Ultimate Meat Lasagna

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Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, a homemade marinara sauce and a few quick chef tricks will make you feel like you’ve ordered lasagna at your favorite Italian Restaurant.

Meat Lasagna on plate. Ultimate Meat Lasagna

This easy lasagna recipe is one I’ve been working on since my 7th grade home economics class. Over the years the recipe has been changed probably over a hundred times, but in the last 5 years it has not changed a single time. I finally got to a place with the recipe that I knew this was truly the Ultimate Meat Lasagna.

What are the best noodles for lasagna:

Classic noodles are favored for recipes where you boil the noodles but this recipe calls for the no boil Barilla variety for ease and for the look. The noodles resemble handmade noodles more and serve in a neater way.

Restaurant tricks to make this lasagna the next level:

  • Homemade Quick and Easy Marinara may not be a real “secret” but it is going to make the biggest difference in the flavor of your lasagna. You can use most levels of quality of cheese and sort of get away with it, but use a sauce that isn’t full of delicious flavors? You’ll immediately notice the difference.
  • I use all beef in this recipe, but the sausage flavor in most restaurant lasagnas is one I love duplicating. To do that easily here without using sausage, I add in some fennel seeds when browning the beef and I brown it in larger chunks. This gives the distinct sausage flavor and the larger chunks of beef help mimic the sausage texture.
  • I add an egg and season my ricotta cheese. This ups the richness of it and makes it taste a little less grainy than ricotta normally does.

How to serve the perfect slice of lasagna:

When serving, let the lasagna cool for an hour or more, cut the slice with a very sharp knife. Remove with two spatulas to ensure no breakage. Top with additional marinara, additional cheese and brown in a 425 degree oven until browned and bubbly. This makes each slice feel like their own “order” with its own set of bubbly cheese and overflowing with marinara sauce.

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slice of meat lasagna on plate

Meal Prep/Freezer Friendly Lasagna:

Make the lasagna and let it cool completely (I put it in the fridge). Then slice the lasagna and freeze in single serving quantities. To reheat, add additional sauce on the top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Tools used in the making of this Meat Lasagna:
Baking pan: I use this one for the perfect edges and to handle more filling. Glass pans won’t cut it for this recipe.
No Boil Noodles: Skip the entire extra pan and boiling water, these taste great.

Recipe

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Ultimate Meat Lasagna

5 from 23 votes
  • Yield: 12 Servings
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, a homemade marinara sauce and a few quick chef tricks will make you feel like you've ordered lasagna at your favorite Italian Restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (I use flat no boil Barrilla noodles)
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound Provolone cheese sliced
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese sliced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, brown the beef in one large piece until it is browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes, breaking apart the beef into slightly larger chunks.

  3. Cook until the beef is browned and add in the basil, oregano, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds.

  4. Stir until you start to smell the fennel seeds starting to toast then drain the fat and add in the marinara sauce.
  5. In your ricotta container if you have space add the egg and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and mix well.
  6. Add your no boil noodles to the meat sauce (we are not looking to cook them, just coat them in the sauce to ensure they don't get dry in the oven).
  7. Put 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan (I use one with straight sides for easy assembly and for added height. If you are using a glass baking pan with curved sides it may not be large enough to fit this quantity of food).
  8. Add the dried no boil noodles in an even layer, for me it was 5 noodles per layer, four across and one broken in half lengthwise to go down the side of the pan.
  9. Add 1/3 the provolone slices, another 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, 1/4 of the mozzarella, 1/4 of the parmesan and 1/3 of the ricotta in spoonfuls dotting across the pan.
  10. Repeat with the same noodle/cheese/meat sauce process.
  11. Finally, add a top layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Cover with foil.

  12. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional ten minutes to brown the cheese.

  13. Let cool for 20-25 minutes before serving.

  14. Garnish with parsley.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 Servings, Amount per serving: 364 calories, Calories: 364g, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 1626mg, Potassium: 771mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1115g, Vitamin C: 8.6g, Calcium: 444g, Iron: 3.8g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Ultimate Meat Lasagna
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four cheese and meat lasagna

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Comments

  1. hmmm, so you publish a recipe for lasanga with homemade marinara sauce, yet no instructions for the “homemade” marinara sauce. Published recipe sounds like you are using shop brought jar sauce. A bit pointless really.

    1. I linked my Homemade Marinara in the post, right under the heading “Restaurant tricks to make this lasagna the next level” and also in the recipe card in the ingredients for marinara. If you click on the words in green, they are actually a link to the recipe.

      Here is that link for easier reference for you if you try to make my Lasagna Recipe: https://dinnerthendessert.com/easy-marinara-sauce/

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Sabrina, I want to make this recipe but I don’t have foil to cover the top of it. Would this effect how it cooks, would I be able to put it in the oven without the foil covering it?

    1. You want to cook it covered to keep it from drying out. You can use a baking sheet if you don’t have foil, or if you have a baking dish with an oven safe lid, that will work.

  3. I want to make this lasagna this week and I was wondering can I use fresh sliced mozzarella?
    Also, love your site!!!!
    I have made your banana bread, egg roll in a bowl and your meatloaf so far and all have been hits with the family.
    Thanks for the recipes!!!!

