Amazing lasagna doesn’t need to be complicated. This easy lasagna recipe is pure comfort food with a flavorful homemade meat sauce, cheeses, noodles, and fresh basil.
It’s no secret that we love lasagna around here. I mean we’ve already shared an epic sausage and beef lasagna, this popular vegetable lasagna, and this ultimate cheese lasagna (made with five cheeses).
So why are we sharing another lasagna recipe with you? Well, even though we love all the recipes mentioned above, we felt the blog was missing a no fuss, classic lasagna that anyone can make. It’s so easy, you guys!
Just like the other lasagna recipes you’ll find on the blog, this simple lasagna is made entirely from scratch. The sauce is very similar to this easy meat sauce as well as the sauce we use for our veggie lasagna (which gets rave reviews).
The ingredients for our spin on traditional homemade lasagna aren’t complicated, let me walk you through them really quickly:
Sausage — Classic lasagna usually calls for ground meat (like beef), but sausage is packed with extra flavor and spice. We’ve used pork sausage (delicious) and even turkey sausage (a little lighter) for this lasagna in the past. You can always swap the sausage out for ground meat (beef, lamb, turkey or chicken), if you prefer.
Aromatics — Onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper flakes help to make our lasagna sauce rich and flavorful. We also add lots of basil to the sauce just as it finishes cooking.
Roasted red peppers — When we were working on our recipe for vegetable lasagna we stumbled on the idea of adding roasted red peppers to our sauce. They add a richness, some sweetness, and just make the sauce taste amazing. I like using jarred red peppers since they are inexpensive and readily available.
Canned tomatoes — As you might expect, canned tomatoes make up the base of our sauce. We don’t add anything like wine, broth or water, a simple can of crushed tomatoes does the trick and keeps the sauce light on its feet.
Cheese — We opt for not one, but three cheeses in this lasagna. Ricotta cheese makes up our creamy layers (you can sub that for cottage cheese if you prefer it), and then we follow up with lots of mozzarella and parmesan.
Noodles — We are traditionalists when it comes to lasagna noodles and prefer classic noodles (the one’s you need to boil first). I love their texture and think they soak up any extra liquid in the sauce. When we are short on time, we choose no-boil or fresh lasagna noodles since they allow you to skip the boiling step.
How to Make This No Fuss Lasagna
From start to finish, lasagna takes around 1 1/2 hours. That includes making the sauce from scratch, assembly, and baking of the lasagna. If you don’t have the time, you can always make the sauce in advance. It keeps in the fridge up to three days!
The full recipe with all the steps to make the lasagna is below, but I’ll walk you through the process quickly:
- Make the meat sauce. We brown the sausage first, which renders some of the fat. Then we cook the remaining sauce ingredients in the rendered fat (it provides so much flavor). After adding the tomatoes, we simmer the sauce until reduced slightly.
- Make the ricotta mixture. Depending on the brand of ricotta you buy, you might find that it needs a little help in the seasoning department. I always taste my ricotta first before mixing with eggs to see if it needs a pinch or two of salt.
- Assemble the lasagna! I always need to remind myself of the proper order of lasagna layers ? I start with a little sauce on the bottom and follow with a layer of noodles. From there, we add half of the ricotta, a third of the mozzarella and parmesan, and then finish with a third of the meat sauce. This is repeated one more time and then we finish with a layer of noodles, sauce and mozzarella and parmesan on top.
- Bake the lasagna. I like to bake the lasagna uncovered for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Make Ahead Tips
Lasagna is the perfect make-ahead meal. Here’s how we do it:
The meat sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator up to 3 days and in your freezer for about three months. We recommend using freezer-safe glass containers, or double layers of freezer bags to store sauces. To thaw, leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
You can refrigerate unbaked lasagna. Cover and refrigerate the assembled, but unbaked lasagna up to 2 days. When you cover, use parchment paper between the lasagna and aluminum foil. Aluminum foil can react with the tomatoes.
Baked lasagna also freezes well. Let it cool completely on a rack before freezing, and then wrap it very well with foil (we use two layers). Defrost the frozen lasagna overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 400°F for about 1 hour. (I prefer baking and then freezing the lasagna instead of freezing uncooked lasagna.)
