The Best Homemade Lasagna + Variations

Slice of cheesy lasagna with red meat sauce on a white plate with green beans.

This Homemade Lasagna Has So Many Variations…There’s One For Everyone

This homemade lasagna is the BEST! Variations include; vegetarian, gluten-free, crockpot and more.

The sauce is great with or without meat and better than any jarred version. You will totally love it! 

I dedicate this recipe to my Italian foodie friend, Cheryl B. who pushed me to finally post it.

FAQ’s

Can I use fresh mozzarella cheese to make lasagna?

Yes, Use 16 ounces fresh compared to 12 ounces of aged mozzarella cheese. You can also use a blend of each type of cheese or any cheese that melts well.

Can I freeze leftover lasagna?

Yes. Place refrigerated portions of lasagna in zip-lock bags and remove as much air as possible. 

What can I use in place of meat to make this lasagna vegetarian?

Drizzle 1 pound of cauliflower pieces with olive oil and roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes at 425°F/220°C/Gas Mark 7. Either layer cauliflower on top of sauce layer or break up a bit to resemble ground beef and add to sauce before layering. 

How can I make this lasagna in a Crockpot?

Cook 2 more noodles, cut them with scissors to fit the shape of the slow-cooker (you may have some pieces leftover, divide meat sauce, filling and mozzarella cheese into thirds instead of halves to create an extra layer of each since you have less horizontal and more vertical space. Cook on high for 2 hours. 

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes. Make a day ahead, refrigerate and cook the next day. You may want to either let it get to room temp first, or add more cooking time.

Can I divide a whole lasagna into two smaller lasagnas?

Yes, it’s a great way to keep half and give the other half away – you just need to cook two more noodles for layering, then use two 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pans.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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Preheat oven to 375°F/190C/Gas Mark 5.

Start a large pan of water to boil and season heavily with salt. Cover pan to get water to boil quicker.

Meanwhile to make your sauce, cook ground meat and onions in a large deep skillet on medium high heat until meat is brown and onions are tender. Add minced garlic just before all the meat is browned.

Drain fat if there’s a lot. I use a 85/15 blend, so I don’t drain it.

Mostly browned beef in a deep skillet with onions and garlic.

Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it’s not too watery. Stir occasionally.

While sauce is simmering, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions minus one minute (they will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want mushy noodles.

Stir all filling ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined.

Ricotta, egg, parsley and parmesan blend in a clear glass bowl.

Pepé approves the meat sauce before we start the layering process. As if I need his dang approval.

Meat and tomato sauce in a high skillet. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Sauce should be thick enough to separate in a pan. This will make is easy to divide for layering, but if you want it more saucy, add less meat or more tomato sauce.

This meat and tomato sauce divided in a pan.

Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish (approximately 11” x 12” or 10” x 14” , and at least 2.5” – 3” deep) to keep noodles from sticking to the bottom.

A thin layer of the red meat sauce is on the bottom of a white rectangular casserole dish.

Layer dish with half of the noodles, then spread half of the filling on top of the noodles, then top with half of the meat sauce, then half of the mozzarella (fresh or aged), *see note about fresh mozzarella.

A single layer of sauce, lasagna noodles, and cheese filling in a white rectangular casserole dish.
A ayer of the red meat sauce is on the bottom of a white rectangular casserole dish.
Torn chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese are layered on top of the red meat sauce is on the bottom of a white rectangular casserole dish.

Repeat layers and top with remaining parmigiano reggiano Cheese.

Torn chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese are layered on top of the red meat sauce is on the bottom of a white rectangular casserole dish.
Baked cheesy lasagna in a white rectangular casserole dish . There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.
Slice of cheesy lasagna with red meat sauce on a white plate with green beans. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Serving Options to Go Along with your Lasagna

Light & Healthy, Lemon & Garlic Green Beans

Single layer of roasted green beans with sliced lemons on top.

Easy Asparagus

Bright green asparagus in a white rectangular dish.

