Craving comfort food? Then you'll LOVE this deliciously decadent Cheese Lasagna recipe! This classic layered pasta, which is surprisingly simple to make, features luscious layers of ooey-gooey cheese, a scrumptious sauce, and perfectly cooked noodles ... a total crowd pleaser that's as wonderful for parties as it is for casual dinners!
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This crave-worthy Cheese Lasagna is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. It's a simple recipe, but one that took some experimentation to perfect. And now I find myself returning to it again and again ... and I know that you will, too!
What is not to love? This cozy pasta features a tasty homemade sauce, four cheeses (including a rich, flavorful ricotta layer), and layers of perfectly cooked noodles. Best of all, it's so easy to make!
This wonderfully cheesy recipe serves a crowd, making it ideal for parties, special occasions (like Christmas or Easter), and Sunday night dinners. Don't let its size deter you from serving it for a weeknight meal though! Leftovers make an amazing lunch the next day and can be frozen for later, too.
Ready to treat yourself to a delightful dinner? Then keep reading for all the details!
This classic Italian recipe uses ingredients that are easy to find at most grocery stores. Here's what you'll need:
- Sauce - This recipe uses my homemade Marinara Sauce. It's super quick and simple to make from scratch, and you can let it simmer while you get the other ingredients ready. In a pinch, you could also substitute a couple jars of store bought sauce, like Rao's.
- Cheeses - You'll use a combination of ricotta, parmesan, provolone, and mozzarella to make this Four Cheese Lasagna. For best results, take a minute to shred your own cheese, rather than buying pre-shredded (it melts so much better). Tip: Feel free to simplify the recipe by using just three cheeses (ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella) or even two (ricotta + mozzarella).
- Eggs - The ricotta filling is made by combining the parmesan, half of the mozzarella and provolone, plus two eggs (which help hold everything together).
- Noodles - To save time, this recipe uses no boil lasagna noodles. Look for traditional noodles with wavy edges (like these Delallo noodles). They're a little thicker, absorb more liquid, and hold up better than the flat sheets during the long cooking time.
Tip: This recipe is vegetarian, as long as you use a vegetarian parmesan. BelGioioso makes veg-friendly parm (look for specially marked packaging), and Whole Foods carries one, too.
You'll Also Need
You'll need a large pot to make the sauce (such as a dutch oven), a large bowl to crush the tomatoes, and two medium bowls to mix the cheeses together (one for the ricotta and one for the topping), as well as a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Do not use a smaller baking dish, or it will overflow! I used this nonstick Wilton pan in the photos below, but I've also made the recipe with this beautiful Emile Henry rectangular baker, and it works even better (it's slightly larger and deeper).
How to Make Cheese Lasagna
This homemade Lasagna has a few different components, but it really is easy to make. You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Make marinara sauce. I highly recommend making my quick sauce from scratch rather than buying a jar. It give the recipe a traditional Italian flavor, and it's so simple to prepare! You'll start by sautéing garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add the tomatoes and a sprig of basil, then simmer until thickened (about 20 minutes). Easy-peasy!
- Prepare cheese filing. While the sauce simmers, you can work on the other ingredients. For the filling, you'll combine the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, half the provolone, and half the mozzarella. For the topping, you'll mix the remaining provolone and mozzarella together in a separate bowl. Tip: For the cheesiest, best tasting results, make sure to shred the cheese yourself.
- Add sauce + noodles to pan. Time to start layering. You'll begin by covering the bottom of the pan with sauce, then topping with three noodles.
- Cover noodles with ricotta. Next, cover the noodles with ⅓ of the ricotta mixture.
- Repeat layers. You'll repeat those layers (sauce, noodles, ricotta) two more times. After that, add one more layer of noodles, followed by the remaining sauce.
- Top with cheese. Finish by sprinkling the the provolone-mozzarella mixture over the top.
