Mexican lasagna isn’t a traditional dish, but it’s one of those recipes that feels like it’s been around forever. Everyone’s version is slightly different. Growing up, my mother made hers with flour tortillas instead of lasagna noodles, and she sometimes used enchilada sauce instead of salsa.
At its core, this dish is about fusing Mexican-inspired flavors with a classic layered lasagna recipe. This Mexican lasagna recipe is the perfect dish when you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for, and it’s a fantastic choice for potlucks. It tends to be a crowd-pleaser!
What is Mexican lasagna?
Mexican lasagna is a riff on, well, lasagna. It’s a little bit like a stacked enchilada, but this recipe uses lasagna noodles instead of corn or flour tortillas. The beefy filling uses Mexican-inspired flavors: taco seasoning, refried beans, chopped green chiles and salsa. And, instead of using Italian cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella cheese, the only cheese you’ll find here is Colby-Monterey Jack.
We make our Mexican lasagna recipe with ground beef, can you can decide which ground beef you prefer to use. The grocery store offers many options, ranging from 70/30 to 95/5. These mixes indicate the ratio of lean meat to fat; the ones with higher fat are the most flavorful.
Mexican Lasagna Ingredients
- Lasagna noodles: Most lasagna recipes call for precooking the lasagna noodles. We love that you can skip that step in this recipe. The noodles cook directly in the baking dish, soaking up the added water until they’re perfectly tender.
- Meat mixture: For this layer, we season ground beef with taco seasoning, then mix it with refried beans, chopped green chiles and salsa.
- Salsa: We mix mild salsa with water and pour it over the assembled lasagna. This provides moisture to cook the noodles as the lasagna bakes. It also infuses bold flavor into every bite.
- Colby-Monterey Jack cheese: Also called Colby-Jack, this marbled orange-and-white cheese is mild, creamy and slightly tangy. For a spicy twist, use pepper jack instead.
- Sour cream: This Mexican lasagna recipe has no ricotta cheese. Instead, we dollop sour cream on top of the casserole for the final five minutes. If you don’t like baked sour cream, feel free to reserve this ingredient as a garnish.
Step 1: Prepare the meat mixture
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and discard the excess grease. Stir in the refried beans, chopped green chiles, taco seasoning and hot salsa.
Step 2: Layer the lasagna
Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Layer one-third of the uncooked noodles into the dish. Using a rubber spatula, drop one-third of the meat mixture in dollops onto the noodles. (The mixture is thick, so it will be challenging to spread it evenly. Don’t worry about making it too perfect; it will spread out as the dish bakes.) Sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat the layers twice.
In a small bowl, stir together the mild salsa and the water. Pour the mixture over top of the lasagna.
Editor’s Tip: The moisture from the watered-down salsa will cook the lasagna noodles as the dish bakes. If you substitute precooked noodles, skip the added water.
Step 3: Bake the lasagna
Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour or until heated through. Remove the foil. Spoon sour cream onto the lasagna. Top it with sliced olives, chopped green onions and, if desired, chopped tomato. Add the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for five minutes. Let the Mexican lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.
Editor’s Tip: After baking, there may be more liquid in the pan than you’re used to with lasagna. That’s OK! The pasta noodles will absorb most of the liquid as the casserole sits. If some liquid is left over, ladle the super-flavorful liquid onto the lasagna slices when serving.
- Change the meat: Swap in lean ground meat like ground turkey, or use precooked meat like leftover shredded chicken, beef or pork.
- Add vegetables: You can add fresh vegetables to the skillet when you cook the ground beef. Chopped peppers, onions or mushrooms would all be great choices. Or mix in precooked veggies like canned corn after the beef finishes.
- Use another bean: Refried beans add a creamy consistency to the meat mixture, but you can use any bean in this Mexican lasagna recipe. Try black beans or pinto beans instead. While the texture may differ, the results will be just as delicious.
- Skip the noodles: You can make Mexican lasagna with flour or corn tortillas instead of pasta. You will not need to add the extra water, though. Check out this taco lasagna recipe for inspiration.
- Adjust the spice: Add jalapenos, hot sauce or chipotle peppers in adobo to make the dish spicier.
Can you make Mexican lasagna in advance?
Yes, you can make Mexican lasagna in advance. Assemble the lasagna according to the directions. Instead of baking it, wrap it in plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you’re ready to eat, remove the dish from the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Then, bake it according to the directions.
How to Store Mexican Lasagna
Leftover Mexican lasagna keeps for up to five days in the refrigerator. You can cut the lasagna into individual slices, and store them in airtight containers. Reheat on a microwave-safe dish in the microwave until warmed through. For whole lasagna, wrap the entire dish with aluminum foil. To reheat, remove the lasagna from the fridge while the oven preheats to 350°. Reheat the lasagna in the oven until it’s warmed through, about 30 minutes.
Can you freeze Mexican lasagna?
Yes, you have options when freezing Mexican lasagna. Freeze it before or after you bake it. You can freeze it whole in the pan or as individual slices. Check out our complete guide on how to freeze lasagna for more details.
Mexican Lasagna Tips
Should you precook the noodles for Mexican lasagna?
You don’t need to precook the lasagna noodles for this recipe. Regular lasagna noodles work just fine here, but you could also use no-boil noodles.