Easy Homemade Lasagna

$14.96 recipe / $1.66 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 4 votes
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Have you seen the price of lasagna in restaurants lately? The last time I saw lasagna on a menu it was $20… per slice! Talk about sticker shock. So I knew that if I was going to get my lasagna fix, I would have to make it at home. Make no mistake, it’s a splurge whether you order it at a restaurant or make it at home because it’s chock full of meat and cheesy goodness. But at least homemade lasagna is closer to $20 for the whole pan, not per slice. 😅

Overhead view of a sliced lasagna with one slice being lifted from the pan.

The Three Main Components of Lasagna

Lasagna is the perfect trifecta of ingredients: pasta, tomatoes, and cheese. Or, more specifically, the three main components of a classic lasagna are a red meat sauce, lasagna noodles, and a mix of ricotta and other cheeses. You can swap out any of these three components to make different styles of lasagna (white lasagna, vegetarian lasagna, spinach lasagna, etc.) but the recipe we have for you today is a classic lasagna with a tomato-based meat sauce, ricotta cheese blend, and lasagna noodles.

How to Layer Lasagna

There are no hard rules when it comes to layering lasagna (don’t @ me if you disagree), but there is one method that will make your life a whole lot easier. For a stress-free lasagna, layer the lasagna in the following order:

  • Sauce first (this keeps the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the dish)
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Cheese (it’s easier to spread the cheese on top of the solid noodles than on the sauce)
  • Repeat: sauce – noodles – cheese two more times
  • Finish with sauce and more cheese

Not into layering? Try our Baked Ziti recipe! It has all the same great flavors but with an easier free-form construction.

Homemade Lasagna is so Worth It

Making homemade lasagna is not exactly a quick dinner fix. It definitely takes a little time and effort, but it’s oh-so worth it! The layers of rich seasoned red sauce, the tender noodles, and plenty of melty cheese make it the epitome of comfort food. Plus, lasagna is very freezer-friendly, so you can put in the work once and enjoy the fruits of your labor for weeks to come.

Overhead view of a full pan of lasagna.

How to Freeze Lasagna

Freeze after baking: Allow the lasagna to cool slightly, then it divide into single portions. Chill each portion in a resealable container in the refrigerator, then transfer it to the freezer for long-term storage. The lasagna will stay good in the freezer for about three months. To reheat, simply grab a slice out of the freezer and reheat it in the microwave. For best results, I suggest using the defrost mode first, then microwaving on high until heated through.

Freeze before baking: If you prefer to freeze first and bake later, simply follow the recipe below all the way through the layering step, then cover and chill the lasagna fully in the refrigerator. Once chilled, transfer to the freezer (in an air-tight container) and freeze until solid. To bake the frozen lasagna, let it thaw completely in the refrigerator for a full 24 hours first. Then bake as directed, adding an additional 10 minutes to compensate for the chilled ingredients.

Budget-Friendly Ingredient Swaps

If you’re looking to make your homemade lasagna even more budget-friendly, here are a few ingredients you can swap to bring the total price down:

  • Substitute the ricotta cheese with small curd cottage cheese (this does produce a “looser” texture to the lasagna filling.
  • Substitute half of the Italian sausage for sautéed mushrooms. You may need to add extra Italian seasoning to make up for what’s in the missing sausage.
  • Use a store-bought red sauce instead of making your own (some brands are more expensive, so make sure to comparison shop!).
  • Buy your mozzarella in large blocks to get a lower price per ounce. Freeze half for later.

What to Serve with Lasagna

You just spent all that time making your masterpiece homemade lasagna, so I suggest keeping the sides simple. You really can’t beat some homemade garlic bread and a simple side salad! Or maybe you just want a little snacky-snack appetizer to serve while the lasagna is in the oven? If that’s the case, some Bruschetta is your ticket!

Side view of a slice of lasagna being lifted out of the pan.
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Homemade Lasagna

4.75 from 4 votes
This easy homemade lasagna recipe has layers of homemade meat sauce, tender lasagna noodles, and a rich combination of melty cheeses!
Side view of a slice of lasagna being lifted out of the pan.
Servings 9
Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage ($3.99)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes ($1.69)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste (about 5 Tbsp) ($0.45)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning ($0.30)
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta ($3.19)
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend ($1.25)
  • 1 large egg ($0.21)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 9 lasagna noodles (about ½ lb.) ($0.90)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella ($2.49)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) ($0.10)

