Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, homemade marinara and a few chef tricks tastes like it’s from your favorite Italian restaurant.
Easy and comforting baked Italian Recipes will fill your home with an amazing aroma, and feed a crowd of hungry bellies too! Once you’ve mastered this Ultimate Meat Lasagna, try other kid-friendly favorites like Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti, Cheese Beef Pasta Bake, or Cheesy Manicotti.
This easy lasagna recipe has been in development 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. It’s finally gotten to a place that it is truly the Ultimate Meat Lasagna.
This recipe contains some restaurant tricks to take this lasagna to 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.
This recipe also uses all beef, but the sausage flavor in most restaurant lasagnas is easy to duplicate. To do that easily here without using sausage, you’ll add in some fennel seeds when browning the beef and brown it in larger chunks. This gives the distinct sausage flavor and the larger chunks of beef help mimic the sausage texture.
Lastly, adding an egg and seasoning the ricotta cheese will up the richness of it and makes it taste a little less grainy than ricotta normally tastes. Serve this Ultimate Meat Lasagna with some your favorite Olive Garden Salad and some delicious and easy Garlic Bread for a complete Italian feast!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Classic noodles are favored for recipes where you boil the noodles, but this recipe calls for the no boil noodles for ease and for the look. The noodles resemble handmade noodles more and serve in a neater way.
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.
This baking pan will give you the perfect edges and handle more filling. Glass pans won’t cut it for this recipe.
How to Store Ultimate Meat Lasagna
- Serve: Do not leave Meat Lasagna at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- Store: Once cooled, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Make the lasagna and let it cool completely (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.
- 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 , (flat no boil 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
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- 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.
- Cook until the beef is browned and add in the basil, oregano, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds.
- Stir until you start to smell the fennel seeds starting to toast then drain the fat and add in the marinara sauce.
- In your ricotta container, if you have space, add the egg and ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and mix well.
- Add your no boil noodles to the meat sauce (you are not looking to cook them, just coat them in the sauce to ensure they don't get dry in the oven).
- Put 1 ½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan (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).
- Add the dried no boil noodles in an even layer, for this pan it was 5 noodles per layer, four across and one broken in half lengthwise to go down the side of the pan.
- Add ⅓ the provolone slices, another 1 ½ cups of the meat sauce, ¼ of the mozzarella, ¼ of the parmesan and ⅓ of the ricotta in spoonfuls dotting across the pan.
- Repeat with the same noodle/cheese/meat sauce process.
- Finally, add a top layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Cover with foil.
- Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional ten minutes to brown the cheese.
- Let cool for 20-25 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with parsley.
Photos used in a previous version of this post:
Can this be frozen, before baking?
Yes, for the best results, freeze lasagna after it has been assembled but before it’s been baked. Freezing food this way will help maintain the lasagna’s cheese and noodle texture and prevent it from getting soggy. If you’ve already baked your lasagna, don’t worry; it can still be frozen! Check out the blog for instructions on how to freeze leftovers (if there are any!).
I wanted to ask could you layer this in a crockpot and cook it and it be the same as your photos make it look delicious?? Please let me know thanks so much . Cooking time and low or high heat ?
Hi Jean, I’m sorry this response is so late. Perhaps you would enjoy trying my Slow Cooker Lasagna Recipe? https://dinnerthendessert.com/slow-cooker-lasagna/?swcfpc=1
I just made this for our Thanksgiving dinner and it’s AMAZING! I only made am 8×8 pan, because a 9×13 won’t fit in my counter top oven. I don’t like a lot of lasagnas, because they don’t have enough meat and are too juicy. This recipe’s just right. I did change one thing, I used mild Italian sausage, because I already had it. I promise to make it as written next time.?
Definitely a keeper! My Sister shared this receipt with me & I get so many compliments. It’s so delicious
Hello! Looks delicious and I can’t wait to make this lasagna. Can I make this recipe with boiled noodles instead of no bake? If so what changes would need to be made?
easy recipe to follow. my guests rated it best lasagna! thank you
If I assemble it 2 days before and keep in fridge, (along with the normal lasagna cooked 2 min shy of directions), how long would I bake it for?
Is it okay to wait for 2 days?
spectacular. i sub veg meat substitute in place of the real and i’ve given to italians who are clueless. it is that good a recipe.
* instruction number 10 tells you to repeat the process. in fact you need to repeat it twice to use the ingredients you have.
My granddaughter and I made this recipe yesterday, it was awesome! We did substitute one pound of the ground beef for Italian sausage. Everyone loved it and it was very filling.
I finally feel I have perfected lasagne with this recipe! I had to make changes in quantities because I need a huge pan of lasagne. I made this in a lasagne pan with deep sides and made one full recipe and a half. It fit perfectly and sliced into such beautiful layers. I let it sit 10 minutes before slicing. Sliced the squares, then let it sit a few more minutes. Perfect!
I have never use provolone in lasagne….loved that addition….but the “piece de resistance” was your marinara sauce. I believe this sauce took the lasagne to another level. This is a time consuming recipe with all of the prep work but it is so worth the effort. Thank you Sabrina
Aww thank you Jennie! So happy you enjoyed it!
Hi Sabrina. I love this recipe. If I assemble the lasagna today and refrigerate to bake tomorrow, how much extra time should I add to the baking time?
Maybe 10? Definitely keep an eye on it though. Enjoy!
Absolutely the best lasagna!! Thank you for sharing!!
How much longer would it need to be cooked if I freeze it and forget to thaw it? My son and daughter-in-law both work 12 hour shifts days and/or nights so they quite often forget to thaw things out and just put it in the oven.
Made it for dinner tonight and froze one for another night for their family to enjoy.
It is amazing. Everyone enjoyed it. ?????.
Hello Rose! 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. I’m so glad everyone enjoyed this recipe!
From the picture, I am wondering if you had used 2 layers of noodles at a time, on each layering??
This lasagna looks incredible. I can’t wait to make it!
Hi! No I used just a single layer of noodle at a time. Hope you enjoy it!
Amazing. Mine looks and taste so great
Can I freeze after assembly? To bake later on?
Of course 🙂
I served this my first time for our family’s March Birthday Celebration. It was a huge hit!
Thanks for coming back to let me know, Nancy. Wish everyone a Happy Birthday from me!
I’ve made this recipe before w/ the no-boil noodles & it was amazing! Honestly, we really loved the red pepper addition & we thought it was the best we’ve ever had… so thank you!!! With that being said, we have a ton of regular lasagna noodles to use, so how should I make it w/ those?
I realize this comment is very old, so I am so sorry for the delay in replying.
Cook two minutes shy of the directions on the box. Also use 1/2 cup less liquid.
This was unbelievably delicious, the meat sauce was perfectly seasoned. The lasagna cheeses were perfectly proportioned, and baked so well together! My family loved it, it’s my go to recipe now!
That’s fantastic to know, Sharon!
This is now my go to recipe! It’s delicious ?
Thanks for the 5 stars, Jaimie.
What do we do if the store only has lasagna you are meant to boil? Do you have to boil it first before proceeding with this recipe?
I am so sorry, I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.
I would boil the noodles 2 minutes shy of the directions on the box. and use 1/2 cup less liquid.
making this tonight for my family. Will report how well it was received.
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