The Best Homemade Lasagna Recipe (with no Ricotta Cheese!)
What’s better than a big pan of homemade lasagna? Nothing! And once you try this incredible recipe with its surprise ingredient to keep the lasagna moist and delicious, you’ll never go back to ricotta cheese again! Get ready for the best homemade lasagna recipe ever!
Homemade lasagna is such a special and delicious dinner. And the secret? It’s pretty darn simple to make too! Sure, it’s got a few steps and a little clean-up, but it’s totally worth it for this comforting and scrumptious dish to make that your entire family will love. You can feed a crowd and as a bonus, you can totally make lasagna ahead of time, too! And having a good lasagna recipe in your recipe box never hurts a thing!
Want to know what’s so special about this particular lasagna recipe? This is a lasagna recipe without ricotta cheese! That’s right, no gritty and dry ricotta here! (Can you tell I’m not a huge fan?). The secret ingredient to this dish is cottage cheese! Cottage cheese is a fabulous substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna! And even if you don’t like cottage cheese, trust me and hang in there with me. You can’t taste it at all and it gives the lasagna this magical creamy and delightfully saucy finish and doesn’t change the taste of traditional lasagna at all!
Classic Lasagna Ingredients:
- 2 pounds ground beef ( I use 80/20)
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- Medium onion (1), finely chopped
- 1 TBSP cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves)
- Crushed tomatoes (1 28-oz can)
- Tomato Sauce (1 28-oz can)
- Diced tomatoes (1 14-oz can)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 – 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup dried parsley
- 3 cups cottage cheese
- 2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 box lasagna noodles (10 oz.)
- 2 pounds (4 packages) sliced mozzarella cheese
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- 9×13 lasagna pan – I’m loving this pan for lasagna! Mine is a Corningware dish that is super, super old and isn’t available anymore. This pan is my 2nd favorite!
- Pasta Pot – These pots are fantastic for cooking pasta, especially lasagna noodles. They are nice and deep to accomidate for the noodles without having to break them. And, bonus, the strainer is in the pot already!
- Stock Pot – I make the sauce in the stock pot so I have plenty of room in the pot. I double this recipe a lot of times and this pot holds the doubled sauce too.
Instructions for Classic Lasagna:
In a large pot of water, cook noodles according to package directions, just to al dente. You don’t want to overcook your noodles, because they still have some baking to do in the oven. Drain noodles and set aside, neatly laid flat on a dishtowel and covered so they don’t dry out.
I like to be as productive as possible, so I start the sauce while my noodles are cooking. Brown the beef, sausage, and onion in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Drain off the excess grease and return the meat mixture to the pan.
Add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes to the beef and mix well. If you feel like the sauce is too thick, you can always add 1/2 – 1 cup water. You need at least 1/2 cup for sure.
To the sauce mixture, add in the dried basil, oregano, sugar, salt & pepper.
Once all combined, let the sauce simmer on the stovetop for 45 minutes to an hour. It gives the sauce a chance to really cook and infuse with all the spices and flavors.
While the sauce simmers over medium heat, in a medium bowl or even a large bowl, mix the cottage cheese, eggs, dried parsley, and parmesan cheese.
Once your sauce has simmered, turn the heat off. Gather your cottage cheese mixture, your sliced cheese, and your noodles. It’s time to assemble a lasagna!
Pre-heat oven to 350*.
To assemble the lasagna, put a cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish (no need for cooking spray). Then add a layer of noodles, then add 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, then 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/3 of the sliced mozzarella. Repeat layers for three delicious layers of cheesy lasagna goodness!
Bake at 350* for 30-45 minutes till the top is hot, melted, and golden and the sides have bubbles coming out. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to set up and cool before serving.
Lasagna Tips and Tricks
To avoid a messy clean-up, should your lasagna overflow, I like to put my baking dish on top of a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. That way it’s super easy clean-up and nothing falls to the bottom of the oven.
Don’t need to feed a huge crowd and don’t want to eat lasagna leftovers for a week? Split the recipe into two pans and then freeze one for another day! Or even better, I like to make a half lasagna and then make 4-6 small lasagnas in small aluminum foil loaf pans. It’s 1-2 lasagna servings ready to go for a busy weeknight!
Types of Pans to Use
This recipe is intended for a big 9×13 casserole baking dish. The heavier and sturdier the better, because this makes a big lasagna! A 9×13 size glass dish or ceramic pan is the perfect dish to hold all of the lasagna at once.
