What’s the secret to an easy lasagna recipe? A hearty homemade ragu sauce that’s prepped in advance and waiting in the freezer. Once you have that ready to go, you can create a cheesy, creamy, meaty lasagna that’s ready to eat in under an hour.
Our easy lasagna uses common ingredients that are convenient to find at any grocery store. You don’t even need any fresh herbs! It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for holidays and potlucks.
How to Make Easy Lasagna
We make this lasagna “easy” by performing one important step in advance. The most comforting lasagna recipes contain a hearty ragu—an Italian meat sauce typically served over pasta. But a true ragu takes time. It simmers for hours, until the meat becomes tender and the sauce develops complex flavors. Who has that kind of time on a weeknight? Not us.
Instead, make the sauce in advance. My dad called it his “Sunday sauce” because he could let it bubble away on the back burner while he read the Sunday paper. When it’s finished cooking, let it cool, and store it in 4-cup portions in the freezer. When you’re ready to make this easy lasagna recipe, simply transfer the sauce to the fridge and let it thaw overnight. Then, layer the lasagna as usual by alternating stacks of cooked lasagna noodles, meat sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella.
Easy Lasagna Ingredients
- Lasagna noodles: This dish starts with lasagna noodles, cooked according to the package directions. Lasagna can turn out watery if the noodles aren’t drained well. Once cooked and drained, place the noodles in a single layer on a lightly oiled tray so excess moisture can evaporate.
- Three-meat sauce: A homemade three-meat sauce really makes this lasagna stand out. The beef chuck roast, pork shoulder and Italian sausage become super tender, and the acidic tomatoes mellow to the perfect level. If you don’t have time to make sauce from scratch, go semi-homemade: Combine one 26-1/2 ounce can of spaghetti sauce with 1 pound of browned ground meat. Ground beef, pork, turkey or sausage all work. (Use these tips to make store-bought pasta sauce taste homemade.)
- Cottage cheese mixture: The cheesy filling combines cottage cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, egg and herbs. The egg acts as a binder, firming up this layer so the lasagna won’t be runny.
- Mozzarella cheese: The best mozzarella cheese for lasagna is part-skim mozzarella. It keeps the moisture at a minimum while adding a fantastic, melty texture. You can buy pre-shredded mozzarella, but we like to grate our own cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts more smoothly, and we think it tastes better.
Step 1: Make the cottage cheese mixture
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano and basil.
Step 2: Layer the lasagna
Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Put three cooked and drained lasagna noodles in the dish, side by side. Spread a third of the three-meat sauce on top of the noodles. Follow with a third of the cottage cheese mixture and grated mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers twice.
Step 3: Bake the lasagna
Cover the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.
Editor’s Tip: Baking the lasagna uncovered is one of the keys to ensuring the lasagna doesn’t turn out watery. This final stage allows the excess water to evaporate. Then, the resting period helps the layers firm up so the sauce doesn’t run out onto the plate.
- Use no-cook noodles: No-cook lasagna noodles are convenient because they don’t need to be boiled first. Instead, they absorb moisture from the sauce and soften as the lasagna bakes.
- Make it low-carb: Use thinly-sliced vegetables in place of the flat noodles, as we do in this zucchini lasagna. Sliced deli meats also work for layering when making keto lasagna.
- Vegetarian or vegan lasagna: For a meatless option, use the sauce from our vegetable lasagna recipe. To make it a vegan lasagna, skip the cheese and use a plant-based ricotta made from tofu.
- Use different cheeses: You can use ricotta instead of cottage cheese, or replace some mozzarella with other melting cheeses such as provolone or fontina.
How to Store Easy Lasagna
This easy lasagna recipe lasts up to five days in the refrigerator. Store individual slices in an airtight container, and reheat them in the microwave. To store the lasagna whole, cover the dish with aluminum foil and keep it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge while the oven is preheating to 350°. Reheat the lasagna until it’s warmed through, about 30 minutes.
How to Freeze Easy Lasagna
Frozen lasagna is good for up to three months. Let the lasagna cool completely after baking. For individual slices, wrap each in foil and store them in a freezer storage bag.
To freeze the lasagna whole, wrap the cooled baking dish with a layer of plastic wrap, and then cover the top with foil. When you’re ready to reheat the lasagna, first let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Get all the details with our complete guide to how to freeze lasagna.
Can you make lasagna ahead of time?
Yes, you can make this lasagna ahead of time. Simply assemble the lasagna and wrap the dish in plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you’re ready to eat, take the dish out of the fridge while the oven preheats. Then, bake it according to the directions above.
Easy Lasagna Tips
Is lasagna better with ricotta or cottage cheese?
Lasagna tastes great whether you make it with ricotta or cottage cheese. Ricotta cheese is rich and creamy, whereas cottage cheese has texture because of the curds. Cottage cheese is a great low-fat, high-protein option for this easy lasagna recipe, but feel free to substitute based on your personal preference.
How many layers go in lasagna?
Most lasagna recipes feature three or four layers. In this easy lasagna recipe, we use three layers. You can customize the layers to fit your baking dish, but be careful not to overfill it. The saucy lasagna can overflow the dish once it gets hot and bubbly.
What is the correct layering for lasagna?
Layer lasagna ingredients by alternating noodles, sauce and cheese in a casserole dish. Then, repeat! Many recipes start with sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep the noodles from sticking. We start by greasing the casserole dish instead. Of course, you don’t have to create layers to make a great lasagna, and some recipes skip the layering (such as Giada de Laurentiis’s crispy sheet pan lasagna recipe).