We have been long overdue for an update to this hearty meat lasagna recipe! I have been working on making it the BEST classic lasagna recipe ever, and this is finally it!
We layer this lasagna with our authentic bolognese meat sauce, a creamy bechamel sauce and 2 types of cheese all tucked between layers of lasagna noodles. You’re absolutely going to love this easy lasagna recipe!
It was 2009 when I first posted this recipe…2009…15 years! SO much has changed since then…we’ve expanded our family. We’ve moved (three times). We’ve progressed from toddlers and tantrums to teenagers and still tantrums 🤪. It seems natural that this lasagna recipe should change a little too. It’s now better and bolder and everything a homemade lasagna should be.
Ingredients for Hearty Meat Lasagna
I’m going to divide up the ingredients list between the three different parts of this recipe – the meat sauce, the bechamel sauce and the items needed to assemble the lasagna. Here is what you will need:
Meat Bolognese Sauce
- Butter and Olive Oil
- Vegetables: Carrots, Celery, Red Onion, Garlic
- Proteins: Ground Beef and Italian Sausage
- Tomatoes: Roasted Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Fire Roasted Tomatoes (canned)
- Milk and Heavy Cream
- Cooking Wine
- Lemon Zest and Juice
- Seasonings: Nutmeg, Bay Leaves, Salt and Pepper
- Whole Milk
- Kosher Salt
- Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
- Fresh Parmesan
- Mozzarella Cheese
Don’t be alarmed! You did not read ricotta cheese in that ingredients list. We actually found that we preferred the lasagna without it! Keep scrolling to the end of the post for the measurements for each ingredient.
How to Make Homemade Meat Lasagna
To Make the Meat Sauce
- Prepare the bolognese sauce as instructed in that post and set aside.
For the Bechamel Sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle in the flour continuously whisking it in until a paste forms and it bubbles a little.
- Add in the milk slowing still whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer until it thickens.
- Whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
For the Lasagna
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prepare the parmesan by pulsing it in a food processor or blender.
- Now we will starting assembling the lasagna. Start by pouring a layer of bolognese sauce in a rectangular baking dish. Spread it around so it’s an even layer.
- Add a layer of noodles, then add another layer of meat sauce.
- Pour some of the bechamel sauce over the top and spread it evenly over the top.
- Sprinkle with a layer of parmesan cheese.
- Repeat these layers 4 times. When you reach the top layer, add the meat sauce, bechamel then top with all the mozzarella cheese.
- Top the baking dish with a sheet of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
- Sprinkle with the last of the parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh parsley (optional), then let the lasagna rest before cutting and serving.
These instructions in full detail can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. You can also print or save the recipe there.
Can I Use Regular Lasagna Noodles?
Yes, you can definitely use regular lasagna noodles if you have the time. The no boil noodles are so easy to use, however they will absorb a bit more of the sauce so make sure you add a little more if you’re using those noodles.
To make regular lasagna pasta, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water to they don’t stick together and keep cooking. Then they are ready to start assembling.
What to Serve with Homemade Lasagna
I consider it a crime to eat lasagna without a really good garlic bread, but if that doesn’t do it for you, I would go with one of the following…
Can Lasagna Be Made Ahead of Time?
The entire lasagna can be assembled 1 day in advance. Just keep it in the refrigerator until baking. You will probably need to add a few minutes to the baking time since you’ll be baking it from cold.
If you want to spread out the prep, the bolognese can be made up to 4 days in advance or made and frozen. The bechamel can be made up to 3 days in advance or frozen.
How Long Will Lasagna Keep?
Lasagna leftovers will keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. To store left over lasagna, cover tightly with foil or place in an airtight container.
Lasagna also freezes quite well. Let it cool completely then wrap it in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. It can be frozen as a whole lasagna or cut into individual pieces. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Lasagna is best reheated in the oven. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the top with foil and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave.
Can You Freeze Lasagna Before Baking?
You can prepare and freeze lasagna to be used at a later time.
Assemble the lasagna in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
It might have been 15 years in the making, but we have nailed the perfect hearty meat lasagna recipe! The meat sauce is bold in flavor and the cheeses are perfection, but it’s that bechamel sauce is totally does it for me. You are going to love this comforting lasagna recipe!
More Comforting Italian Pasta Recipes:
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Authentic Bolognese
- Beef Ragu
- Crispy Pancetta Ravioli
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Braised Short Rib Ragu
Hearty Meat Lasagna
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 4 Tablespoons Flour
- 2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt, or to taste
- 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 Box Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles, or 12 cooked lasagna noodles- see notes
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Parmesan
- 2 1/2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
For the Meat Sauce
- Prepare the bolognese sauce and set aside.
For the Bechamel Sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.4 Tablespoons Butter
- Sprinkle the flour in while whisking and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour paste cooks and bubbles a bit to cook out the flour taste.4 Tablespoons Flour
- Slowly add in the milk while whisking continuously. Bring this mixture to a boil and then turn to a steady simmer on medium low to allow the sauce to thicken. Add in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reduce to low heat, and cook, stirring, 2–3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk, 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt, 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper, 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
For the Lasagna
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Pulse the parmesan in a blender or food processor until you have 1 1/2 cups. Set aside 1/4 cup for the topping.1 1/2 Cups Fresh Parmesan
- Cover the bottom of a 9×13 with 1 cup of the meat sauce (avoiding large chunks of meat).
- Place 3 noodles on the bottom of the dish, two vertical and one horizontal at the end usually works best.1 Box Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
- Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the meat sauce evenly over the noodles followed by 1/4 of the bechamel sauce. Use an angled cake knife or spoon to spread the two sauces evenly over the pasta.
- Top with a heaping 1/3 cup fresh parmesan and repeat the layers 4 times.
- On the top layer, add the sauce, bechamel, smooth everything out and add the mozzarella.2 1/2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
- Spray foil with nonstick spray and place over lasagna.
- Bake 25 min then remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbly and spotty brown, about 25 min.
- Sprinkle with leftover parmesan cheese, allow to rest 10-15 min and serve!
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water to they don’t stick together and keep cooking.
- The bolognese can be made up to 4 days in advance or made and frozen.
- The bechamel can be made up to 3 days in advance or frozen.
- The entire lasagna can be assembled 1 day in advance.
- The no boil noodles are so easy to use, however they will absorb a bit more of the sauce so make sure you add a little more if you’re using those noodles.