This comforting white lasagna brims with herbs and offers a cozy twist on the classic lasagna. It feels decadent and special, well-suited for holiday occasions.
The sauce requires a few more steps than using a store-bought red sauce, but it’s still doable for weeknight dinners. To make this lasagna ahead, simply assemble the dish, then store the casserole in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Then, all you have to do is pop it into the oven.
What is the white sauce in lasagna made of?
Many white lasagna recipes use bechamel sauce, one of the five mother sauces that make up the building blocks of French cuisine. This rich and creamy sauce traditionally combines roux (butter and flour) with milk. We use a simplified version for our white lasagna recipe. Half-and-half mixed with cream cheese creates a sauce that’s just as rich without the extra work. Plus, skipping the flour means the recipe can easily become a gluten-free lasagna—just sub in your favorite gluten-free lasagna noodles.
Ingredients for White Lasagna
- Lasagna noodles: This recipe calls to boil the lasagna noodles before layering, but you could swap in no-boil or oven-ready noodles. You won’t need the whole box, though, so it’s a good thing there are plenty of things to do with lasagna noodles.
- Bulk Italian sausage: Sausage brings a richness to this white lasagna that makes it oh-so comforting. Stick with sweet Italian sausage to keep the spice level low, or opt for spicy Italian sausage to create a kick of heat.
- Half-and-half and cream cheese: These creamy ingredients combine with white wine and herbs to create a comfy-cozy sauce.
- Cheese: This recipes uses several cheeses—white cheddar, cottage cheese, mozzarella and Gouda—to create a complex flavor profile with minimal effort. We use cottage cheese because the sauce is plenty rich, but you could substitute with ricotta if you prefer.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh basil and oregano cut through the sauce’s richness and add a pop of brightness.
Step 1: Brown the meat
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Italian sausage, chopped celery, onion and garlic; cook, breaking the sausage into crumbles as it cooks, until sausage is no longer pink, six to eight minutes. Drain and discard the grease.
Step 2: Make the white sauce
Add the wine to the skillet; using a spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil; cook for three to four minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the half-and-half, cream cheese, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the cream cheese is melted.
Step 3: Make the cheddar mixture
In a small bowl, combine the egg, shredded white cheddar and cottage cheese.
Step 4: Layer the lasagna
Layer three noodles in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Add half of the white sauce, half of the cheddar mixture, and half of the fresh mozzarella slices. Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles, and sprinkle with the shredded Gouda cheese.
Editor’s Tip: We prefer fresh mozzarella here because it’s creamier and more delicate than shredded mozzarella, but you can use the latter if that’s what you have on hand.
Step 5: Bake the lasagna
Bake, covered, until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese is melted, 50 to 60 minutes. Uncover the lasagna, and continue baking until light golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let stand 15 minutes. For visual appeal, sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and additional basil and oregano.
White Lasagna Variations
- Use other meats: We love the seasoning that comes packed into bulk Italian sausage, but other ground meats like chicken or beef would also work well in this recipe. If you have leftover shredded chicken on hand, use it to turn this recipe into chicken Alfredo lasagna.
- Add vegetables: Try adding vegetables to the meat in this white lasagna, or turn into a purely vegetable lasagna. Quick-cooking vegetables like spinach, fresh peas or finely chopped broccoli can be easily added directly to the white sauce. Moisture-heavy vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms or eggplant should be cooked first so they don’t make the lasagna watery.
- Have fun with seasonings: Fresh tender herbs like parsley, chives and dill make fantastic stir-in additions to the white sauce. Fennel seed would pair exceptionally well with the sausage, and a pinch of nutmeg would bring out the white sauce’s warm undertones.
- Incorporate flavorful additions: Extra flavor can come from ingredients beyond spices and herbs! Kalamata olives, pickled peppers or marinated artichoke hearts are a great way to give lasagna a Mediterranean spin. You can also look to other flavor enhancers like hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
- Add a crispy topping: Sprinkle breadcrumbs or crushed crackers on top of the lasagna just before baking to create a crunchy texture in every bite. A little crunch is just as good on creamy lasagna as it is on baked mac and cheese.
How to Store White Lasagna
To store white lasagna, pack individual slices in an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator up to five days. Reheat slices in the microwave. If you’re making the lasagna ahead of time, cover the assembled casserole with aluminum foil, and store in the refrigerator up to five days. Preheat to oven to 375°; remove the dish from the fridge to take the chill off while the oven preheats. Bake the lasagna according to the main recipe above.
We don’t recommend freezing uncooked white lasagna, as the sauce can become watery once it thaws. However, once the lasagna is baked, it will freeze well. After baking, let the lasagna cool completely. Wrap the whole casserole if you plan to reheat it whole, or store individual slices in foil. Frozen lasagna lasts about three months, and it’s best to let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
White Lasagna Tips
What vegetables or meat can I add to white lasagna?
Almost any vegetable or meat works well in white lasagna. Use a combination of beef and sausage for a rich-and-hearty version, or use vegetables such as spinach or zucchini for a lighter meal.
What to serve with white lasagna?
White lasagna tends to be very rich, so we like serving it with any of our side salad recipes. A side of crusty bread or our best-ever breadsticks is always a good idea for sopping up the extra sauce!
Does traditional lasagna use bechamel or ricotta?
Most lasagna recipes contain bechamel or ricotta to add a creamy element. Bechamel is traditional in many regions of Italy, while ricotta or cottage cheese is more prevalent in America.