This Lasagna al Forno Recipe is layered with flavor and is simple to make too! This easy lasagna recipe is stuffed full of cheesy goodness and hearty Italian Sausage and Beef. In a little over an hour, you will have a delicious homemade Italian Meal!
Lasagna is that one meal that everyone knows is made with love and takes lots of time. I like when people think I put a lot of time into a meal, but this lasagna is actually really easy and simple to make. However, we can keep that a secret.
You have the option to make quick pasta sauce ahead of making the recipe or to save time, just buy store bought pasta sauce. Either way, this dinner lasagna recipe is phenomenal.
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- It's layered with pasta, cheese and meat. How can you go wrong?
- This recipe is NOT complicated, like other a lot of other lasagna recipes out there.
- The Italian sausage and ground beef make the best combo and then cook down in marinara until nice and tender.
- It uses ricotta cheese for a classic lasagna.
Marinara Sauce- The sauce in lasagna is really important and adds a lot of flavor to the overall dish. My homemade pasta sauce is highly recommended and is a marinara that uses crushed tomatoes and has less chunks than other versions. You can also use your favorite jarred pasta sauce or marinara for this recipe.
Ground Beef & Italian Sausage- Cook together in a meat sauce that offers a nice flavor from the Italian sausage. Two pounds of meat are used in this lasagna recipe, which makes it super filling and hearty. When shopping for the ground beef, I suggest using a 80/20 or 85/15 for its higher fat content, and tender and juicy texture.
Onion & Garlic- Used to help flavor the meat mixture.
Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano- Make the Cheesy layer of lasagna we all know and love. For the Ricotta, I highly recommend a Whole Milk version. The low fat ricotta has a different taste to it, that I don't enjoy as much. If you can spend a little extra on ingredients, upgrade to a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for the parmesan component. It has the most delicious, nutty flavor, and you can always find it in my fridge. It's worth the extra cost!
Eggs-Used as a binder for the cheesy mixture and helps keep the layers together.
Fresh Basil- Incorporates into the ricotta mixture & adds a fresh, herby taste.
Lasagna Noodles- Regular dry lasagna noodles are used in this recipe and boiled to al dente. Make sure to buy the regular pasta and not a "no bake" noodle, which are common.
Substitutions & Variations:
If you can't find ground italian sausage, you can buy the large italian sausage links, which usually come in a pack of 5. Remove the casings with a sharp knife, and you will have ground italian sausage.
Not big on meat? Believe it or not, this can be made into meatless lasagna as well. Just leave out the meat and cook the onions and garlic. Allow them to cool and mix them right into the ricotta mixture. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture, then marinara sauce, then lasagna noodles and repeat.
Fresh basil can be substituted with fresh parsley.
If you don't have time to make homemade sauce, use a jarred version of good quality sauce.
Want more cheese on top & a serious cheese pull? Add another cup (or two cups) of shredded mozzarella for a nice, thick layer.
What is Lasagna al Forno?
Lasagna al forno translates to being cooked in the oven. It's just a form of cooking style used in Italy, so in this case it means-Lasagna in the oven.
Different regions of Italy have their own spin on lasagna. The Southern region makes a lasagna similar to this recipe and uses a Ragu, which involves meat cooking in sauce, with mozzarella and ricotta cheese.
How to Make Lasagna al Forno:
Here are the Step by Step Instructions on how to make this Simple Lasagna.
If you are making my homemade pasta sauce, start with that recipe or continue to the steps below if using a jarred sauce.
Step 1: Prepare the Vegetables for the Ragu (Meat Sauce)
Into a dutch oven over medium low heat, pour in the olive oil and allow to heat for 2 minutes. Add in the onions and sprinkle in salt and pepper. Cook until softened and translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Toss in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
Step 2: Add Meat to the Ragu
Increase the stovetop heat to Medium. Add in the italian sausage and ground beef. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon into smaller pieces.
Continue to break up the meat and cook until it is no longer pink.
Step 3: Add Marinara Sauce to Ragu
Turn the heat to low and add in 1 and ½ cups of marinara sauce. Cover and continue to cook until assembling the lasagna.
Step 4: Boil the Lasagna
Into a large pot, boil the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions, until al dente. Al dente means still firm when bitten. You want to pasta to be cooked enough to be pliable, but still very firm.
Step 5: Prepare the Cheese Mixture.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Into a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, both eggs, fresh basil and about ⅔ of both the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (Save the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan for topping the lasagna)
Step 6: Assemble the Lasagna
Pour about ½ cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Layer in 4 to 5 noodles into the bottom of the pan. Spread on the ricotta cheese mixture with a spoon. Top with Meat Sauce.
Repeat this 3 times and top the last meat mixture layer with pasta.
Note: You should have 4 layers of pasta, with 3 layers of meat and cheese in between.
Spread on another couple ladles of sauce (about a cup) and top with remaining cheese.
Step 7: Bake
Cover the top with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Cooking Tip: To avoid the cheese topping coming in contact with the foil, add a toothpick into the center of the lasagna.
Allow the lasagna to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
Serve with additional marinara sauce if desired.
- Cook the onions and garlic for the meat sauce (ragu) on Medium low heat. We are looking for a softened, translucency with the onions with no browning. If the onions or garlic start to brown, drop the heat to low.
- When cooking the lasagna noodles, make sure to use a tall, large pot with plenty of water to cover the entire lasagna noodle when added, or at least close to it. This will help the pasta to cook evenly. You can also add a teaspoon of olive oil and salt to avoid the pasta sticking to one another. Cook only until al dente, meaning still firm.
- If you use a 80/20 ground beef, you may have some extra fat in the dutch oven. You can drain some, if needed, before adding the marinara sauce.
- Be delicate with the pasta noodles when assembling, so they don't tear. If you've cooked them al dente, this should be pretty easy to avoid.
When assembling lasagna, start with a few ladles of sauce on the bottom of the 9x13 casserole dish, followed by 4 to 5 lasagna noodles. Top with ricotta cheese mixture, then spread meat sauce mixture. Repeat 3 times and top the last meat mixture with pasta. Finally, spread on marinara sauce and cheese (see above in photos for detailed images)
Typically, ground beef or pork is used for lasagna. I like to use a combination of 85/15 or 80/20 ground beef for its higher fat content along with Italian Sausage for a full flavored lasagna. These cook in marinara sauce for the most delicious meat sauce, also known as a "ragu" in Italian.
You may have used too much sauce or not let it sit long enough. This recipe uses less sauce in between layers, & is combined with meat to prevent it from falling apart. Allow the lasagna to rest at room temperature for a bit longer if the layers are sliding around.
What to Serve with Lasagna:
Lasagna pairs fantastic with a glass of red wine, like Pinot Noir.
Storing & Reheating Lasagna:
Allow the lasagna to come to room temperature and store in the casserole dish covered in plastic wrap for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you want to store it differently, cut into individual squares and store in sealed containers in the fridge.
To reheat the whole dish bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. For individual servings, bake on a cookie sheet, lined with foil for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
If freezing, I like to assemble it in a foil pan. This way you're not missing a casserole dish for 3 months and it stores easy in the freezer. After Step 6 (there is no need to bake), wrap up the lasagna dish with plastic wrap and cover with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, pull out from the freezer and allow it to unthaw for an hour. Bake for 1 to 1 and ½ hours at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.