It’s also totally fine to make the lasagna in several smaller pans too and freeze for later. I will regularly get some of the smaller aluminum foil baking pans at the grocery store and use them for lasagna. It’s both easy clean-up AND you aren’t tying up your baking dishes in the freezer. The size of the pan isn’t super important as long as you have enough pans!
Don’t have a big casserole dish? You could also use a large skillet that is ovenproof for the lasagna and it would totally work!
Side Dishes for Lasagna
Lots of people wonder what side dishes to serve with lasagna. Well, what IS the best side dish for a lasagna dinner? To be honest, it’s totally up to you! I love a nice green salad and some crusty warm bread of some kind personally. To me, that’s the best side dish for lasagna dinner. But it’s totally up to you. You could serve some nice vegetables alongside the lasagna dish if you aren’t a fan of salad but would still like to get some veggies in with your meal.
If people are feeding a crowd, sometimes they want to serve an appetizer. So what are some appetizers that go with lasagna? Really, you could do almost anything. But here are some awesome suggestions for appetizers that keep the Italian lasagna dinner theme going:
- Classic Cesar Salad
- Antipasto Platter Recipe
- Authentic Bruschetta
- Instant Pot Minestrone
- Easy Homemade Mozzarella Sticks
These are just some of the best appetizers for a lasagna dinner. These all pair really well with the meal, but don’t be afraid to try something new and different!
I’m no professional wine sommelier, but I can recommend a lasagna wine pairing! A nice meaty lasagna calls for red wine for sure. I’d recommend a nice Pinot Noir, Merlot, or even a Chianti to serve with your dinner. If you aren’t much for picking out wines, your local liquor store workers can make recommendations to help you out.
Lasagna is arguably even more delicious on the next day. How to reheat lasagna in the oven, you ask? Well, for best results with reheating leftover lasagna, I like to pop it in the 350* oven with aluminum foil loosely over the top of the pan. I don’t want the cheese to brown more and I want it to re-heat evenly.
(If you had leftover sauce, you could pour leftover sauce over the top and add some new cheese on top and bake it until golden, bubbly, and heated all the way through. I usually plan for an extra cup of mozzarella cheese and a cup of meat sauce to heat up leftovers to make them super delicious!
Of course, you can just microwave the leftovers to reheat them, but that’s a crime to leftover lasagna in my opinion! Let it warm up gradually in the oven and be just as good the second night as it was the first night!
Sausage – This recipe calls for a pound of regular old breakfast sausage. But you could absolutely use Italian sausage if you prefer that flavor. It’s not my overall favorite, and I like the flavor that the breakfast sausage brings to the sauce with its seasonings!
You can totally substitute the ground beef and sausage for ground turkey and turkey sausage. This pasta sauce has so much flavor to it, you would hardly even tell a difference in the taste and it would be more heart-healthy!
If you don’t have all the separate spices in your spice cabinet, feel free to use about 3 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning if you have it on hand. I’m a big fan of using what you have already if you can!
If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, you can always use garlic powder. REMEMBER though — garlic powder is really strong. I’d start with no more than a half teaspoon and taste from there to your preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use the no cook noodles for this recipe?
You can. I have never been a fan of the consistency of those noodles, and I find that they tend to dry out the lasagna because they are sucking up all of the liquids to cook themselves while the lasagna bakes. So, if you are going that route, I’d put some extra sauce in the lasagna layers for sure.
Can I just use a jarred marinara or spaghetti sauce for this instead of making my own sauce?
Absolutely! You’d need about 2 large jars to make the recipe. But I gotta tell ya… you’d be missing out. The sauce is truly what makes this the best lasagna recipe ever. And there really isn’t much to making the sauce, other than a little time!
Can you cook a frozen lasagna without defrosting it?
You can! It will take longer, of course, but I’ve done it many times. I make sure the dish is well covered in aluminum foil, and put it in the cold oven. If it’s in an aluminum foil pan, just pop it in the already preheated oven and let the magic happen.
If it’s frozen in one of your glass or ceramic dish, I put the frozen lasagna in the cold oven and let the dish heat up gradually with the oven. You don’t want to put a freezing cold dish into a piping hot oven. Generally, I’d say to plan on the lasagna taking anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours to cook through in the oven. That’s why you want to keep it covered until the last 30 minutes or so. Then take the foil off and let the cheese brown and bubble up.
