lasagna bolognese

This, this is my culinary Mount Everest. This twenty-layer striation of noodles, ragu, béchamel and cheese, repeated four times and then some took me more than five years to conquer. To be honest, six years ago I didn’t know what it was. Sure, I had heard of lasagna but I wasn’t terribly fond of it because I don’t much care for the texture of ricotta once it has baked. (Ricotta, I’d argue, is best rich, fresh, and cold on toast.) But I was galloping through a post on an Italian food blog and I stumbled upon a parenthesised side-thought that stopped me dead in my tracks. It said something along the lines of “I don’t know whose idea it was to put ricotta in lasagna but… shudder.” And I thought, but wait! What’s supposed to go in lasagna? But there was no answer, so I set out to find one.

minced mirepoix (love this step)
browning the meat, vegetables

Lasagna alla Bolognese is an epic dish. Oh sure, it looks like an ordinary broiled mass of cheese, pasta and meaty tomato sauce but it’s so much more. To make it as I dreamed from that day forward I wanted to, everything gets a lot of love and time. The ragu is cooked for hours. The béchamel (ahem, besciamella), although the simplest of the five “Mother Sauces,” is still a set of ingredients that must be cooked separately, and in a prescribed order. The pasta doesn’t have to be fresh, but I figured if I was going to do this, I was going to really, really do this and I wanted fresh, delicious sheets of pasta to support the other cast members I’d so lovingly craft. And the cheese? There’s just one, Parmesan, and it doesn’t overwhelm.

simmered and dreamy

making pasta dough

So why did it take the better part of six years to conquer? First, I had to find the ragu of my dreams. I realize that most people have a bolognese they like — maybe it has milk or a mix of meats, not just beef (mine doesn’t), maybe it goes easy on the wine (mine doesn’t), maybe it can’t be cooked for less than six hours (mine can) and maybe it just has a slip of tomatoes inside (mine doesn’t). I sometimes think that there are as many interpretations of bolognese as there are people who make it; it’s totally cool to use your favorite. But if you’re still bolognese-hunting, oh, I do love Anne Burrell’s above all else. You could forgo the pasta, the white sauce and the cheese and enjoy it straight from a bowl. But today, we won’t. [Note: In 2020, I added a new bolognese recipe to the site.]

cranking it out
some flour if it seems sticky
"jacob help! jacob turn!"
all rolled out
boiling the noodles
pasta, cooked, not sticking this time

Even once I found my ragu nirvana, it took a couple rounds to get the lasagna right. The first time I made the noodles, I rolled them too thin and put them on towels, where they proceeded to stick. Miserably. The dish was intended for a 2 p.m. lunch in New Jersey; at 3, Alex was running to a bodega in Manhattan to buy a box of dried pasta. On the plus side, we’re still talking to each other. On the minus, we had “lunch” at almost 8 that night. I had a few other mishaps; recipes I found seemed out of balance or evasive in directions. One béchamel was too thin. And I kept ending up with too much ragu, too little white sauce, too many noodles, not enough directions, too little time. It was until this week that I finally got the recipe exactly as I’d always dreamed of it, with I hope a level of detail that will make it replicable for anyone at home. Even if you, like me, got to the final inning and realized you were out of cheese, requiring a run to the bodega to pick up I don’t want to even talk about it variety of so-called Parmesan. Yes, even for people like me.

bechamel, ahem, besciamella
grating bodega parmesan
a little bechamel, first layer of noodleslayering it up

Now here’s the part where I know you’re not going to believe me, but I implore you to consider it: This lasagna, it feels light, almost ethereal, or as close as a decidedly hearty dish can. Maybe it’s the absence of ricotta and mozzarella, or the thinness of the homemade noodles but something about it feels utterly decadent, mindbogglingly delicious, completely warming but not … gutting. It needn’t immediately lead to a nap on the sofa. It’s a miracle. A miracle in twenty parts. Let’s get started.

lasagna bolognese-1
lasagna bolognese-3

Don’t eat meat? Don’t miss this Perfect Vegetable Lasagna or Mushroom Lasagna.

One year ago: Meaball Subs with Caramelized Onions and Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Two years ago: Chana Masala, Walnut Jam Cake and Ginger Fried Rice
Three years ago: Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes, Crisp Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw and Whole Lemon Tart
Four years ago: Matzo Ball Soup, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares and Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough
Five years ago: Artichoke, Asparagus and Shiitake Risotto and Miniature Soft Pretzels

Lasagna Bolognese

This is a beast of a dish, and worth every second you put into it. I recommend making the meat sauce a day or longer before you need it; then, do everything else on the second day. Give yourself more time than you could possibly need on the second day, so that you can make the dish from a place of leisure and love, and not one that is frenzied and not particularly fun. You’ll be glad you did. This is a perfect project for a lazy winter weekend, something two people could then eat dreamily all week.

You will have double the bolognese sauce that you need because I cannot in good conscience let you spend several hours simmering a sauce that will only make enough for one lasagna. You can freeze the extra or… make another lasagna.

A note on authenticity: This is the kind of dish that gets, ahem, passionate cooks out in droves. I’ve been told that you cannot call it bolognese if you simmer it for less than __ hours or that it can/can’t have tomato/milk/wine/only beef in it. Others will pfft over the lack of color on the crust (I had a word with my dinky oven about it). I absolutely love this about cooking — the way we care so deeply about the way our food is made, and how much I’m lucky enough to learn about the different ways people approach the same dish. But, my other favorite part about cooking is that it’s just you in the kitchen and you can make your food the way you alone like it. Feel free to tweak this to your taste by replacing portions of the beef with other meats, using less tomato paste or wine if desired or replacing some wine with milk.

A new bolognese: In 2020, I added a new bolognese recipe to the site. These days, I often make this lasagna with it instead. The biggest differences are that it uses white wine instead of red, and much less of it, it adds a little milk, and there’s no thyme. You will use the whole bolognese volume here.

    Bolognese sauce
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1-inch pieces are fine)
  • 1 large or 2 slim carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef or, if you prefer, 1 pound each beef and pork
  • 1 1/4 cups tomato paste (from 2 6-ounce cans)
  • 2 cups red wine, preferably hearty but really, anything you like to drink
  • Water as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs thyme, tied in a bundle
  • Pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water, if needed
  • Béchamel sauce
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Assembly
  • 1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Day 1: Make the bolognese sauce: In a food processor, pulse onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until finely chopped. Heat a moderate-sized Dutch oven (4 to 5 quarts) over medium-high heat. Once hot, coat the bottom of the pan with two to three tablespoons of oil. Once it is hot, add the chopped vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until they are evenly brown, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.

I’m going to insert my favorite Burrell-ism here: Brown food tastes good! Don’t skimp on the cooking times as this creates the big flavors the will carry right through to your plated lasagna. And now I’m going to insert my own-ism: Don’t worry about sticking bits of food or uneven pieces or anything. It’s all going to work out in the end.

Add the ground beef and seasoning again with salt and pepper. Brown the beef well and again, don’t rush this step. Cook for another 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red wine, using it to scrape up any stuck bits in the pan. Cook the wine until it has reduced by half, about 5 more minutes. Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything, bringing it to a low simmer.

Here’s how the next 3 to 4 hours will go: You’ll keep a pitcher of water near the stove. You’ll stir the sauce from time to time. As the water in the sauce cooks off, you’ll want to add more but you don’t want to add more than 1 to 2 cups at a time or you’ll have boiled meat sauce (bleh) rather than something thick and robust with flavor. Taste it from time to time and add more seasoning if needed. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

You’ll have about 8 to 8 1/2 cups of sauce but will only need 4 for the lasagna. Discard the thyme and bay leaves and put half in the fridge for lasagna assembly tomorrow and the other half in the freezer for up to a couple months. Ours was still as good as day one after 6 weeks.

Day 2: Make your pasta: Combine all of the pasta ingredients in a food processor. Run the machine until the mixture begins to form a ball. You’re looking for a dough that is firm but not sticky. If needed, add water a drop at a time until it comes together. Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and invert a bowl over it. Let it rest for an hour. (You’ll have about 10 ounces or a little less than 2/3 pound of fresh pasta dough.)

Get your work area ready; I like to line a large tray with waxed paper. Dust the waxed paper with flour. Keep more waxed paper and flour nearby.

Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, run in through your pasta roller on the widest setting (usually “0”), then repeat this process with the roller set increasingly smaller (1, 2, 3) until the pasta is very thin. My Atlas machine goes to 9 but I almost always stop at 8 because this setting makes for thin, delicate pasta that’s not so fragile that I’m pulling my hair out with frustration trying to move it around.

If you find your dough sticking, lightly flour it. If it gets too big to handle, cut it in half. If the piece gets too wide for the machine or becomes annoyingly irregularly shaped, I re-“fold” the dough by folding the sides of the dough into the middle, like an envelope, and press it flat. Then, run the piece back through the machine with the open sides up and down on the widest setting again (0) working your way thinner. This allows the machine to “press” any trapped air out.

Lay your pasta on the floured waxed paper in a single layer, trying to keep the pieces from touching. Flour the tops of them and place another sheet of floured wax paper on top. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and as many layers of pasta you need.

Next, cook your pasta: Cut your pasta lengths into square-ish shapes. The fun thing about making fresh pasta for lasagna is that the shape doesn’t much matter; you’re going to tile together whatever you have and nobody will care if it took 9 or 16 bits to patch the layer together. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Have ready a skimmer, a large bowl of ice water and a large tray or platter that you’ve drizzled or spritzed with oil. Boil several of squares of noodle at a time for 1 to 2 minutes each (1 minute if you, indeed, went to the thinnest setting on your machine; 2 if you, like me, stopped one shy of thinnest). Scoop them out with your skimmer, swish them in the ice water and lay them out (still wet is fine) on the oiled platter. Repeat with remaining pasta. It’s okay to have your noodles touch; they shouldn’t stick together in the short period of time until you begin assembling but if you’re nervous, you can drizzle or spritz each layer very lightly with more oil.

Make your béchamel: Melt your butter in the bottom of a medium-to-large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add your flour and stir it into the butter until smooth. Cook the mixture together for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour in a small drizzle of your milk*, whisking constantly into the butter-flour mixture until smooth. Continue to drizzle a very small amount at a time, whisking constantly. Once you’ve added a little over half of your milk, you’ll find that you have more of a thick sauce or batter, and you can start adding the milk in larger splashes, being sure to keep mixing. Once all of the milk is added, add the salt, garlic, nutmeg (if using) and few grinds of black pepper, and bring the mixture to a lower simmer and cook it, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

(*) Yes, cold is fine. I divert from the proper béchamel method here as I’ve found that as long as you add your milk slowly, you do not need to heat it separately first. Hooray for fewer steps and pots!

