Simple and Delicious Classic Lasagna

Update 6/2015: Wow, this recipe has been on my site for seven years. The fact that I’m still making it regularly today means you know it’s a keeper. I’ve updated the truly terrible original photos and added some additional notes in the recipe to track how I’ve simplified and changed it (just slightly) over the years. I hope you love this one! It’s a family favorite (as in, I’d be disowned if I stopped making it).

My mom would deny to her death that she is a great cook. But she is. And many of my tried-and-true recipes are none other than hers (many of which I have yet to post here – can’t wait!). This lasagna is no exception. Using no-boil lasagna noodles speeds up the whole throwing-together process but overall, this lasagna is easy peasy. The simple sauce simmers while you whip together the creamy filling and all the flavors blend into one of our favorite lasagnas of all time. Enjoy!

A Few Notes: I do a couple things differently than my mom. 1) I use oven-ready lasagna noodles although you can definitely use regular lasagna noodles – boil them for a couple minutes less than the package directions so they don’t soften too much while baking. For no-boil noodles, I use the Barilla or Target Whole Wheat brands. I personally don’t think I’ll ever revert back to the lasagna noodles that need to be boiled. Whether that makes me inherently lazy or not, I’m not sure, but either way, no-boil lasagna noodles are where it’s at. 2) My mom always used just two layers of noodles but I firmly believe a good lasagna needs at least three layers of noodles. So. Three layers of noodles it is.

Simple and Delicious Classic Lasagna

What To ServeDivine Breadsticks or Cheesy Garlic Bread
Steamed vegetable like broccoli or peas
Simple green salad (or something more fancy like this Gourmet Green Salad)

Mom’s Fabulous Lasagna

Mom’s Fabulous Lasagna

I use the Barilla or Target (whole wheat) brand of no-boil lasagna noodles with good success. You can certainly use regular lasagna noodles; boil them for 1-2 minutes less time than the package directions so they don't soften too much while baking.

I've recently updated (June 2015) some aspects of the recipe to reflect how I've changed it slightly over the years and to simplify the directions a bit. If you love the older version - the only recent changes are that I use crushed tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes (keep them undrained if using diced) and I've cut down the tomato paste to make the lasagna a bit more saucy (the original recipe called for 12 ounces of tomato paste). Also, I know it's not traditional, but I usually use half ricotta cheese and half cottage cheese. It helps the filling stay creamier and not as dry - I use a cup of each when doing that.

Ingredients

    Red Sauce:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Creamy Filling:
  • 1 container (15-ounce) ricotta cheese or a combination of ricotta and cottage cheese (see note above)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Noodles and Cheese:
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note above)

Directions

  1. For the sauce, in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the ground meat and onion until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess grease. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, dried basil, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.
  2. For the filling, in a medium bowl mix the ricotta, egg, basil, parsley, salt, and Parmesan cheese.
  3. To assemble the lasagna, lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Spread 1/2 cup or so of the sauce over the bottom into a thin layer. Layer as follows: 3 noodles, red sauce, creamy filling, mozzarella, 3 noodles, red sauce, creamy filling, mozzarella, 3 noodles, red sauce, remaining mozzarella. (Basically, all layers - the noodles, red sauce, mozzarella - are split into three layers and the creamy filling is divided among two layers.)
  4. Cover with greased foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 20-30 minutes more until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
  5. *Freezable Meal: Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of lightly greased aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to about 40 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered. If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, uncover and bake 30-40 minutes longer.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/my-moms-fabulous-lasagna/

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my mom, Michel W.

39 Responses to Mom’s Fabulous Lasagna

  1. Deborah says:

    I agree with you about the pre-grated cheese – it just doesn’t melt right!! I usually buy a big thing of cheese and grate the whole thing then store in the fridge. It’s MUCH better that way!

  2. Erin says:

    I made this for dinner tonight — SO GOOD. I’ve had this recipe from Mom for a few years, but just haven’t gotten around to making it. This lasagna is ten times better than the Better Homes and Gardens recipe, which I used last time. Thanks for reminding me that I had this recipe. It’s my official lasagna recipe from now on. :) Oh yeah, and I love your tip on using no-bake noodles. FABULOUSLY easy.

  3. Jared and Katie Organ says:

    Absolutely amazing! I added a box of frozen chopped spinach to the ricotta mixture and everyone looooved it! Thanks again for another winning recipe!!!!!!!!!

  4. Garrison Family says:

    okay question from the dorky cook that doesnt know a thing… my husband hates ricotta cheese – can cottage cheese be substitued? I know that sometimes people use cottage cheese in lasagna but wasnt sure if it could be a 1:1 switch?

  5. Melanie says:

    Jared and Katie Organ – I’m so glad you liked this especially since it is a family favorite at my house, too. The addition of spinach sounds great – way to add some healthy kick into the lasagna!

  6. Erin says:

    This is on my list of meals to make soon. Thanks for the tips! Looks delish!

  7. Nicole says:

    Your pictures always look amazing! I have to tell you my mother in law doesn’t ever cook her noodles either, she just puts sauce on the bottom before layering the noodles. Well when I was just a newlywed I finished the lasagna, went to take it out of the oven and started crying because I realized I forgot to cook the noodles. Then Kevin said, “No, in that recipe you dont have to!” Oh I was so relieved I didn’t ruin another meal!

  8. Dhanggit says:

    it must be the combination of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese that makes this lasagna oozingly delicious :-)!! will try this recipe one of these days!!

