This Dutch oven lasagna is so easy to prep ahead of time and is perfect for camping (or cooking out at home!). It is flavorful, cheesy, and delicious!

We make this Dutch oven lasagna every time we go camping. It’s the meal we look forward to most! And while everything does taste more delicious when eaten under the open sky in the mountains, this lasagna is legitimately fantastic. So yummy!

Spoonful of Dutch oven lasagna.

How to Prep Dutch Oven Lasagna Ahead of Time

The beauty of this lasagna is that it can be prepped ahead of time.

  1. All the components can be prepped ahead of time and stored in containers/ziploc bags for easy assembly when camping.
  2. The lasagna can also be assembled completely (in a Dutch oven liner – more on that below), covered, and refrigerated or kept in a cooler with ice. It isn’t recommended to assemble the lasagna directly in the Dutch oven ahead of time.

Don’t think this lasagna is just for camping! It’s delicious any time you want to cook outside (even in your backyard!). You can also assemble the ingredients in a regular baking dish and go the conventional route and bake in the oven for a super easy meal.

The three main components that can be prepped ahead are: blending the creamy filling, cooking the meat and onions, portioning out/shredding the cheeses.

Assembling Dutch Oven Lasagna

I cannot stress how life changing Dutch oven liners are. Discovering these has made me fall in love with Dutch oven cooking again. I guess I’m not *pioneer enough* to enjoy scraping out nasty cooked bits from a Dutch oven in a shallow creek without hot water while camping. I own it. My ancestors are probably ashamed, but all I can say is: Dutch oven liners, I love you.

To assemble the lasagna, lightly grease the liner (or assemble directly in the Dutch oven if cooking right away), spread a cup or so of sauce in the bottom and layer:

  • 5 noodles, give or take, to cover the bottom (break to fit, it doesn’t have to be perfect)
  • 1/3 cottage cheese mixture
  • 1/2 meat mixture
  • 1/3 remaining sauce
  • 1/3 mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

Repeat those layers two more times (except for the meat, it will just be layered one more time).

We’re relying on no-boil lasagna noodles and jarred pasta sauce to make this meal super easy, so use a jarred sauce you love (Rao’s and Trader Joe’s are my faves). My favorite brand of no-boil lasagna noodles is Barilla (Trader Joe’s also has a great option, too).

How to Cook Food in a Dutch Oven

A quick google search will give lots of ideas about what to use for the heat source in Dutch oven cooking. I always use charcoal briquettes + a chimney starter.

How to Prep Briquettes for Dutch Oven Cooking:

  1. Place the briquettes in the chimney starter and stuff a bit of paper underneath the chimney starter.
  2. Light the paper in several places around the bottom of the chimney starter. The flames will move up and light the charcoal.
  3. The charcoal briquettes need about 15-20 minutes of being lit/heating before they are ready to use for cooking. When the briquettes are mostly covered in ash, they are ready. Don’t let them heat too long or they’ll crumble when you move them to the Dutch oven. 
  4. The exact number of coals/briquettes you’ll need is largely dependent on the size of Dutch oven you are using, as well as the environment where the cooking is taking place. Weather can also make an impact (if it is cold/windy, you’ll likely need more coals, whereas if it is hot and sun is beating directly onto the Dutch oven, the food may cook faster). 
  5. For a 12-inch diameter Dutch oven (either a 6-quart or a deep 8-quart), I use about 16-18 briquettes on top and 10-12 on bottom. Exact cooking time will be based on the size/depth of the Dutch oven as well as the factors mentioned in #4, and of course, what is being cooked or baked in the Dutch oven.

How to Adapt This Recipe for Different Sizes of Dutch Ovens

This Dutch oven lasagna recipe is written for a deep 8-quart (12-inch diameter) Dutch oven.

If using a smaller Dutch oven, adjust the ingredients for the lasagna accordingly. For instance, a 6-quart (12-inch diameter) Dutch oven is a couple inches less deep than an 8-quart, so the ingredients could be reduced by about 1/3 and the lasagna assembled in two layers or three thinner layers.

A 6-quart Dutch oven with a 12-inch diameter will use about the same number of coals as indicated in the recipe, however, the cooking time will likely be shorter since it isn’t as deep. 

The lasagna recipe can be adapted to any size of Dutch oven.

Dutch oven cooking can involve some trial and error whether you are just starting out or whether you’ve been doing it for a while (i.e. adjusting the number of briquettes during cooking, if needed). But it is also a highly rewarding way to cook food. Not only do you feel like a total rock star (at least I do), but food that comes out of a Dutch oven tastes next-level AMAZING.