Beautiful Strawberry Tart with Balsamic Glaze

strawberry tart with basil garnish

Scroll Below Recipe for Other Variations of this Recipe

Slice of cheesy lasagna with red meat sauce on a white plate with green beans. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

The Best Homemade Lasagna + Variations

Stacey Mincoff
This homemade lasagna has been a family favorite for almost 30 years. It can be adapted to be vegetarian, gluten-free, made with fresh or aged mozzarella cheese, in one big casserole dish, two smaller dishes, or even a Crockpot.  
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Resting Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 419 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Sauce:

  • 1.25 Pounds Ground Beef (or bison, or venison) (see notes for vegetarian variation)
  • 1.25 Cups Yellow Onions (chopped)
  • 3 Large Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 6 Ounce Can of Tomato Paste
  • 14.5 Ounce Can Petite Diced Tomatoes (and juice)
  • 15 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano (dried)
  • 1 Teaspoon Marjoram (dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil (dried, or 2 tablespoons fresh)
  • 1 Teaspoon Tarragon (dried)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Crushed Fennel Seeds (or less if finely ground)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Water

Filling:

  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 15 Ounces Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley (dried)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 16 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (or 12 ounces/2 cups aged shredded mozzarella)(or a combination of each)
  • 6 Long Sheets of Lasagna Noodles (dried *see notes for gluten-free options)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F/190C/Gas Mark 5.

Make the Sauce

  • Start a large pan of water to boil and season heavily with salt. Cover pan to get water to boil quicker.
  • Meanwhile to make your sauce, cook ground meat and onions in a large deep skillet on medium high heat until meat is brown and onions are tender. Add minced garlic just before all the meat is browned.
  • Drain fat if there’s a lot. I use a 85/15 blend, so I don’t drain it.
  • Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it’s not too watery. Stir occasionally.
  • While sauce is simmering, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions minus one minute (they will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want mushy noodles.

Make the Filling

  • Stir all filling ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined.

Layer the Ingredients

  • Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish (approximately 11” x 12” or 10” x 14” , and at least 2.5” – 3” deep) to keep noodles from sticking to the bottom.
  • Layer dish with half of the noodles, then spread half of the filling on top of the noodles, then top with half of the meat sauce, then half of the mozzarella (fresh or aged), *see note about fresh mozzarella.
  • Repeat layers and top with remaining parmigiano reggiano Cheese.

Bake

  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown slightly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

*If using fresh mozzarella, it doesn’t need it to be a solid layer, just tear it and place chunks evenly over the sauce. It will melt and spread.
*Gluten-Free option: Use gluten-free pasta or roasted zucchini ribbons in place of pasta.
*Vegetarian option: Drizzle 1 pound of cauliflower pieces with olive oil and roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes at 425°F/220°C/Gas Mark 7. Break up a bit to resemble ground beef and either add to sauce before layering, or just layer on top of the sauce layers. 

Nutrition

Calories: 419kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 27gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 846mgPotassium: 644mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 978IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 392mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Cheesy Lasagna, Crockpot Lasagna, Easy Homemade Lasagna, Gluten-Free Lasagna, Vegetarian Lasagna
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Vegetarian Lasagna

Slice of cheesy vegetarian lasagna with red meat sauce on a white plate garnished with a bright green tip of fresh basil.

Drizzle 1 pound of cauliflower pieces with olive oil and roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes at 425°F/220°C/Gas Mark 7. Break up a bit to resemble ground beef and either add to sauce before layering, or just layer on top of the sauce layers. 

Roasted Garlic on a sheet pan, more layered on sauce in white rectangular casserole dish.

Frozen chopped spinach is another nice addition to layer into your homemade lasagna. No need to measure, just squeeze all the water out first.

Bits of cooked chopped spinach layered on top of the cheese filling layer of lasagna in white rectangular casserole dish.
Roasted cauliflower makes a great substitute in this amazing homemade lasagna recipe by Mincoff Cafe.
In this vegetarian version, I used a combination of both fresh and aged mozzarella.
Beautiful baked vegetarian lasagna in a white rectangular casserole dish.

Crockpot Lasagna

To convert this recipe to a Crockpot version, you will need to boil 2 additional lasagna noodles and layer in thirds instead of halves since you have more vertical space and less horizontal. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Lasagna cooked in a Crockpot. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Two Smaller Dishes – Keep One, Give the Other Away.

Sometimes it’s nice to make two smaller lasagnas so you can give one away to a friend in need, and keep one for yourself. To do this, you just need to cook two more noodles for layering, then use two 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pans. All other instructions are the same.

Two baked lasagnas in square casserole dishes sitting on the stove.

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1 thought on “The Best Homemade Lasagna + Variations”

  • 5 stars
    I am the Cheryl B this was dedicated to, this is an amazing recipe, all the flavors are perfect together, most lasagna I’ve tasted doesn’t have enough flavor , this one does, I’m not a fennel fan but I went a head and used it, it was perfect! I didn’t change a thing. Amazing recipe by an amazing chef!

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