Mexican Lasagna

Jeez. Isn’t it totally annoying when people can’t settle on their favorite lasagna? Changing their loyalties with every variation that comes on the scene. Fair weathered lasagna friends. Shame on them.

Oh wait, that’s me.

I have a thing for lasagna. I heart it big time. Back in my college days, along with Cowboy Dinner, we whipped up Mexican lasagna all the time but I’ve forgotten it in my old age. When Heather B., a reader, sent me her version, I remembered the Mexican lasagna of yesteryear and decided to come up with the ultimate Mexican lasagna.

This is it. Tender layers of pasta noodles. A meaty and flavorful sauce studded with black beans and juicy corn kernels. And all of it smothered in cheese with creamy pockets of sour cream and cream cheese. It’s different and unique and absolutely delicious. Now I’m left thinking what lasagna variation will bowl me over next. I’m thinking of entering the Guinness Book of World Records for “Longest List of Favorite Lasagnas.”

Er, maybe not.

Mexican Lasagna

What To ServeCornbread or Layered Mexican Cornbread Salad
Fresh fruit
Steamed veggie like broccoli or peas, or Roasted Asparagus

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars
Two Years Ago: Lemon Cream Pasta with Chicken
Three Years Ago: Chicken and Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes

Mexican Lasagna

Yield: Serves 6-8

Mexican Lasagna

Note: this lasagna isn’t super heavy on the sauce, just enough to plump up the pasta noodles perfectly and help everything hold their shape (not dry…just not overly saucy). I split all the ingredients (sauce, cheese, noodles) into three layers but feel free to simplify and just halve everything and do two layers only. Less noodles, more sauce. It’s up to you. Also, the ingredient list looks long, but it comes together quickly, especially with the no-boil lasagna noodles.


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • dash of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cup frozen corn kernels, white or yellow
  • 1 (6 ounce) can olives, chopped
  • 9-12 no-boil lasagna noodles (I love the Barilla brand), or boil and drain regular lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream, light or regular
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan and set aside.
  2. In a large 12-inch skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste. Stir to combine well and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano and salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Add the black beans, corn and olives. Mix well and heat through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer three (or four, depending on the brand of noodles you use) noodles over the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the sour cream and 1/3 of the cream cheese (just pinch off chunks and toss them on top) across the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat the layers two more times until all the ingredients are used.
  4. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into and serving.


Make Ahead Instructions: The lasagna can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance. Following the recipe instructions, let the meat/sauce mixture come to room temperature before assembling. Assemble the lasagna according to the recipe. Cover with tin foil and refrigerate. Bake as directed, adding an additional 5-10 minutes if needed.

Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe from Heather B., a reader, and an old much-loved recipe from my college days

68 Responses to Mexican Lasagna

  1. Beverley says:

    Hi Mel,

    Looks like another fab recipe! Question, how could I adapt it to be meatless/vegetarian? Just omit the meat, or replace with something else/more of something else?


    • Mel says:

      Hi Bev – I’ve never made this meatless so you’ll have to experiment but I think omitting the meat should be just fine (maybe adding more beans?).

  2. Nana says:

    I made this (untested) for a family birthday dinner and made 2 pans because we have 11 adults and 4 children. The flavor was good, but everyone agreed it was way too heavy on the tomatoes. With tomato sauce, paste, and canned tomatoes, I guess I can see why. It also was a bit dry and pasty, even though I didn’t drain the diced tomatoes as instructed. No one took seconds, and I have the 2nd full pan, still untouched. The consensus was that it would be much better just using enchilada sauce in place of all the tomatoes.

  3. Michelle says:

    I am wondering if this could be adapted to fix it in a crock pot? Have a work function to prepare this for, thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure – I haven’t tried it. You might try googling “slow cooker lasagna” and see what comes up to see if the amounts of ingredients are similar to this and then give it a try. Good luck!

  4. Tara says:

    I made this tonight, subbing a can of Rotel for the diced tomato, and ricotta instead of cream cheese. It was amazing!! Just the right amount of spice and sauce. Definitely another winner from my favorite food blog!!!!

  5. Princess says:

    Just letting you know this author is claiming your lasagna as their own.

  6. Jenni says:

    Love this recipe! We added a layer of fresh cilantro after the sauce every time and it was delicious! Another arrow in the quiver. Thanks!

  7. Alexsandra says:

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is hands down a wonderful recipe find. I have made it at least a dozen times (I omit the cream cheese) and my family loves this. After web searching, I didn’t want the cut up tortilla versions and when I found yours I knew I had hit the jackpot. I am so happy to have found you Mel, thank you for your time, talent, care, love and all things you!

  8. Sonam says:

    Do you think it’ll work if I use ground chicken instead? We don’t eat beef and my family doesn’t really like turkey too much.

