Homemade Beef Lasagna

This easy lasagna recipe is made with a beefy pasta sauce cooked low and slow on the stove, tender noodles, and lots of melty cheese. Classic!

I know this is a big statement, but I daresay this is one of the BEST lasagna recipes. Whenever a friend has a baby or we are doing a meal train for someone, this is the meal that I prepare for them. And every time, I get text messages afterward with comments like: This is the best lasagna I’ve had in my life. Of course, this pasta dish is also fabulous on a Sunday afternoon for a family dinner.

Made with tender lasagna noodles, melty cheese, and meaty pasta sauce that’s simmered on the stove for hours, this cozy pasta is a winner!

What Makes This Lasagna So Good?

Honestly, I think the key ingredient in this recipe is time. The pasta sauce simmers on the stove for 2 hours and develops an incredibly deep flavor in the process. This is the kind of recipe you start cooking early on a Sunday and let fill your home with the tempting aromas of home-cooked goodness.

The meaty pasta sauce is seasoned with basil and oregano, then layered with cooked lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan. There is nothing unusual or fancy about this recipe. It is just down-home classic cooking and that is why it tastes so amazing.

Homemade beef lasagna in a baking dish

Variation Ideas

This recipe is pretty perfect as is, but there are a few substitutions you can easily make:

Meat. In place of the ground beef, you could use ground venison, ground elk, or ground turkey. In fact, I have made this recipe with venison meat and it is super tasty! I wouldn’t recommend leaving the meat out entirely, but you could replace it with your favorite pasta sauce. I will be sharing a recipe for my homemade marinara sauce in upcoming weeks for a vegetarian option.

Add veggies. You can also add cooked veggies to this recipe. Add them right after each noodle layer. Some tasty ideas might be garlic sautéed spinach, cooked portobello mushrooms, or slices of zucchini and summer squash sautéed in a bit of olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper.

Why Do You Add Egg to the Ricotta Cheese?

One of the questions people usually ask me when I share this recipe with them is: Why do I add egg along with the ricotta?

The reason, aside from my liking any excuse to use eggs, is that the egg acts as a binder when mixed with the ricotta. This helps the cheese adhere to the noodles and makes it easier for you to get that clean, beautiful slice of lasagna when you’re ready to serve. If you feel strongly about it, you could certainly leave the egg out. But your lasagna will be runnier.

Lasagna in a baking dish with a slice taken out

In What Order Do I Assemble the Layers?

Wondering what order lasagna is put together in? Here’s a quick guide:

  • Sauce. Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the bottom of your baking dish.
  • Noodles. Top with 5 lasagna noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Ricotta. Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles
  • Shredded cheese. Top with 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan
  • Sauce. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the cheese
  • Noodles. Top with 5 lasagna noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Ricotta. Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over the noodles
  • Shredded cheese. Top with 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan
  • Sauce. Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the cheese
  • Noodles. Top with remaining 5 noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce on top of the noodles (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Shredded cheese. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan
How long do you bake lasagna?

I recommend baking your lasagna in two phases: covered and uncovered. This lasagna bakes at 375F covered for 25 minutes, then uncovered for another 25 minutes.

How can I tell the lasagna is done baking?

When your lasagna has finished baking the sauce will be bubbly and the cheese will be melted.

Tips for the Best Lasagna

Make extra noodles? This partially depends upon your personality/cooking habits. You need 15 lasagna noodles to make this recipe, but if you’re anything like me you should make a few extra noodles. One of my favorite things to do is take an extra noodle and use it to wipe up the extra sauce from inside the pot after the lasagna has been assembled. Then I roll that noodle up and take a big bite! Super satisfying.

Don’t rush. As I mentioned earlier, part of what makes this lasagna so spectacular is the time and love that goes into making it. The sauce needs to simmer for at least two hours In order to get that full-bodied, soul-warming flavor.

Let it cool. This is the hardest part of this recipe. It is going to be super tempting to dig into this dish right after it comes out of the oven. But you need to give your lasagna at least 15 minutes to cool. During this time the noodles will absorb additional moisture and the cheese will solidify a touch, which will make it easier for you to get a clean slice.

Homemade lasagna with a John Daly drink
Homemade beef lasagna with a John Daly drink

What to Serve With Lasagna

There are so many things that go with lasagna. A slice of crusty bread and a simple salad are always a good choice! Some other ideas include:

In terms of drinks, I recommend a tall glass of Arnold Palmer or John Daly. A cold glass of mango lemonade is also delightful.

A slice of lasagna with a bite taken out

How to Store

Let your lasagna cool to room temperature then cover tightly with saran wrap and store in the fridge for up to five days. You can also cut the lasagna into individual slices and transfer them to an airtight container.

How to Reheat Lasagna

When you’re ready to eat some of the lasagna, simply place a slice on a plate and zap it in the microwave until heated through, about two minutes. For large slices, I usually cut the slice in half to make sure the insides warm through

How to Freeze

Yes! In fact, freezing this lasagna is what makes it such a good meal train recipe. I recommend freezing the lasagna right after it has been assembled and before it has been baked.

  • To freeze for yourself: Let the just assembled pasta cool, then cover the top with a couple of layers of aluminum foil. Cover those layers with saran wrap and make sure you get a good seal. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking as directed in the recipe card, adding about 10-15 minutes of baking to account for the lasagna being cold when it is baked.
  • Freezing for a meal train/gift: I like to use foil pans with lids to prepare this lasagna for gift giving. Simply assemble the lasagna in the foil pan, let it cool, then cover it with the provided lid and seal well. I then write the following instructions on the lid:
    • Freeze for up to 3 months.
    • Thaw overnight in the fridge.
    • Bake covered with the foil lid (or aluminum foil) at 375F for about 35 minutes.
    • Uncover and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the center is heated through, the sauce is bubbly and the cheese on top has melted.
    • Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Of course, you can also freeze leftover lasagna if you have extras after baking and eating some. In this case, I recommend freezing individual slices in airtight, freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave. I recommend cutting slices in half to make sure the center warms through.

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Homemade Beef Lasagna

A slice of beef lasagna
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This easy lasagna recipe is made with a beefy pasta sauce cooked low and slow on the stove, tender noodles, and lots of melty cheese. 

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 10-12 servings
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove/Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided use
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 15 lasagna noodles, cooked per package instructions
  • 16-oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Make the Sauce

Cook the onion and garlic. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Cook the beef. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until browned.

Simmer the sauce. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, broth, sugar, basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and the black pepper. Stir well, then bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Assemble and Bake

Preheat oven to 375F. Get a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

Cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Rinse cooked noodles with cold water and set aside.

Make the ricotta filling. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano and the egg. Stir well to combine.

Assemble the layers. Put your lasagna together in the following order:

  • Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the bottom of your baking dish.
  • Top with 5 lasagna noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles
  • Top with 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan
  • Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the cheese
  • Top with 5 lasagna noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Spread remaining ricotta mixture over the noodles
  • Top with 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the cheese
  • Top with remaining 5 noodles, overlapping them a bit
  • Spoon remaining sauce on top of the noodles (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Top with remaining 1 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan

Cover and Bake. Spray a piece of tin foil with PAM or baking spray, then cover the lasagna sprayed side down and bake covered for 25 minutes.

Remove Cover and Bake. Remove the cover and bake another 25 minutes, until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese has melted.

Rest. Let the baked lasagna rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Keywords: homemade lasagna, easy lasagna, best lasagna, lasagna love, ground beef dinner ideas

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