At last, you may assemble your dish: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9×13-inch or equivalent rectangular baking dish, spread a generous 1/4 cup of the béchamel. I mostly use this to keep the noodles from sticking. Add your first layer of cooked noodles, patching and slightly overlapping them however is needed to form a single layer. Ladle 1 cup bolognese sauce over the noodles, spreading it evenly. Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel over the bolognese; don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth or even. Sprinkle the layer with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Repeat this process — pasta + 1 cup bolognese + 1/2 cup béchamel + 1/3 cup parmesan — three more times, then add one more layer of pasta. You’ll use 5 layers of pasta total.

There are two ways to finish the dish. You can simply sprinkle the top layer of pasta with your remaining parmesan before baking. This makes the crunchiest lid. I like a semi-crunchy lid and first spread 1/4 cup béchamel over the top layer of pasta before sprinkling it with the remaining cheese. It still gets crunchy — and has corners that are worth fighting over — but never unpleasantly so.

Bake your lasagna for 30 to 45 minutes, until bubbly all over and browned on top. You should do absolutely nothing but put your feet up and drink a glass of wine while you do; you’ve earned it. When it comes out of the oven, I like to let it rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30, before serving it.

Do ahead: Lasagna can be prepared right up until the baking point a day in advance, and kept wrapped in plastic in the fridge. Theoretically, you could also freeze it at this point but I haven’t tried this. I’ll update this to say “go for it” if many people respond in the comments that they’ve done so successfully. Lasagna will also reheat well for up to three days, possibly longer but in my apartment, we’ve never had the chance to find out.

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882 comments on lasagna bolognese

  1. Wow, I am impressed. I would love to eat this one, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get the energy to make it myself. It was even worse in our family growing up, my aunt put cottage cheese in her lasagna. I still have a bit of an aversion because of that.

    1. deb

      Re, cooking pasta before assembling the lasagna: This is hands-down my least favorite step. I would do anything to avoid it. But! I have found it is important. The thing is, uncooked fresh pasta is just a sheeted dough; tender and soft. It needs to be boiled to have the “muscle” (i.e. ability to stay together in a sheet) that it gets once the egg in the dough is cooked. When I’ve made lasagna with fresh pasta that hasn’t been boiled, the pasta becomes mushy, which is a terrible misuse of your fresh pasta effort.

      That said, if you wish to use no-boil lasagna sheets, you of course don’t need to cook them first. But they’ve already been par-boiled.

  2. kara

    i don’t normally comment until after i’ve made whatever dish it is, but i couldn’t wait this time….one word went through my mind the entire time i was reading: WOW. i cannot wait to tackle this and know the extra work will be extremely well worth it, especially because i happen to love lasagna is any form, even loaded with ricotta and mozzarella.

  3. RoxysMomma

    Lasagna bolognese, Deb, yum, just when I had begun to think you had forgotten or forsaken us… nice come back! Won’t promise 20 layers of pasta but will definitely get at this project.

    1. deb

      RoxysMomma — Never! This dish, it took over and even once I conquered it, it took several days of writing, editing and begging the child to take a nap longer than 20 minutes (still going! woo-hoo!) for me to get it up here. And now I need a nap too. :)

  4. Jenna

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I was lucky enough to be in Italy last summer and I had a lasagna with ragu and bechamel that was mindbogglingly glorious. Since then I have occasionally rooted around online trying to find a recipe that matched my memory of heaven–this might just be it! To “Can’t Live Without,” I think a mushroom version of this would be wonderful too!

  5. Sarie

    Absolutely cannot wait for the much-desired but seldom-granted taskless weekend to give this Everest-sized accomplishment a calmly enjoyed go. Will have to borrow mom’s pasta roller. What a joy!

  6. Angela

    I’m half Italian (south, south of Naples) an my family’s lasagna never had ricotta in it. It has always been simple, pasta, mozzarella, Parmesan, sauce, beef & slices of hardboiled eggs. Which seems weird, but has always been delicious. I’ve always thought it was just something my family does but apparently is a Naples region thing.

  7. Sharon

    Crazy thought from a girl without a pasta roller: Do you imagine it would work with wonton wrappers?

    (just polished off your buttermilk chicken and black-bottom cupcakes. Ready for more!)

    1. deb

      Sharon — When I was cutting my noodles into squares, I thought the same thing! I definitely think it has potential. Might need to be boiled first, for the reasons in my previous comment.

  8. Amy

    Wow, I love recipes like these that are one of the “greats” that need to be conquered. I have been itching to have my a bolognese sauce of my own, but I think I’m going to try this one out. Thanks for posting such a classic, perfect recipe. It looks well worth the effort (and 5+ years)!

  9. Valérie in France

    This looks just delicious!
    I am puzzled by the idea of making it with ricotta and/or mozzarella, as I have only ever made it with béchamel… I think I’ll try that next time I bake another.

    For the béchamel, I’d suggest heating the milk with an onion, studded with a couple of cloves, and a bay leaf, them, then letting it cool with them still in the pan. It adds a definite depth of flavour to the béchamel.

  10. Marie M.C.

    Vaguely through the mists of time, I recall making something similar. (Like 40 years ago.) I also spent ALL day making it and NEVER made it again. But I’d be thrilled to eat your leftovers — if there are any. Hi Jacob! You are looking cuter and cuter and cuter. Happy Valentine’s Day — to Deb, Alex, Jacob and everyone!

  11. Kristen E

    Ooooh, this looks amazing! I always use bechamel in my lasagna because you’re SO right – ricotta doesn’t belong there. This recipe reminds me very much of one from Fine Cooking magazine about 5 years ago – I still have the magazine somewhere. It’s a labor of love, and it takes me 2 days, but yours looks quite a bit easier while still having all the same elements. Thanks! I’ll be giving this a try! :)

    P.S. I’m making your espresso chiffon cake with fudge frosting RIGHT NOW for my husband – today’s his birthday. :) It’s in the oven and I’m sitting still so it doesn’t fall!

  12. Wow, that is truly a labor of love and mightily impressive. Our favorite family lasagna is shameful and far, far too embarrassing to share on a classy food site such as this. Man, oh man, do I ever want to try to win them over to this!

  13. Nancy Duggan

    This was a mesmerizing read, but I’ll have to dream about it for some time before I attempt it in my 3’x6′ kitchen. That, and buy a pasta machine!

    1. deb

      Nancy — My kitchen is just as tiny. I am, perhaps, slightly more insane, however. :)

      Vegetarian lasagna — I just now added a link to this but for those who don’t eat meat, I think Ina Garten’s Mushroom Lasagna is the stuff of dreams. It is also a bechamel-and-parmesan lasagna, and it feels incredibly light.

  14. Pam

    I live in Northern Italy and the lasagna you made is much like that served here. Lasagna is a type of pasticcio, which is often made without meat, but with vegetables of the season, béchamel sauce, thin sheet noodles, and parmesan. They are light, luscious, and perfectly heavenly to eat! Brava, for your persistence!

  15. This lasagna sounds legendary! I never thought of lasagna without ricotta, but you are right, there are better cheeses to fill these layers of pasta. Also I’ve been looking to try Anne Burrell’s bolognese sauce, and after reading this, I’ll be making it soon.

    1. Daria

      Made this recipe this weekend after seeing it on tiktok. Made the sauce on Saturday, and put it all together on Sunday. It was a labor of love but turned out to be so fun… I had two kitchen helpers (my partner, and one of my great friends) and we enjoyed spending time together doing pasta production and lasagna assembly. Will definitely use this in future holiday cooking now that I’ve tested it out.

      Also, it was D E L I C I O U S!

  16. The lasagna looks amazing and I love how you said ragu nirvana. I love how the top layer in one of the unbaked shots shows how the noodles aren’t “perfectly” layered but are a bit haphazard and rustic…that’s the way I cook :)

    Fabulous recipe and thanks for your trial and error and effort on this one so we can reap all your hard work!

  17. The most beautiful lasagna I have ever had was in Paris {go figure} and was made with bechamel. I’ve never tried to recreate it, but from that point I knew that bechamel, not ricotta, was definitely the way to go.

  18. Oh my word. That looks amazing. I’m definitely going to be making it this week. Its rather convenient that my class on Tuesday got canceled. And I never warm milk when I make a bechamel. I learned that you should always use opposites to make a smooth sauce…hot roux with cold milk, hot liquid with Beurre manié.

  19. Lindsay

    This sounds heavenly! Truly a labor of love! My lasagna recipe (which came from my mom) uses cottage cheese mixed with Parmesan instead of ricotta. I’ll have to give this recipe a try sometime!

  20. LauraB

    I’m always surprised (and maybe a bit revolted) by US lasagne recipes. Here in the UK it’s always ragu and bechamel, sometimes topped with mozzarella and parmesan, which I understand is called Lasagne al Forno.

    I make my ragu with pancetta, belly pork and ground beef, but otherwise this is very close to my recipe. And it’s wonderful!

    1. Katy

      I was just thinking the same. I’ve only ever had lasagne with bechamel in the UK and Europe. I always used to make Delia Smith’s lasagne al forno, but I think both the bechamel method here and the ragu (I used Deb’s later recipe doubled) are miles better. I use a mix of beef and pork as I always find beef-only ragu a bit intense.

      This recipe does involve a time investment but it is possible to do it in a day quite comfortably if you don’t make the pasta from scratch. I started the ragu this morning and did the bechamel about an hour before the ragu was cooled, which meant that I was also able to clean up in between stages and have a clear island for assembly at 6pm (which I knew future me would appreciate). It’s not technically very complicated, you just need not to be rushed and to be able to come back and check on the ragu every half hour or so.

      1. Katy

        By the way, last night was the first time I followed this recipe in full (minus the pasta from scratch) – I previously used the ragu in a different recipe – and it is great. I love the extra heft of the five layers (previous lasagne was 3) and I really don’t miss the mozzarella, not even on the top. The bechamel is so light and cloudy (I left out the garlic). I also appreciated the clear instructions on quantity of sauce and ragu per layer as most other recipes just say “a third of the sauce” and that’s really hard to eyeball. Massive winner.

        1. Katy

          … also, I just noticed that virtually all of the SK recipes apart from this one are in the My Fitness Pal database, which is awesome

  21. unsightly

    I wonder if you could forgo cooking the pasta and letting the noodles cook during baking with a little extra liquid added to the sauce. It seems like a lot to go through just to have it fail, but maybe I’ll trial run it with store bought sauce and see how it turns out.

  22. Love how much thought you put into this post! And I love having great bolognese recipes on hand–I’ve never found one that I just LOVE–so Im very excited to try this.

    Homemade pasta is the best and once you have it down, is actually pretty simple to make!

  23. Alex

    Awesome post. I never understood lasanga with ricotta. Your pasta looks delicious, makes me want to try it with home-made pasta now!

