The Best Homemade Lasagna

Johnny Marzetti has carved out a permanent role for himself in the kitchens of homeowners and in the dining halls of institutions, regardless of any conceivable linkages that may be made with Marzetti’s restaurant. There are dozens of variations that link Midwestern community cookbooks like a game of connect the dots. The first appearance of printed recipes dates back to 1916.

Goulash, American chop suey, slumgullion, and Simply Recipes’ very own hamburger and macaroni are all dishes that are known to be close relatives of Johnny Marzetti. The majority of these recipes are designed to be cooked in a skillet, but the Johnny Marzetti stands out due to the fact that it is marbled, topped with cheese (often light orange cheddar), and baked. As a result, it is less suitable for putting together on the spur of the moment, but it is extremely well suited for putting together in advance in large numbers. It’s time for the family get-together!

The Secret Behind This Classic Lasagna Recipe

of the best of my knowledge, the secret of Alton’s lasagna lies in the fact that he incorporates a small amount of sugar into the sauce and uses a slightly higher quantity of cheese than the majority of other recipes.

It is required for me to make a few modest adjustments to his original recipe, such as incorporating a little amount of wine vinegar into the sauce and adjusting the quantity of Parmesan cheese.

How to Make Lasagna

For this recipe, we are essentially making a thick, meaty tomato sauce and layering that with noodles and cheese into a casserole. Here’s the run-down:

  1. Start by making the sauce with ground beef, bell peppers, onions, and a combo of tomato sauce, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. The three kinds of tomatoes gives the sauce great depth of flavor.
  2. Let this simmer while you boil the noodles and get the cheeses ready. We’re using ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and parmesan — like the mix of tomatoes, this 3-cheese blend gives the lasagna great flavor!
  3. From there, it’s just an assembly job. A cup of meat sauce, a layer of noodles, more sauce, followed by a layer of cheese. Repeat until you have three layers and have used up all the ingredients.
  4. Bake until bubbly and you’re ready to eat!

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Half the pleasure of making a lasagna is enjoying the leftovers! The lasagna will keep in the fridge for at least 5 days. Reheat individual slices in the microwave, or warm the whole casserole (covered with foil) in the oven at 350°F until bubbly again.

How to Freeze and Reheat Lasagna

  • To freeze an unbaked lasagna: Line the pan with foil before assembling, then assemble the lasagna as directly. Let cool completely, and then freeze until solid. Once frozen, lift the frozen lasagna block from the casserole dish, wrap it in more foil, then freeze for up to a month.
  • To reheat an unbaked frozen lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the freezer and unwrap all the layers of foil. Transfer to the original casserole dish, cover, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, bake as directed.
  • To freeze baked lasagna: Line the pan with foil before assembling, then assemble and bake as directed. Let it cool completely, then freeze until solid. Once frozen, lift the frozen lasagna block from the casserole dish, wrap it in more foil, then freeze for up to a month.
  • To reheat a baked lasagna: Remove the lasagna from the freezer and unwrap all the layers of foil. Transfer to the original casserole dish, cover, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, warm the whole casserole (covered with foil) in the oven at 350°F until bubbly again.
  • To freeze and reheat individual slices: Cut the baked and cooled casserole into slices and wrap each slice individually in foil. Combine them in a freezer storage bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. To reheat, unwrap from the foil, place on a microwave-safe dish, and reheat in the microwave for a few minutes until bubbly.


For the meat sauce

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 large bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce)can good-quality tomato sauce
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half a 6-ounce can)
  • (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (preferably flat leaf), packed
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch garlic powder and/or garlic salt
  • tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup sugar (to taste, optional)
  • Salt

To assemble the lasagna

  • 1/2 pound dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles – unbroken)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Put pasta water on to boil:

    Put a large pot of salted water (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water) on the stovetop on high heat. It can take a while for a large pot of water to come to a boil (this will be your pasta water), so prepare the sauce in the next steps while the water is heating.

  2. Brown the ground beef:

    In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it is lightly browned on all sides.

    Remove the beef with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Drain off all but a tablespoon of fat.

    Browned beef in a skillet to make a lasagne recipe.
  3. Cook the bell pepper, onions, and garlic; add back the beef:

    Add the diced bell pepper and onions to the skillet (in the photo we are using yellow bell pepper and red onions).

    Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the peppers softened. Add the minced garlic and cook half a minute more.

    Return the browned ground beef to the pan. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 5 minutes.

    Sauteed onions and red peppers in a skillet for a lasagne recipe
    Beef, onions, and tomatoes in a skillet to make a lasagna recipe.
  4. Make the sauce:

    Transfer the beef mixture to a medium-sized (3- to 4-quart) pot. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the pot.

    Add the parsley, oregano, and Italian seasonings, adjusting the amounts to taste. Sprinkle with garlic powder and/or garlic salt, to taste.

    Sprinkle with red or white wine vinegar. Stir in sugar, a tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition, to taste. (The amount of sugar needed will vary, depending on how acidic the tomatoes are that you are using.)