  9. Mindy says:

    We are living in New Zealand right now (moved from Utah 3 months ago). We haven’t had Mexican food since moving here. As much as we love Thai and Indian food (available in abundance) we were all craving Mexican. I was able to find all the ingredients to make this lasagna and it was a HUGE hit! My 9×13 pan is pretty shallow so I actually had enough supplies to do an extra 8×8 dish too. I wasn’t sure if my kids would go for the bigger lumps of cream cheese, so I quickly blended the softened cream cheese with the sour cream, and sort of smeared it together with the red sauce for each layer. Winning recipe, as usual! Thanks!

  10. Susan says:

    this is definitely a winner — literally. I convinced my husband to make it for our church’s annual lasagna bake-off and it was the grand prize winner (out of 30+ entries). We enjoyed it so much I made it a few days later for dinner. Simple and oh-so-tasty. Thanks!

  11. Maureen says:

    I have to say I questioned the lasagna noodles as opposed to tortillas BUT it was a great choice to stick to the recipe! Enjoyed by all. Thank you for sharing

  12. Liz says:

    OMG! This is fabulous!

  13. Melissa says:

    So good! We had this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it!

  14. Mary says:

    This is one of many of my Mel’s Kitchen Cafe favorites. Just made it again tonight. Since my kids are still small, I divide this into two 9-in. pans and freeze one for later.

  15. Kamille says:

    I wonder if you could use a packet of taco seasoning if you were in a rush and needed to simplify the recipe…(instead of using all the individual spices)? Has anyone tried that?

  16. TraciK says:

    This recipe rocks!! The only thing different I did was to start off with a layer of refried beans mixed with shredded cheddar on the first layer of noodles, otherwise followed recipe. Turned out great. Thanks!!

  17. Amy says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and we all loved it. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the noodles, but I’m glad I stayed true to the recipe. I will definitely make this again. Thanks!

  18. Theresa says:

    This recipe is so good , mmmm. like using the noodles vs tortillas. First I made anything from someone else’s recipe that it actually looks like the pic heheh .

  19. Summer says:

    We had a “Mexican” Birthday Dinner for my brother and I found your recipe and knew it was a must have. We had so many different entree choices I was worried my lasagna wouldn’t be eaten… Not a chance! My dish was almost gone! Thanks so much for sharing… (my sister just emailed me looking for the recipe!)

  20. Mel says:

    Diane – because the ingredients are all cooked through you could do either option. For ease microwaving should work just fine.

  21. Diane K says:

    So I made it with shredded chicken (because that’s the only meat we currently have, unless you count deli ham and canned tuna), and I LOVE IT. I tried the sauce and wasn’t super impressed, but all together, with the sour cream and cream cheese, this was a revelation.
    Question, though: I sort of had to pull it out early, due to an incident with a baby and my husband needing to go to work, so the cheese in the center isn’t melted very much. I’m not very savvy with oven reheating… do I just essentially re-cook it to serve it again? Or should I just stick to cutting chunks out to heat in the microwave?

  22. Lorrie says:

    If I am freezing this, do any of the baking directions change?

    • Mel says:

      Lorrie – are you baking it before or after freezing? I always freeze lasagna before I bake it. If baking from frozen, I add nearly an hour to the baking time (with the lasagna covered). Hope that helps!

  23. Mel says:

    Lorrie, the layers should go: noodles, sauce, sour cream, cheese. So the final layer should be the cheese.

  24. Lorrie says:

    Making this tonight are noodles the top layer or is the sauce?

  25. Mel says:

    Laura – a good green salad option would be to make a romaine salad, toss in some corn kernels, black beans and chopped red onion. Served with the dressing from this BBQ Salad ( and it would be divine! Also, I’ve never made the lasagna the night before but I think if you assembled it, covered it and refrigerated, it should still bake up well the next day.

  26. Laura says:

    Sorry, one more question! Have you ever made this the night before, and did it do ok if so?

  27. Laura says:

    Hi! I am trying this next weekend. Do you have any suggestions/recipes for a green salad to serve with this?

  28. Yay – finally made a variation of this – LOVED IT! It was wonderful, even with light and fat-free ingredients. I did omit the olives and corn, but doubled the black beans – wonderful. Thank you for another great recipe!

  29. Teresa says:

    Cannot wait to try this. I have made something similar but layered with flour tortillas, never thought to use noodles. You are absolutely right about the no cook Barilla brand lasagna noodles. I have always used the regular ones. My mom’s family are off the boat Italians and I almost felt disloyal to the family recipes trying these but they rock. I used them for lasagna I made for a catering and they were beautiful and I had several people tell me it was the best lasagna they had ever had. I will never use another lasagna noodle.

  30. Karen says:

    I am not a cook at all but my husband and I don’t like olives so I am trying to think of something else I could add in. Would it be scary to add in green chilies? It sounds good to me but I don’t know if it would work…anyone?