More Easy Pasta Recipes
- Our Easy Garlic Mushroom Pasta is quick to make and delicious thanks to garlic butter mushrooms.
- This Easy Weeknight Spaghetti is made using one-pot, is ultra flavorful, and can be made in under 45 minutes.
- This Easy Vegetable Baked Pasta is loaded with vegetables, extra cheesy, and seriously irresistible.
- Inspired by our vegetable lasagna recipe, these Veggie Lasagna Roll Ups are a fun spin on the original.
- Try our easy roasted eggplant parmesan! There’s no breading or frying.
- Skip buying jarred pasta sauce and try our Homemade Red Sauce.
Easy No Fuss Lasagna
You don’t need hours to make amazing lasagna. This simplified classic lasagna recipe calls on flavorful sausage, a light homemade tomato sauce, and fresh basil. The sausage is pre-seasoned and spiced, which adds lots of extra favor to the sauce. Use pork, chicken or turkey sausage to make this. Or use your favorite ground meat such as beef, lamb, turkey or chicken. For a vegetarian version, take a look at our easy vegetable lasagna recipe or swap the sausage in this recipe for 3 to 4 cups of your favorite vegetables.
You Will NeedFor the Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sausage or ground meat
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, chopped small (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
One (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, 1 heaping cup
One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Generous handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepperFor the Lasagna
14 lasagna noodles (2 extra for filling in holes), see notes
One (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
2 large eggs
2 ounces (60 grams) parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
8 ounces (230 grams) low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Prepare Sauce
1Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet with tall sides (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.
2If the sausage is in link form, remove the casings by cutting a slit down each sausage and pull the casing away from the meat.
3Add the sausage meat (without casings) to the pan, and then use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate.
4If, after removing the sausage, more than 2 tablespoons of rendered fat is at the bottom of the pan, remove it so only about 2 tablespoons remains.
5Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt then cook for one minute more.
6Add the roasted red peppers, crushed tomatoes, and cooked sausage. Bring to a low simmer and cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced by one third, about 10 minutes. Add the basil and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. (We end up adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
7Move onto making the lasagna or transfer the sauce to a glass container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
- Cook Noodles
1If using no-boil or fresh noodles, there is no need to cook them. For regular/classic noodles, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. (We add a couple teaspoons of olive oil to the water so the noodles do not stick together). Drain then lay flat on a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Assemble Lasagna
1Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2Add the ricotta cheese to a medium bowl, and then taste it for seasoning. If it seems under seasoned, add a pinch of salt. Stir in the eggs and a pinch of fresh ground black pepper.
3Spoon just enough meat sauce into the baking dish to lightly cover the bottom (about 1 cup). Arrange three to four noodles lengthwise and side by side to cover the bottom. (If the noodles are short on one end, you may need to cut an extra noodle and place into the dish to cover where the other noodles have not).
4Spread about half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the parmesan cheese and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Top with a third of the meat sauce.
5Add another layer of noodles then repeat with remaining cheese and sauce. Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
6Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes, uncover then bake 15 minutes until the cheese is crusty around the edges.
7For a golden brown top, slide the lasagna under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
8Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Noodles: We prefer the texture of classic lasagna noodles (the one’s that require you to boil the noodles first). That said, no-boil noodles or fresh lasagna noodles cut the prep time considerably and are an excellent alternative.
- Sausage: Use whatever sausage you love (Italian, sweet or spicy). We prefer to use sausage over plain ground meat because the sausage has much more flavor. If it is all you have, this lasagna will still be excellent when made with ground beef, lamb, chicken or turkey.
- Make-ahead tips have been shared in the article above. The sauce can be made up to three days in advance, you can refrigerate assembled and unbaked lasagna up to 2 days, and the baked lasagna can be frozen.
- For a gluten-free lasagna, use gluten-free noodles or use vegetables (like zucchini or eggplant) to make the noodle layer.
- For a dairy-free and egg-free lasagna, swap the ricotta cheese and egg for almond ricotta. You can make it yourself or buy it (Kite Hill is a popular brand). I also like swapping the cheese called for in the recipe for a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.