- Bake. Cover your pan tightly with foil, then bake until the noodles are tender (test them with a fork) and the middle is hot (about 60 minutes). Remove the foil, then continue cooking until the cheese is golden brown. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before serving (this helps everything set up). Tip: Use nonstick foil to cover the pan, or spray regular foil with nonstick spray. That way, all the cheese won't stick to the foil when you remove it.
Okay, it's time to eat. Doesn't that Cheesy Lasagna look divine? And trust me, it tastes even better than it looks!
Tip: This recipe makes about 12 servings, which may seem like a lot if you're not planning a party! You can easily freeze the leftovers though; perfect if you don't enjoy eating the same meal all week, or if have a smaller household like me. Check out the How to Freeze section below for tips.
This classic Cheese Lasagna recipe is super tasty as-is, but if you want to experiment a bit, try one of these easy ideas:
- Cheese - This recipe uses a combo of ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan cheeses. However, you can simplify things and use fewer cheese (just ricotta and mozzarella, for example), and you can substitute another cheese for the provolone (such as fontina).
- Veggies - Consider this recipe a blank canvas for adding all your fave vegetables! Stir cooked spinach into the ricotta mixture (drain well first), or add a layer of sautèed veggies on top of the ricotta.
- Sauce - Marinara is a classic here, but other Italian red sauces will work, too. You could also doctor up this sauce with ingredients like olive or capers. Yum!
- Spicy - If you enjoy spicy foods, add extra crushed red pepper flakes when you're making the sauce.
Tip: If you add ingredients, you'll probably need a slightly deeper / larger pan than a standard 9 x 13-inch baking dish. This gorgeous Emile Henry rectangular baker has a little more wiggle room
This hearty baked pasta makes a wonderful dinner in and of itself! If you'd like to round out your meal though, try one of these side dish ideas:
- Salad - Lasagna + salad is a classic combo for a reason ... the fresh greens balance the heavy pasta! Try it with this simple Green Salad, veggie-packed Garden Salad, this tasty Kale Cranberry Salad, or one of my other salad recipes.
- Garlic Bread - Homemade Garlic Bread is another favorite pairing, especially when you're craving carbs or comfort food.
- Bread Sticks - Warm bread sticks would also be delish, and perfect for dipping in extra sauce!
- Sautéed or Roasted Vegetables - A simple side like sautéed or Roasted Vegetables requires very little effort and is a healthy counterpart to this cheesy dish.
- Appetizers - Planning a party? Stick to easy apps like Crostini, Baked Feta, Stuffed Dates, or Feta, Pepper, and Olive Bites.
- Dessert - End your meal on a light note and serve a refreshing dessert, such as Berry Compote (plus ice cream), Strawberry Frozen Yogurt, Cherry Tarts, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, or perhaps a piece of Homemade Chocolate Bark.
Cover leftover lasagna (in the pan), or transfer it to an airtight container, then store it in your refrigerator where it will stay fresh for three to four days. It can also be frozen ... check out my tips below.
Tip: I like to cut leftovers into single servings before refrigerating in individual containers. It makes the BEST lunch ever!
How to Freeze
Lasagna makes an excellent freezer meal! You can freeze it before or after baking it, and if you're feeling ambitious, you can even prepare two pans at once ... one to eat right away, and one to freeze for later. Here's how to do it:
- Assemble lasagna. Prepare the lasagna as directed in the recipe. If you plan to freeze to whole thing, consider using a foil pan. That way, you won't tie up a baking dish you may need for another meal.
- Optional: Bake + cool. If you plan to cook the lasagna ahead of time (perfect for a quick dinner or meal prep), bake it, then let it cool completely on your counter before continuing.
- Wrap. Next, wrap the pan tightly with heavy duty foil. Once you've done that, use masking tape to add a label (with contents and date). That way, you'll know what's in the pan, and when you need to eat it. You can also freeze cooked lasagna in individual portions (check out my tip below)!
- Freeze. Lasagna can be frozen for up to three months, however it will taste best when eaten within one to two months.