Instructions 

  • Add the Italian sausage to a deep skillet and cook over medium heat until browned. While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and then add it to the skillet with the sausage. Continue to stir and cook until the onion has softened (about 3 minutes).
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning to the skillet and stir to combine. Partially cover the skillet with a lid, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer while you prepare the other ingredients. Stir the saue occasionally as it cooks.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the ricotta cheese, Italian cheese blend, egg, and pepper to a bowl, then stir to combine. Set the cheese mixture aside.
  • Fill a large pot with water and add ½ Tbsp salt. Bring the pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the lasagna noodles and cook just until tender (about 8 minutes). Drain the noodles in a colander.
  • Spread about 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Lay three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Spread ⅓ of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Repeat the layers (sauce, noodles, cheese) two more times. Finish with the remaining sauce, then top with the shredded mozzarella.
  • Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil, turn the oven from bake to broil, and broil for about 5 minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Watch the lasagna closely as it broils!
  • Top the lasagna with chopped parsley if desired. Slice the lasagna into nine (or twelve) pieces and serve!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.



Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 539kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 28gFat: 33gSodium: 796mgFiber: 3g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Overhead view of a pan full of homemade lasagna

How to Make Lasagna – Step by Step Photos

Browned sausage and onions in a deep skillet.

Start by browning 1 lb. of Italian sausage in a deep skillet. While the sausage cooks, dice a yellow onion. Add the diced onion to the sausage and continue to cook for a few minutes more, or until the onion has softened.

tomatoes and herbs added to meat and onions in the skillet.

Add one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, ½ of a 6 oz. can of tomato paste (about 5 Tbsp), and 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.

Finished meat sauce in the skillet.

Partially cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.

Cheese filling ingredients in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Next, prepare the cheese filling. Add 2 cups whole milk ricotta, 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, 1 large egg, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper to a bowl. Stir until everything is evenly combined, then set the cheese aside.

Boiled lasagna noodles in a Dutch oven.

Fill a large pot with water and add ½ Tbsp salt. Bring the water to a boil, then add 9 lasagna noodles. Boil the noodles just until they’re tender (about 8 minutes), making sure not to overcook the noodles. Soft noodles tear easily and they will get mushy as the lasagna bakes. Drain the noodles in a colander.

Lasagna being layered into the casserole dish.

Spread about 1 cup of the meat sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Divide the cheese mixture into three portions (one for each layer of the lasagna), then spread one of the portions evenly over the three noodles.

Finished lasagna topped with shredded mozzarella.

Repeat the sauce-noodles-cheese layers two more times (for a total of three layers), then top with the rest of the meat sauce and two cups of shredded mozzarella.

Baked lasagna with the foil pulled back.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake in the preheated 350ºF oven for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and turn the heat on to broil.

broiled lasagna topped with parsley.

Broil the lasagna for about five minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Broilers can vary quite a bit, so watch the lasagna closely during this step! Top the baked lasagna with chopped parsley if desired.

close up overhead view of sliced lasagna in the pan.

Slice the lasagna into 9 (or 12) portions and serve! …Or chill the portions and then transfer to the freezer later (hello homemade Stouffer’s!)

Overhead view of the entire pan of lasagna.
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  1. I want to try making this using vegetarian sausage. Would the spicy Italian or the sweet Italian version be more traditional? Or are they pretty much interchangeable?

    1. Hi, Krim! It really depends on your taste preference. I would go with a mild or spicy Italian sausage substitute, which would also taste most traditional, over a sweet variety. ~Marion :)

  2. Finally made it and it’s delicious! I used a block of mozzarella and pre grated Italian cheese blend. They’re not the best melters but dude well for this recipe. My one of two change was to add fresh grated nutmeg over every cheese slice and to forget the last sauce layer before the mozzarella. Whoops. Still tasted great. My nutmeg flavor was a little too strong so I’d recommend maybe only doing 1 layer of it if you have some on hand to grate. Worth buying though; this whole nutmeg is nearly a decade old and still tastes strong when freshly grated. I also added maybe a half Tbsp of sugar to the meat sauce to account for the tinny flavor of canned tomatoes. Highly recommend if you don’t have any Italian nonnas looking over your shoulder; it goes from a bit sour to delicious and just lightly sweet. Premade sauces probably already have this though.

    Definitely open your oven every thirty seconds or so after a couple minutes. My cheese was perfectly broiled in about 3.5 minutes in an electric oven.

    4 stars because it’s delicious and beautiful. 1 star off because I think it lacks some good advice on how to make it better with pricier ingredients, what ingredients to prioritize for price, and importantly the sugar trick. The latter is most important imo. That little bit of sugar turned 4 cups of tinny acidic sauce into a delicious one. Also, in the recipe it would help to note for each version (ingredient list, step by step, steps with images) to note that you divide the sauce into four parts and the cheese mixture into 3 parts.

