How to Make a Basic Lasagna





Introduction: How to Make a Basic Lasagna

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

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!

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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

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119 Discussions

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
1 reply

Ciao, sto scrivendo dall'Italia, ho visto la tua ricetta di Lasagna, e anche se non è esattamente "italiano", si avvicina molto, e complimenti per non aver usato ingredienti che avrebbero distrutto questo piatto.

Brava e congratulazioni

Mario- Milano- Italia

Ps. : scusa per eventuali errori, tradotto con google translate :)

I saw the picture and noticed you're calling lasagna something that isn't one. There's no tomato in lasagna (maybe just a tiny bit in the ragù), and there should be besciamella. The ragù isn't made with sausages but wtih ground beef and vegetables, opt some wine.

Your recipe seems nice though

4 replies

Good morning, Mr. Clooney.

I see your Instructable for the Carbon Mouse, but I can't find your tasty Instructable recipe for Italian Lasagna. Please share it with us!

I am going to try this wonderful American lasagna recipe this weekend, and I'd love to try your Lasagna next week for comparison. :)

You'll notice she did call it American lasagna. There are many, many dishes that have the same name but different interpretations in different parts of the world. Cooking gives you the freedom to experiment with and adapt recipes to your family's taste and to what ingredients are available. The lasagna concept is all about layering pasta, sauce, cheese, and "extras" (mine doesn't have any meat, for example). Be brave!

In that case, nice to meet you! I'm George Clooney

Isn't there a difference between a Neapolitan pizza and an American pizza? That is the thing about American versions, it's just an adaptation or a fusion of different traditional foods. Much like language, food also evolves to something different over time.
Heck, you can now get ramen bison burgers; it's not a traditional burger; just a newer adaptation of the old.

But Mr. Clooney, if you want traditional lasagna made with besciamella sauce; that is completely fine too. I actually enjoy American Lasagna; it tastes good to me and is commonly served at most of my friends' house (and sold in frozen, made with the same ingredients and ready to bake; - although I like homemade so much more). I recomend trying it; you might enjoy it.

Just a note about assembly using dried wavy noodles...when laying out the cooked noodles alternate the direction from long, then across for the next layer. This will help to keep the layers from sliding around when you cut it to serve.

I think that the word "lasagna" is like an umbrella -- it covers any and all recipes and their various substitutes. I am not of Italian heritage but I have tasted lasagna in many friends' homes. They were all amazing! [the one with ricotta cheese caused an allergic reaction....who knew?] Thanks, jessyratfink

I just want to say, that is a very lovely knife you have there! :-)

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

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

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! !!

2 replies

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

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. :)

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

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

Can this be made a head of time and frozen?

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

1 reply

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.