    I usually don’t go that far with ragu and cook lazy version where I stir-fry ingridients and let cook together for a half an hour. Making sure that you have whisk helps for bechamel (yeah… had my fun day with only wooden spoon available).

  24. Erica

    I think maybe adding ricotta is an American thing? I’d never had lasagna with it until I moved to the US (I’m Dutch) and was … uhm … less than impressed. Bechamel FTW :)

  25. Really nice to meet you and your great blog! I have seen this recipe and wanted to stop by to say you made a wonderful job. I am from Bologna, Italy and lasagna is frome where I come from.. No need to say I eat lasagna since I was a little girl, and I agree, it is not a ordinary food to prepare. Yours looks perfect! I havent posted it yet, but will.. sooner or later! The real Bolognese ragu recipe is registered to the Commercial Chamber in Bologna, you can check it out in their web site or… check my home traditional one! Ciao from Francesca

  26. we do this all the time but use dried lasagna sheets. I have never understood why on earth Americans would add ricotta to lasagna! Finally someone to agree with me, thank you, thank you, thank you :) This looks delicious and I will put making my own pasta sheets on the list of things to try.

    I don’t usually add garlic to my béchamel, but I do sometimes make it with partly with cream instead of milk. Sometimes ;) A little bit of lemon also works well. Oh, and as I don’t like celery I add very finely diced cucumber to the Bolognese sauce. It turns translucent and tasted completely different from fresh cucumber if you cook it for 15-20 minutes at least.

    Thanks for sharing! Now I’m hungry…

  27. Johannah

    Great post, it sounds absolutely yum! I’ve been making a similar lasagna with a ragú recipe torn out of the FT a couple of years ago. Since I love it so much, but don’t have a large family to feed, I sometimes divide it into smaller dishes and freeze it prior to baking. There’s nothing better than pulling out one of those babies, sprinkling some parmesan on top and sticking it in the oven on days when you don’t have time to cook! I’ve done this both with no-boil pasta sheets and with fresh, cooked pasta. Both seem to work fine.

  28. Nancy P.

    Love this post! Looks close to what my mother-in-law prepares. The in-laws are Italian and live in Northern Italy. She adds chopped ham and spinach to the pasticcio (lasagna) and it is amazing! I think you nailed this tradition Italian dish Deb! Brava!

  29. Jesse

    I can’t be the only vegetarian thinking that I don’t want the *second* best Ina Garten version, I want this version! I want to try this with a mushroom
    Bolognese but otherwise keep it the same. Yum :)

  30. Jacq

    Oh man, if I wasn’t 36 weeks preggo and able to stand for more than 5 min at a time without exhaustion, this would be Valentine’s Dinner! I really do love this site :)

  31. Carolynn

    Man, this looks good! I have been wanting to try making lasagna for a while. This recipe looks like it would be very much worth the work!

  32. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. My lasagna hunt has been going on for years. I’m making it this week. Thank you!

    P.S. I’m not into ricotta in lasagna either.

  33. I cannot wait to make this. I love food with layers, but never been a lasagna fan because of the ricotta. I never did much research to find a lasagna sans ricotta because I thought they went hand-in-hand. SO excited to try this! I know my boyfriend will appreciate this dish. We are both Italian food lovers! Thank so much for reaching your Mt. Everest and sharing your journey!

  34. I have also spent years trying to get my perfect lasagne bolognese recipe, I’ve always hated that layer of ricotta (or, even worse, cottage cheese) that finds its way in. A good bolognese should be the star of the show, not overwhelmed by clamminess. I can’t wait to try this version!

  35. Susie

    The NYT Magazine published a recipe for a bechamel lasagna (though they didn’t call it that) in 1973, from an artist named Ed Giobbi who, I think, later published a cookbook. It had half ground beef, half Italian sausage, and gave options with and without ricotta-Parmesan-eggs layers. I made it without the ricotta, a few times, and then it went out of my repertoire, but was so memorable that I never forgot Ed Giobbi’s name. Why did I stop making it? Can’t wait to find it again, and, knowing myself, merge it with yours and maybe Ina’s, too. Makes me swoon to think of how good it was.

  36. Susie

    PS – Sorry, no, it was March 26, 1972, and then they reprinted it in January 1973 as one of the most-requested recipes of the year — along with a Maida Heatter chocolate mousse-torte that looks awfully good, and the info that 1972 was the year of the green peppercorn in NYC.

  37. Sarah

    This looks almost identical to my favorite lasagna recipe which originated from Colombia… But I always add bacon!

    I just made lasagna last week but these pictures make me crave it again!

  38. Annachiara

    I’m from Bologna and my ragù is different from yours, but I’ll forgive you :-)
    Also, I have recently learnt that real lasagne bolognesi are done with green spinach pasta! Not that much a of difference in taste, but they look so pretty.

  39. Christina

    This looks delicious, as always! My family makes the (much-maligned) lasagna with a ricotta layer, and I can report that I have successfully made and frozen it. I think I usually defrost it in the fridge for a day, and then bake it. However, I don’t know if your besciamella would withstand this treatment.

    Also, @smacksaw, I’ve never had great success making pasta from semolina flour. I get the best results with half AP and half “Tipo 00” from Italy (King Arthur now makes an excellent version of it).

  40. Couldn’t agree more. Ricotta in chilled desserts=yum! Ricotta in lasagna=bleck! And even when there isn’t ricotta, I feel like people overdo it on the cheese. Your version of lasagna looks awesome. I’ve been contemplating a pasta roller purchase for a while…any recommendations?

  41. Looks simply AMAZING Deb! I love a good lasagna and this one looks intense. I have had nights like that where you are so excited to try a new recipe only to have it not turn out the way you had envisioned and have it take way more time to throw together than you originally estimated. Luckily we have an amazing grocery store in walking distance from our house that one of us can run over to if dinner turns into a mishap or I need a last minute ingredient.

    I have a favorite go-to bolognese that I make all the time. I use buffalo meat instead of ground chuck and it tastes just as good and is healthier. It’s nice when you have those favorite go-to recipes that you can literally make in your sleep. I will give this bolognese a try though as it’s always fun to try new recipes.

    BTW, your son is ADORABLE! My kids also love to hang around while I am cooking in the kitchen. I love having the kids there to sample things as I cook or just to chat with or just have them doing their homework at the island. The kitchen is the place to be between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 in my house.

  42. I’ve never heard of ricotta in lasagna! It’s funny what versions make it to different countries- I’m Australian. I haven’t put in the effort to do it all from scratch like you though…. This looks amazing!

  43. Marissa

    I grew up eating lasagna made with cottage cheese, and never knew any other way until I adventured into the foodie world. Hearing that the right way to make it is with ricotta, I tried making that way, layering noodles with meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and parm, then ending up disappointed. My whole family agreed that cottage cheese was better, and I’ve never looked back since.

  44. Calla

    Thank you for this recipe!!!! I was looking for something to make for a casual Friday dinner party and this is IT! I have made countless number of your recipes and i am sure this will not dissapoint. Since it is on Friday and I will be working all day, I am going to buy fresh lasagna from our local (amazing) Italian deli – how much should I buy? Do you know in poundage how much dough was used?

    Thank you from Minneapolis !!!

  45. Shannan

    Just wanted to add that Nigella Lawson has a great recipe for a party where she just mixes the ragu and bechamel with some cooked rigatoni and bakes it. Delicious and a great alternative when the whole layering thing is just a step too much.

  46. YS

    Deb, I’ve loved your site for years and made quite a number of items as inspired by you. I actually did a very similar recipe (Batali version) a few weeks ago, my first lasagna as well since I didn’t really want to make the ricotta mozzarella crinkled pasta version. Since you live in NYC as I do, I suggest going to Raffetto’s at 144 W Houston where they will cut fresh pasta to size for you. I boiled 3-4 sheets as I was layering so I didn’t need to worry about sticking. Also, within a block or two from Raffetto’s, I picked up chopped veal/pork from an Italian butcher and had parm reggiano grated fresh from a cheese shop.

  47. Susan

    I love that you went all out and made everything from scratch for this lasagna. How fun! I’ve thought about doing that, too, but never got past thinking about it.
    I don’t have a pasta roller but have been successful with a rolling pin (with some help from demo’s on youtube..gawd, I love that site) I love homemade pasta because you can get it as thin as you preferr..I like it really thin!
    The best lasagna of this type I ever had was in some Italian restaurant in Wash. DC. eons ago. It had thin, delicate layers of pasta, bechemel, parmesan and peas. I had never had anything like it before or since. It was amazing. From that experience, I always put some sort of vegetable in my ricotta/cream layer (yes..I said ricotta, so sue me, I mix it with cream or mascarpone to enrich and smooth it for lasagna..and I’ll love it til I die!) You are so right, lasagna is probably the “Hot dish” of Italy and will vary from cook to cook. Love that!

  48. Michelle

    Wow, the amount of love you put into your cooking is truly stunning. I felt like I was practically standing in your kitchen through each trial. You inspire me to reconnect with my food, something I think we are all a little too far removed from now, with frozen meals and fast food. Keep on cooking from the heart!

  49. i had never seen ricotta in lasagna before living in the US, so it must be an american thing. (not one of the GOOD american things, though…) definitely better with béchamel. this looks mouth-watering.

  50. Yes, yes, yes, I want to make this. I have been thinking about attempting a true bechamel + ragu + fresh homemade pasta lasagna for ages now, but have felt a bit too intimidated by the process. This looks long and somewhat more complicated than my usual bastardized lasagna recipe, but I know it will be worth it one Sunday when I have the time. Thank you, Deb!

  51. coriolisdave

    I had a bolognaise revelation a couple of months ago. I generally make a very similar sauce to this one, with ground beef, but I tried making it with chunks of stewing meat instead (gravy beef), and oh. my. god. You wouldn’t credit the difference.


  52. Allie

    Wow. And yum. And I’m making this tomorrow. I remember when I lived in England for a few months the lasagna I had there always combined bolognese and bechamel sauce….I thought it was so, so, so much better than lasagna at home. And now that you mention it, I don’t remember any ricotta in it either.

  53. I love lasagna, and good on you for stating your case with regards to authenticity – I like to add a star anise to my ragu when simmering. I’ve never tried fresh pasta with it and you’ve inspired me to do so.

  54. Amy

    I don’t see myself ever attempting this, but I’m going to be in NYC in March and would gladly babysit that most adorable child for a mere serving of your lasagna!

  55. For additional inspiration, Mario Batali’s lasagna bolognese is amazing. The fresh lasagna sheets sold at Whole Foods have a wonderful authentic texture and taste, and are a great compliment to the dish.

  56. I love lasagna. I never use Ricotta..I use Cottage Cheese. Would love to try yours. Can I leave the red wine out? (We don’t drink alcohol) Should I just substitute some broth instead?