    • Mel says:

      Karen – I think you could leave the olives out completely and actually, throwing in green chiles would be great. Let me know if you try it!

  31. Brenda says:

    Mel – do you know if this freezes well?

    • Mel says:

      Brenda – I’ve never frozen this particular lasagna recipe but I have done so with other recipes. I’m guessing it would freeze fine, but like I said, I’ve never tried. Let me know if you do!

  32. Just wanted to let you know that I’ve added your recipe to my online recipe box! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Living A Bona Fide Life: Recipe Box #4

  33. Tracy Dickinson says:

    omg! thank you so much for this recipe. i made it this week and my family LOVES it. so delicious. passing on the recipe to my sister. ( i did leave out the olives and add more cheese!)

  34. Erin says:

    I made this for my family and lots of hungry guests. They all loved it. We just made the clam chowder too and it was delish, esp in the bread bowls. So far everything I have tried is yummy yummy!!! Thanks!

  35. Dixie says:

    Ummm, I have to say I feel cool. It was MY Mexican Lasagna we made back in the day. It was one of the 3 things I knew how to make. This one looks a bit more complex…okay, A LOT more complex, but at least my old simple version spurred you on. Hooray for Mexican Lasagna. 🙂

  36. Merut says:

    I heart lasagna too! Although I am never changing my allegiance, since I’ve only had the traditional Italian kind. But I am loving this Mexican style, especially since you can never go wrong with Mexican food.

  37. Merut says:

    I heart lasagna too! Although I am never changing my allegiance, since I’ve only had the traditional Italian kind. But I am loving this Mexican style, especially since you can never go wrong with Mexican food.

  38. Cara says:

    This was DELISH! It was great last night and awesome leftovers today. The whole family loved it…..thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  39. Lindsey says:

    A hit tonight with my family! We will be making this again and even some to freeze. Thanks!

  40. grace says:

    i don’t waffle when it comes to my favorite lasagna–this is it. forget pasta and all traditional lasagna components–i’ll take tortillas and black beans and spicy sauce any day!

  41. CaSaundra says:

    I love lasagna and I love Mexican food, but surprisingly I’ve never had Mexican lasagna–what a shame! I am bookmarking this now 🙂

  42. Holly Andersen says:

    I made this tonight and was so pleased. I was afraid it was going to be too spicy for my kids, but they loved it. Thanks!

  43. Merrianne says:

    That looks really good! I am gonna have to try it!!!

  44. Maggie says:

    Mmmm…this looks fabulous. I love Mexican inspired dishes!

  45. Amanda says:

    Wow! I have seen mexican lasagna before, but it always used tortillas, not lasagna noodles! I already know I will love this!

  46. Nicole says:

    Hmmm…. This looks great I make a similar one but with corn tortillas. I will have to try it with noodles. Thanks.

  47. Abby says:

    My friend just made this for me! A fun twist on a classic!

  48. Cammee says:

    I like the lasagna noodles instead of tortillas, otherwise it seems more like a Mexican casserole. I can’t wait to try this. I think it would be a great take-in meal. A lot of people do lasagna, but how many do Mexican lasagna?!

    I would have had to make 5 batches of this and still would not have been able to get a picture like that! It’s perfect! If you ever get sick of this you could be a food stylist and photographer. But please, please, please don’t ever leave us!

  49. Heidi says:

    I’m making this for dinner tomorrow 🙂 I have made another recipe similar but with chipotle sauce (from a tobasco sauce bottle) and using flour tortillas instead of noodles. Super yum! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for this recipe!

  50. Stephanie says:

    I was just going to ask about using corn tortillas instead of noodles too. But I see someone beat me to it.

  51. I love lasagna too! It is a lot easier to make homemade lasagna than people think. I will have to add this Mexican version into our monthly lasagna rotation!

    One of our favorite lasagnas that I make all the time is a Buffalo Chicken Lasagna. The flavors complement each other perfectly and it is even made in the crockpot!

  52. Kim in MD says:

    What a fabulous twist on lasagna! It looks amazing, Melanie! As always, your photo is stunning! 🙂

  53. Angie says:

    Oh man…. I used to eat something very similar to this in college too!! And you know, I haven’t made it since – thank you for reminding me! I doubt my kiddos will eat it, but hey, who said I can’t make 2 options for dinner one night ;o) Yummm

  54. Similar to my International Lasagna :

    Have you tried using tortillas in place of the lasagna noodles?

    • Mel says:

      Scott and Stephanie – I haven’t made this particular dish with corn tortillas mostly because I have another recipe that uses corn tortillas and is more like a Mexican casserole. It is delicious but I wanted this to be a pasta-type lasagna. Feel free to try it, though!

  55. briarrose says:

    Wonderful recipe. I love the mexican twist….so much lovely flavor.

  56. jackie says:

    I love this recipe – the version I have is very, very close to this and we L O V E it. I keep black beans on hand JUST for this very recipe LOL

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