If you don’t know what to have for dinner, chances are you would love a cheesy slice of homemade lasagna. Lasagna from scratch is actually a lot easier than you may think, and there is absolutely no reason to fear the making of a creamy and delicious béchamel sauce.
This easy homemade lasagna is layered with comforting pasta, a delicious ragù, béchamel sauce, and the perfect amount of mozzarella and parmesan. Top it with a little salted butter for that little something extra. This is a sure winner as a comforting weekend dinner. Serve it with a huge side of salad to lighten it up a little.
What’s great about lasagna is that you can use leftover bolognese from when you had spaghetti earlier this week, or if you have bolognese stashed in your freezer. I have used this bolognese sauce countless times in bolognese lasagna (THE BOMB), but in this recipe I’ll keep it a little more classic.
The best ragù for lasagna
Remember, if you have leftover bolognese, do not hesitate to use it. Big chunks of carrot and mushroom don’t matter – it’s a beautifully delicious bolognese lasagna either way.
If you don’t, I have here the best ragù for that luscious homemade lasagna vibe right in your own kitchen. Start by frying the pancetta, or bacon, in a frying pan. Add ground beef and brown on high heat for 5-ish minutes (1-2). Every ragù should have the holy trinity of a sofritto, which are finely chopped onion, carrot and celery. I also add garlic, because garlic makes any savory dish even better. Add the sofritto + garlic to the pan (3-4), and fry on medium for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
If you’re doubling the recipe or using a small saucepan, cook beef for 10 minutes, remove from pan and then add the vegetables to the same pan, cook for 5 minutes. Blend everything together for the next steps.
Pour in dry red wine, and let it boil down for a few minutes (5), until it’s mostly evaporated. Add in beef stock (6), canned tomatoes, cloves and bay leaf (7-8). Stir, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. To blend the flavors together, simmer for at least 1 hour. Season with salt, pepper and sugar after simmering, as the flavors develop while simmering.
How to make a homemade béchamel sauce
A classic lasagna always consists of pasta sheets, ragù and a béchamel sauce. The ricotta mixture is delicious, of course, but béchamel is even better – imagine that. A béchamel sauce is a creamy, white sauce with flavors such as nutmeg, bay leaf and a little mustard. This is also the kind of sauce used in countless traditional Norwegian recipes, in gratins and on haddock for example. It’s interesting to see how many vastly different recipes use some of the same elements.
To make a béchamel sauce, you first need to make a roux. A roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat, that will help thicken sauces and gravies, such as this citrus rosemary turkey gravy and even homemade enchilada sauce. Important to note that it’s equal parts flour and fat by weight (1). Melt butter in a saucepan on medium low, then add flour. Whisk constantly, making it into a creamy paste, for about 2-3 minutes (2). We do not want much color, just to get rid of the floury taste.
Now we’re ready to add the rest of the ingredients. While constantly whisking, slowly pour in the milk, then add the rest of the seasonings: bay leaf, freshly grated nutmeg and mustard (3). Whisk occasionally until it’s thick and coats the back of a spoon or spatula (4). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
It’s as simple as that!
How to layer a lasagna – how many layers should it have?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer here. I would say a minimum of two complete layers with ragù and béchamel, but it’s not necessary to make a ton of layers either. I like it somewhere between 2-4 layers. In this recipe, start with a little ragù as the base in a buttered 9×13 in (23×33 cm) baking dish.
Cover with one layer of uncooked lasagna sheets, break some of them apart if you need smaller pieces in between. Again, cover the sheets with a layer of ragù, trying your best to cover every pasta corner to avoid any hard, uncooked pasta pieces later. Add béchamel sauce, then sprinkle evenly with shredded parmesan cheese. Now dollop fresh mozzarella evenly around the layer.
Repeat – lasagna sheets – ragù – béchamel – cheeses. Until you’re out of ingredients. I like to end with lasagna sheets covered in béchamel sauce and topped with parmesan and mozzarella (in other words; skip the ragù on the top layer). If you’re feeling extra feisty, add a few dollops of butter on top as well, making that extra shiny and delicious top.
Bake, store and freeze homemade lasagna
Bake this deliciousness in a pre-heated oven of 400 F (200 C) for about 30 mins. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Store: Cooked lasagna should be frozen or stored in the fridge within two hours of baking, in airtight containers. It will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
If you let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes prior to slicing, you won’t get that gooey mess that I have here, but I can never wait to dig into this!
