Introduction: How to Make a Basic Lasagna

Picture of How to Make a Basic Lasagna

This Instructable will cover how to make lasagna the American way (no bechamel sauce here!), and also how to make the meat sauce that goes in mine. This lasagna recipe has changed a bit over the years but it's always been a favorite amongst my family and friends!

In the past couple years I've started using oven ready lasagna noodles that cook in the oven - I don't know that I'll ever go back to doing it the old way. :D

This lasagna recipe makes enough to easily feed 8-10 folks. If you have sides like salad and garlic bread, one pan could probably feed 12-14 folks. :)

Step 1: Ingredients!

Picture of Ingredients!

Lasagna takes a lot of ingredients, but it also feeds a lot of people.

For the tomato meat sauce:

  • 2 x 28 oz. cans tomatoes - crushed or whole is best! If you get whole canned tomatoes just crush them in your hands.
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste (this is my favorite kind!)
  • 1 large onion
  • garlic, garlic, garlic - I always use a ton! I'd say two cloves minimum!
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably lean
  • 1 pound Italian sausage - choose whatever spice level you like!
  • dried oregano
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil - dried can also be substituted!
  • olive oil

Keep in mind that if you can always just cook up some meat and then pour a couple jars of tomato sauce over it, so don't worry about it if you look at the ingredients and wonder what you've gotten yourself into.

For the rest of the lasagna:

  • 1 package of noodles (should be around a pound in weight) - oven-ready or regular.
  • 1 lb. mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb. good quality parmesan
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • dried oregano + basil


Step 2: Making the Meat Sauce, Part One

Picture of Making the Meat Sauce, Part One

Prep work and browning the meat!

Roughly dice the onion, and mince as much garlic as you want. I used quite a bit as you can see. :D

Once you've got the veggies prepped, film your sauce pan with olive oil. Heat the pan over medium and cook the ground beef and Italian sausage until browned. If a lot of fat seeps out, drain most of it. You need only a few tablespoons of fat to cook the onion and garlic in.

Once you've drained the extra fat, throw in the onions and garlic.

Stir this around for a few minutes over medium heat until the onions become soft. Then add in a few good pinches of Italian seasoning, a pinch of basil, oregano and salt, and a tablespoon or two of tomato paste.

Step 3: Making the Meat Sauce, Part Two

Picture of Making the Meat Sauce, Part Two

Now, open both cans of tomatoes and dump them in. Mix it around for a moment, and bring to a light boil. Watch out for splatters!

Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the sauce simmer for at least a half hour while you do the rest of the prep work.

Step 4: Cook (or Don't Cook) Your Noodles

Picture of Cook (or Don't Cook) Your Noodles

At this point, if you're using regular lasagna noodles, you'll need to fill a stock pot with water and cook those. I find it's best to cook them for the shortest time listed on the package or a minute or two under so they don't get soggy while the lasagna bakes.

Once they're done, rinse them with cold water using a colander and set them aside. Try to separate them a bit so they stick less later.

If you're using oven-ready noodles, you can worry about them later. :D

Step 5: Prep the Cheese and Finish the Sauce

Picture of Prep the Cheese and Finish the Sauce

Over the years, I've started combining all my cheese at the beginning - it makes for easier assembly!

Grab out a couple handfuls of parmesan and mozzarella and put them in a small bowl - this will be for topping the lasagna.

Place the ricotta into a large bowl, along with one egg. Add the rest of the parmesan and mozzarella, as well as a couple good pinches of Italian seasoning and basil. Mix this all together with your hands.

Once you're all done with the cheese, double check the sauce and adjust the flavors as necessary. You may need to add salt, sugar or more herbs - just keep adding and testing until it's good for you!

If you're using fresh basil, chop up a handful and throw it in now. Once the basil is in, stir the sauce well and turn off the heat.

Step 6: Assembling!

Picture of Assembling!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F / 200 degrees C.

Make sure your cheeses, noodles and sauce are all within easy reach.

Ladle just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Then place noodles on top of the sauce just to cover, slightly overlapping. (If you're using over-ready noodles, follow the box directions) If they're broken, piece them together as much as possible. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles.

Now you'll put more sauce over the cheese and then noodles, more cheese, and then sauce again. You repeat the basic build three times.

For the fourth and final level, lay down your cheese mixture and top with the rest of the sauce. Now sprinkle the parmesan and mozzarella you set aside over it.

