasagna noodles anyway) and don’t overlap them. I guess they cook in the sauce when the lasagna is in the oven. This was my first time making lasagna and I think I would have messed up the noodles so this definitely saved me some time. I have made the lasagna about 3 times since and it gets better every time. Elise you are amazing!

    Hi Shelly – Fixed the typo, thanks. I think you can use either garlic powder, garlic salt, or both. Or even finely minced garlic if you put it in for a minute after the onions have cooked. Thanks for letting us know about the “no boil” noodles! ~Elise

  18. Randman

    Thanks Elise!!

    Just wanted to let you know that I followed this recipe (with a few minor tweaks) and won the Lasagna cook-off at work! For the tweaks i used: a spinach-ricotta mixture and added an extra 1 lb of ground pork for the sauce and half a glass of white wine. I also went with pre-cooked noodles and pre-shredded mozzarela. Next up for the cook-off is Cabbage Rolls. Hope I can keep my Crown!!

  19. Mrs. Whitlock

    Very Tasty! My whole family love it. Easy to make. I used, like some of the others useres stated, “oven ready lasana” and it still turn out great. We make this again, because I certainly didn’t have any leftovers.

  20. Tom Turner

    I made this lasagna recipe last night. My kids loved it.
    I replaced the sugar with Splenda, it worked well.

    I have three lasagna recipes I use:
    This recipe on elise.com , the number 1 recipe on mylasagnarecipe.com recipe and the Worlds Best lasagna recipe on allrecipes.com

    I am looking for a great spinach lasagna recipe.

    All three recipes are slightly different.
    Elise thanks for your great web site!!

  21. trish

    Elise:

    Not sure if you even get the comments on these older posts but I have to tell you I’ve made this many times. It’s the famiy favorite! I was looking for it yesterday as we’re getting together on Sunday. I couldn’t remember the source! As I was drifting off to sleep last night I remembered it was this recipe everyone loved – Whew! I’ve now saved it to my desk top recipe file folder so it won’t get forgotten again. As always, thanks for the great recipes!

    Trish Nelson
    Omaha, NE

  22. thepokerchef

    Sounds like a good recipe close to my own but I omit the peppers sugar and vinegar add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and assemble the lasagna without cooking the noodles first. I have been doing this for more than 30 years before the so called no boil lasagna was around there is basically no difference between no-boil and regular lasagna except the price.

  23. Maureen

    Elise,

    I’m confused. . . are the lasagna noodles cooked or not before layering into the casserole?

    Hi Maureen, there are two kinds of lasagna noodles, one you don’t have to cook first and the other you do. Just read the instructions on the box of pasta you buy. I use the old fashioned kind, the kind you need to cook first before you lay them in the pan. But others use the no-cook variety with perfectly good results. ~Elise

  24. Cassie

    Elise,

    I want to make this lasagna. Is it possible to prepare up until the time it is ready to go in the oven? Want to prep, refrigerate overnight, then after work, pop it in the oven for the 45 mintes. Will the taste diminish or noodles go soggy?

    Great question, I don’t really know. I have made our other lasagna recipe in advance by freezing it, and then baking, which turned out fine. It should work okay to refrigerate I think. Lasagna noodles are pretty sturdy. If you go ahead with this, please let us know how it turned out. ~Elise

  25. Elizabeth

    I’m making this lasagna tonight for my family and a friend’s family. Right now the sauce is on the stove and it tastes great. Although I won’t be adding any sugar bc it’s already plenty sweet enough. I used red bell pepper instead of green bc I already had one on hand. I wanted to offer a lasagna noodle cooking tip that I got from an issue of Southern Living some time ago. Layer the noodles in a glass baking dish. Pour boiling water, to cover, over them. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Let sit for 15 minutes. Separate as needed with a fork or paring knife. I’ve used this method many times now when making lasagna and I think it works great. I can’t wait to try the finished product!

    I love the recipes I’ve found on this site.

  26. Lulu

    I do not have an oven, but I really love to try to cook lasagna. Is it possible to cook this on turbo broiler.

    No idea. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  27. Ralph

    I made this recipe for the family and it was a hit! The taste of this makes you never want to waste the money on stoffer’s again.

  28. Alton Hoover

    Well after 4 1/2 years it seems that the feedback is good on my recipe. I think I should share a few more.

    Best,

    Al

    Indeed! Nice to hear from you Alton! ~Elise

  29. karla

    Hi, I’ve been making lasagna for a long time and I’ve never come across a recipe with so much sugar in the sauce! I’m curious to see how it turns out, so I’ll make it this week.
    Just a comment, to drain out the fat when browning the meat, I just crumple a few sheets of paper towel, throw it in the pot, lift the pot so the fat collects in a corner, and just push the paper towel into it with my spoon until it absorbs the excess liquid.Voilá! Less mess to clean.
    Bear in mind that this liquid is not just fat but also water from the meat, and if you drain it all away, you’re also losing a lot of flavor. So don’t go and dry it out completely, no need.

  30. joe

    This sauce recipe is great for spaghetti too. I made this lasagna and had leftover sauce. That sauce went over great on spaghetti the next day!

  31. Shelly

    I have made this lasagna about a million times and I don’t usually alter any of the ingredients. I made this last night for a mini Thanksgiving gathering at a friends house. She is Hindu and can’t have beef, so I made this with ground turkey instead. Came out great! Thought I would share…

  32. Mary

    Another great recipe. Followed the recipe but added a of my own touches. Added some red wine to the sauce. Would cut down on the sugar a bit. Added 2 tbs. Don’t get me wrong…tasted great.

