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The Best Meat Sauce Lasagna Recipe For Easy Weeknight Meals

by | Nov 12, 2021 | Recipes

This Meat Sauce Lasagna recipe is a super easy go-to weeknight meal that pays dividends in delicious leftovers throughout the week. Layers of creamy ricotta mixed with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese sit between layers of lasagna noodles and melty mozzarella cheese. And everything’s nestled together and baked in a rich, deeply flavorful Italian sausage meat sauce. You seriously can’t go wrong with this Meat Sauce Lasagna!

close up of lasagna with meat sauce

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Over the years, I’ve found that there are two primary keys to making a meat sauce lasagna that gets rave reviews–a delicious, substantial sauce and a flavorful ricotta. You can still get excellent feedback from friends and family if you have just one of these elements in place.

But if you have both?? Don’t be surprised if you start getting requests to make “your lasagna” for get-togethers and holidays. This Meat Sauce Lasagna recipe is one that I tested on some pretty tough food critics–my Italian relatives–and it got the gold seal of approval. So if you make this lasagna, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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INGREDIENTS    SWAPS    TIPS & TRICKS    HOW-TO    RECIPE

Meat Sauce Lasagna

Lasagna is like a gift from the Gods to those who love leftovers and/or are the meal prepping type. It’s a simple, hearty dish that can be made in advance and gets better in flavor as it ages in the fridge. What’s not to love, right?

There are so many ways to make a lasagna between the different flavor combinations and the ingredient swaps to make them gluten free or vegetarian friendly. But my absolute favorite kind of lasagna is and always will be a Meat Sauce Lasagna. That’s because the deep, rich flavor of a meat sauce combined with ooey, gooey melty cheese just screams “home” to me.

In this Meat Sauce Lasagna, I use either my Hearty Italian Sausage Meat Sauce or my bolognese. In a pinch, I may perk up some jarred marinara with sausage or beef crumbles and some pantry spices if I’m short on time. But, more often than not, I have a batch of my meat sauce or bolognese in my freezer and ready to use for when a lasagna craving hits.

close of hearty italian sausage meat sauce

To Use Egg or Not to Use Egg (in the Ricotta)

Personally, I’m not big on ricotta cheese in general. So, I like to have thin layers of ricotta in my meat sauce lasagna. If you prefer a thick, fluffy layer of ricotta in your lasagna, by all means whip in an egg or two. But if you’re like me, follow the directions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post and skip the eggs in your ricotta filling.

close up of seasoned ricotta cheese mixture

Ok, enough chit-chat….let’s get on to the deliciousness that is this Meat Sauce Lasagna!

Gonna try out this recipe?

Leave a star rating or review in the comments to let me know what you think!

Ingredients For Meat Sauce Lasagna

overhead shot of ingredients to make meat sauce lasagna
  • Meat Sauce – I like to use either my homemade bolognese or my Hearty Italian Sausage Meat Sauce.
  • Lasagna Noodles – This recipe uses standard boxed noodles that you have to cook before using. I like to use the ones from Barilla.
  • Ricotta Cheese – I used to think there wasn’t a difference in brands of ricotta cheese until I tried a few. Now, I tend to use Polly-O or Galbani ricotta cheese because I find them to be creamier.
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – You can cut the fresh mozzarella into slices, cubes, or shred it. I tend to opt for cutting it into slices because it’s easiest.
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese – The parmesan cheese brings a punch of salt that melds into the ricotta. The end result is a perfect balance of saltiness with the Italian seasoning and the meat sauce in the lasagna.
  • Italian Seasoning – This is where the magic happens. It’s Italian seasoning, combined with the parmesan, that bumps up the flavor of the ricotta layer.

Pin this recipe to make later!

pinterest graphic for meat sauce lasagna recipe

Ingredient Swaps & Variations

  • Lasagna Noodle Sheets – If you prefer, you can swap out the traditional lasagna noodles for the oven-ready noodle sheets.
  • Jarred Sauce – Are you short on time? If so, you can swap out my Hearty Italian Sausage Meat Sauce with a jar of store-bought sauce. I promise that it won’t be as delicious as with my sauce, but it will still get rave reviews if you stick with using my ricotta mixture.
  • Go Big and Bold! – If you’re a cheese lover, perhaps the slight nutty flavor of parmesan leaves something to be desired for you. In that case, swap out the parm for some parmigiano-reggiano for an extra kick of saltiness and a more complex flavor profile.
  • Bring Veggies Into the Fold! – Ok, I know I said my most favorite lasagna is a meat sauce lasagna, but I’m totally down with adding in some veg to bulk it up. Veggies I like to incorporate include zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, spinach, kale, onions, and chunks of fresh tomatoes.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

What to Remember – Boil the noodles until they’re almost al dente; they’ll finish cooking while the lasagna is in the oven. I like to look at the times listed on the box of noodles for al dente and subtract 2 minutes–that’s when I take my noodles for this meat sauce lasagna out of the boiling water.

What to Avoid – Two very important things to remember when making lasagna of any kind. First, don’t forget to put the layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. This sauce is what helps to ensure that the bottom layer of noodles doesn’t stick to the dish. Second, don’t overcook your noodles when you boil them; if you do, you’ll end up with a lasagna that has mushy noodles.