Now bake at 375 F for 40 minutes - if you're using a metal pan, check after 30 and make sure it's not too dark! If it's starting to get dark on top just pull it out. :)

Step 7: Finished Product!

Picture of Finished Product!

Once it's done baking, pull it out and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it! Otherwise it will just be hot lasagna lava.

Serve it to a bunch of hungry friends and/or family with warm garlic bread and enjoy your hero status. :D


jessyratfink (author)2015-10-27

Hi everyone! I've gotten lots of comments and PMs asking for the original recipe! I had no idea so many folks were paying attention, so thanks for that. :D

The only differences between this "new" recipe and that old one is the addition of Italian sausage in the meat sauce and using an egg in the cheese to make it easier to spread. Here's the original ingredients list if anyone wants it!

For my tomato meat sauce:

  • 2 28 oz. cans tomatoes - I typically do one can diced, one crushed for a little bit of texture!
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large onion
  • garlic, garlic, garlic - I always use a ton! I'd say two cloves minimum!
  • 1 lb. ground beef, preferably lean
  • dried oregano
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil - dried can also be substituted!
  • For the rest of the lasagna:

    • 1 package of noodles (should be around a pound in weight)
    • 1 lb. mozzarella
    • 1/2 lb. good quality parmesan
    • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
alondraperez20 (author)2017-02-13

I love your old recipe and yes we do pay attention. Love your secrets! Please keep them coming ?

Shelly Paul (author)2017-01-13

I have used your recipe a few times over the years. It is always EXCELLENT! Thanks.

Easy Weight Loss (author)2016-10-12

:) :)

sanaruk (author)2016-02-01

Hi, im a new ones to the world of lasagne, my meat And cheese sauce are fine, after I cook it all , doing the layer's right aswell, when we slice it up it collapses, never can I get a solid slice all the way down, can u advise what it might be pls help! !!

KenT61 (author)sanaruk2016-07-18

You have too much liquid. Try not using so much sauce.

jessyratfink (author)sanaruk2016-02-01

The most important thing it to let it rest and cool for a long time after it cooks! 15-20 minutes minimum and a half hour is better. The longer it sits, the more solid it will become.

You can also add an extra egg to the cheese if resting the lasagna doesn't help. :)

FoxysMyGirl (author)2016-04-03

Jessyratfink, your recipes are the Best! I know if you post it my family will Love it! Thank you for enriching lives!

meswanson (author)2016-03-04

Lasagna is a staple for Garfield the cat and it is also one of my favorites. Good simple recipe, thank you!

KateD15 (author)2015-10-17

Can this be made a head of time and frozen?

If so, should it defrost first? How long should it bake?

oky jim (author)KateD152016-03-03

I make pasta dishes of several types, lasagna, cannaloni, spaghetti,pente, various noodle dishes and I serve some hot and fresh but I often make some up and freeze them. They cook well with just a little extra time allowed for defrosting in the oven. Flavor doesn't suffer, texture is good and it is a quick way to get dinner ready when guests surprise us. I like you recipe, I will try it.

Drinky (author)2016-03-03

I'll be making this tonight! And, yes, the no-boil noodles make lasagna sooo much easier... more like "assembling" a delicious panful, and less like wrestling hot, slippery eels.

bruce.desertrat (author)Drinky2016-03-03

Actually, provided there's sufficient moisture in the sauce and filling, regular noodles can be put into the pan dry and they hydrate perfectly well during the baking process. No slippery eels to mess with :-)

I've been baking my lasagna that way for years since a friend turned me onto the trick.

jessyratfink (author)Drinky2016-03-03

Ha! Totally agree. Plus I like that they stay a little firmer. :D

Betherga (author)2016-03-03

This looks amazing!! I will definately use your recipe. Thanks!

spippolo (author)2016-03-03


Not ' the recipe of Italian lasagna ....
Perhaps a review ....
eggs? and he not ' ever heard.
Beciamella but where is it?
try the original version then you tell me

spippolo (author)spippolo2016-03-03

Besciamella or bechamel my mistake

Criscokid (author)2015-11-14

just me and the boy tonight, my wife is out of town and I don't cook but I'm going to try this. Looks easy and I love lasagna.

HeatherR27 (author)2015-10-31

thanks for sharing your recipe. I've tried a lot of recipes over the years and this one by far looks better than any other. I can't wait to try it!