  33. Tanya

    Okay Elise,

    I was looking for an easier way out as I can find no canned tomato products but ended up making your tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and then the lasagna. It was time consuming (peeling a gazillion pounds of tomatoes!!) but definitely worth it! The lasagna is delicous. Thanks for all three recipes.

  34. Trixie

    Hello. This recipe sounds great–I’m excited to try it.
    Elise do you know, or does anyone else know, if I’m using no-boil noodles, do I need to put more sauce in the pan (than directed in the recipe) around the noodles in order for them to ‘cook’ correctly? Or should I stick with the amounts offered?

    Great question. I don’t think you need more sauce, but a little more wouldn’t hurt. Then again, I haven’t cooked with those no-boil noodles, so don’t really know. ~Elise

  35. Jeremy

    Sounds like a good recipe. About four times a year I make lasagna. I add to this basic recipe about a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon in place of sugar.I also use a bottle of good but reasonably priced Cab Sauv. over a 4 to 6 period. (hence, only four times a year) I’ve never tried the green peppers and vinegar bit. That’s sounds fun. I think we’ll give it a go.

  36. Penney

    This is the only way I make lasagna now! I usually “cheat” and use a jar of sauce, and add ground sirloin, so I don’t know how the sauce recipe turns out. But the layering of the cheese is the best, and so easy, no mixing the ricotta with egg or anything. I use good quality ingredients, fresh cheese, etc. I’m Greek, but everyone wants to know if I am Italian after trying this!

  37. Kei$ha

    This recipeeeeeeeeeeeee is the best all over the world it is simply delicious plz try at your home i love this website!!!!!@@@@@@@@

  38. Amanda

    My husband and I tried this recipe last night and it was delicious. We followed the recipe rather closely, and I definitely recommend adding the sugar and spices to taste. We only used 2 tbs of sugar to make a less sweet sauce, and about half of the spice blend. We also used less parmesan and ricotta then the recipe calls for, but we do like our pasta to be a little lighter.

    It was delicious and easy to make personal adjustments.

  39. cmajor

    This is a fantastic recipe, certainly for those who have a weakness for cheese. Made it for a family get together back around New Year’s and it was ravingly well received. Hats off to Mr Hoover indeed. And thanks Elise for a great food & photo blog. You just may be the perfect woman.

  40. Louise

    *lasagne, lasagna is singular, since there is more than one sheet its always lasagne.

    This recipe was brilliant though! amazing lasagne :) definitely making this again

  41. Scott

    Elise- I had a friend suggest replacing the lasagna noodles with Won Ton wrappers and after trying it, I am a fan! Are the ingredients any different between the two?

    I don’t know Scott, I’ve yet to make it that way. ~Elise

  42. Nahian

    Hi Elise,

    I have never made lasagna before, and i really wanna give it a try. But i am facing problem with the cheese. In my country we do not have Parmesan and ricotta cheese available. Is there any substitute for them? Please help me out if possible and please let me know how much the taste of the lasagna will be altered because of the cheese. Thanks, i would be very grateful.

    P.S can a cheddar cheese sauce be used instead?

    Hello Nahian, this classic lasagna recipe requires the cheeses listed in the ingredients. That said, you could always improvise with other cheeses and see which work best for you. ~Elise

  43. Alex

    Made this today, and it was splendid! I left out the sugar — the sauce really seemed plenty sweet without it — and used homemade pasta ribbons which I briefly boiled and placed in cold water as suggested. I also used a few teaspoons of coarsely chopped fresh basil in place of the Italian seasoning since I had it on hand. The result was a cheesy, gooey, yet wonderfully cohesive and savory lasagna. It’s a keeper.

  44. bee

    Lasagna can be made with cheddar cheese! My mom likes to cook very “american” style dishes and never used ricotta or mozzarella in her lasagna, but rather cheddar & american cheese. The american cheese when layered on top always got fabulously toasty brown and delicious. It’s not at all the same as ricotta/mozzarella, but also delicious.

  45. susan

    Has anyone ever made lasagna without tomato sauce? My husband can’t eat tomatoes (medical condition), so I usually use a white sauce for everything. Sometimes I miss spaghetti and other meals that require a tomato sauce of some kind. But I refuse to make 2 meals.

    Check out our lasagna bolognese recipe. No tomatoes. Lots of work, but it’s the best lasagna I’ve ever had anywhere. ~Elise

  46. yvonne

    When it comes to cheese, you can note on the package that 4 oz of cheese is a cup as opposed to 8 oz of liquid. This may be where their may be confusion as to pounds v. cups ratio.

  47. osheri

    This IS the best I have ever made. I used for the sauce (because it was what I had on hand) 28 oz of diced tomatoes with basil,garlic and oregano. 32 oz of tomato sauce, 4 oz of tomato paste, a capful of red wine vinegar, 1/4 c of white wine and about 3 shakes ea of the spices. and about 3 tbl of sugar to tatse.
    I used cottage cheese instead. Was very easy to layer.
    I have been trying different lasagna recipes for years and this is simply the best!!
    YUM!

  48. Tanya

    Hi Elise,

    Is the canned tomato sauce just regular tomato sauce such as ‘Prego’ or ‘Ragu’?

    Prego or Ragu will do fine. ~Elise

  49. Edward Kane

    Hello, I recently seen a show on TV about a man who made the “World’s Best Lasagna” according to views and ratings online. Well it made me think of my go to recipe. I have cooked lasagna many times over the last two years and yours I would have to say is the best! After I seen the show I thought I would come by and rate yours. My grandmother critiqued about the peppers in the recipe, but she can be critical. Apparently color does mean the difference :-/.. BUT I just use red peppers in place of green and yellow peppers to blend in with the red sauce and the compliments go a flying even from the grandma! Thanks for the recipe… Everybody loves it.. 5 stars!

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