Is there anything more comforting that a big plate of homemade lasagna? I've been working on a go-to lasagna recipe that is perfect for my family: easy to put together (you can have this done in 90 minutes!), to-die-for-flavor, LOTS of cheesy goodness, and NO boiling noodles (who has the time?) I'll show you all the details, step-by-step, for how to make the best lasagna of your life!
Red sauce: Begin by making your choice of sauce: I have 2 recipes you can use depending on how much time you have. I ever-so-slightly prefer this Bolognese Sauce; it's rich and creamy and takes at least 90 minutes start to finish. (you will have a bit of sauce leftover.) This Easy Spaghetti Sauce takes about 30 minutes and is a made from a doctored jar of marinara. It's delicious but less rich. It makes exactly the amount you need for this lasagna. Tap on either recipe to get the full info.
Ricotta filling: While your sauce is cooking, make the ricotta mixture. In a medium size bowl, add 1 and 1/2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese. (Sometimes they sell 2 lb tubs, or you can use 1 and a 1/2 of the 15-oz tubs.)
Add 1 large egg, 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese(it melts better), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper. Beat this mixture together and set aside (or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.)
Slice and grate cheese: You need 1 and 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese. I prefer to buy a block of cheese and slice it myself, for better melting, but pre-sliced is going to work just fine. Divide the sliced mozzarella into 3 piles, about 8 ounces each. Grate about 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Layer your lasagna: It's go time people. We have all our components and we're ready to layer this bad boy. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.Spray the upper edges of a deep 9x13 inch casserole with nonstick spray. (A 9x13 inch cake pan is going to struggle to fit.) Then add:
Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of the pan, all the way to the corners.
Arrange three no boil noodles on top (I know they look small but they will expand in the oven.)
Add one third of the ricotta mixture (not 1/3 cup, a third of what's there). Spread it all the way to the corners, do your best.
Add two cups sauce and spread.
Add 8-ounces of sliced mozzarella.
Sprinkle on 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Add three noodles.
Add one third of the ricotta mixture (not 1/3 cup, a third of what's there).
Two cups sauce.
8-ounces sliced mozzarella.
About 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Add three noodles.
Add one third of the ricotta mixture (all that remains).
Add two cups sauce.
Add half cup parmesan cheese. I like to put this under the mozzarella because mozzarella melts better.
Add the remaining 8-ounces sliced mozzarella.
Cover the lasagna with greased foil. If you don't grease the foil, you risk your cheese sticking to the foil when you remove it and that's just a tragedy we can't stand for.
Bake your lasagna at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil. Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes at 375, until the top is melty and you start to see golden brown spots on the cheese.
At this point you can crank your oven up to broil, move your oven rack up, and essentially torch the top of your lasagna if you like blackened brown edges. That's how we roll at our house. Don't walk away! 1 minute, 2 minutes max! Seriously. setting your masterpiece on fire would be the literal worst.
Let your lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before digging in. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut slices, and a spatula or wide spoon to lift each piece onto a plate. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, and fresh grating of parmesan cheese.
Prep the lasagna right up until the baking step, then put it into your fridge well covered until you’re ready to bake it. You can also bake it ahead of time, then reheat it, covered, at 350 for about 30 minutes. You can also make either sauce recipe AND the ricotta mixture up to 24 hours ahead of time and store covered in the fridge, then assemble the lasagna right before baking.
How to freeze lasagna:
To freeze an unbaked lasagna, try to remember to bake it in a disposable pan so you are not holding a casserole dish hostage in the fridge. Then, make sure that the noodles and meat sauce have cooled to room temperature. Wrap the entire pan tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and make sure to tape a label onto the outside so you (or someone you’re giving it to) can remember what it is and how to cook it when they’re ready. To cook an unbaked frozen lasagna, first defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Then let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes while you’re preheating the oven. Of course, you’ll want to remove the plastic wrap. Make sure the dish is covered with foil but not plastic wrap. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 30-50 minutes until the top is bubbly and melted. To freeze an already baked lasagna, you can choose whether to freeze individual slices or the whole thing at once. Either way, you’ll want to follow the same process: first wrap in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, then label. To cook an already baked frozen lasagna, whether in individual slices or as a whole, first defrost in the refrigerator (overnight for a whole lasagna, just a couple hours for a single slice). You’ll want to let the whole lasagna sit on the counter for about 30 minutes while you’re preheating the oven. Remove any plastic wrap. Then, you’ll bake it at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until it’s bubbling and hot. It may take longer depending on its exact temperature when it went into the oven. If you’re just reheating a single slice, you can simply reheat it in the microwave once it has defrosted in the fridge.
I love this recipe made with both of these sauces. Bolognese Sauce will give you a little more depth of flavor. Spaghetti Sauce is super delicious (my kids actually preferred it) and a lot quicker.A note about time: This Lasagna takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes from start to finish, including the sauce, if you are making it with Easy Spaghetti Sauce. If you are making homemade Bolognese Sauce, it will take longer! That sauce takes at least 90 minutes to make. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate until you need it! You will have a bit of leftover sauce if you make Bolognese.