- Reheat. When you're ready to eat it, remove the pan from your freezer and refrigerate overnight. Preheat your oven to 375, then bake for one to one-and-a-half hours (or until hot and bubbly). Remove the foil and continue baking until the top has browned (about 15 minutes more). Let rest for 10 minutes, then serve. If your lasagna has already been cooked, you can also reheat it in a covered dish in your microwave (my preferred method).
Tip: There are only two people in my household, so I personally prefer to freeze lasagna after baking. Then once it's cooled, I cut it into individual portions and freeze it in separate containers. This makes it super easy to grab just enough for one or two meals, and you can quickly and easily reheat it in your microwave.
Looking for more delicious cozy lasagna + pasta recipes? Try one of these meals next:
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Four Cheese Crock Pot Lasagna
- Veggie Crock Pot Lasagna
- Mexican Lasagna
- Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells
- Veggie Pasta Bake
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Lasagna is typically made with Italian cheeses, like ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and fontina. You can choose two, such as ricotta and mozzarella, or you can use a combination of three or four cheeses for a more complex flavor.
It's possible to make lasagna with any kind of mozzarella cheese, however starting with a block of cheese (either part-skim or full-fat) usually works best. Fresh mozzarella is delicious, but it contains a lot of water. Unless your recipe specifically calls for it, fresh mozzarella may make your lasagna watery. You should also avoid using pre-shredded cheese, which doesn't melt as well because it's coated with anti-clumping agents.
Lasagna is traditionally made with ricotta cheese, not cottage cheese. Using ricotta cheese will give your lasagna a richer, more authentic flavor.
Adding an egg to the ricotta cheese, helps bind the cheese layer together, which makes the lasagna hold together better. You can leave the egg out in a pinch ... your lasagna will just be a little messier to serve.
While there isn't a set rule, lasagna usually has three to four layers of noodles ... sometimes more. If you're making a lasagna that's light on filling, you will have room in your pan for more layers. If you're making a lasagna that's heavy on filling, use fewer layers, otherwise your pan may overflow.
The correct order to layer lasagna is:
3. Repeat these three layers two more times (sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, ricotta).
Tip: If your lasagna has another filling, like veggies, add it after the ricotta layer (before the sauce).
For best results, start with the pan covered. That way, your lasagna won't dry out. Then once it's hot and the noodles are tender, remove the cover and continue cooking until the cheese is starts to brown (about 10 to 15 minutes more).
You should let lasagna sit for about 10 minutes before cutting. This allows it to cool off slightly and hold together better, making serving easier.
- 2 (28-ounce / 794 grams) cans whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 to 8 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 large sprigs fresh basil
- 1 (8-ounce / 227 grams) block mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 (8-ounce / 227 grams) block provolone cheese, shredded
- 2 (15-ounce / 426 grams) containers ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- nonstick cooking spray
- 12 no boil lasagna noodles (see note)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Transfer tomatoes to a large bowl; crush with your hands into small pieces. Set aside.
- Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in a dutch oven (or large sauce pan). Warm over medium heat until garlic is fragrant and sizzling (do not let color).
- Stir tomatoes, ½ cup water, and basil sprigs into garlic mixture. Cook sauce at a lively simmer until it has thickened slightly, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove basil sprig, then season sauce to taste with salt. Stir in additional chopped basil, if desired. Let cool slightly before using.
- Combine half the mozzarella and half the provolone. Set aside.
- Mix remaining mozzarella and provolone with ricotta, parmesan, eggs, salt, and about 6 to 10 grinds of fresh pepper (or to taste). Set aside.
- Cover bottom of pan with 1 cup sauce.
- Top sauce with 3 lasagna noodles.
- Spread ⅓ of ricotta mixture over noodles.
- Repeat these 3 layers (1 cup sauce, 3 noodles, ⅓ ricotta) 2 more times. You should end with a layer of ricotta.
- Top ricotta with 3 more noodles, then remaining sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella-provolone cheese mixture over top.
- Cover pan tightly with foil, then bake until noodles are tender and center is hot (about 60 minutes).
- Discard foil, then continue baking until cheese turns golden brown (about 15 minutes).
- Remove lasagna from oven, then let rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!