Easy Meat Lasagna

Easy Meat Lasagna

Easy homemade lasagna with three layers of lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and lots of creamy ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.  You’ll love this traditional Italian lasagna!  Easy make-ahead and freezer-friendly, too.  

 

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Welcome to My Kitchen Serenity! Raise your hand if you are a pasta lover! Nothing is more comforting than a plate of homemade lasagna right out of the oven.  Oh those layers of pasta, hearty meat sauce, creamy ricotta, and melty mozzarella cheese!

 

lasagna on blue plate casserole in background

 

Do you love lasagna but the thought of making it yourself turned you off?  Don’t fret over making your own lasagna anymore. This recipe really is easy and delicious. If it weren’t easy, I would not be making it!

 

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hands holding dish of Italian lasagna with meat and sausage

 

We start by making the easy lasagna sauce.  After cooking the ground beef and sausage, we add a jar of marinara sauce (I love Rao’s marinara sauce, but use your favorite).  We bump up the flavor of the meat sauce by adding additional spices and seasonings.

 

While the sauce is simmering, we make the creamy ricotta filling.  The ricotta filling consists of 4 simple ingredients:  ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Italian seasoning.  No need to add an egg!

 

This recipe uses the lasagna noodles that you boil first, however, you can use the no-boil lasagna noodles or you can use the refrigerated lasagna noodles.  Whatever type of lasagna noodles you choose to use, the rest of the recipe stays the same.

 

Now that you have the lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and ricotta cheese mixture ready to go, all you need to do next is create three delicious layers in a casserole dish and bake it in the oven.  This is the best lasagna recipe because it’s easy and out of this world delicious!

 

Ricotta Cheese vs Cottage Cheese for Lasagna.  There is always a debate about using ricotta or cottage cheese in lasagna.  The fact of the matter is, people will use whatever cheese they’re accustomed to or prefer.  For me, ricotta cheese is the traditional, authentic Italian choice.  Plus, I’m not a fan of cottage cheese, therefore, I choose ricotta!

 

 

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about this super easy lasagna recipe!  Here’s a glance at the ingredients:

 

Ingredients

(please scroll down to the recipe card for details)

 

Ground Beef – 90/10 is what I use but 80/20 is fine, too

Sweet Italian Sausage – ground or remove from the casings if in links

Minced Garlic – the minced garlic in a jar is very handy

Jar of Marinara Sauce – I like Rao’s since it’s no sugar added

Tomato Sauce – canned

Italian Seasoning – dried

Parsley – dried

Black Pepper

Salt (Optional!) – the cheeses and tomato sauce have salt so be mindful – always taste test before adding salt

Ricotta Cheese – use whole milk ricotta cheese

Mozzarella Cheese – shredded

Parmesan Cheese – shredded

Lasagna noodles – dry, no-boil, or refrigerated

 

 

Do you love pasta casserole recipes?  If so, be sure to check out my Easy Rotel Chicken Spaghetti recipe. It’s a quick and easy dinner recipe that uses rotisserie chicken, rotel tomatoes, and velveeta cheese. 

 

If Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is on your meal planner, try my Chicken Broccoli Alfredo recipe. It’s made with chicken breasts, broccoli florets, penne pasta, and an easy homemade alfredo sauce.

 

My easy Beef Noodle Casserole is a classic comfort dinner meal, too.  Cooked egg noodles tossed with sour cream and cream cheese; layered with flavorful meaty tomato sauce; and melty mozzarella cheese.

 

Step by Step Directions

STEP 1: Add the ground beef and sausage to a heavy 5-quart pan (y’all know I used my Calphalon pot that I love and have had for many years!).  Break up the meat and sausage with a spatula and cook until done, about 6-8 minutes.  Drain off the fat.     

 

STEP 2: Add the jar of marinara sauce and tomato sauce. Add the minced garlic, 2-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, black pepper, and parsley.  Stir well to combine all the ingredients.  Let the sauce slow simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, taste the sauce for flavor.  Add salt if desired, but remember that the cheeses contain salt so I would be careful about adding a lot of salt at this time.

 

marinara beef sauce in black pot

 

STEP 3: Cook the pasta according to the package directions.   You can skip this step if using no-boil pasta or the refrigerated lasagna.