Lifting lid from Dutch oven with coals on top.

This Dutch oven lasagna is easy, cheesy, and absolutely spectacular.

It is perfect for campouts, family reunions, or even larger group camps (like a church camp). The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled or more, to cook in several Dutch ovens. In that case, the Dutch oven liners will definitely be your best friend.

We enjoy camping as a family, and more importantly: eating well whilst camping as a family. My goal is to get several of our other go-to recipes posted soon (including the most amazing chicken bacon ranch foil packets that are to-die for).

Until then, I hope you love this lasagna!

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Scooping serving of Dutch oven lasagna with serving spoon.

Dutch Oven Lasagna

5 stars (2 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 jars (28-ounces each) marinara or pasta sauce (see note)
  • 1 box (9-ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles (see note)
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, onions, salt and pepper, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain excess grease. Set aside. If making ahead of time, let the meat mixture cool and then store in a ziploc bag or covered container in the refrigerator or cooler with ice.
  • To a blender, add the cottage cheese, eggs, basil, oregano and pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside. If making ahead of time, scrape the mixture into a covered container or ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator or cooler with ice.
  • *If you are planning to eat right away, start the briquettes/coals about 20 minutes before cooking the lasagna – see note below for a how-to.*
  • To assemble the lasagna, lightly grease an 8-quart Dutch oven (see note for alternate sizes) or lightly grease an appropriately sized Dutch oven liner. Spread about a cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom.
  • Layer the following:
    5 noodles, give or take to cover the bottom (break to fit, it doesn't have to be perfect)
    1/3 cottage cheese mixture
    1/2 meat mixture
    1/3 remaining sauce
    1/3 of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses
  • Repeat those layers two more times (except for the meat, it will just be layered one more time). If using a Dutch oven liner, place the liner in the Dutch oven. Place the lid on top to cover.
  • Place 10 to 12 hot coals in a circle a bit smaller than the diameter of the bottom of the Dutch oven and place the Dutch oven on top of the coals (it helps to do this in a fire pot or somewhere with some dirt so the Dutch oven can nestle and settle right on top of the coals).
  • Place 15 to 18 hot coals evenly spaced on top of the Dutch oven lid. Cook the lasagna for 45 to 60 minutes until hot, bubbly, and cooked through. When removing the lid, do so carefully so ash doesn't get into the lasagna.
  • Serve immediately or let rest for a couple minutes to set up a bit more.

Notes

Jarred pasta sauce: use a brand/flavor you like as it will impact the overall deliciousness of the lasagna. I like the Rao’s brand of marinara. 
Lasagna noodles: my preferred brand of no-boil lasagna noodles is Barilla or Trader Joe’s. 
Preparing briquettes: there are a lot of ways to prepare coals or briquettes for Dutch oven cooking. A quick google search will give lots of ideas. I always use briquettes + a chimney starter. Place the briquettes in the chimney starter and stuff a bit of paper underneath the chimney starter. Light the paper – the flames will move up and light the charcoal. (You can use lighter fluid to help this process along, if wanted.) The charcoal briquettes need about 15-20 minutes before they are ready to use for cooking (don’t let them go too long or they’ll turn to ash and crumble when you move them to the Dutch oven). 
The exact number of coals/briquettes you’ll need is largely dependent on the size of Dutch oven you are using, as well as the environment where the cooking is taking place. Weather also makes an impact (if it is cold/windy, you’ll likely need more coals, whereas if it is hot and sun is beating directly onto the Dutch oven, the food can cook faster). 
Dutch oven sizes: this recipe is written for a deep 8-quart (12-inch diameter) Dutch oven. If using a smaller Dutch oven, adjust the ingredients for the lasagna accordingly. A 6-quart (12-inch diameter) Dutch oven is a couple inches less deep than an 8-quart, so the ingredients could be reduced by about 1/3 and the lasagna could be assembled in two layers or three thinner layers. A 6-quart Dutch oven with a 12-inch diameter will use about the same number of coals as indicated in the recipe (however, the cooking time will likely be shorter since it isn’t as deep). 
Dutch oven cooking can involve some trial and error whether you are just starting out or whether you’ve been doing it for a while. You may need to adjust the number of coals, add more or take some away during cooking, etc. Have fun with the process!
 
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 111mg, Sodium: 914mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 3g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe