Ultimate Meat Lasagna

12 Servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

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.

Meat Lasagna on plate.

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.

Ultimate Meat Lasagna Collage of meat and sauce cooking

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!

Ultimate Meat Lasagna Collage of assembly

Frequently Asked Questions

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 noodles for ease and for the look. The noodles resemble handmade noodles more and serve in a neater way.

How do I 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.

What size baking pan should I use for Meat Lasagna?

This baking pan will give you the perfect edges and handle more filling. Glass pans won’t cut it for this recipe.

Ultimate Meat Lasagna sliced in baking dish

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.
Ultimate Meat Lasagna slice on plate with salad

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Ultimate Meat Lasagna

Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, homemade marinara and a few chef tricks tastes like it's from your favorite Italian restaurant.
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


  • 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.



Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1626mg | Potassium: 771mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1115IU | Vitamin C: 8.6mg | Calcium: 444mg | Iron: 3.8mg
Ultimate Meat Lasagna Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post:

meat lasagna collage of pictures
four cheese and meat lasagna
slice of meat lasagna on plate

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Thank you for the recipe. It is a good recipe but I will have to tweak it for my family. It’s too much cheese and salt. It tasted good but I do not feel good after eating it.

  2. This is, by far, the best meat lasagna I have ever made. My family is still raving about it. Will definitely make it again

  3. This recipe was a huge hit with my boyfriend’s family. I made it the day before, refrigerated it, and then baked the day of. I used your marinara sauce recipe, too, and that really made it very flavorful. The only thing I changed was that I reduced the salt in the meat by about 1/4 and I put a thin layer of sauce on the top layer of the lasagna (recipe just says to put cheese, but I was worried the no boil noodles wouldn’t cook. I used some jarred sauce I have since meat sauce wouldn’t make sense here. It worked great). The only thing I would change next time is to reduce the salt even further – I would probably use about half of what the recipe calls for in the meat. One of my two trays was salty, the other one was just right, not quite sure why. Even with that, this recipe was fantastic! Will definitely be my new go-to lasagna recipe!

  4. I love your recipe and will be making it again for some out of town guests that will be visiting soon. Can I make this ahead and freeze whole without cutting it in single servings? What would the reheating temperature and time be?

    1. Yes you can. You can either defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, then let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven, and bake as directed by your recipe.

      If you bake the lasagna straight from the freezer it will likely take twice as long as the recipe indicates, and you’ll need to be careful with glass or ceramic baking dishes. Remember to remove any plastic wrap and cover the lasagna with a layer of foil until the final 10 minutes or so of baking — that’s when you’ll brown the top.

    1. 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!).

  5. 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 ?

  6. 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.?

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

    specfckingtacular !!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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?

  13. 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. ?????.

    1. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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?

    1. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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?

    1. 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.