 

STEP 4: In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Divide the mixture into 3 equal parts; it doesn’t have to be perfect but try to have 3 similar size portions.

 

ricotta cheese mixture in bowl

 

STEP 5: Preheat oven to 350F. In a 9×13 casserole dish, spread a very thin layer of meat sauce to the bottom of the dish.  Assemble lasagna as follows:

Layer 1: Place 3 lasagna noodles in the casserole dish. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese mixture on top of noodles.  Then add a layer of meat mixture (about 1 cup). 

layer of lasagna noodles in casserole dish

 

ricotta cheese layer on top of lasagna noodles

 

meat sauce layer on top of ricotta cheese and noodle layer

Layer 2: Repeat with another layer of three noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 cup of meat sauce.

Layer 3: Layer the remaining three lasagna noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese mixture, remaining meat sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

cheese layer on top of meat sauce layer on top of ricotta cheese and noodle layer

 

STEP 6: Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna with the sprayed side down (this prevents the cheese from sticking to the foil).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and browned.  Let lasagna rest for about 10 minutes.  Cut into 12 squares!

Italian lasagna with ricotta cheese in casserole dish

 

NOTE:  If you want to make this a 4-layer lasagna, and feel you have enough sauce and cheeses, then go for it!  I only made 3 layers because I felt my casserole dish might be too full.  Of course, the nutritional information that I provided is for 3 layers only.

 

Directions for Make-Ahead Lasagna

Lasagna is a great make ahead meal.  Prepare the lasagna and keep it refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Bake as directed.

 

How to Freeze

Lasagna freezes very well. There are two different methods: 

Baked then Freeze:  Make and bake the lasagna as directed, let it cool completely, then freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

 

Prep then Freeze:  Prepare the lasagna but don’t bake it.  When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.

 

Storage

Lasagna will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.  Store it in airtight containers.  I like to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids.  Check out this 20-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids.  These containers are great for meal prep, too!

 

Substitutions

If you want to make a meatless lasagna, use lots of vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes in place of the meat. 

 

 

easy meat lasagna on white plate

Easy Meat Lasagna

Easy homemade lasagna with three layers of lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and lots of creamy ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.  You'll love this traditional Italian lasagna!  Easy make-ahead and freezer-friendly, too.  
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 325kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 24 ounces jarred marinara sauce (Rao's is excellent)
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning (DIVIDED)
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste (go easy on the salt since the cheeses contain plenty of salt. Always test sauce before adding salt)
  • 15 ounces whole fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (DIVIDED)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (DIVIDED)
  • 9 lasagna noodles

Instructions

  • Add the ground beef and sausage to a heavy 5-quart pan. Break up the meat and sausage with a spatula and cook until done, about 6-8 minutes.  Drain off the fat.
  • Add the jar of marinara sauce and tomato sauce. Add the minced garlic, 2-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, black pepper, and parsley.  Stir well to combine all the ingredients.  Let the sauce slow simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, taste the sauce for flavor.  Add salt if desired, but remember that the cheeses contain salt so I would be careful about adding a lot of salt at this time.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions.   You can skip this step if using no-boil pasta or the refrigerated lasagna.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Divide the mixture into 3 equal parts; it doesn't have to be perfect but try to have 3 similar size portions.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. In a 9x13 casserole dish, spread a very thin layer of meat sauce to the bottom of the dish.
    Layer 1: Place 3 lasagna noodles in the casserole dish. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese mixture on top of noodles.  Then add a layer of meat mixture (about 1 cup).
    Layer 2: Repeat with another layer of three noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 cup of meat sauce.
    Layer 3: Layer the remaining three lasagna noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese mixture, remaining meat sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
  • Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna with the sprayed side down (this prevents the cheese from sticking to the foil).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and browned.  Let lasagna rest for about 10 minutes.  Cut into 12 squares!

Notes

(A) Store leftover lasagna in airtight containers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.  (B) Make-ahead up to 2 days in advance.  Keep covered in the refrigerator.  Bake as directed.
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Nutrition

Serving: 7oz | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13.5g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 638mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g

If you try this recipe, let me know!  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 



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