  57. Anhar

    This recipe looks fantastic! I’ve never been disappointed by a single recipe you’ve posted so I’m so excited to try it – I do have a question though, due to religious constraints I can’t use wine in the recipe. 2 cups of liquid is too much to simply omit, is there any suggested replacement? Thanks!!!

  58. Liz

    My mom’s been making lasagne without ricotta since the 1970’s. Personally, I like a classic ricotta lasagne, but it’s a special, restaurant treat. When I make it at home, I use her recipe. Divine.

  59. I love a really good lasagne. It’s on that list everyone has to make themselves from scratch one day. I never have, but this has to be one of the best I have seen!

  60. Nancy Duggan

    Deb, who are you calling less insane? ;) I just ordered a pasta machine from Amazon and will be juggling equipment around my dollhouse kitchen to make this wonderful looking lasagna. Thanks again for your recipes, and I’m eagerly awaiting your cookbook.

  61. Deb, that was some adventure, huh? I’ve been wanting to try Marcella Hazzan’s lasagna but I needed it a little push. And you gave me! But now I want to try your version. I’ll be back to tell you how it went. =)

  62. I feel like I need to comment, to add some balance. I completely understand that some people don’t care for ricotta hot, and that the traditional Italian lasagna may not even include ricotta, but for me, ricotta is the best part of lasagna. This looks absolutely delicious, but I love the kind made with ricotta : )

    I think it is awesome to read all the comments from different regions and see how many different ways there are of making a universally recognized dish. Who thought of adding ricotta in the first place? Maybe they were out of meat and needed to try a creative substitute. That is the beauty of food to me, the same thing can be made completely differently, just based on what is available to your family and personal preferences.

  63. Since I’ve been living in the UK (Scotland) I’ve found out that they always serve lasagna with bechamel sauce. I’m so relieved because I hate ricotta cheese in lasagna and usually only use mozzarella when I make it myself. Now I can order lasagna in a restaurant! Even the frozen or ready-made (well, sometimes you have to don’t you?) are better but I’ve noticed they don’t use as many noodles. I was also watching an Italian chef on TV who was making his “Mama’s Lasagna” and he made it with bechamel NOT ricotta. In fact, ricotta is sometimes hard to find in stores–but then, so is mozzarella…but don’t get me started on things I can’t find here!

  64. Krista

    This looks great! Especially since I too have never been much of a fan of the soft goop that ricotta often ends up being in most lasagnas. I was reading through the comments and I am super excited about the idea of using wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta as I have some that need to be used up (rather urgently, ahem).
    Also I was browsing through some other blogs (I know you were taking your time with this but it seems like it was worth it so I’m okay!) and I found this:
    which seems like something you’d do (and in fact have done somewhat). Thought I’d share (and maybe, just maybe try sometime soon)! Thanks!

  65. ASDP

    I found out that the ragu tastes even better if the chopped carrots are replaced with pureed carrots (which can be found frozen).

    As for the ricotta, it has way too much water to go into lasagna. I’ve never seen it used around here (Italy)!
    Bechamelle it’s really not that hard to make and it only takes 5 minutes if you use hot milk, which I usually heat for a minute or two in the microwave. I find that when I use cold milk cooking time is rather long and I get bored with stirring, which increases the risk of the bechamelle ending up undercook and tasting like flour!

    Just my two italian cents!

  66. Alison Borgas

    Yep, I used to make lasagne like this; no longer! I still make a great meat sauce, but only use bechamel over the top layer of pasta, every other layer mozarella only. Otherwise, it’s too epic; and life’s too short. ;)

  67. All I can say is Wow. This recipe that you so persistently and lovingly developed is calling out to me. Nothing sounds better than spending a cold winter weekend making this dish. I am wondering if it would be completely horrible too substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef in the Bolognese sauce. I am not a fan off beef- but would love to make this amazing lasagna.

  68. MDC

    Add me to the list of people wondering what can be substituted for the red wine. I was thinking beef broth but it seems like that would be a bit much broth. Broth and some sort of vinegar combo?

    We will be trying this – thanks so much for the great post.

    1. deb

      Re, replacement for wine — Sorry, the recipe notes were missing a word. I meant, “Feel free to tweak this to your taste by replacing portions of the beef with other meats, using less tomato paste or wine if desired or replacing some wine with milk.” I.e. You can skip the wine. You can use less wine. You can use a cup of milk instead (no need to reduce it by half) or replace a cup of the wine with milk, as many bolognese sauces do. I don’t see any reason to use beef broth, however, as you should have no absence of all the flavors that are in it. Just water alone will turn the browned mass of tomato paste/vegetables/meat into a gorgeous sauce.

      Re, homemade pasta and the insanity of it — A favorite way to hack it at home if you have a pasta roller is to buy fresh sheets from a grocery store and use your machine to roll them thinner so you get the delicate pasta effect without as much work.

      Cara — The meat sauce is already doubled. So, you’ll get a bit over 8 cups from it.

      Re, the link on Cara’s name above — A reader emailed me last week and suggested that I add links when I respond to comments to the person’s original comment. What do you think? I thought it was a great idea but it will be more time consuming so I can’t promise I’ll stick to it indefinitely.

      YS — That’s great to know, thank you. It’s fun shopping in New York City, right?

      Calla — Yes, I noted in the recipe that the dough should weigh about You’ll have about 10 ounces or a little less than 2/3 pound of fresh pasta dough. I think if you buy that, you might have a tad extra but it was very, very hard to get a read on what was needed because I made a 1-pound (eh, 15-ounce) amount with a 3-egg level and guessed that I had 1/3 leftover. Probably more. It was already cooked, however, so I couldn’t just weigh it, etc…

      Cristina — So glad you brought up the semolina flour! I picked some up last month just to make pasta with it (I was going to go 50/50) but even the Silver Spoon recipe didn’t suggest it so I balked, just used AP. I need to do more research. I did, however, make some lovely scones with it with ricotta, fennel and orange zest. I can share the recipe one of these days if people would like.

  69. J-Lon

    I’ve never made a meat version like the one you just made. But I have made something similar with no meat. It’s quite a process, but the results are amazing. It’s like a cross between lasagna and a souffle, especially if you really roll those noodles out thin. You will not miss the meat. I’ve bought it at Cafe Lago as well. After making it a couple of times, the $17 price seemed quite fair.

  70. Sandy

    My family regretfully really really doesn’t like parm, do you think a very slight of mozz cheese would be okay between the layers, or too creamy? They are cheddar and mozz or muenster cheese people only?
    thanks – this looks devine!

  71. Jen

    I’d had a few frozen lasangnas in the past that I didn’t identify as having beschamel until I read Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Italy,” where he offers a lasangna recipe with beschamel. Kind of a lightbulb moment, isn’t it?

    1. deb

      I do have an Atlas machine. Usually, I don’t buy anything without doing a zillion hours of research and reading reviews before choosing one, but that time, I just went to a store and grabbed whatever they had a bunch of years ago and lucked out.

  72. Colleen

    Yum! I can not wait for a plan-free long weekend so I can try this! I have never actually made my own sauce, let alone pasta or bechamel. Bring it lasagna!

  73. Joy

    THANK YOU. For the longest time I thought I was the only one who was blasphemous for not liking ricotta in my lasagna bolognese. Thank you again for making me feel like I’m not just any old nutcase and a great recipe to prove them all wrong to boot. You’re the best!

  74. Ella

    My fiancee has been wanting lasagna for forever, but I’m very lactose intolerant. There is no flavor-preserving way to get around lactose in mozzarella and ricotta. But this… this I can work with! Lactose free milk for the bechamel, and a well aged parmesan to minimize lactose content.

    Ha! I can have lasagna! Thank you!

  75. Sarah

    Was desperately searching for the “perfect” thing to eat this week for dinner, and look! Here it is!
    Tonight I tackled the bolognese (first time making bolognese– what kind of Italian am I?) Absolutely worth the effort! And I’ve got to say the sauce tasted great using a Malbec wine. Just to put that out there. :)

    Thanks for more phenomenal recipes, Deb. You’re genius.

  76. Ella (above me), I have been lactose intolerant too, for about a year. It started suddenly when I became pregnant with my second child, and hasn’t gone away since. Weird. But I’m sure you’re not all that interested in hearing about all the strange bodily changes of a pregnant woman. What I really wanted to tell you, or ask you rather, is if you know about the lactase tablets that Lactaid makes. My grocery store sells them in the “Laxative” aisle, and they have been a comfort to me as I have not found the willpower to give up my favorite dairy products yet. I’m sure this lasagna is a much better option, but just thought I’d share the tip.

  77. deb,
    you are a goddess.
    this was on my list of peaks to climb this year — THIS, with bechamel (ahem, besciamella), sans ricotta and mozarella. and i thought it would be a project, capital P. and here, i come to find, you have done all the heavy lifting.

  78. Elisa

    there’s no way that i will even attempt such a beautiful dish. you are so talented! i think you should invite some of your closest blogger friends and feed us this lasagna!!

  79. I’ve always made my lasagna with bechemel sauce as one of the key ingredients along with the lasagna sheets. The other tends to vary – from ragu to mushrooms, to cheesy spinach and pine nuts or roasted vegetables. Thanks for the reminder about how wonderful a great lasagna is. I haven’t made it for too long. And I love the picture of your kitchen helper!

  80. Tinarina

    I’m partial to Marchella’s Bolognese recipe but now I have to try this. As for semolina flour, I have experimented quite a bit and found that 25 percent is ideal–more than that and the dough is tough and too hard to work with. A few drops of olive oil also helps.

  81. Anna

    My Italian friend shuddered when I mentioned lasagna with ricotta. She changed her mind when I made Tyler Florence’s recipe, which is to die for.

  82. Caitlin

    Lasagna Bolognese is one of my favorites! I was lucky enough to learn our “secret family recipe” (see Marcella Hazzan’s) first hand from my little italian grandmother this holiday season. The lasagna does freeze well too!

  83. Celeste

    I am Italian and I have to admit that sometimes I get kinda frustrated by foodbloggers who put the label “italian” on any dish that contains tomatoes or basil or pasta. An example would be: “italian breakfast spaghetti burrito”, really???
    But this lasagna! yes, this is the real thing. Good job lady!

  84. Good on you. I too extremely dislike ricotta in lasagne. First time I made this, it was a relevation. I make this about once every five years and then wonder why I don’t make it more often.

  85. Melissa

    Deb, this looks heavenly. I, too, love lasagna bolognese – somehow it’s heartier and more amazing than regular lasagana (with ricotta) and richer, but not richer in a filling way. I can’t explain it.

    But I am never quite sure my bolognese sauce is anything to jump up and down about – I can’t wait to try this recipe. I can’t believe it never occurred to me to use the food processor.