  9. Melanie says:

    Cat – this lasagna is not overly saucy so if you want it with more sauce you could one and a half the sauce ingredients or use lasagna noodles that you boil completely first (since the no-boil noodles soak up more sauce while cooking in the oven). Hope that helps.

  10. Cat says:

    I was surprised at how dry the lasagne was – I take it that it’s supposed to be less saucy than some other lasagnes? My one son prefers it saucier – I thought it was a little dry but it sure was easy to cut! What would you suggest to do to sauce it up a bit?

  11. […] And I’ve had great lasagna. […]

  12. Veronica M. says:

    We had this for dinner today and loved it! It’s my first ever from-scratch lasagna. I served it with your cheesey garlic bread (well, I left off the cheese since there was already enough cheese in the lasagna) and it was the best meal we’ve eaten in a while. Next time I’m making the classic Italian Lasagna that you recently posted. Can’t wait!

  13. Mel says:

    Veronica – this is one of my favorite lasagnas…this one and the classic Italian one. Anyway, my mom will be flattered to know you liked it so much!

  14. […] Lasagna recipe adapted from My Kitchen […]

  15. Brittany Benson says:

    Hi it’s Brittany again. This was so good. I made it for the missionaries that are in our ward. They loved it and so did my mother and I. Your recipes are always great. Thank you!!!

  16. Mel says:

    Brittany – hello, again! I’m impressed you are already cooking for the missionaries. Way to go! Glad this lasagna worked out well…thanks for letting me know.

  17. Ram says:

    I’d like to try this lasagna for New Year’s Eve dinner. Where do I put the mozzarella, I don’t see it in the instructions. Should I mix it with parmesan or should I just put it on top? Thank you.

  18. Mel says:

    Ram, when the directions say “Put a layer of noodles in a 9 X 13 pan, a layer of meat sauce, layer of ricotta mixture and a layer of the cheese” then use the mozzarella there (in the “cheese” spot).

  19. Tracey says:

    Just made this for dinner last night … I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef, and monterey jack cheese for the mozzarella. The cheese was an accident…I thought I had an entire block of mozzarella in the fridge, but turned out it was monterey jack. OOPS! Just so you know, it actually turned out delicious anyway! :)

  20. Laurel says:

    I’m making this for dinner tonight and can’t wait to try it. I’m splitting into two 8X8 pans, one for dinner and one for freezer meal in preparation for another baby coming soon. Just wondering…. it says to put 2 tsp of basil into meat mixture, but doesn’t account for the other 1/2 tsp anywhere. I’m assuming it goes in with the ricotta cheese mixture? Thanks for all your great recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Laurel – sorry about the confusion on this (and my delay in responding). Yes, the other 1/2 teaspoon dried basil goes in with the ricotta. Thanks for the heads up!

  21. Caitlin says:

    Hi I’m making this now and I noticed that you begin with the noodles, rather than a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Just want to make sure that is the intended way to do it -I’ve always thought that the no-boil noodles wouldn’t cook properly without a layer of sauce on the bottom.

    • Mel says:

      Caitlin – I always start with a layer of noodles – it seems to cook fine because there is a lot of liquid/sauce that permeates that bottom layer. But if you are nervous about it (or really want that bottom layer to be nice and tender) by all means throw a little sauce down in the pan. Either way should work fine!

  22. Susannah says:

    What percentage of fat in your ground beef do you use for this recipe? Thanks!

  23. Mel says:

    Susannah – I usually use lean ground turkey or 93/7 ground beef.

  24. Kayla says:

    Hi can I use a 8×8 pan for this recipe or would it be too small?

  25. Kayla says:

    So would you recommend a half batch?

  26. Stephanie says:

    Have you ever tried Italian sausage? This reminds me of my Mom’s recipe and she always uses Italian sausage. We also use egg noodles because we hate boiling lasagna noodles, but I may need to try the bake ones.

  27. Maria says:

    Regarding the can of tomatoes, is that whole tomatoes, or diced tomatoes, or what? Thanks! My husband requested lasagna (which I never make!) for Father’s Day, so I’m going to give it a try.

  28. Erin says:

    Just made this lasagna tonight and it was soooo good! Even my husband, who generally prefers all things store bought, liked it! Thanks for a really simple to prepare and delicious to eat meal!

  29. Jennifer says:

    This is my go to lasagna recipe and has been for awhile. Thank you for that! I don’t have to change a thing either, it’s perfect as is. I actually tried the Classic Italian Lasagna you posted and I hands down prefer this one. I think it was the white sauce I didn’t like, but to each their own. Thanks for another great one Mel!

  30. Anna says:

    In recent years I’ve been soaking my lasagna noodles in warm water for a while before using them. They get soft/pliable, and they’re easier to handle than the scalding hot ones straight out of the boiling water. I like the results better than just not hydrating the noodles at all.

  31. Maureen says:

    The only trouble I have is getting 3 layers in a 9×13 baking dish… I must be heavy handed with the fillings! I’m on the hunt for a deep lasagne dish that won’t break the bank. :)

  32. Barbara says:

    Lasagna is one of the recipes I always use nutmeg in. Just a wee bit in the ricotta mixture gives it a a wonderful flavor. I use about 1/4 t of ground nutmeg. I bought some fresh to grind since seeing it in your recipes, but haven’t tried it yet.

  33. Hi Mel! Just made this lasagna for dinner tonight and it was a hit! Easy and flavorful! Thanks, friend.

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