BraeJ (author)2015-10-26

I noticed this recipe has changed slightly, wondering if I can have the old recipe. The new one looks awesome but I just want to have the other one to compare:)

Bobby T (author)2015-10-07

Perfect for a Sunday supper with friends. I'll refer to this one soon. Looks amazing !

Wm TalcottM (author)2015-10-04

Made the recipe with local Manila ingredients in some cases; the whole family liked it, even having to skip the riccotta

wavet1 (author)2015-01-03

It looks good. My first time making Lasagana. I followed the directions with a few different ingredients. Don't know how it will tastes. LOL!!

Celi_simx (author)wavet12015-09-20

haha saame here

Celi_simx (author)2015-09-20

This is Amazing! very good recipe

HannaP2 (author)2015-08-29

What happened to the garlic sniffing part? that was the best!!

jessyratfink (author)HannaP22015-08-29

When I updated it with new photos I wanted to spread out the steps a little more so it got cut. There's a glitch with old ibles where you can't add any more steps and that one seemed the least important. ;)

Perhaps it was for the best. Ha!

rcruz31 made it! (author)2015-08-18

sorry for potato photo or if I've posted already but I followed the recipe and it was delicious!

maftaps13 made it! (author)2015-08-10

This is my fourth time making the lasagna and I'm so grateful for sharing the recipe. I used hotdog or kielbasa or polish sausage and it tastes the just as good with the original recipe. I added Romano on top of the lasagna. Since I work full time, I make them and put them in the fridge. My kids baked them and helped themselves. They loved it!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

JennaJMac (author)2015-08-06

YUM! I haven't had lasagna in so long, this looks amazing!

sabu.dawdy (author)2015-07-27

No oven but I will do try this is microwave

akaflakacruz (author)2015-07-14

Are the noodles necessary ?

If you don't add the noodles it will lack structure and just be like a tomato and cheese dip.

You can also use slices of zucchini in place of noodles - I do that sometimes. :)

what I was thinking

KatieC9 (author)2015-07-13

If I put it all together, could I leave it for my family to cook while Im at work? And how would I put it away so it stays good until they get home to bake it?

jessyratfink (author)KatieC92015-07-13

You can definitely do that! I recommend under cooking the noodles by a couple minutes, assembling as normal, letting it cool and then wrapping it/covering it and putting it in the fridge.

You can bake it directly from the fridge, but may need to add 10-15 minutes to the cook time. :)

JulieP7 (author)2015-06-28

I tried this recipe (minus the mozzarella and basil, as I didn't have any on hand) just last week and it turned out fantastic! Thank you very much for sharing it, especially with the well-captured photos - really useful!

TawannaW made it! (author)2015-06-19

I just made this tonight for my daughter's Co worker. & an extra pan for the house. Looks good can't wait to taste. Was the simplest recipe I came across! Thanks for sharing!!!

Patience Davhana (author)2015-03-30

Hi ..can I also use aluminium oven pan instead of a glass 1?

Yes! You may want to reduce the time by a bit if the pan is very dark, but otherwise it should be totally fine. :)

annieannie (author)2015-06-02

Being that We own a goat dairy farm and creamery, using our goat cheeses with your recipe is going to be utterly delish. I'm excited :) thank you!!!

jessyratfink (author)annieannie2015-06-04

Oh I bet that will be lovely!! So jealous. I've always wanted goats :D

MargaretT3 (author)2015-06-02

I'm making it tonight! I looked at a lot of recipes but chose yours, I love yours and love your detailed instructions! I'm so excited!

Bonicless (author)2015-05-27

Wow ! First time I ever experienced such cleared and well explained !! Thank you ???

MADLY3 (author)2015-03-26

I am still incredibly amazed how delicious it came out, I don't cook at all, & had never made lasagna before, instructions were clear and it came out beautifully! Definitely a favourite.

diazpatr (author)2015-02-27

Just made this today and everyone loved it ! Followed all of your instructions and it came out incredible! No one believed I made it. Thank you so much for your detailed recipe!

NikZ1 (author)2015-01-04

Tynice.TY.Taylor (author)2015-01-03

I made my 1st lasagna on New Year's Eve and my family loved!!!!! Thank you for posting this. I hardly ever cook and my fiancé was shocked when he saw me in the kitchen and how well it turned out.

mick.jacobs.77 (author)2014-11-24

hi how much oregano and dried basil do u use

I would say between 1/2 - 1 teaspoon!

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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