Recipes That Go Well with this Meat Sauce Lasagna – I like serving my lasagna with a side salad of mixed greens or a veggie. If you’re a salad person, I highly suggest you make these Homemade Rosemary and Garlic Croutons to top your salad. For veggies, I enjoy this lasagna with a helping of my Garlicky Green Beans, Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots, or Crispy Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Feta.

ingredients in meat sauce lasagna

Recipe Notes

Storage – Store meat sauce lasagna leftovers in an airtight glass or plastic container in the fridge. Stored properly, the lasagna will stay good for up to 7 days.

Reheating – Individual portions of leftover lasagna can be reheated in either the microwave or in the oven. Leftover lasagna still in the baking dish is best reheated in the oven covered with foil at 350 degrees until warmed to your desired temperature.

Servings & Nutrition – One serving of this Meat Sauce Lasagna is 1/8 of the lasagna. This recipe makes 8 servings. Each serving has approximately 460 calories, 45 g of carbohydrates, 26 g of protein, 19 g of fat, and 11 g of sugar. For the full recipe and additional nutritional information, please see the recipe card below.

How to Make Meat Sauce Lasagna

Step 1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Boil your lasagna noodles using the directions on the box; make sure the noodles are not quite al dente. As the noodles are boiling, combine the ricotta cheese with the parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl. Set the ricotta mixture aside.

ricotta and parmesan in a mixing bowl with italian seasoning

Step 2. Add a few large spoonfuls of the meat sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread the sauce around to evenly coat the bottom of the baking dish. Then, add four lasagna noodles to the bottom of the dish with the noodles slightly overlapping each other.

layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the baking dish

Step 3. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture into the dish and spread the mixture into an even layer over the noodles. Then add 4-6 spoonfuls of the meat sauce on top of the ricotta mixture. Spread to fully cover the ricotta with the sauce. Top the sauce with 1/3 of your mozzarella cheese.

Step 4. Add another four lasagna noodles to the dish, with each overlapping a little. Then top the noodles with another layer of ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and mozzarella.

overhead shots of steps to make lasagna

Step 5. Finally, add your last four lasagna noodles, with each overlapping a little. Top the noodles with all of the remaining meat sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Step 6. Bake the meat sauce lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the mozzarella on top is melted and golden brown in spots here and there. When the lasagna is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes to “set”. Letting the lasagna cool slightly during this time will help ensure easy slicing and limit how much it spreads on the plate when served.

close up of meat sauce lasagna recipe

If you make this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram—I love seeing what you guys decided to make!

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have fresh mozzarella or parmesan on hand; can I just use the pre-shredded stuff that comes in a bag?

Yes and no is my honest answer here. Yes, because you can swap them out and this lasagna will still be tasty AF. But, no because you should really treat yourself to the magic of a cheese pull when eating lasagna. The anti-caking agent that coats all the pre-shredded stuff makes the cheese less melty, which usually means no cheese pull.

How do I keep from getting crispy edges on the noodles of my lasagna when I bake it?

The only surefire way to prevent the noodles of your lasagna that are at the edges of your baking dish from getting crispy (or burned) is to make sure you cover them with sauce! This Meat Sauce Lasagna recipe calls for using 4 cups of meat sauce; this should be enough to ensure coverage of your noodles. But if it isn’t, don’t hesitate to use more meat sauce–just make sure to not overfill your baking dish!

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

close up of lasagna with meat sauce

The Best Meat Sauce Lasagna Recipe For Easy Weeknight Meals

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Layers of creamy ricotta, melty parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and lasagna noodles come together in a rich Italian sausage meat sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sausage meat sauce
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Stir well to thoroughly combine.

3. Add a few spoonfuls of the Ultimate Hearty Italian Sausage Meat Sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and spread to evenly coat the bottom of the dish.

4. Next, add 4 lasagna noodles in an even layer on top of the sauce. Each noodle will slightly overlap.

5. Add half of the ricotta mixture on top of the lasagna noodles. Spread the ricotta mixture over the noodles in an even layer.

6. Top the ricotta mixture with a 4-6 spoonfuls of meat sauce and spread to an even layer. Then, place a few slices of your fresh mozzarella on top of the meat sauce. It's ok if there are empty spots without cheese; as the lasagna bakes, the cheese will melt and reduce these gaps.

7. Add the next layer of your lasagna noodles and then top with another layer of ricotta mixture, meat sauce, and cheese.

8. Once you've placed down your last 4 noodles, top the noodles with all remaining meat sauce and then place the remaining cheese on top of the meat sauce.

9. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the mozzarella has fully melted and begins turning a light golden brown.

10. Remove lasagna from oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes to "set" before slicing and serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 of the lasagna
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 945mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 26g

This nutrition data is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional values may vary based on the brand of ingredients you use to make this recipe.

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Hey there! I’m Krystal, the sassy-mouthed, self-taught, home cook behind the content here at Sweet, Savory & Sassy. I have a deep love for sharing food with people and showing folks just how easy it really is to make dishes that will bring a little extra joy to those you love. There’s nothing like making something special for friends and family and seeing their face light up in delight during that first bite!
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