This meaty lasagna recipe with ricotta, cottage cheese, and fresh mozzarella is made even easier thanks to the no-boil noodles, easily making this the best lasagna recipe.
Lasagna is definitely at the top of my list of favorite comfort food dishes. It’s kind of like getting a big, warm hug that doesn’t end because the leftovers are fantastic. My aunt always made the cheesiest spinach and cheese lasagna with cottage cheese for our Christmas Eve dinners. Now, my husband requests cottage cheese in this classic lasagna recipe every time. The easy homemade sauce is made with Italian sausage and ground beef (or just one or the other) and layers of cheese to make it a tried and true pasta dinner that hits the comfort button every time.
What Ingredients Are In This Lasagna Recipe?
To make this homemade lasagna recipe with ricotta and cottage cheese, you’ll need:
- Mild Italian pork sausage
- Ground beef
- Fennel seeds
- Red pepper flakes
- Yellow onion
- White wine—use a vintage you’d be happy to drink
- Tomato paste
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- No-boil lasagna noodles (choose high-quality lasagna sheets)
- Cottage cheese—low fat cottage cheese is what I usually use
- Ricotta cheese—I use BelGioso ricotta cheese because it’s the best
- Parmesan cheese—skip the stuff in the can and use freshly shredded instead
- Fresh mozzarella—buy fresh mozzarella in a log or fresh pulled
- Fresh parsley
How to Make the Best Lasagna
This recipe has a few steps, but don’t let that deter you—it’s so easy and totally worth it. Here’s how you make this sausage lasagna:
Brown your meat. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the meats. Crush the fennel seeds between your fingers and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes over the sausage. Cook on medium-high until browned.
Bring the flavor. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent.
Deglaze and tenderize. The white wine adds flavor and tenderizes the sausage. Cook it for a few minutes or until the wine is absorbed, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. That’s another layer of flavor.
Simmer and let the flavors infuse. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes to lose its raw flavor and add umami depth. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, half of the oregano, and kosher salt, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by a quarter.
Make the Cheese Filling
Combine the ricotta and cottage cheese. Choose high-quality ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. This is lasagna so don’t chintz out on the brand and use at least 2% milk content so they are creamy, not chalky. Sprinkle with the rest of the oregano and chopped parsley.
Shred salty Parmesan cheese for another layer of flavor. Skip the canned shelf brands or the stringy pre-shredded varieties and shred fresh instead. Quality equals flavor.
Layer the Lasagna
Here’s the order for layering lasagna…
- 1st layer: Meat sauce > Noodles > Cheese mixture > Meat sauce > Parmesan
- 2nd layer: Noodles > Cheese mixture > Meat sauce > Parmesan
- 3rd layer: Noodles > Cheese mixture > Meat sauce > Parmesan
- 4th layer: Noodles > Meat sauce > Mozzarella cheese > Parmesan > Parsley
When I assemble lasagna, this is how I remember: Start with sauce on the bottom and end with sauce on top and layer the noodles on the meat sauce to absorb and soften. If you mess up, don’t worry too much about it. It will all come out tasting delicious.
Spoon 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish or lasagna pan. Add a single layer of three uncooked lasagna noodles. Spread 1 ½ cups or so of the cheese mixture over the noodles, then about 1 ½ cups of meat sauce. Sprinkle with some of the Parmesan cheese.
Repeat layering. Repeat with two more layers of noodles, the cheese mixture, sauce, and Parmesan, using up all of the ricotta mixture but reserving 2 cups of the sauce for topping the fourth and last layer of noodles. Top the last of the sauce with slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Cover and bake. Spray cooking spray over one side of foil before covering the baking dish so the cheese doesn’t stick as it bakes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese begins to brown.
Let it rest. Remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Add extra Parmesan and parsley for serving.
How Many Layers Is Best for Lasagna?
I like four layers in my lasagna. A 1-pound box of noodles set three across will usually make four layers. Three layers work well too, so if you go that route, save the extra sauce for pasta later.
Do You Put Egg In Lasagna?
Some lasagna recipes call for an egg which is typically whisked in with the ricotta cheese. The egg works as a binder for the cheese. If you feel like adding an egg, it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Can I Freeze Lasagna?
To freeze lasagna before baking: Wrap the baking pan tightly with foil and then plastic wrap. Put in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To freeze leftovers: Wrap the slices tightly in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze for up to 2 months.
How to Reheat Frozen Lasagna
To reheat uncooked frozen lasagna: There’s no need to thaw frozen lasagna. Remove the plastic wrap and top the baking dish with foil. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until heated through.
To reheat frozen lasagna: Place the covered lasagna in a 350°F oven for about 30-45 minutes.
Tips for Making This Classic Lasagna Recipe
- You can prepare the lasagna the day before baking, cover with aluminum foil, and put into the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking.
- No boil noodles need more sauce than cooked noodles since they absorb the moisture from the sauce. Don’t be shy when ladling your portions.
- Add spinach, kale, or zucchini to the sauce for an extra veggie vitamin punch and a touch of green. Or, add layers of sautéed veggies after the cheese mixture.
- If time is an issue, substitute the homemade sauce for a great quality jarred sauce added to the meat mixture.
What to Serve With Lasagna
- The Best Garlic Bread
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Italian Chopped Salad with Marinated Chickpeas
- Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
- Killer Garlic Knots
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
More Tasty Lasagna Recipes to Make
- The Cheesiest Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
- Turkey Bolognese Lasagna Toss
- Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup
- Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Squash & Shiitakes
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