Ready to say goodbye to pre-made frozen lasagna? Here’s the only guide you’ll need! Learn how to make lasagna and enjoy this delicious (and easy) lasagna with ricotta cheese! It’s the perfect homemade take on lasagna.
Want to toss together a salad to go with your lasagna? Try this easy Sicilian roasted artichoke salad!
Where does lasagna really come from?
When most of us hear the word lasagna, we automatically think of Italy. It seems like one of the quintessential Italian dishes, complete with pasta and lots of cheeses.
However, there is some debate about the actual origin of lasagna. From research done on this, it seems like some distant version of lasagna originated from Greece. The Greeks’ “Laganon” is thought to be the first pasta ever made, which did resemble lasagna somewhat. Others argue it’s from the Romans or the English.
Despite this debate, it is fairly certain that the Italians were the ones who really perfected the lasagna.
Fresh pasta layered with tomato pasta sauce, meat, and cheeses – how could that NOT be delicious?
This lasagna recipe offers up all the flavor of your favorite dish, with a couple of shortcuts to make it easy enough for a weeknight meal
Beef: Ground chuck is the preferred option, but use whatever ground beef your store offers. Choose a less-fatty option if possible. To make this a vegetarian lasagna, you can simply skip this ingredient!
Hot tip: You can brown the beef ahead of time if you like. Just refrigerate the browned meat until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.
Pasta sauce: A red marinara sauce makes this classic lasagna sing with the flavor of tomato. There are a number of options when it comes to the sauce you use for this lasagna. You could use this beef ragu recipe for delicious beef lasagna. If you prefer a vegetarian lasagna, by all means skip the ground chuck. Or you can use ready-made jars of marinara sauce.
Ricotta cheese: A creamy, somewhat grainy soft cheese, ricotta is similar to cottage cheese, but without the lumps.
Egg: You’ll add an egg to the ricotta cheese mixture to bind it together.
Parmesan cheese: A semi-hard cheese from the Parma region in Italy, this cheese packs a flavorful punch. Use fresh Parmesan, not the jars of powdered cheese.
Lasagna noodles: Dried lasagna noodles from the supermarket shelves are what most Americans will find available. Opt for gluten free noodles if you like; the recipe remains the same.
Mozzarella cheese: This is the cheese that will give you the ooey gooey stretchy goodness that makes a homemade lasagna so delicious.
Making ricotta filling for lasagna
While the sauce is simmering, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, seasonings, and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Adding an egg helps to bind the ricotta filling, giving it a bit more body.
Cooking the lasagna noodles — or not!
This recipe for lasagna with ricotta showcases a trick I’ve been using for years to make lasagna: Uncooked noodles! Using uncooked noodles does several things:
- It’s the ticket to a lasagna that’s not too wet.
- Using uncooked noodles allows you to make this an overnight lasagna recipe.
- Handling dry lasagna noodles is so much easier than wrestling with wet noodles.
Now, were you to ask a Pasta Granny how to make lasagna, they would be unlikely to tell you that this is the way to do it. I mean, uncooked dry noodles?! But hello, there’s something to be said for easy.
If you prefer to cook the noodles, that’s okay, too! The assembly will be just the same, but instead of letting the dish sit overnight, you’ll be able to cook it right away.
To cook lasagna noodles, fill a large pot with water and salt it generously. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add the lasagna noodles, and return to a boil. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10-15 minutes.
How to layer lasagna
This recipe for homemade lasagna with ricotta cheese filling is a super simple meal to make, but it does require some assembly. With the sauce and ricotta filling made, it’s time to start layering the lasagna!
Making lasagna requires three separate layers: The sauce, the cheeses, and the noodles. The sauce and the ricotta filling are made separately and then layered with lasagna noodles to create a delicious casserole.
The first layer should always be the sauce. This prevents the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the casserole.
Scoop a layer of pasta sauce into a baking dish, and spread it to cover the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of lasagna noodles, so they’re just touching. (They’ll expand overnight.)
Spread on a layer of the ricotta mixture and mozzarella and continuing layering until all of the ingredients have been used. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
How to make lasagna ahead of time
Since we’re using uncooked noodles in this recipe, you’ll need to refrigerate the lasagna overnight before cooking. This allows the uncooked noodles to absorb moisture from the other ingredients.
If you want to speed up the process, cook the noodles according to package directions before you make the lasagna so you can skip the refrigeration. Cover with foil and bake this favorite Italian casserole dish according to directions.
Love Italian dishes? Be sure to try this delicious baked cannelloni, too.
- 2 pounds ground chuck, browned and drained
- 2 (24 ounce) jars prepared pasta sauce or 6 cups homemade sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or an equal blend of dried basil, dried oregano, and thyme leaves)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked lasagna noodles
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, combine pasta sauce and browned ground chuck. Bring to a simmer and heat through.
3. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Stir together well.
4. Pour approximately 1 cup of meat sauce into baking dish. Add water and combine with a spoon or fork.
5. Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Do not overlap as the noodles will expand overnight.
6. Add rounded spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and spread evenly.
7. Sprinkle about ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese over the ricotta layer. Top with about 1 cup of meat sauce. Begin a new layer of noodles and repeat as above, ending with remaining meat sauce. Save any remaining mozzarella cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
8. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
9. Place the covered casserole in a cold oven. Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and top with remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the edges are bubbly.
10. Allow the lasagna to rest for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting and serving.
This recipe uses uncooked, regular lasagna noodle but requires refrigeration overnight. If baking immediately, lasagna noodles should be cooked according to package directions prior to assembling the lasagna.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 642Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 172mgSodium: 1585mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 12gProtein: 50g
Originally published in September, 2020; this post has been updated.