    Add salt to taste, and note that you will later be adding Parmesan, which is salty.

    Bring the sauce to a simmer and then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 15 to 45 minutes, stirring often. Scrape the bottom of the pot every so often so nothing sticks to the bottom and scorches.

    Remove from heat.

    Making an easy lasagna recipe and stirring the sauce in a pan.
    Lifting the meat sauce out of the pot for an easy lasagna recipe.
  5. Boil and drain the lasagna noodles:

    By now the salted water you started heating in step one should be boiling. Add the dry lasagna noodles and cook them to al dente, per package directions. (Note noodles may be cooked in advance.)

    Stir often to prevent from sticking. Make sure that water remains at a full rolling boil during the entire cooking to prevent noodles from sticking.

    When ready, drain in a colander and rinse with cool water, gently separating any noodles that may be sticking together.

    Spread a little olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet, and lay out the cooked noodles on this sheet, turning them over so that they get coated with a little of the olive oil. This will prevent them from sticking together.

    Draining noodles in a colander and running water over them for a lasagne recipe.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Assemble the lasagna:

    In a 9×13-inch casserole or lasagna dish, ladle a cup of sauce and spread it over the bottom of the dish. Arrange one layer of lasagna noodles lengthwise (about 3 long noodles, the edges may overlap, depending on your pan) over the sauce. Ladle a third of the remaining sauce over the noodles.

    Sprinkle a layer of a third of the grated mozzarella on top of the lasagna sauce. Add half of the ricotta cheese, by placing cheese dollops every couple of inches. Sprinkle half the grated parmesan cheese evenly over the top of the ricotta cheese.

    Apply the second layer of noodles and top it with half of the remaining sauce. Add half of the remaining mozzarella, the remaining ricotta cheese, and another the remaining Parmesan.

    Finish with another layer of noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the top layer of noodles and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

    Sauce on the bottom of a pan to make the best lasagna recipe.
    Spreading sauce over noodles in a pan to show how to make lasagna.
    Dolloping ricotta over shredded cheese to make the best lasagna recipe.
    Layering sauce over noodles to make the best lasagna recipe.
    Topping meat sauce with shredded cheese and ricotta to make the best lasagna recipe.
    Overhead view of an easy lasagna recipe ready to be baked.
  8. Bake:

    Cover the lasagna pan with aluminum foil, tented slightly so it doesn’t touch the noodles or sauce). Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Uncover in the last 10 minutes if you’d like more of a crusty top or edges.

  9. Cool and serve:

    Allow the lasagna to cool for at least 15 before serving. Leftovers will keep for about 5 days. You can reheat it in a conventional oven or microwave. Leave the aluminum tent on for storage. (Try to keep the aluminum foil from touching the sauce.)

    Overhead view of a pan of lasagna cooling on a rack.


What makes homemade lasagna different from store-bought or restaurant versions?

Homemade lasagna offers the advantage of customization and freshness. When making lasagna at home, you have control over the quality and quantity of ingredients, allowing you to tailor the dish to your taste preferences. Additionally, homemade lasagna often uses fresh ingredients and can be assembled with love and care, resulting in a comforting and satisfying meal.

What are the key components of a delicious homemade lasagna?

A delicious homemade lasagna typically consists of layers of lasagna noodles, rich tomato sauce, a flavorful meat filling (usually made with ground beef, sausage, or a combination of meats), creamy ricotta cheese mixture, and plenty of melted mozzarella cheese. Additional ingredients like sautéed onions, garlic, herbs (such as basil and oregano), and grated Parmesan cheese can also enhance the flavor of the dish.

Can I make homemade lasagna ahead of time?

Yes, homemade lasagna can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer before baking. If refrigerating, cover the assembled lasagna tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it for up to 2 days. If freezing, wrap the lasagna in multiple layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn, and store it for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, allow refrigerated lasagna to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking, or bake frozen lasagna directly from the freezer, adding extra baking time as needed.

How do I prevent my lasagna from becoming too watery?

To prevent your lasagna from becoming too watery, there are a few tips you can follow. First, make sure to drain any excess liquid from your meat sauce before assembling the lasagna. You can also consider using no-boil lasagna noodles, which absorb less liquid during baking. Additionally, avoid overloading your lasagna with watery ingredients like vegetables or overly thin sauces. Finally, allowing the lasagna to rest for 10-15 minutes after baking before slicing and serving will help to set the layers and reduce excess moisture.

What are some variations of homemade lasagna that I can try?

Homemade lasagna is incredibly versatile, and there are numerous variations you can try to suit your taste preferences or dietary restrictions. Some popular variations include vegetable lasagna (made with layers of roasted or sautéed vegetables), spinach and mushroom lasagna, seafood lasagna (made with shrimp or crab), and white lasagna (made with a creamy béchamel sauce instead of tomato sauce). You can also experiment with different types of cheese, such as fontina, provolone, or goat cheese, to create unique flavor profiles.




Leave a Comment