    My other bit of personal bolognese wisdom is that it’s a lot of work, but it’s not that much more work to make enough of everything for two pans (or even three). Bolognese lasagna will freeze; we just thaw ours in the fridge overnight and bake as per usual. Homemade noodles, bechamel and all.

  86. Your attention to detail absolutely amazes me and I am such an admirer of you for that! It seems as though all of your recipes are just absolutely perfect, which is a delight and a breath of fresh air. While I have to admit, home made pasta is not on my to do list, your bolognese is! And I’m right there with you about the ricotta – it’s overused in lasagna and throws the whole texture off. :) Thanks for your great ideas!

  87. Vanessa

    My husband is from Parma, Italy. My mother in-law taught me how to make her lasagna. This is really a labor of love and worth all the effort. Important point, you mentioned parmasan cheese. The ONLY cheese to use is parmigiano reggiano. If you are going to make a dish that originates from Northern Italy, you have to use parmigiano reggiano. It makes all the difference in the world. Also, I tried not boiling the pasta and just assembled to lasagna, big mistake! You need to boil the pasta first.If you don’t, it throws the taste off completely. When I make this lasagna, I make two, one to eat immediately and one to put in the freezer.I have kept it in the freezer for six weeks and still tastes amazing. Just assemble the lasagna, don’t bake it and put it in the freezer.

  88. Terri

    Deb, I do like the idea of linking your response back to the original comment. But if it’s more work, and I SO appreciate all of the work you already do for us, don’t bother. :)

  89. Ed

    I’m glad you’ve discovered the secret of any veteran lasagna maker- that ricotta does not belong anywhere near this exquisite dish. I haven’t tried your recipe but it looks good. The bechamel provides a lovely compliment to the hearty and rich ragu and lends a delicacy to the dish that too much cheese would overpower or make you feel like you’re at the Olive Garden. The only idea I think your recipe could benefit from is in the ragu. When making a traditional Italian Ragu- very very few ingredients should be used. You’re right on with just meat, mirepoix, salt and pepper. But what can take a ragu from good to greatness is the fat rendering that pork can lend. When I make my ragu at home or at work I grind my own meat, 2 parts beef chuck to 1 part pork shoulder and I also use a liberal amount of pancetta. I cook the ground pork/beef mixture just as you do, but then I after I finish browning the meat I add diced pancetta. As the fat in the pancetta renders I consider the meat “finished” and I add my tomatoes.

    One more thing- to add some variation, mix some cooked baby spinach into the dough for your pasta. This result is not only tasty but the verdant green pasta adds a colorful note to the dish.

  90. so perfect lasagna .. very interesting step by step its so clear your awesome men!
    even it have a recipe and guide i dont think i can make better than this coz i wors at cooking and preparing. but true your so pro promise.

  91. Ana

    Deb, LOVE your blog.Our whole fam does. My kids (9&10) are beggin me to make your pull-apart bread from last post.
    Quick question…. why would you cook your pasta first??? When we use pasta fresca (yes, I live in Italy. Venice, to be precise. Yes, I make Bolognese as taught by my friends’ grandmothers in Bologna, w/lots of variations-depends on my cooking mood). We always put the pasta fresca in uncooked. The juices from the sauce and besciamella are what will cook it through in the oven.

  92. Jen

    In the uk we don’t use ricotta in our lasagne so this looks both normal and lovely to see! Now I know why I always slightly dislike American lasagne…

  93. Ada

    This looks lovely but since I lost a very wiggly tooth on a bite of traditional lasagna in elementary school I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff. Maybe your version would change my mind?

    I recognize that this is both a) your website and b) not necessarily an accurate reflection of what you eat on a daily basis, but can we have more vegetables please? One of the things I love about your site is that you frequently have recipes that are simultaneously healthy and insanely delicious, and I’m running out of ideas on how to make winter veggies palatable.

  94. Lisa

    Good job on the lasagna! I also make it with fresh pasta and have never done the step of cooking it first. If you make the ragu runny enough, the pasta will cook all by itself in the oven. My Italian husband swears that you should only have a maximum of five layers of pasta….but I haven’t seen or eaten any lasagna that backs this up yet…..then again he also vows that cappuccinos should NEVER be drunk after 11am, and that pasta with fish in it should NEVER have parmaesan cheese in it. …..Italians are very serious about food rules! :)

  95. Gunnar Tveiten

    I read this, expecting to find something new but in the end I’m flabberghasted. Doesn’t this simply describe how everyone makes lasagne ? Yeah okay, the details may vary: swap half the parmesan for grated cheddar. Double up on the garlic. Add a few leaves of chopped estragon. Those kinds of things.

    Making your own pasta for lasagne ain’t worth it, unless you love to make pasta. It’s a lot of work, and the end-result isn’t noticeably better than with store-bought dry pasta.

    If you let the sauce be a little bit more moist, you don’t even need to pre-cook them, just layer them with sauce, and they’ll be perfectly cooked after 30-40 minutes in the oven. (might need to lower the temperature a bit to avoid a too dark crust)

    1. Leilah

      I made a double portion with all the bolognaise and double cheese, bechamel, and noodles, using store-bought, no-boil pasta. Pretty darn tasty (all that butter in the bechamel!). My husband loved it, and he’s a tough critic. Thanks Deb

  96. martina

    Hi Deb,
    I’m Italian and precisely from the lasagna’s region! I always wonder why Americans put ricotta or mozzarella in lasagna… so strange to me! But I thought that different part of Italy master this dish in different ways, so Italians who brought it to you enlarge the collection!!In my house no garlic or wine in the sauce, a mix of beef and pork mince cooked for a couple of hours… for me the top of the lasagna should have the bolognese sauce, too. And we often put some very finely chopped spinach in the pasta to have green lasagna (unorthodox, but delicious). I like my lasagna gooey, so I use more besciamella (even more delicious). I’m happy you prefer the Italian way on lasagna (and yes you can freeze it raw and cook it straight from the freezer). Martina

  97. I think I need a nap too just reading how hard you worked. Looks totally delicious though. I actually use the same food-processor trick for my veggies for Bolognese. Can you imagine doing it with a Mezza Luna, the way an old Italian Grandmother would have? Great recipe and thanks.

  98. Silvia

    Well, this is absolutely perfect, really made the Italian way (this lazy italian uses parboiled pasta and not hand made, so my heartfelt compliments); really, why ricotta, it is tooo watery and ruins the texture. The beauty of pasticcio (lasagne) is that it can be adapted: with mushrooms, spinach, different spices. Parmigiano is compulsory though. And of course besciamella.

  99. I love lasagna and this looks like the perfect recipe. Particularly excited to try your ragu…
    Sometimes I replace the bechamel sauce with creme fraiche – it makes the cooking process easier, but it also tastes a little lighter than bechmael…

  100. erin

    Here’s a quick story that made me mad. Ever since I lived in Italy in 1985, I’ve made nothing but Lasagna Bolognese. My ragu is only a little different than yours (I use some milk in place of some of the wine, and my meats are a combo of ground veal, ground pork and chopped pancetta), but essentially the same kind of sauce. So, I had my dear friend and her husband over dinner. They’re of Italian heritage by way of America for a couple of generations. My LB was insanely delicious that night. They looked at it skeptically, her husband picked a fork into it and took one bite. He said “This isn’t lasagna, it’s a casserole! There’s no ricotta!” I’ve never been so p.o.’d during a dinner party in my life! That lasagna Philistine!! He’s never reaping the benefits of MY Bolognese skills again!

  101. Lorena

    Hey there! Just want to congrats! I’m Italian and this is one of the most faithful recipe I’ve seen in foreign blogs for REAL lasagne! A lot of people though uses mozzarella as well between pasta layers.
    Have you ever seen the Napolitan version with little meatballs in the sauce instead of minced meat? It’s veeeeery tasty!

  102. Rosa

    I am from Emilia Romagna (the lasagne region) and I want to say THANK YOU DEB for this beautiful homage to a great home recipe. You did a fantastic job, respected the recipe, and gave useful tips even for those not new to the experience. Well done indeed.(And yes, I also wish we didn’t have to boil the sheets of pasta, but there is no getting around it).

  103. Esther

    I’m completely bewildered at the thought of ricotta in a lasagna! Wouldn’t it come up grainy? I can understand why you wouldn’t like lasagna if that was the deal…. I like a bit of chopped up bacon browned with the beef in the ragu, and I cheat by using the dried no need to cook lasagna sheets – preferably the green (spinach) ones… Another poster mentionedonion with bay and cloves for the bechamel- maybe its an English thing, as I do that too… Was thinking about lasagna last night, time to make one!

  104. think we have the same C&B dining room table – can’t believe you are rolling pasta on yours! (I’m barely ok with eating pasta on it :)) This looks awesome. I was in Bologna, Italy a few years back and had something very similar to this – you’re so right, a world entirely apart from the ricotta version. Happy V-Day to you & your family.

  105. Carrie

    I have a number of quarts in the freezer of your Fresh Tomato Sauce recipe I had used with my garden tomatoes and was wondering: Can I start with that as a base for the sauce and just continue from the “adding the beef” paragraph, perhaps adjusting the amount of paste?

  106. Chris

    I think the ricotta thing must be an American invention because I’d never heard of putting it in lasagne before today.

    I made a large batch of ’11 veg’ meat free ragu that I have in jars and freezer bags that we always use as a base for any tomato sauce based recipes and it always gets used in our lasagne, which is put together very close to your own recipe.

    One step I always do when using ground beef (regardless of what i’m cooking), is to sear it in a dry non-stick pan first to properly caramelise the meat which adds quite a bit of beefy flavour.

    I basically form the beef into loose patties and sear them on both sides in small batches, before breaking them up into small chunks with a spatula. Then I add the beef to the veg base and continue cooking more or less as per your recipe.

    I think the combination of the searing and that the beef is still quite chunky definitely adds to the flavour and texture of any recipe and it’s well worth a little extra effort.

    I also put about 3/4 of the cheese (usually a combination of parmesan and mature cheddar or smoked applewood) into the bechemel sauce towards the end of the cooking and just leave a little for the top at the end for the crispy crust.

    I’ve also been known to put finely chopped or minced chorizo into the bolognese sauce as well for an added little kick. :o)

    it’s probably worth mentioning that if people are putting off making this because of the fresh pasta, it’s still going to be very tasty with store bought pasta, so don’t let that stop you from trying it, it’s definitely going to be well worth the effort.

  107. Ricotta and mozzarella in lasagne alla bolognese? Definitely not, as many variations are out there. Put them in your lasagna, by all means, but not in those. Like me, I see you put some bechamel at the bottom of the pan…I remember when I posted my tutorial, someone asked me why I did that. It just seemed to make sense. Who wants dry pasta? What I didn’t do is make my own pasta (we get good fresh prepackaged in Italy) so, as the Italian saying goes, I take my hat off to you!

