Lasagna Bolognese

All SeasonsDinnerComfort FoodItalianLasagna

The BEST Lasagna Bolognese! Layers of flat lasagna noodles baked with alternating layers of slow-cooked Bolognese sauce, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This isn’t a quick and easy lasagna. This is a slow and divine lasagna. A memorable lasagna. And we have a Simply Recipes reader to thank for it.

Several months ago a commenter on this site, by the name of “El Cocinero Loco” (The Crazy Cook) left a detailed and delightful lasagna Bolognese recipe in the comments of one of our recipes.

The recipe given was a little incomplete; I had to fill in the blanks by referring to a few cookbooks. But it sounded so good that we just had to try it.

Yes it takes hours, and yes, it is worth it. Mr. Loco’s commentary is quite amusing, so I do encourage you to read it (just scroll down the comments on this page).

Lasagna Bolognese Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

Bolognese Sauce:

  • 2 oz. Diced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 Medium Spanish onion or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 11 oz Ground beef
  • 4 oz Ground pork
  • 4 oz Ground Italian sausage
  • 1 freshly ground clove
  • Dash of freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb peeled and chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

Lasagna:

  • Enough lasagna noodles to make four layers in a 13x9-inch baking pan with the lasagna pieces overlapping each other a little bit.
  • Recommended 16 sheets of De Cecco brand Italian lasagna noodles.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Prepare the Bolognese Meat Sauce

1 Make the soffritto: Combine pancetta, onion, celery, and carrot in sauté pan with butter and cook over medium heat until onion turns pale gold.

2 Add the beef, pork, sausage to the soffritto, and increase the heat to high; cook until browned.

Sprinkle with the ground clove, cinnamon, and pepper.

3 Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, break them up as you add them to the sauce.

4 Add milk and season with sea salt. Then turn down the heat and let simmer for 2 and 1/2 hours. Stir at least every 20 minutes. Whenever the sauce simmers down to the point that it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, just add 1/4 cup of water and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom and continue to cook.

Make the Béchamel sauce

5 Make the roux: Heat the milk until almost boiling in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

In a separate pan melt the unsalted butter with the flour over low heat. Stir rapidly with a spoon. Cook this for 1 minute and then remove from the heat. (See Wikipedia on Béchamel Sauce for more information on this sauce.)

6 Slowly add half the milk to the roux: Slowly add half the hot milk to your butter and flour mixture. During this process stir constantly.

7 Add remaining milk, thicken the sauce: Return the milk, butter, flour mixture to low heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the remaining milk slowly while stirring working it into the thickened sauce. Continue to stir until it comes to a boil.

8 Season, stir: Season with some sea salt, and continue stirring until the right consistency has developed. If any lumps form, beat them out rapidly with a whisk until they dissolve. Remove from heat.

Prepare the Lasagna

9 Cook the lasagna noodles: Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook the lasagna according to instructions. About 8 minutes in 6 quarts of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water.

Lay the individual lasagna noodles out on kitchen towels, not touching, so they do not stick together while you layer the casserole.

10 Layer the lasagna: Spread a little olive oil around the inside of a 13x9-inch baking pan. Make sure your baking pan is non-reactive - pyrex or stainless steel. Do not use an aluminum pan as it will react with the acidity of the sauce and ruin the flavor.

Put a layer of lasagna noodles down first. Layer on a third of the bolognese sauce, then a third of the bechamel sauce.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Repeat two more times. Top with a final layer of noodles and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

11 Bake: Tent the casserole with aluminum foil. Put lasagna into the middle rack of a pre-heated 375°F oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top begins to get lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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91 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Joyce

    I love your suggestions! I made a bolognese sauce the other day, served over pappardelle pasta, and it was delicious, but I had a lot of leftover sauce. I’m planning to use it for lasagna bolognese, and have purchased the thin barella lasagna noodles. I’d like to make it with more layers, using the thinner noodles, and am wondering if the bolognese sauce should be made finer (less chunky) by using my immersion blender. How fine should the meat be, for using in the lasagna? I don’t expect to get a response in the next 5 days, but maybe it will help next time. Thank you.

  • Paul

    Made it , loved it .One of my regular meals to make for the family now .

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Kelly

    I made this last night and it is absolutely delicious – everyone loved it! The only thing I would change is the amount of béchamel. I made slightly more than the recipe called for, but it was still not enough. It tasted amazing with a thin layer of béchamel on the top layer of noodles, but even with making extra, there was hardly enough. Baking time seemed like it needed to be closer to 35-40 minutes. Overall, I would absolutely make this recipe again! Time consuming but SO worth it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Kim

    I am planning on making this soon….can I make it a day in advance and just remove from the fridge, bring it to room temp(leave out about an hour) and then bake?

  • Barbara

    I made this last night for a small group and it was a hit; even with the three Italian-Americans in the house lol. I took Vittoria’s suggestions and did not use sausage or clove and added nutmeg. I also doubled the béchamel and this may have made it less traditional, but it tasted delicious. I used oven-ready lasagna, mostly because I was in a time crunch and I hate boiling lasagna noodles; I always screw it up or burn myself. Thank you Elise, for a simple Bolognese béchamel lasagna that finally gave me the courage to try it! It was sooo good.

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