Kitchn Love Letters

I Fill My Freezer with These Lasagna Rolls Every Fall, and You Should Too

updated Oct 15, 2021
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Credit: Patty Catalano

When my weekly menu starts with chicken, I’m always looking for ways to use up leftovers come Friday — which is exactly how I discovered these chicken pesto lasagna roll-ups from blogger Chungah Rhee of Damn Delicious. Each tender lasagna noodle is wrapped around a savory pesto filling, then nestled in both bubbling marinara and bechamel sauces and covered in a blanket of gooey cheese.

Not only are they as delicious as they sound, but they’re also the perfect way to reinvent leftovers. Plus, just like layered lasagna, they’re the ultimate make-ahead meal. I always keep a batch in my freezer — and you should, too.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How to Make (and Freeze!) Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles. Then, make a béchamel sauce: Melt butter, stir in flour, then whisk in milk. Once it bubbles and thickens, season with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a baking pan (or, if splitting into two pans, pour 1/4 cup into each).

Combine ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, shredded cooked chicken (or turkey), pesto, kosher salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Arrange the lasagna noodles on a cutting board and place 1/3 cup of the filling on one end of each noodle. Roll the noodle around the filling and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Pour the remaining bechamel and marinara sauces over the rolls and top with shredded cheese. Bake until the roll-ups are heated through, the sauce bubbles, and the cheese melts. Serve on a pool of warm marinara.

If You’re Making Damn Delicious’s Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll-Ups, a Few Tips

  1. Use chicken or turkey. Use any leftover or cooked chicken and turkey for the filling. It’s one of my favorite ways to use up rotisserie chicken, half of a cooked chicken breast, or Thanksgiving turkey. Technically you need about 2 cups of cooked, shredded meat, but I’ve used as little as 1 1/2 cups and as much as 3 cups with great success.
  2. Cook a few extra sheets of lasagna. I always end up with slightly more filling that I can use for 12 sheets of lasagna, so I finally started to add a few extra noodles to the pot. That way, they’re ready if I need them.
  3. Bake now and freeze for later. This recipe makes at least 12 well-stuffed lasagna roll-ups — enough for two dinners for my family of four. Instead of baking all 12 at once, arrange 6 roll-ups in an 8×8-inch disposable baking pan and another in a similar-sized ceramic or glass baking dish. Add the sauces and cheese to both, cover the disposable pan with aluminum foil, and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as directed.
  4. Double the recipe. While you’re at it, why not double the recipe and add a few more dinners to your emergency stockpile? Batch prep the bechamel, pesto filling, and assemble — and reap the benefits later.
Credit: Patty Catalano

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.