  108. Ea

    This is how I make my lasagne, except for using store bought pasta rather than making my own, and adding a couple of chopped slices of pancetta to the ragu. Delicious!

  109. I think this is my first comment! I love your blog. It’s been part of my daily ritual for years! Many recipes were tried or inspired from here. About the boiling part, I agree with you! :) I find myself procrastinating (or taking a too long break) when facing that non creative step no matter how excited I am about the lasagna. In response to comment 17 (Sharon), it could be done but it would be a shame to use wonton wrappers after so much trouble! Some people swear that they can’t taste the difference (I’m pretty sure you can). I’m no Italian or purist (maybe passionate and nerdy about food) but I think that if you’re going to go all out, might as well do it right (with the dough and the rolling by hand). It’s very doable and worth it. It seems hard at first but eventually you hit the sweet spot where your dough stays put and stretches nicely on your work surface. I get mine as wide as a dish towel and then cut it in long strips that I cut again in shorter rectangles. I manage to get it so thin that I can see the pattern of my dish towels when I lay the pasta on it to dry. I also find that rolling pasta dough on a floured wooden table works much better than on a smooth plastic like surface like a counter. Letting the dough rest a bit at room temperature for 30 minutes helps too (just keep it wrapped so it won’t dry).

    It’s a cardio (torture in the summer) but for the obsessed cook, it’s not that bad. Worth the worshipping you get after too! ;) I was 20 with no budget for a machine and full of enthusiasm when I started. I did it enough times to make it a tradition on birthdays for loved ones who begged me for it. I’m now 41. By now I have a machine and it feels like a breeze (I smiled from the beginning to end the first time I played with the great toy). It can definitely allow for even thinner sheets. Funny though, when ever I use it, I can’t help feeling nostalgic about my rolling pin days.

    This recipe (especially the sauces) sound seriously delicious! Will have to try it now that I crave it. Great post!

  110. First time commenting on your blog – I love seeing it come up in my emails when you post! You have a great blog – and I’m a huge foodie and you cover a wide range of things.

    Lasagna is a favorite of mine, actually any pasta considering I’m Italian — but that picture! That lasagna looks so sad! lol Maybe it’s just the visual but it looks kinda dry … lasagna is supposed to be filled with sauce and cheese haha.

    But damn, you made your own noodles – THAT is a culinary masterpiece!

  111. Wow I wrote this yesterday when there were only 20 comments but little kids and life forced me to put the laptop away and only sent my above comment today (not as comment #21 but as comment #159!!) That’s hilarious and so great. Shows how great your blog and post is! :)

  112. You know I’ve never heard of putting ricotta cheese in a lasagne?! But agree, it’s definitely better without. A good ragu, lovely pasta and a creamy, not too thick bechamel with a hint of nutmeg is all you need. I sometimes make my ragu with white wine and milk too which is divine.

  113. What a coincidence… I’ve just started eating red meat after years of avoiding it (I’m iron deficient & refuse to take supplements, so I decided to convert) and I had some lovely organic beef mince in the fridge. Not knowing what to do with, after not having cooked it for so long, I turned to your blog as so far it’s never failed to please. And what should turn up on the first page? but your beautiful lasagne.

    No need to look for more recipes I’m absolutely sold on this one, it looks & sounds amazing!! You always seem to master (and perfect) the classics, a style of cooking I’m most passionate about.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I didn’t know what I was missing before smitten came along. Hands down my fave food blog (and I have a few).

  114. This IS a best of a dish. I love lasagna (any kind it really doesn’t matter to me if it has ricotta, spinach, millions of veggies, or just beef), but making it requires a lot of time and patience. I’ve never made pasta before but would like to try some day soon. Would you say it’s impossible to make noodles without a dough roller?

  115. Lasagna is a passion of mine! I absolutely adore it. I’ve made it a variety of ways..vegetarian, mushroom, spinach, with ricotta, without ricotta…no matter how it’s made, it’s delicious and a labor of love. I have found that using very fresh from the local farm ricotta makes a difference in taste! MUCH better than the packaged stuff you get in a grocery store. I’m going to have to set aside a weekend to tackle this one. I can’t wait! Delicious.


  116. Made lasagne on Saturday for my stepson (10) who spends the entire time I’m cooking it hovering over my shoulder going ‘is it ready yet…’ I’ve only managed 3-4 layers tho’. I must build it up! I have never used ricotta in lasagne. But do tend to do a cheesy sauce instead of plain bechamel (with a sneaky teaspoon of english mustard to give it some kick)
    Can I recommend, as a veggie option, Cranks Spinach, Mushroom and Butternut Squash version. Complete faff to make, but oh so worth it. I can’t find a link to it online – I’ll have to search harder…..

  117. I too have an Atlas but mine was purchased in the early 70’s when we were living in Germany. My mother gave it to me soon after I got married as she no longer used it. We love it but I must admit I’ve been remiss in dragging it out since our last move.

    Okay can you suggest any specific wines? This ragu sounds identical to my grandma’s minus the wine, yet when I make hers something is missing. She always said it had a “secret” ingredient in it but would never wrote it down. We are teetotalers so I have no idea what wines taste good but I am not opposed to cooking with wine. I am hoping to make this for our son’s 18th birthday and maybe even mine this weekend. Thank you!

  118. Reading this reminded me of the lasagna in France! It’s one of my favorite things and what I long for most when I’m here and not there. They don’t use ricotta either (at least not the many I’ve had) but do add the decadent bechamel sauce. Yum, yum, yum!

  119. Agnes

    Deb, this recipe looks wonderful! It would be helpful to have a weight for the parmesan, so that we can weigh the right amount before grating. If anyone makes this and weighs the cheese, could you report on how much is needed for 1 2/3 c. of parmesan?
    Thanks; and if no one does so before I make it (in a few days) I’ll post the weight myself.

  120. I am so glad that someone with influence in the American food consciousness went public and asked “what the heck?!” is the deal with ricotta in lasagna. I just don’t get it. It gets grainy, and does nothing for an otherwise comforting dish. I blame some 1970’s cookbook that I don’t know for starting this trend. The other trend I hope you start is hand rolled lasagna noodles. I’ve often though about it, but have yet to try it. Thank you for this post. I think it will revolutionize lasagna in America. We needed it.

  121. Carrie

    I think I love the idea of lasagna more than the actual finished product, I’m always excited to make it and eat it, but I’m usually not 100% happy with the result. I’ll have to try it your way one of these days and see if that makes me happier. I’ve just finished making ravioli and tortellini to freeze for the upcoming year, so I’ll probably wait a bit before I give it a shot. I have the William Sonoma pasta cookbook and I think that it uses a bechamel sauce instead of ricotta as well.

  122. Abi


    I’ve put my bol. sauce into a crock pot/slow cooker to cook for the next 10 hours here in grey England. I never put ricotta in lasagne it’s always been parmesan and like many others I have my own version of Bol. Sauce – mostly what I have to hand but it always has to be cooked for many hours. Todays has beef mince, tomatoes, onion, carrots, mushrooms and a little bit of stock.
    Tomorrow I’m looking forward to making Pasta for the first time with my kids and the first time for me in nearly a decade. My pasta machine has been sat by my baking tin cupboard laughing at me for the last 2 years – I keep promising to use it!
    So thank you for reminding me that I can really make my lasagne even better by making it from scratch. I love your recipes and pictures.

    Thanks you

  123. oh, finally a proper lasagna recipe. I am Italian, and while I am fond of experimenting, there are a few things I think we shouldn’t mess with. And the American version of lasagna, featuring ricotta? I hate to sound redundant, but *shudder*

  124. michlhw

    my mama used to make bolognese sauce like this– full of diced carrots, celery and onion. She learnt it from a Japanese expat in Singapore, and the meticulous, careful Japanese culture showed in this sauce. She would hand chop everything into minuscule cubes so the veggies almost “melt” in your mouth, and obviously the food prep is daunting, so i’ve never attempted it.

    until now. But of course! why haven’t i ever thought of chopping the veggies up in my blender? Even if they arent going to be perfect cubes..

    This post helped me overcome my inertia to tackle one of my mama’s greatest dishes. I really must thank you for the detail of this post. The pictures of the veggies and the sauce just evoke memories of my mama, who lives far away in Singapore. thank you so much!!

  125. elizabeth

    This has been a staple in our house for years – best lasagna ever! Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking has a great recipe for the bechamel which I mix in with Mario Batali’s bolognese sauce and good aged parmesian. Makes the most luscious and light lasagna – so much better than that guck smothered in ricotta and tomato sauce.

  126. lesli

    Deb, would you mind sharing what exact Atlas pasta machine you have?
    been thinking about getting one for a while, this recipe seems like a perfect reason:)

  127. Janet

    I make this twice a year with Marcella Hazan’s green noodles, my bechamel and her bolognese – what a labor of love. My trick with the lasagne noodles (and homemade crackers) is to cover the ironing board with a cotton tablecloth and use it as a landing pad for the sheets of dough waiting to be cut. The ironing board is so very portable so I can set it up right next to my pasta maker in the kitchen. LOVE your stuff, Deb!

  128. Husband hates ricotta in all its forms (traitor!) so he’s not a lasagna fan. But I think I could turn him with this recipe! Now, one question, one tip.

    Question. Re: Simmering the bolognese – covered, uncovered, or partially covered? Given your comments about water cooking off I’m assuming uncovered, but just want to clarify.

    Tip. Re: cold vs. heated milk for bechamel. I’m usually meauring milk into a glass Pyrex measuring cup so I just microwave it. The Pyrex is already in use so you don’t have to get a saucepan dirty, and it pours more easily from the measuring cup anyway.

    1. deb

      Gale — Uncovered pot. Re, heating the milk: If I had a microwave (I’m not anti; I just don’t have the space) I probably would have never figured out that I could get away with using the milk cold. But on the stovetop, with one pot boiling pasta, another simmering sauce, another with the butter and flour… ugh, I just couldn’t bear adding a fourth pot.

      Janet — Love the ironing board tip! Really, it might give me excuse to finally use mine. :)

      lesli — I have this one. It felt a little expensive to me (I think I got it for $50) but it was worth every penny.

      Agnes — The parmesan should weigh about 5 3/4 ounces. I promise to add the remaining weights to this recipe very soon — hopefully by the end of the day.

      Shawna — It’s not impossible but hard to get it very thin. And I’ve found that even slightly thicker homemade pasta takes forever and a day to cook through. But if you can keep in mind that you’re going for a dumpling wrapper (the ready-made ones) level thinness, it can definitely be done with a rolling pin.

