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Simple Lasagna Recipe- Make Ahead

This simple lasagna recipe uses a hearty homemade sauce, three cheeses, and noodles for the ultimate comfort food recipe!

square of cooked lasagna on white plate with bite cut onto fork

Ready for one of my go-to comfort foods? Lasagna is easily one of my favorites. Mainly because it is so easy to customize. I use almost anything we have on hand and it always tastes incredible.

It has taken me years to perfect- Which means I am extra excited to share!

Recipe Features:

  • Make Ahead– Like most pasta dishes, this recipe is super easy to make ahead. I dive more into the how-to below, but know that you can make this up to 24 hours in advance!
  • Freezer Friendly– OR, if you want to really be prepared you can make and freeze this! If stored properly, this recipe can last up to three months in the freezer!
  • Easy to Customize– I use ground beef in this recipe, but we have also tried it with sausage, chicken, and just veggies! All three versions are delicious.
red lasagna sauce in large dutch oven

What you’ll need for this lasagna recipe:

The full list of ingredients and their amounts can be found below in the recipe card. But I wanted to take a second and touch on just a few items I use.

  • Beef- As mentioned above, I have tried this with so many different meats. Our personal favorite is a blend of ground beef and Italian sausage.
  • Garlic- Always opt for fresh minced garlic when you can. It adds a more bold flavor.
  • Tomatoes- This recipe calls for crushed tomatoes. However, I have used diced and whole and they all work. If you do use whole canned tomatoes, be sure to crush the bigger pieces.
  • Basil- Fresh basil is SO delicious in this recipe. If you do have some around, I suggest using this in place of dried.
  • Noodles- I do not care for the fuss of cooking my noodles in advance. So I always reach for over ready noodles. They cut out one extra step making this come together that much quicker.
  • Ricotta- Classic lasagna uses ricotta cheese. However, one of my family members is not a fan. So we like to switch things up and replace this with cottage cheese occasionally.
lasagna noodles layered in pan over sauce

Step by step instructions:

For the sauce:

  1. Heat a large Dutch Oven (affiliate) over medium heat. Add the sausage, ground beef, and onion. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until the meat is browned and the onion is soft.
  2. Stir in the garlic and cook one minute longer.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

For the cheese filling:

  1. While your sauce is cooking, combine the ricotta, egg, and parsley. Mix well and set aside.

Building your lasagna:

ricotta cheese spread on top of noodles
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Using either one 9×13 pan or two 8 inch pans (affiliate)- Start building your layers.
  3. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture onto the noodles. Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  4. Repeat the layers two more times following – Noodles, ricotta, sauce, cheese. You want to end with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  5. Cover the lasagna with foil. Bake 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.
  7. Let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow to thicken.

I earn a small commission from items purchased through the links above. This helps me keep my recipes free for you. I only share products I use in my own kitchen and love.

slice of lasagna on spatula over pan

Tips and FAQ’s:

Do you have to pre cook noodles for lasagna?

Yes and no. This is kind of a tricky question. I used to pre cook my noodles, but found that it wasn’t completely necessary. You can find oven ready noodles in the store, OR if you are making this in advance, you can use regular noodles. Simply assemble your pasta, let it sit for at least 12 hours covered in the refrigerator, and bake as directed.

Ricotta substitute:

Not everyone loves ricotta, and that’s ok. We sometimes substitute equal amounts of cottage cheese. You get a similar flavor without the ricotta thick texture.

How to freeze/make lasagna ahead of time:

If you would like to make this recipe ahead or freeze, simply follow these instructions:

  1. Make the recipe all the way through layering. Do not bake.
  2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours OR freeze for up to three months.

What to serve with this recipe:

Lasagna is a hearty filling meal all on its own. However, you could serve a side salad, garlic knots, or even a roasted vegetable.

slice of lasagna on a white plate with a fork

Related Recipes:

Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna Recipe

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

This simple lasagna recipe uses a hearty homemade sauce, three cheeses, and noodles for the ultimate comfort food recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1- 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil or 1/2 cup fresh
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12-16 lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

    For the sauce:

    1. Heat a large Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the sausage, ground beef, and onion. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until the meat is browned and the onion is soft.

    2. Stir in the garlic and cook one minute longer.

    3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

    4. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

    For the cheese filling:

    1. While your sauce is cooking, combine the ricotta, egg, and parsley. Mix well and set aside.

    Building your lasagna:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    2. Using either one 9×13 pan or two 8 inch pans- Start building your layers.

    3. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture onto the noodles. Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

    4. Repeat the layers two more times following – Noodles, ricotta, sauce, cheese. You want to end with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

    5. Cover the lasagna with foil. Bake 25 minutes.

    6. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes.

    7. Let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow to thicken.

Notes

Do you have to pre cook noodles for lasagna?

Yes and no. This is kind of a tricky question. I used to pre cook my noodles, but found that it wasn’t completely necessary. You can find oven ready noodles in the store, OR if you are making this in advance, you can use regular noodles. Simply assemble your pasta, let it sit for at least 12 hours covered in the refrigerator, and bake as directed.

Ricotta substitute:

Not everyone loves ricotta, and that’s ok. We sometimes substitute equal amounts of cottage cheese. You get a similar flavor without the ricotta thick texture.

How to freeze/make lasagna ahead of time:

If you would like to make this recipe ahead or freeze, simply follow these instructions:

  1. Make the recipe all the way through layering. Do not bake.
  2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours OR freeze for up to three months.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 631Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 1319mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 39g
This simple lasagna recipe uses a hearty homemade sauce, three cheeses, and noodles for the ultimate comfort food recipe!

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