In case you think having an Italian grandmother is a requirement to being able to make a good lasagna, we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think. Of course, it always helps to stand next to an expert in the kitchen, but we’re going to teach you how to make the best lasagna for dinner. And let’s be real—having a trusty lasagna recipe in your arsenal is smart for a couple of reasons. Not only is lasagna extra comforting (even when the recipe is ketogenic, gluten-free, or paleo), but a pan of it is large enough to feed a family for a couple of days. Lasagna also freezes easily so you can get ahead on meal prep when you need to.
How to Make Homemade Lasagna
Making the best lasagna starts with understanding the structure of the dish. Popular food writer, cookbook author, and New York Times columnist Alison Roman’s secret to achieving ingredient harmony is all about the ratios. “For me, a very good lasagna isn't overly cheesy or too saucy or insanely indulgent—there should be a civilized ratio of pasta:sauce:cheese so that each slice feels satisfying but also balanced.” Keep reading to get your ideas flowing with a list of some of the most popular fillings.
How to Make Lasagna Step by Step
To make the best lasagna, you need to know how to layer lasagna. We’re sharing some of our favorite lasagna recipes from the blog, but any dish will have these step-by-step instructions for building the dish. (Oh, did we mention you can also make Instant Pot lasagna? It’s possible.)
Step 1: Sauce
Sauce is absolutely essential for lasagna, and most of the time, it’ll be tomato-based. If you’re making sauce from scratch for a recipe, make this your first step because the sauce can take up to an hour to simmer. Better yet, get a head start and make the sauce a day or two ahead.
Step 2: Noodles
Lasagna noodles form the sturdy, toothsome layers that support the rest of the ingredients. If you’re short on time, use a no-bake noodle method, which involves layering uncooked noodles into a pan and letting them cook with the rest of the dish. Otherwise, boil them as you would any other pasta, then arrange them on a sheet tray to cool before assembling. To keep noodles from sticking together, rub them with a bit of oil after you remove them from the pan.
Step 3: Cheese
Ricotta cheese is one of the most popular additions to classic lasagna, but you can also mix things up. In fact, some of the best recipes don’t rely on only one cheese, but a combination of several. Here are a few ideas:
Step 4: Fillings
The last step to consider is fillings. Now, you can make a perfectly incredible lasagna with nothing more than layers of sauce, cheese, and noodles—if that’s your jam. But, if you want to add something extra, try including a layer of cooked ground beef, spicy Italian sausage, sautéed mushrooms or spinach, or a medley of zucchini and squash.
How to Make Lasagna Sauce
A jammy tomato sauce doesn’t just add flavor, but a perfectly thick sauce also helps the lasagna keep its structure, preventing it from falling apart when you slice into it. Here’s a simple, classic recipe you can use for any lasagna you dream up.
Simple Lasagna Sauce Recipe
This basic lasagna recipe is perfect for layering with cheese, meat, and veggies. You can also use it for an easy spaghetti dinner or as a base for shakshuka—just add cumin and chili powder to spice things up.
Yield: About 8 cups sauce
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hr
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Thrive Market Organic Ground Pepper
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Tomato Paste
2 (28-ounce) cans Thrive Market Organic Crushed Tomatoes
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook until it turns a dark red color, about 2 minutes more. Add crushed tomatoes to the pot, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom. Fill one of the tomato cans halfway with water and add it to the pot; season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 to 45 minutes.
How to Make Healthy Lasagna
Lasagna isn’t known for making an appearance on health food lists because it’s known for being a carb-fest thanks to loads of cheese and noodles. (FYI, 440 is the number of lasagna calories in a single serving.) While classic recipes certainly have their time and place, there’s no reason you can’t freshen things up and make healthy lasagna once in awhile, too. Here are some tips!
- Keto lasagna: Making a keto lasagna relies on one big swap: ditching noodles and replacing them with cabbage leaves. We have a recipe below, and it’s absolutely crave-worthy.
- Low-carb lasagna: Just like the keto lasagna, lowering the carb count is simply a matter of finding a replacement for the noodles. Cabbage stands in nicely, but you can also try layers of thinly sliced zucchini.
- Vegan lasagna: For vegan lasagna, you’ll need a cheese substitute. You can make your own using soaked cashews or macadamia nuts. You could also try a layer of herbed hummus or pick up one of the many cheese alternatives on the market these days. For a protein boost, include a layer of mushrooms or seitan.
- Vegetarian lasagna: Skip the meat and opt for layers of veggie lasagna goodness. Instead of a red sauce, try a cashew-based bechamel blended with fresh herbs like basil or sage, layers of puréed butternut squash, and part-skim mozzarella cheese.
Best Lasagna Ingredients
Here are our picks to make sure your pantry is ready when your next lasagna craving strikes.
Thrive Market Organic Pasta Sauce, Roasted Garlic
The flavor of roasted garlic will add depth to your lasagna and give it that simmered-all-day flavor.
Thrive Market Organic Crushed Tomatoes
For a homemade sauce, keep cans of crushed tomatoes handy at all times. This 28-ounce jar is made with organic, vine-ripened tomatoes that have been steam-peeled and puréed in small batches.
Crown Prince Anchovy Fillets
For a little added something that no one can quite put their finger on, add a few fillets of anchovies to your sauce. These little fish were wild-caught in Morocco and have been salt-cured, one of the oldest preservation methods around.
Thrive Market Organic Raw Cashews
For vegan lasagnas, a DIY cheese sauce using soaked cashews is easy to master. With 5 grams of protein per serving, these nuts add a nutritional boost to every bite.
Jovial Organic Brown Rice Lasagna
Make it a gluten-free lasagna night with organic brown rice noodles. Each serving delivers protein and iron, and the noodles are made from only two ingredients: organic brown rice flour and water.
Easy Lasagna Recipes
The Thrive Market blog has you covered in the comfort food department. Here are two easy lasagna recipes to try at home.
Yes, lasagna is still on the menu when following a ketogenic diet. Just make this smart version that swaps noodles for cabbage leaves and you’re good to go.
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Vegetarian Lasagna
Veggies are the focus of this lasagna recipe that features butternut squash, mushrooms, and meaty Botija olives. It’s a real stunner for dinner parties—even carnivores won’t be able to resist the flavor trifecta.