Check out this recipe for easy homemade meat 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! Oh, and it's make-ahead and freezer-friendly, too. You're welcome!
Quick Notes: This recipe was originally published in February 2020. I updated this post in September 2020 to include new and improved photos. In addition, this post contains affiliate links to my personal favorite items. Please read my disclosure statement for details. Thank you.
Raise your hand if you are a pasta lover... Nothing is more comforting than a plate of homemade lasagna right out of the oven. Those layers of pasta, hearty meat sauce, creamy ricotta, and melty mozzarella cheese are enough to warm the coldest of hearts.
If you love lasagna but the thought of making it yourself turned you off, this recipe is for you. This recipe for meat lasagna truly is easy and delicious. Trust me. If it wasn't easy, I would not be making it! Give yourself just 20 minutes of prep time and enjoy a fresh lasagna for dinner tonight.
Why This Lasagna Recipe Works
We start by making the easy lasagna sauce. After cooking the ground beef and sausage, we add a jar of store bought marinara sauce (I love Rao's marinara sauce, but use your favorite). The addition of meat, spices, and seasonings takes jarred pasta sauce to the next level without much fuss.
The cheese filling consists of just 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 oven-ready lasagna noodles or refrigerated lasagna noodles. Whatever type of noodles you choose to use, the rest of the recipe stays the same.
Now that you have the lasagna noodles, meat sauce, and 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!
Ingredients for My Easy Meat Lasagna
Now, let's get down to business and talk about this super easy lasagna recipe! Here's a glance at the ingredients:
This homemade lasagna with meat sauce requires simple, easy to find ingredients that you should be able to purchase at any grocery store.
First up, let's talk meat. I am completely omnivorous, so I use a mix of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage.
For the ground beef, I prefer a leaner mix of 90/10, but 85/15 or 80/20 will also work. You may need to skim off a bit of excess fat if you choose to use a higher fat mix.
For the Italian sausage, you can either purchase it as a ground meat mix, or purchase links that you remove the casings from.
My Best Tips:
- Don't eat pork products? Don't fret! Simply substitute a ground sausage made from beef, turkey, or chicken instead.
- Perhaps my biggest "cheat" for this recipe is using a store bought jar of marinara sauce. I like Rao's because there is no sugar added (and it's also the Barefoot Contessa's favorite), but you can use any jar that your family likes.
- To bump up the flavor quotient of store bought sauce, I add a mixture of meats, minced garlic, dried Italian seasoning, and parsley, plus some extra tomato sauce to stretch it for a whole lasagna. Nobody will be able to tell it isn't 100% homemade!
- My cheese mixture uses three kinds of cheese - creamy ricotta, melty mozzarella, and pungent parmesan. Oh, and you don't need to use an egg to bind it! I told you, this lasagna recipe is extra easy.
- Finally, you're going to need lasagna noodles. I personally like to buy dried noodles that you boil first before assembly, but oven-ready and refrigerated noodles are also perfectly acceptable.
Make the Meat Sauce
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 excess fat.
STEP 2: Add the jar of marinara sauce and tomato sauce. Now add the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and parsley. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
Let the sauce slow simmer while covered for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, taste the sauce for flavor. Add salt if desired.
TIP: Remember that the cheese mix contains salt, so be conservative with your extra seasoning.
Cook the Pasta
STEP 3: Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain thoroughly. You can skip this step if using no-boil/oven-ready pasta or refrigerated lasagna noodles.
Make the Cheese Filling
STEP 4: In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Divide the mixture into 3 roughly equal parts.
Assemble the Lasagna
Preheat oven to 350F. In a 9x13 casserole dish, spread a very thin layer of meat sauce on 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 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 ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
STEP 5: 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.
STEP 6: Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and browned.
STEP 7: Arguably the most difficult step of them all is this last one. Let lasagna rest for about 10 minutes. DO NOT RUSH THIS STEP! The sauce and cheese layers have a tendency to run out of the pasta layers if you don't give it resting time prior to cutting. Finally, cut the finished lasagna into 12 squares and enjoy! Serve with a green salad such as my Crunchy Broccoli Ramen Salad!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this into a 4-layer Lasagna?
Sure! 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.
Can I make this easy meat lasagna ahead of time?
Lasagna is a great make ahead meal. Prepare the lasagna and keep it refrigerated for up to 2 days, then bake as directed.
Alternatively, you can freeze your lasagna for the future. If you're already making one for dinner tonight, get a jump on meal prep and assemble a second for the freezer!
How to freeze lasagna
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.
How long will baked meat lasagna last?
Store any leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon.
You can also freeze individual portions of baked lasagna for easy lunches on the go.
Can I make this into an easy vegetable lasagna instead?
Of course! If you want to make a meatless lasagna, I like to use lots of vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, and onions in place of the meat. Just be sure to sauté them prior to adding them to the sauce to prevent too much water from leaching into it.
Alternatively, there are some great plant-based meat options out there nowadays, so feel free to use those in place of the meat.
Should I use Ricotta Cheese or Cottage Cheese for this lasagna recipe?
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!
However, if you do decide to use cottage cheese, I recommend adding an egg to the cheese mixture to help bind it for baking.
Need more recipe inspiration? Check out these other baked pasta dishes:
- Easy Rotel Chicken Spaghetti - a quick and easy dinner recipe that uses rotisserie chicken, rotel tomatoes, and velveeta cheese.
- Chicken Broccoli Alfredo - made with chicken breasts, broccoli florets, penne pasta, and an easy homemade alfredo sauce.
- Beef Noodle Casserole is a classic comfort dinner meal, too. Cooked egg noodles are tossed with sour cream and cream cheese, then layered with flavorful meaty tomato sauce and melty mozzarella cheese.
If you tried this Easy Meat Lasagna recipe, please rate and review it below so I know how it turned out. If you'd like more recipe inspiration delivered straight to your inbox, you can sign up for my email newsletter at the very bottom of this page. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook for more delicious recipe ideas!
Easy Meat Lasagna
- heavy 5-qt sauce pan
- Pasta strainer
- measuring cup(s)
- measuring spoons
- small bowl
- 9" x 13" casserole dish
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 24 ounces jarred marinara sauce (Rao's is excellent)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (DIVIDED)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- ¼ 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)
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese (DIVIDED)
- 9 lasagna noodles
- 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, 2-½ 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.
- While the sauce is cooking, 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, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and ½ 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 ¼ 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!
- Store leftover lasagna in airtight containers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Make-ahead up to 2 days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator. Bake as directed.
- Freeze lasagna for up to 3 months, baked or unbaked.
- Serve with a simple green salad and garlic bread for a complete meal.
- Easily make this lasagna vegetarian by substituting sautéed veggies or plant-based meats for the meat sauce.
Nutritional information provided is based on the brands that I used; the data may differ according to the brands you use.