      Carrie — If you’ve got sauce already made, I would just brown the heck out of the beef in a pan, maybe just add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste (or you can skip it as you’ll have already-hydrated tomatoes in your sauce) and then, for the wine, maybe use less because you won’t need to cook your sauce for as many hours, IMHO, because and thus won’t have as much time for the wine to cook off. Maybe just a cup?

      alex — Ha! It’s a tiny table (we could only fit the 36″ in here) and we bought it right around the time Jacob was born. I made a conscious decision to let it go. That I’d rather just let life happen to it than to constantly be all “NO JACOB! DON’T COLOR OFF YOUR PAGE!” or “OMG, You dripped tomato sauce!” for the next 18 years. Funny enough, despite this, it’s held up great (and much better since I rubbed some mineral oil into it — probably a teak no-no but I can’t do proper teak oil in a non-ventilated apartment — a couple months ago) and doesn’t seem to pick up stains like I thought it would. Phew.

      Lorena — That sounds adorable. I think it might be my next lasagna obsession.

      Ada — Of course! It has been shockingly meat-heavy here lately. I’ve been focusing a lot on family dinners since my son turned 2, which is one part of it. The other part is that it’s winter and everything looks so dreadful. I should have a new vegetarian galette soon, though.

  129. Hey Bayles Farm

    The tip that launched my bolognese to an entirely new level came from Fine Cooking Oct/Nov 2011…brown the meat 60-90 minutes. I thought this was nuts, that it most certainly burn, but it doesn’t and it is fabulous. Well worth the extra time for the added depth.

  130. This sounds so good. Using bechemel and omitting ricotta is genius. Lately, I’ve veered away from the beef/tomato territory into a ground turkey, butternut squash and goat cheese lasagna that is really satisfying (I’m contemplating a meat loaf riff on that). But this might steer me back to something more traditional. As always, love the gorgeous food photography.

  131. MH

    I totally agree with you about the ricotta…and so does Cook’s Illustrated!! Their vegetable lasagna recipe from September 2011 discards “grainy” ricotta for a combination of cottage cheese, cream, parmesan, and a little cornstarch…plus some great ideas about how to prevent the vegetables from leeching their juices and making the whole thing soggy. Brilliant! Here’s the link if you’re interested:

  132. Lisa

    This sounds really blasphemous, but would it be possible to just omit adding the meat to the bolognese sauce? This is everything I’ve ever wanted in lasagna, I’ve always hated the texture of ricotta, but I am a vegetarian.

    I was wondering if it would be as simple as just omitting the meat from the recipe or if I should actually seek out a different vegetarian sauce as a substitute.

  133. Abby

    It’s a sign! I had big plans to make lasagna for Vday, and of course come to you for the recipe, and here it is, just in time. I love the use of béchamel in the mushroom lasagna, that was delicious. I’ve used it when making traditional lasagna in the past and loved the warm, creamy result. I won’t be making pasta sheets from scratch, forgive me, but I’ll be starting the ragu tonight! Thank you for the perfect recipe, just in time!

  134. Gail

    Yes, yes! The only reason I complained dramatically as a child when served lasagna was because of that dreaded ricotta! I love the idea of a lasagna without it. I can’t say I’m going to make my own noodles (my kitchen is big enough, but it’s filled with four small children), but I am going to make this. Thanks for a great post. I love your blog!

  135. ann

    Ok I don’t ever comment but read your blog all the time and drool over the amazing photos you take. I had to comment because I’m so impressed you did this all from scratch (including the pasta) – I will attempt this recipe at some point (what I mean is not only the sauce but the pasta). I have never ever understood ricotta in lasagna. i grew up with Italian grandparents and we ALWAYS made our lasagna with a meat sauce which included beef and uncased hot sausages and while I don’t have time to make the sauce from tomatos I do buy premium crushed italian tomato sauce and make everything else from scratch. My sauce cooks all day on the stove to develop flavor and the only cheese I use is fresh mozzarella and some fresh parm – I layer from the bottom and top with the sauce and mozz and parm cheese and cook with it uncovered. The key is a crunchy top not a wet (I call it wet when people cook with tin foil) and the cheese and center is oozy and yummy. Your’s looks delish and just that sauce alone i need to try. You are an inspiration.

  136. Anna

    Hey! Long time fan, usually never comment…but, I made lasagna yesterday too! It was of course with oven ready noodles, a much simpler bolognese, no bechamel and with ricotta (sorry!)…but, not everyone can cook as well as you! :) Also, looking fwd to your book!

  137. I actually made lasagna bolognese Sunday using a different recipe. I’d never had anything like it before and I am determined to try again. I also misjudged the time finding it took much longer to finish than I’d expected and was late serving a dinner party. All was well in the end, but your version looks like it incorporates many of the changes I wanted to make to the recipe. Looks like I will try again!

  138. I think that restaurants overcharge for these dishes considering how simple they are. Notwithstanding, I would happily come over and pay the going rate for you to cook for me. @Gail, Ricotta is an amazing dish when handled with some skill and served piping hot.

  139. I make this all the time – LOVE LOVE IT – but i use one of my dad’s bolognese sauces that i just love – but you out did yourself by making your own past. Just fabulous dish – fabulous!

  140. I cried a little when I read this. I too despise lasagna for the same reasons and have a really sensitive stomach but this recipe looks so good I am willing to try it. What’s more is that when I told my husband (who loves lasagna) that I was going to give it a shot, he was elated. It is going to be a good week.

  141. Hanna

    Ricotta? I have never even heard the idea before. I might not come from pasta-land (i’m swedish) but i’m pretty sure bechamel is the thing. And do not skip the nutmeg. It’s essential for good bechamel. I usually don’t make my own pasta, but now i’m inspired! Next time!

  142. James

    I made a lasagna very similar to this about 20 years ago when good friends had a baby. They gave me a piece before returning to new parent life. Sublime. They still talk about it. The homemade everything pasta, tomato sauce and bechamal, made a huge difference. That said, I have yet to tackle it again. It is a big, satisfying project. Maybe next week — I sam inspired. WORTH THE EFFORT FOR SURE.

  143. I love you put a lasagne here. Just recently I thought that this classic is presented less often or became a bit the image of fast food. That is, in my opinion a pity, as a good lasagne can be so delicious. Here you present a very tasty recipe, yum.

  144. This sounds like my version of heaven – a multi day cooking project, incorporating authentic flavors and homemade pasta! Hoping for a “snow day” from work soon to get started! Thank you for perfecting this!!!

  145. Jennifer B

    Something I love to make, which seems easier than lasagna, but similar (bechamel sauce on top, no ricotta anywhere) is pastichio. My husband is Greek and we are big fans. Many recipes call for cinnamon, but I omit to make it more along the lines of lasagna. Anyway, if you ever get the urge to try it, I would love to see your take on this dish.

  146. I love how you’re completely honest about how ridiculously time consuming this is! But sometimes, recipes like this are like a little bit of therapy. Sure, they might cost as much as an actual session, but at least you have something delicious to eat in the end.

  147. linda criss

    A true bolognese sauce must must contain milk and perhaps a touch of tomato paste.In Bologna ricotta is always used along with a béchamel sauce. hard work so kudos to you!

  148. Susan

    Perfetto! I grew up on lasagne with ricotta so I like it but my Italian born and raised, trained (in Rome) chef hubby does not use ricotta, he uses mozzarella between layers and parmigiano on top.

    Good job making your own “skins”, nothing better than fresh pasta…or fresh mozzarella…or white “pizza” fresh from the oven…or gelato…I could go on.

  149. Billie Dorris

    I thought I was the only one not liking ricotta. Back in the dark ages (1972) we had a friend (interesting couple, she red headed Italian, he Hispanic)who invited a lot of wives for lunch. She made her bechamel this way but also put swiss cheese in it. No parmesan either.She also made her noodles from scratch. Well the day we were to go to lunch there was a big snow storm (Kansas City) so it was cancelled. Think we went a couple of days later. Instead of saving the dish she had made and cooking it later she made an entire new batch for us. Of course it was wonderful. Have made it from her recipe for years. Had pastichio in Greece many years ago and loved it. Never thought about them being similar but prefer it without the cinnamon.

  150. If you feel aventurous someday, try putting a tiny bit of cinnamon in your tomato sauce :) it really gives a smooth and silky flavour to it. I can only have my bolognese that way now !

  151. Jenny

    I’ve never heard of ricotta in lasagne but judging by these comments it sounds like an American tradition. Your recipe is exactly the way I and my family/friends make lasagne in the UK (except we add grated cheddar to the white sauce). I’ve never made my own pasta but will definitely try it, it looks fun, although it turns a fairly staple mid-week dinner into a labour of love! I’ll probably wait ’til the weekend to try homemade pasta! Is the lasagna/lasagne an American/European spelling difference?

  152. Jan

    I heard about Lasagna Bolognese while watching a movie on TVO the other night. Found your recipe and am going to try it ASAP. Can you use a rolling pin to make lasagna? (It’s just a case of time and pressure, isn’t it?) If not, I’ll try the wontons. Also, I have a recipe that calls for the standard ricotta (with spinach) and mozarella, takes me 5 or 6 hours, and is loved by everyone who has had it. Now, I’ll see if they love this one as well.

  153. Elizabeth in VT

    Lasagna Bolognese has been a holiday family favorite for lo, these many years. The recipe that I was given also includes 1/4 lb of chicken livers. Brown them with the beef. They break up, disappear into the sauce, impart a richness not to be equalled, and you don’t have to tell anybody. Chicken livers or not, this is SO worth making!!

  154. This is pretty epic, making your own noodles! I made lasagna in culinary arts class at school last year, and it was quite a job, even though there were about twenty of us. This looks really delicious and worth the effort though.

  155. jessica

    I made something similar recently and used fresh noodles without boiling them and the texture was perfect. The only difference I can see is that the pasta I made was 2 eggs to 1 cup of flour and I was very careful to keep my sauce viscous.

  156. Rachel

    AGH! I loved seeing your little boy with his hand on the pasta crank! That’s my kids’ favorite part about homemade pasta days, they love to help by cranking the machine for me! Your picture just warmed my heart, thank you!

  157. Renate

    I don’t know which is more impressive: the fact that you made all of the noodles and sauces from scratch, or that you painstakingly recorded each step, adding all the necessary insights along the way. To me, that’s WAY harder than the cooking!

  158. Yaz

    For the vegetarians, yes you can!

    This is pretty much the same as my lasagne recipe only I make a ratatouille instead of a meat sauce, basically the same thing but with courgettes and other vegetables in place of mince. It’s quite delicious and well worth the effort :)

  159. Tastynchic

    Just finished this lasagna and we (me and husband) can smell the parmesan cheese, bolognase, béchamel and fresh pasta melding together, it smells AMAZING. Can’t wait to post the results in the next few days. Thank you. What an incredible recipe and actually pretty easy.