  3. I plan on trying the recipe next week. I did want to say that I couldn’t really recommend the budget friendly tip of subbing half of the Italian sausage for mushrooms.

    1) most groceries sell sausage by the pound, so you’ve gotta buy all of it anyway.

    2) mushrooms are at best 2.39 for half a pound versus sausage at 4.99 for a pound so it’s a very limited savings. It only works if you’re buying a pound of each and using the same amount extra half pounds for something else.

    Could be a nice feature to include links to other recipes that use the same ingredients or even just suggestions on how to use leftover ingredients that spoil quickly, such as produce, meat, and dairy.

    That said, mushrooms are a delicious addition to lasagna.

    1. Hi Nick! When I use a half pound of sausage I usually just freeze the rest for the next time I make a recipe that uses sausage. Super handy! We have an ingredient index so it’s really easy to look up recipes that use ingredients that you might have leftover: Ingredient Index

  4. My husband is a very picky eater. He said he has eaten at 5 star Italian Restaurants all over the world and not one compares to this recipe. By far the best Lasagna he has ever had. Also I’m from Italian decent and it the best I’ve ever had.

  5. My recipe is a little different. This looks fine. I like a 50/50 mix of ground beef and sausage. I do not ever buy pre-shredded cheese. The anti-clumping agents and other chemicals keep it from melting nicely.

    Cooking pasta as listed here is correct. “Oven ready” lasagna sheets are like putting cardboard in your lasagna.

    Most recipes including this are for a 9×13 casserole. That’s a lot. Double the recipe and make five 8×8 casseroles in disposable tins. This is two meals for two people. Mostly.

    Freeze before baking. It comes out much better.

    I haven’t used mushrooms. I find the idea appealing. I wouldn’t sub proteins – just add the mushrooms.

  6. This was my first lasagna ever, we are not eating pork, so I switched to ground beef and othef half was mushroom for budget reasons, I couldn’t tell there is mushroom in it. It was really delicious! Served it with a simple salad. We had a guest in our home and 3 of us ate all. I wanted to share with you, it was really good and actually easier than I thought :)

    I really like your suggestions what to serve with the recipes, every week I’m making something from here. I will try a vegan January, would be great if you could add a sentence of suggestion what to use instead of meat with meat recipes. Of course it won’t be the same, usually I omit the meat and still everything is delicious.

    1. Hi! Mushrooms are a great substitute — as sometimes are cauliflower, tofu, jackfruit, and tempeh (all in the right applications!). Of course, the Impossible/Beyond Beef products are also a good way to make that transition. Good luck! ~Marion :)

    2. Also, you can easily search our recipes for ones that fit your new dietary changes by clicking on Recipe Index (in the main website menu) and then scrolling down to find the collection called “Vegan Recipes” or “Vegetarian Recipes.”
      https://www.budgetbytes.com/recipes/

      You can also hover over Recipe Index and then click on “All Recipes” On that page (on the left-hand side), you can search our entire catalog of recipes and filter by ingredient or dietary preference. ~Marion :)
      https://www.budgetbytes.com/recipe-catalog/

  7. What a wonderful teacher this is an
    excellent lasagna chef. I have learn something new thankyou

  8. I have found that, if I freeze the lasagna before baking, it works to use uncooked lasagna noodles. They’re the perfect texture after freezing, thawing, and baking. I’ve been doing it that way for years and it always works.

  9. This is my mom’s battle dish. The version with ricotta that is popular in the US comes from Naples. She instead makes one that is closer to the Bolognese version, with bechamel (white sauce) and lots of cheese (a harder cheese than mozzarella or ricotta, something like Asiago, plus grated parmesan) instead of ricotta, and Bolognese red sauce. Any way you make it, I prefer it when the red sauce abounds.

    1. Hi, Chris! This can definitely be made ahead and frozen. Beth covers this in the section of the blog post, “Homemade Lasagna is so Worth It!” My only suggestion, if you don’t plan to eat all of the frozen leftovers at once, is to refrigerate the lasagna after making it (to make for easy slicing), and then store it separately as individual servings. That way, it will reheat much faster!

      Here’s a full blog post on Beth’s recommendations for freezing leftovers to peruse: https://www.budgetbytes.com/how-to-freeze-leftovers/

      Best, Marion :)

  10. I’ll just put in a vote for Beth’s amazing fast and easy Skillet Lasagna while we’re at it.