Freeze: A couple of weeks ago, I published 40+ recipes that’s great freezer meals and make ahead dishes. This lasagna could very well have been part of that. Homemade lasagna is great for freezing. I like to portion it out, to make sure I don’t take out more than I need from the freezer each time.
Once the lasagna is done and chilled to room temperature. Add into portion sized aluminum foil pans (or glass pans if you can spare them), and cover with more aluminum foil. Write name, date and re-heating instructions on the foil. Best within the first 2-3 months, but remains safe after that too, read more about lasagna storage here.
Re-heat from refrigerator: Take the lasagna out of the fridge while the oven is pre-heating to 350F (170C). As the pasta sheets absorb the liquidy sauce overnight, it can feel a little dry when re-heating.* To combat this, add a splash or two of water and cover with aluminum foil to trap the moisture. Bake for 30-45 minutes, when the lasagna is sizzling around the edges.
*I haven’t personally had the ‘too dry’-experience with this recipe though, so I just heat it up with no extra water, but be your own judge in this matter!
Re-heat from the freezer: Same method as above, just add 10-15 more minutes in the oven.
If you want to know how to re-heat lasagna in an air fryer, microwave or skillet, check this guide out.
I hope all this information will make you feel like the best lasagna maker that I know you are! For a simple and printable recipe card, simply scroll a little. Enjoy, again with a delicious side salad and maybe a refreshing hibiscus tea!
Did you like this easy homemade lasagna? Here’s more easy comfort food:
- Cheesy Beef and Beans Enchiladas
- The Best Bolognese Sauce with Extra Veggies
- Easy Homemade Pizza Rolls
- Beef Bulgogi (Spicy Korean BBQ)
- Easy 20 Minute Vegetarian Lo Mein
- If you want to try your hands at homemade pasta, I can recommend these Wild Mushroom Raviolis as well
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
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Easy Homemade Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce
Ragù Meat Sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped pancetta 100g, or bacon
- 1 lb ground beef 400g is ok too
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion 1 cup finely chopped
- 1 large carrot 2/3 cup finely shopped
- 1 stalk celery 1/2 cup finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- 1/2 cup dry red wine 125ml
- 1/2 cup beef stock 125ml
- 14 oz canned tomatoes 400g, optional*
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 - 1 tsp sugar optional and to taste, depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
Béchamel White Sauce
- 5 tbsp butter 75g**
- 8 tbsp flour 75g
- 3 cups milk 750ml
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp mustard optional-ish
- salt and pepper to taste
- 15 lasagna sheets (noodles) 300g
- 9 oz fresh mozzarella 250g
- 2/3 cup shredded parmesan 60g
- 2 tbsp butter cut in small cubes, optional
- The meat and veggie base: Fry the pancetta, or bacon, in a large casserole. Add ground beef and brown on high heat for 5-ish minutes Add finely chopped onion, carrot, celery and grated garlic to the pan and fry on medium for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent***.
- Simmer: Pour in dry red wine, and let it boil down for a few minutes, until it’s mostly evaporated. Add in beef stock, canned tomatoes (if using), cloves and bay leaf. Stir, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. To blend the flavors together, simmer for at least 1 hour.
- Season with salt, pepper and sugar after simmering, as the flavors develop while simmering.
- Make a roux: Melt butter in a saucepan on medium low heat, then add flour. Whisk constantly, making it into a creamy paste, for about 2-3 minutes.
- Make the sauce: While constantly whisking, add in the milk, then add the rest of the seasonings: bay leaf, freshly grated nutmeg and mustard. Whisk occasionally until it’s thick and coats the back of a spoon or spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Assemble the lasagna
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C). Lightly grease a 9x13 in (23 x 33 cm) baking dish with butter.
- Assemble: Add a little ragù at the bottom of the pan, cover with one layer of uncooked lasagna sheets, break some of them apart if you need smaller pieces in between. Cover the sheets with a layer of ragù, trying your best to cover every pasta corner to avoid any hard, uncooked pasta pieces later. Add béchamel sauce, then sprinkle evenly with shredded parmesan cheese. Now dollop fresh mozzarella evenly around the layer.
- Repeat – lasagna sheets – ragù – béchamel – cheeses. Until you’re out of ingredients. I like to end with lasagna sheets covered in béchamel sauce and topped with parmesan and mozzarella (in other words; skip the ragù on the top layer). If you’re feeling extra feisty, add a few dollops of butter on top as well, making that extra shiny and delicious top.
- Bake for 30 mins. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. To get the perfect slice, let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing (if you can wait, I can't!).