Meat lasagna is the perfect Italian comfort food! Tender pasta noodles layered with tomato sauce, ground beef, chopped pork sausage, creamy ricotta, and mozzarella cheese.
Lasagna with meat sauce is always a family favorite, plus it’s a breeze to prepare if you want it to be. I didn’t have all day to simmer a homemade marinara sauce, so I opted for convenient pantry ingredients.
Ripe, canned tomatoes and dried herbs help to boost the flavor of the sauce instantly! Tender pasta noodles layered with a meat sauce that consists of savory ground beef and pork sausage. Combined with ricotta cheese and mozzarella and you have an irresistible and highly requested meal for your weekly menu.
When my Italian hubby came home from work and saw me building layers of lasagna pasta, he was so happy! Jason grew up with an amazing Italian mom who loved to cook from scratch. Lucky guy!
How to make lasagna
- Tomatoes: I have a quick and flavorful 30-minute tomato sauce base that I use for most of my Italian dishes, especially my spaghetti and meatballs recipe. I use Cento crushed tomatoes imported from Italy because it is much sweeter and provides an authentic flavor. I find that red sauces made with either fresh or canned vine ripened tomatoes give the best-concentrated flavors. The longer a tomato stays on the vine when ripening, the less citric acid it contains. So it’s best to pick the ripest tomatoes for the base of your sauce.
- Aromatics: Minced onion and fresh garlic add wonderfully aromatic flavors to the dish and help build the sauce base. Dried oregano is added to the sauce because the concentrated herbal flavors give a nice earthiness.
- Meat: I use two types of meat, lean ground beef and Italian pork sausage. The combination creates a deeper savory flavor and more interesting texture. The fat from the sausage prevents the meat from becoming dry.
- Cheese: I use Mozzarella for its mild flavor, and because it’s high in moisture, so it melts and browns nicely. Of course, we have ricotta, but I also combine Parmesan for a more developed and pungent flavor due to the aging process of the cheese.
- Noodles: Wide lasagna noodles are used to create large, flat layers of the baked pasta. You can even use no bake lasagna noodles to save time.
If you haven’t tried making lasagna rolls, it’s even easier to make and fun to prepare with kids!
This lasagna with meat sauce has three layers. Each layer is built by laying out four overlapping pieces of cooked noodle, then evenly spreading the ricotta cheese mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Then repeat!
This is an excellent meal prep option. You can make the lasagna up until this step days ahead of time and then just bake when you need it. Yes!
Check out this tender, cheesy and flavorful lasagna casserole! My family is drooling at this point and cannot wait to start eating dinner.
My husband Jason enjoys a side of tomato sauce to top the lasagna or dip bread, so I always save him some extra. This meat lasagna recipe makes 12 generous servings and tastes even better the next day. I cut leftovers into individual pieces and wrap them up and place in the freezer, or pack them in containers for lunch. Any shortcuts to have a hot meal for dinner with little effort is a win for all!
Benefits of simmering tomato sauce
There are two advantages to simmering meat in a tomato sauce. The slow, low heat of simmering allows the flavors to concentrate as the sauce reduces. The natural acids in the tomatoes (malic and citric acid) helps to tenderize the meat gently over time while the meat infuses flavor into the sauce.
- 1 pound lasagna noodles
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion , diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 fresh mild Italian sausage , (about 6 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt , , divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper , , divided
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 56 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 large eggs , lightly whisked
- 32 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- In a large pan heat olive oil over medium low heat and sauté onion and garlic until onions are translucent about 3 minutes.
- Turn heat to medium and add beef and sausage to the pan, break up meat into small pieces and cook until no traces of pink remain about 5 minutes. Pour off any excess fat drippings from the pan. Season meat with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Add tomato paste and stir until combined. Add crushed tomatoes and oregano, simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside until ready to use. I like to place each cooked lasagna noodle on a sheet tray, separately the noodles in a single layer in between clean kitchen towels to keep them from sticking together.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk together eggs, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and parsley.
- Reserve about 1 cup of meat sauce and 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese for topping the lasagna.
- Lightly coat or spray a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish with oil. Add just enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the dish to prevent sticking.
- Layer 3 to 4 sheets of lasagna, top with 1/3 of ricotta cheese mixture, 1/3 meat sauce, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat for 2 more layers.
- On the top layer pour the reserved meat sauce and cover evenly with the reserved mozzarella cheese.
- Line a sheet tray with foil and place the lasagna tray on top. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and golden brown on top.
- Before slicing, allow the lasagna to rest for 15 minutes.
- Bake the lasagna for an additional 10-15 minutes if the lasagna was refrigerated before baking.
- If you have a smaller 8-inch by 11-inch size, use 3 noodles for each layer, and you may be able to do 4 layers instead of three if desired. The lasagna will be nice and tall.