  4. The best meat lasagna (with your marinara sauce) I have ever made or eaten (in a restaurant/anyone’s home)! This lasagna is so good that my son-in-law who does not eat leftovers EVER ate it for two days afterward and then mourned there was not more. And your trick of using fennel to mimic the taste of sausage is genius.

  5. Hi Sabrina,

    I loved making yr lasagna it was very good. My thing is the Ricotta cheese
    I don’t like it at all . What other kind of cheese to use that will have flavor
    and give me the stiffness that the Ricotta does to hold the lasagna together.

    FRIDAY LYNN

  6. I love this recipe so much! Going to make a batch to freeze so i have it ready for when my baby comes. I see your note about “Meal Prep/Freezer friendly” but i am wondering if in order to freeze, i need to have it in single servings? i am hoping to be able to assemble the whole pan of lasagna, and NOT cook it, but put it straight in the freezer to cook at a later date. Would that work?

  7. Hello! Mine is in the oven right now, but it didn’t turn out the way it was intended. I have 1 comment & 1 question.

    1.) My box of noodles did not have enough for the number of layers I needed to do.

    2. For the layering… are the 4 cheeses supposed to be separated by the meat, or should they be layered as one big cheese layer? The recipe says noodles, provolone, meat, mozzarella, Parmesan. However, step 10 says “noodle/cheese/meat.”

    Otherwise, it smells delicious and I can assure you it won’t go to waste. ?

    1. I separated mine by the meat. I was just using the “noodle/cheese/meat sauce process” to refer to the layering of it all. Sorry I didn’t see this earlier but I hope you enjoyed it!

  8. Hi. I made this once before and it turned out great. I have a dinner party coming up and I want to make this again, but this time I’d like to do it in advance and freeze this. How would you best recommend doing that? Cook completely, then freeze, OR get it assembled, then cook the day of the party?

    1. I’m so glad you love the recipe. It’ll work either way but I would recommend cooking it the same day, if you have time. Have a great party!

      1. My issue is I’ll be out of town until the day of the party, and therefore putting it together the day of the event will be next to impossible. Could I assemble it then freeze it for a few days, then while I’m away have my wife take it out of the freezer a couple days before the party and then just cook the day of?

  9. Am I repeating the sauce/cheese/noodle mixture until all of the cheeses run out? Or just one additional time after the first?

  10. Sabrina I bow to you!! Lasagna is my favorite food and anytime I go out for Italian that is what I order. I am very judgemental towards lasagna and I always find something that just doesn’t hold up to my expectations. It is either to runny/watery, bland, not enough spices, hard noodles, mushy noodles. I am always searching for the perfect lasagna and yours is so perfect I died and went to lasagna heaven!!! I made it exactly as the recipe said and it is total delicious perfection! You are amazing! Thank you!

  11. I have a question… for the lasagna recipe in the oven, you layer it by noodle, cheese, then meat sauce, and end with a layer of noodle topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. For your slow cooker recipe, you layer it noodle, meat sauce, then cheese, and there is no last layer of noodle with cheese on top for this recipe. Any particular reason for the 2 differences?

    1. Yes, there’s a reason. In a slow cooker, you don’t want to have cheese (moisture blocking) next to the noodles. It will cause the noodles to become hard and inedible. You don’t have that same issue when it’s cooked in the oven. Hope this helps!

  12. Hello! This looks like an amazing recipe! Thank you for sharing! I plan to make it for my father-in-law’s birthday. I was just wondering if the homemade marinara sauce recipe will make enough for this. I’m scarred I won’t get 6 cups from it. Also, do you think the recipe will easily feed 6 adults? I’m terrible with portion sizes. Thanks a lot ?

    1. The homemade sauce recipe makes about 4 cups so you’ll need to make a batch and a half or just double it and save the other portion for dipping breadsticks or for another recipe. It’ll definitely be enough for 6 adults. Enjoy!

  13. This is the best Lasagna I have ever had. No kidding! I’ve tried so many recipes over the years and all were just okay. But this one is the best! I made it during Christmas and my family was fighting over it. Now, I NEVER follow a recipe exactly. I substituted half the meat with Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage and I used more provolone cheese than mozzarella cheese. I also mixed 1/2 cottage cheese and 1/2 ricotta cheese. I followed the marinara recipe on this site and it was great! Wish I could rate this one 10 stars! Thanks!

  14. I’m allergic to, pork, shrimp, and so on, so I can eat beef and it’s really good, I love lasagna. Thanks for the recipe

  15. This recipe was so good and very easy thanks to your careful instructions.
    I had already purchase the Barilla Oven- Ready Lasagne, so I was thrilled you mentioned this option. And I already had 2 lbs of ground beef which I was certain was going to be too much, but once again your recipe fit the ingredients I bought before I had an actual recipe.
    I made one mistake by not reading through to the end. I couldn’t figure out why the parsley was listed in the middle of the ingredient list and so I just assumed it should be mixed in with the ricotta.
    No harm there.
    Thanks for a wonderful cooking experience with a dish I had to make myself.
    Since I moved to the Sandhills of N.C. I can’t find any place within a 20 mile radius that makes lasagna!

  16. Sabrina
    I am cooking this for Chirstmas for family. I am a little nervous on the no cook Noodles, but I am going to try it. It was much easier to prepare. I am planning to have this tomorrow, so after cooking today and cool, should i just refrigerate rather then Freeze? Then just follow the re heating instructions?

    Anyway I am very excited to see how this comes out .

    thanks