How To Layer and Make Lasagna

updated Jun 30, 2023
How to Make Lasagna
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Credit: Faith Durand

Lasagna is perhaps the quintessential feed-a-crowd casserole. There are many ways to make lasagna, but here is my own method for making it. It’s extra-deep (you will need a deep pan), as well as cheesy, meaty, and really, really chunky with beef and sausage. This is a serious lasagna.

I was so intimidated by lasagna before I first tried it. It looked like a process that would eat up my whole day. While that it is not true, it is definitely more time-consuming than spaghetti — but it’s oh-so-worth-it. Here are the steps in making lasagna in case you have never made one yet.

Quick Overview

Steps to Make Lasagna

  1. Pre-heat oven and lightly grease the baking pan.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until al dente.
  4. Drain and lay the noodles out on clean kitchen towels.
  5. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the crumbled sausage and beef until brown.
  6. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the meat.
  7. Drain most of the fat away from the meat, then place meat back to the skillet and add tomato paste.
  8. Simmer meat with crushed plum tomatoes and tomato sauce for 15 minutes.
  9. Prep the cheese layer; stir together the ricotta, beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, olive oil, and parsley in a large bowl.
  10. Line the bottom of the baking pan with 4 cooked lasagna noodles, overlapping them.
  11. Spread the ricotta mixture first then the meat sauce on top.
  12. Sprinkle grated mozzarella and top with another three noodles.
  13. Repeat layering the ricotta and meat sauce with the cheese.
  14. Finish by topping the lasagna with 4 noodles.
  15. Cover loosely with aluminium foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

This recipe is a hybrid of a full-on, totally from-scratch lasagna recipe and one that uses pre-made components. I do make my own sauce and cook the meat, but I use dried pasta instead of fresh, homemade pasta. You can definitely make lasagna quicker than this, if you use jarred sauce. But if I am going to the trouble of making a lasagna in the first place, I really like to make my own sauce.

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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Ingredients for lasagna.

How to Make Lasagna

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info



  • 1 pound

    dried lasagna noodles

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

Meat Sauce

  • 1 1/4 pound

    uncooked spicy pork or chicken sausage

  • 1 pound

    ground beef

  • 1

    large onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1

    (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, with their juice

  • 1

    (12-ounce) can tomato paste

  • 1

    (28-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 2 teaspoons

    salt, divided

Cheese Layer

  • 15 ounces

    ricotta cheese, drained

  • 2

    large eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup

    grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced

  • 4 cups

    grated mozzarella cheese


  • Extra-deep 13x9-inch baking dish (should be at least 3 inches deep!)

  • Baking spray or olive oil for greasing the pan

  • Large pasta pot

  • Towels for noodles

  • Colander

  • Deep sauté pan OR wide saucepan

  • Medium bowl


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and lightly grease the baking pan with olive oil.

  2. Place a large pot of water over high heat. Drizzle in a glug of olive oil and salt the water generously.

  3. Bring to a boil, add the lasagna noodles, and bring back to a boil. Cook until the lasagna is al dente.

  4. Drain and lay the noodles out on clean kitchen towels.

  5. Place a large skillet over medium high heat.

  6. Cut open the sausage casings (I like to use kitchen shears for this) and crumble the sausage. Crumble in the ground beef, and add all the meat to the skillet.

  7. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beef is very well browned.

  8. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and the garlic.

  9. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the skillet and turn down the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 10 minutes.

  10. Take off the heat and drain most of the fat away from the meat.

  11. Place back on the heat, and add the tomato paste. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring it into the meat.

  12. Crush the plum tomatoes in the can, and then add them with their juices, as well as the tomato sauce, into the meat. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, while you prepare the cheese layer. When you take the sauce off the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

  13. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, beaten eggs, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, olive oil, and minced parsley in a large bowl.

  14. Count your noodles. You will need four layers of noodles total. It is best to start and finish with wider layers, so if you have less than 16 noodles, put your extra noodles in the bottom or top layers. (For the purposes of this recipe, I'll assume you have 15 noodles.) Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 4 cooked lasagna noodles, overlapping them.

  15. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture on top.

  16. Spread about one-third of the meat sauce on top of that.

  17. Sprinkle with about 1 cup of grated mozzarella and top with another 3 noodles. Repeat layering the ricotta and meat sauce with the cheese. Repeat again with 3 noodles and another layer of ricotta, meat, and cheese.

  18. Finish by topping the lasagna with 4 noodles — one crosswise and four lengthwise. Sprinkle any remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the noodles, as well as the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan. (At this point the lasagna may be covered and refrigerated for up to 48 hours. It may also be securely wrapped and frozen for up to a month.)

  19. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

  20. Bake for 30 minutes.

  21. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. for Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: This lasagna can be made up to a day ahead, then covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen, before baking. If you freeze it, let the lasagna thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking it, then bake as directed above. If you don't have time to let it thaw, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and bake for an additional half an hour, or until the center is steaming hot.

This recipe is adapted from my own recipe from my book, Not Your Mother's Casserole Cookbook, which will be published by Harvard Common Press in January 2011.