Lasagna

This classic lasagna is made with an easy meat sauce as the base. Layer the sauce with noodles and cheese, then bake until bubbly! This is great for feeding a big family, and freezes well, too.

Lifting a piece of lasagna from the pan viewed from the side for a lasagna recipe.
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Everyone loves a good lasagna, right? It's a great way to feed a crowd and a perfect dish to bring to a potluck. It freezes well. It reheats well. Leftovers will keep you happy for days.

Simply Recipes reader Alton Hoover sent me his favorite recipe for lasagna which he has been cooking since his college days. Alton's original recipe created enough lasagna for a small army so I halved it. What is posted here will easily serve eight people.

Video! How to Make Lasagna

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How to Make Lasagna

The Secret Behind This Classic Lasagna Recipe

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 tweaks to his original recipe that I found necessary, for example adding a dash of wine vinegar to the sauce and changing the amount of Parmesan cheese.

Side view of a piece of lasagna on a plate.
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How to Make Lasagna

For this recipe, we are essentially making a thick, meaty tomato sauce and layering that with noodles and cheese into a casserole. Here's the run-down:

  1. Start by making the sauce with ground beef, bell peppers, onions, and a combo of tomato sauce, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. The three kinds of tomatoes gives the sauce great depth of flavor.
  2. Let this simmer while you boil the noodles and get the cheeses ready. We're using ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and parmesan -- like the mix of tomatoes, this 3-cheese blend gives the lasagna great flavor!
  3. From there, it's just an assembly job. A cup of meat sauce, a layer of noodles, more sauce, followed by a layer of cheese. Repeat until you have three layers and have used up all the ingredients.
  4. Bake until bubbly and you're ready to eat!

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Half the pleasure of making a lasagna is enjoying the leftovers! The lasagna will keep in the fridge for at least 5 days. Reheat individual slices in the microwave, or warm the whole casserole (covered with foil) in the oven at 350°F until bubbly again.

Overhead view of a piece of lasagna on a plate with cheese set next to it.
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How to Freeze and Reheat Lasagna

You can also freeze the lasagna either baked or unbaked.

  • To freeze an unbaked lasagna: Line the pan with foil before assembling, then assemble the lasagna as directly. Let cool completely, and then freeze until solid. Once frozen, lift the frozen lasagna block from the casserole dish, wrap it in more foil, then freeze for up to a month.
  • To reheat an unbaked frozen lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the freezer and unwrap all the layers of foil. Transfer to the original casserole dish, cover, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, bake as directed.
  • To freeze baked lasagna: Line the pan with foil before assembling, then assemble and bake as directed. Let it cool completely, then freeze until solid. Once frozen, lift the frozen lasagna block from the casserole dish, wrap it in more foil, then freeze for up to a month.
  • To reheat a baked lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the freezer and unwrap all the layers of foil. Transfer to the original casserole dish, cover, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, warm the whole casserole (covered with foil) in the oven at 350°F until bubbly again.
  • To freeze and reheat individual slices: Cut the baked and cooled casserole into slices and wrap each slice individually in foil. Combine them in a freezer storage bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. To reheat, unwrap from the foil, place on a microwave-safe dish, and reheat in the microwave for a few minutes until bubbly.
Overhead view of a pan of lasagna cut into squares.
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Looking for More Great Lasagna Recipes?

Lasagna

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 90 mins
Total Time 105 mins
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the meat sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1/2 large bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), diced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (28-ounce)can good-quality tomato sauce

  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half a 6-ounce can)

  • 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (preferably flat leaf), packed

  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 pinch garlic powder and/or garlic salt

  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste, optional)

  • Salt

To assemble the lasagna:

  • 1/2 pound dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles - unbroken)

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese

  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced

  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Put pasta water on to boil

    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.

  2. Brown the ground beef

    In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it is lightly browned on all sides.

    Remove the beef with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Drain off all but a tablespoon of fat.

    Browned beef in a skillet to make a lasagne recipe.
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  3. Cook the bell pepper, onions, garlic, add back the beef

    Add the diced bell pepper and onions to skillet (in the photo we are using yellow bell pepper and red onions).

    Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the peppers softened. Add the minced garlic and cook half a minute more.

    Return the browned ground beef to the pan. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes.

    Sauteed onions and red peppers in a skillet for a lasagne recipe
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    Beef, onions, and tomatoes in a skillet to make a lasagna recipe.
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  4. Transfer to medium sized pot, add tomatoes and remaining sauce ingredients to build the sauce

    Transfer the beef mixture to a medium sized (3- to 4-quart) pot. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the pot.

    Add the parsley, oregano, and Italian seasonings, adjusting the amounts to taste. Sprinkle with garlic powder and/or garlic salt, to taste.

    Sprinkle with red or white wine vinegar. Stir in sugar, a tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition, to taste. (The amount of sugar needed will vary, depending on how acidic the tomatoes are that you are using.)

    Add salt to taste, and note that you will later be adding Parmesan, which is salty.

    Bring the sauce to a simmer and then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 15 to 45 minutes, stirring often. Scrape the bottom of the pot every so often so nothing sticks to the bottom and scorches.

    Remove from heat.

    Making an easy lasagna recipe and stirring the sauce in a pan.
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    Lifting the meat sauce out of the pot for an easy lasagna recipe.
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  5. Boil and drain the lasagna noodles

    By now the salted water you started heating in step one should be boiling. Add the dry lasagna noodles and cook them to al dente, per package directions. (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.

    Draining noodles in a colander and running water over them for a lasagne recipe.
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  6. Heat the oven to 375°F
  7. Assemble the lasagna

    In a 9x13-inch casserole or lasagna dish, ladle a cup of sauce and spread it over the bottom of the dish. Arrange one layer of lasagna noodles lengthwise (about 3 long noodles, edge may overlap, depending on your pan) over the sauce. Ladle a third of the remaining sauce over the noodles.

    Sprinkle a layer of a third of the grated mozzarella on top of lasagna sauce. Add half of the ricotta cheese, by placing cheese dollops every couple inches. Sprinkle half the grated parmesan cheese evenly over the top of ricotta cheese.

    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 the remaining Parmesan.

    Finish with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the top layer of noodles and sprinkle with the remaining Mozzarella cheese.

    Sauce on the bottom of a pan to make the best lasagna recipe.
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    Spreading sauce over noodles in a pan to show how to make lasagna.
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    Dolloping ricotta over shredded cheese to make the best lasagna recipe.
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    Layering sauce over noodles to make the best lasagna recipe.
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    Topping meat sauce with shredded cheese and ricotta to make the best lasagna recipe.
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    Overhead view of an easy lasagna recipe ready to be baked.
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  8. Bake

    Cover the lasagna pan with aluminum foil, tented slightly so it doesn't touch the noodles or sauce). Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Uncover in the last 10 minutes if you'd like more of a crusty top or edges.

  9. Cool and serve

    Allow the lasagna to cool at least 15 before serving. Leftovers will keep for about 5 days. May be reheated in conventional oven or microwave. Leave aluminum tent on for storage. (Try to keep the aluminum foil from touching the sauce.)

    Overhead view of a pan of lasagna cooling on a rack.
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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
813 Calories
51g Fat
30g Carbs
60g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 813
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 51g 65%
Saturated Fat 26g 132%
Cholesterol 183mg 61%
Sodium 1849mg 80%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 31mg 153%
Calcium 1109mg 85%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 828mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.