How long to cook frozen lasagna?
Honestly, you’ll have to watch it and see. But if it’s in a 9×13 pan, I’d say to plan on at least 1.5-2ish hours. That’s a big block of frozen lasagna, man.
How long to boil lasagna noodles?
The package will say how long, but generally it’s 11-13 minutes. You only want to get to an al dente texture, as you’ll be baking the noodles for a good while in the oven. And no one wants an overcooked mushy lasagna noodle. That’s a crime against lasagna!
How to cook lasagna noodles?
It’s super easy! Just make sure you have a plenty big pot full of water that’s at a rolling boil! The deeper the pot the better and easier it will be.
How long can I keep lasagna in the fridge before cooking?
I love that you can make lasagna ahead of time! You’re good to keep it for 2ish days in the fridge before you cook it! If it’s going to be longer than that, just freeze it in the meantime.
What are some make ahead lasagna recipes?
Just about any lasagna recipe can be a make-ahead recipe! This one sure is! I adore a recipe I can make at a convenient time and then bake to finish off later. To me, there’s not much better than having some time to get things done around the house while I smell the lasagna I’ve already made baking in the oven!
How many layers in lasagna?
My recipe has 3 layers. But, you do what works for you! I like lots of layers. You could do lots of layers if you have a nice deep dish to make it in. Or you could do a single layer if you have a shallow dish.
How long to let lasagna cool?
When the lasagna is cooked all the way through and the cheese melts on top, and it’s golden bubbly, then the lasagna is done! I’d recommend letting the lasagna sit on the stove for at least 10-15 minutes to set up and begin to cool off. If you serve it steaming crazy hot, it just runs all over the plate.
Can I make this in the slow cooker?
Slow cooker lasagna is a thing these days!!!!! This recipe would work well in the slow cooker. Personally, I’ve not made it in the slow cooker for two reasons. First, I need that golden layer of bubbly cheese on top that will only come from baking lasagna in the oven. And secondly, it’s just not been necessary for me. It doesn’t really save all that much time since you still have to make the sauce and cheese mixture before putting it into the slow cooker.
The place the slow-cooker would save you some time would be on the noodles! If you do go the slow cooker route, you can do one of two things. Either go with the no-boil noodles (not my favorite finished texture) OR put regular uncooked noodles in the pot, BUT add plenty of extra meaty marinara sauce for the noodles to kind of “suck up” or cook in during the slow cooking process.
Wrap Up – Classic Lasagna Recipe with No Ricotta Cheese
It’s hard to beat a homemade baked lasagna recipe. And this recipe even has it’s own homemade meat sauce! The layers of pasta combined with the homemade sauce and cottage cheese mixture are just incredibly delicious. Whether you are making this dish for your family, or for a crowd, I encourage you to try this special recipe soon and see how amazing lasagna can be so very delicious!
The Best Homemade Lasagna Recipe
- 1 Baking Dish 9×13
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 TBSP garlic cloves chopped (about 3 cloves)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 TBSP white sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup dried parsley
- 3 cups cottage cheese
- 2 TBSP dried basil
- 2 TBSP dried oregano
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 12-ounce box lasagna noodles
- 2 pounds sliced mozarella cheese
- Cook noodles according to package directions, until just al dente.
- In a large pot, saute beef, sausage and chopped onion until beef is cooked through.
- Drain grease from the meat mixture.
- To the beef mixture, add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. If sauce appears to be too thick, add in the cup of water.
- To the sauce, add in the basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Let sauce simmer on the stovetop for 30-45 minutes.
- To make the cheese mixture, combine cottage cheese, eggs, dried parsley and parmesan cheese in a medium sized bowl.
- To assemble the lasagna, start with putting about a cup of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.
- Next, add a layer of noodles.
- Put 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles and spread evenly over the layer of noodles.
- Pour on 1/3 of the meat sauce and spread evenly.
- Cover with a layer of sliced mozzarella.
- Repeat this process 2 more times, leaving the top layer of mozzarella cheese off the top of the lasagna for now.
- Place lasagna in oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Take the lasagna out of the oven, place the top layer of mozzarella cheese on top and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
- Let the lasagna rest out of the oven 15 minutes before you cut it. It will cool slightly and set up for you.