  160. My cheese guy recommended taleggio when I asked him about the perfect lasagna cheese once, and I have never looked back since. One of my favourite aspects of it is that it’s simply sliced thinly, then layered with the rest of the components. Also, its taste. That’s also pretty awesome. Great lasagna pictures! I find it impossible to photograph attractively :)

  161. Abi

    Quick question your pasta recipe says 2 eggs but the pasta picture gas 3 eggs. Were you just making slightly mire or should it be 3 eggs? Thanks :) xxx

  162. Deb – I just mixed up the pasta dough and it wouldn’t come together so I added quite a bit of water. I’ve just noticed your photo shows 3 eggs and the recipe shows 2! Should I ditch my dough and start again or will i be okay with that much water?

    1. deb

      Hi Cindy, Abi — Nope. I made a 3-egg batch but found in testing I only used 2/3 of the dough. Sorry for the confusion. Definitely try to add as little water as possible as sticky dough is twice as hard to roll out. I find that when I use cups for measurement, I tend to need water but when I weigh the ingredients (I still need to add in weights, sorry people!) I do not.

  163. JanetP

    I love lasagne, but have only had (and made) it American-style. A few weeks ago I had spaghetti bolognese for dinner at a restaurant and was blown away by the sauce — this sounds awesome for the sauce alone! This type of sauce is completely new to me, so it’s great to see it here.

    What a wonderfully written recipe. Your writing style is one of the reasons why I am looking forward to your cookbook so much.

  164. Oh hello. HELLO. As I type it’s 10 am EST, and I don’t even care that it’s still morning, I would very much like to eat this lasagna for breakfast. And then again for lunch. And then for dinner. With seconds.

    Delicious. I’ve never made lasagna, but it’s a challenge I’ve always wanted to try. I just may have to make this happen, as you’ve been so inspiring!

  165. Sarah

    This is very much like my beloved Marcella Hazan’s recipe. I made it for my future inlaws a decade or so ago and they were bewildered (we’re talking conventional red sauce folk here) but appreciative. Thanks for cutting up the steps into days–very helpful and sanity preserving. My only quibble with your recipe is that “2 people could happily eat it for the rest of the week.” My family of 4 polishes this off in one sitting, maybe two if there’s an appetizer.

  166. Agnes

    Deb, Thanks for the parmesan weight! I made the béchamel & bolognese & pasta last night, they all look wonderful, esp. the bolognese, which we couldn’t stop nibbling at *this morning*–it takes a really yummy meat sauce to be appetizing for breakfast. Here are some notes from my experience of making the above 3 things, in case they might help someone:
    (1) Bechamel: I have a microwave, but I find it is easier to make béchamel with cold milk–hot milk actually leads to more lumps for me, somehow it incorporates too quickly into part of the roux, and that doesn’t let you whisk it in evenly. But you do have to do it a bit at a time, as Deb says.
    (2) Pasta: as pasta recipes go, this is a pretty dry one. I really like that–I like my pasta on the dry and tough rather than soft and sticky side; works better for pasta machine, I think, and lets you roll it nice and thin. (I rolled mine to the thinnest setting of my (old) Atlas machine, which is a 7). But if you are hand-rolling you might need a bit more egg or less flour. This dough also can use a bit of kneading. Finally, I always add a bit of olive oil to pasta dough–adds moisture w/o stickiness. I usually add about 1 tsp per egg.
    (3) Bolognese: I cooked this in the oven at 210 degrees instead of the stovetop–I prefer the oven for extended low temp cooking. In the future, I might even consider doing it like that overnight.

  167. CP

    Is it bad if I like that heavy feeling after eating other kinds of homemade lasagna? This looks incredible, and I look forward to approaching this monster of a recipe. Thanks again!

  168. Katie

    This is to die for. I broke this up over the two days as suggested and thank goodness. It was a labor of love and worth all the effort. Best lasagna I have ever had.

    Thank you for including the detailed directions as I can’t veer off any recipe but I can follow them to the T. I will be making this for the in-laws to make sure to keep my husband’s mom happy…my biggest critic.

  169. Silvia

    Let me tell you, this is one good-looking lasagna. You’re probably the first US blogger I follow who gets this recipe right, and your lasagna really does look like the one I make. I live near Bologna and your recipe is more or less like mine: besciamella, ragù (bolognese sauce), pasta and everything. If you haven’t already, you should try cooking the pasta in water and a few drops of olive oil, my mum always does it to make it less sticky.
    Love all of your recipes, the cocoa brownies are always a success :)

  170. Susan J

    What a perfect recipe to stumble across on Valentine’s Day, my husband thanks you (it’s so much easier for him to cook when I leave clear instructions ;) )!

  171. Deirdre

    So…I may have burnt the beef just a little and I can’t tell if it has ruined the whole thing….will it? ruin it? it’s simmering.

  172. Cathy

    This is how my mother always made lasagna and how I make it now. I thought the ones with ricotta and the thick curly noodles were weird and the ones with cottage cheese were really gross. I’m still amazed at how excited people get when I make it for them. I’m always like “haven’t they ever had lasagna?” and then I remember they have probably had the weird ricotta/cottage cheese kind. My mother made it so often when I was a kid, I think of this as just ordinary every day kind of food.

    I’ve left out the meat and added roasted veggies to the tomato sauce or spinach to the besciamella and both were really good.

  173. Tina L.

    I LOVE the Anne Burrell recipe for bolognese. My six year old daughter and I were flipping channels and came upon her making this on her show. She turns to me and says “Mommy can we make that tonight?” We didn’t write down the directions, just made it from memory (but used half ground sirloin and half ground pork). My family could not stop eating it! It was by far the best sauce we’d ever had. When we go out now, there is always the quest to get some bolognese “like mommy made from tv.”

  174. hey deb,
    i’ve been making lasagna with homemade noodles for a while now, and i’d like to point
    out that for me, it works very well without the parboiling of the pasta sheets… i’ve been spoiling my boyfriend to only like lasagna with fresh noodles. but it’s better that way, i guess. storebought are friggin expensive!

    sometimes, when i’m feel like indulging, i like to stir in some cooked (well-squeezed) spinach into the cheese sauce. another trick my mom uses is to mix the top layer’s sauce with one beaten egg. it makes it extra creamy and helps it set.

  175. I love the photo of your little one helping with the pasta! I love making my own pasta, but love it even more with help from my smaller friends. My daughter used to love helping turn the machine and now I have young neighbors who help as well. Thanks for sharing that photo!

  176. Elaine

    This is an amazing dish. I made it with ground turkey breast – delicious! This dish is well worth the effort and is really easy to make – just a little time consuming. It is a winner in our house.

  177. Five years for a final recipe? That means mastering every layer individually to make a perfect product. Yes, this is the culinary culmination of trial and error, pinches and dashes, and tastings and binges. Bet it’s a rockstar.

  178. Nikki B

    Made this tonight but with no boil pasta and it was awesome! I did half the pan size but kept the same proportions of bechemel, bolognese, and cheese per layer because I was afraid the no boil would dry the dish out. Best lasagna I have ever made. Can’t wait to try with fresh noodles.

  179. Rachel

    Oh my goodness. Something possessed me when I saw this this morning to make this- in one day- for my father for Valentine’s Day dinner because his favorite thing EVER is bolognese sauce. One little note- I have been a vegetarian for nine years, and have never cooked meat in my entire life!! Thank goodness I enlisted my mom as the sauce tester. But I made this and somehow, 6 hours and 40 minutes later (“fast” because no pasta machine so had to use fresh pasta sheets from the market instead of homemade), it was pronounced a remarkable success. Better than any restaurant version! The leftover sauce was declared as precious as gold and stashed away in the freezer. Many, many thanks, Deb, for pushing me to do something I never would have done!

    The funniest thing was, my dad came home from work when the sauce was on, and he looked at it and said, “I might not eat that but it sure smells good.” He naturally assumed I was concocting some “horrible healthy vegetarian thing” (he never eats my cooking!), but quite the contrary ;)

  180. Lady, I do believe you might have me making lasagne in New Zealand summer. In 98% humidity. My tiny, hot kitchen will not thank you, but I think I might.

  181. Babou

    Hummm, i might be going against the tide here, but I love my lasagna with a layer of ricotta in it.

    Actually we have 2 lasagnas recipes at our home : one with meat sauce (all beef) and béchamel… my boyfriend’s recipe… and one with meat sauce (beef, pork and veal, as my mom taught me) and a layer of ricotta mixed with an egg yolk, parmesan and thawed frozed spinach… and it is my favorite layer. I find that it cuts the over meatiness that lasagna can sometimes have…

    PS Barilla’s egg pasta lasagna sheets are great : no ruffled layer and no need to precook them… just make sure each layer is surrounded with enough moist sauce… perfect result for those looking to find a shortcut to this recipe

  182. Annie K

    If you are ever in Pittsburgh – you must stop by Piccolo Forno to try their Lasagna. It sounds like it would be right up your alley – no ricotta used …and ooooh so creamy it literally melts in your mouth.

  183. I was inspired to make this for valentines day, and my fiance regarded it as one of the best things I’ve ever made. As I’m not a big meat eater, I only used 1 lb of ground sirloin, making slightly less sauce; but it was plenty. The bechamel elevates this, way beyond the echelons of ricotta. And finally, I used no boil lasagna sheets, that worked perfectly. I intentionally doused them in sauce.

  184. Thanks for the great recipe. Lasagna and pasta is my favourite dishes because they create instantly a hommy feeling in the kitchen. Its smell and taste would be perfect, understand just looking these nice photos.

  185. I’m not a huge fan of portabellas (baby bellas are fine. I just don’t like the big ones), so I will have to try the bolognese with baby bellas and TVP. With enough time and love it does end up feeling surprisingly similar.

  186. I, too, have found Anne Burrell’s bolognese to be the best. I double the recipe and make it once a year to stock the freezer – well worth it. Regarding the pasta rollers, I love my Atlas but it’s been recently replaced. I like to minimize the gadgets and try to use my stand mixer and it’s add-ons as much as possible. The pasta roller attachments for the Kitchen Aid are a dream and only one person needed. They remained in a box for 2 years before being opened; what a waste of time! (Quick aside – the ice cream maker attachment is the best $50 I’ve ever spent.) Finally, about the flour for the pasta dough, I live in a smaller town which will not see “00” flour for eons. AP works beautifully. I add olive oil to the dough which has been a huge improvement in the consistency of the texture. Thanks for sharing great food!

  187. Harleydude

    I agree with Beth. I’ve always been a ricotta lasagna fan and have consumed and created many versions of lasagna but after following this recipe I am now a convert. Bechamel laced lasagna is, and has been voted on by the poker table crew, the best in a taste test between riccota and the bechamel lasagnas.

    I have to hand it to you, Deb. I love this site. I’ve been cooking since a wee boy helping my grandfather pick, clean, and prepare the veggies for the a family supper. I’ve worked my way through school prep and sous cheffing (is that a real word? one or two f’s?) and occassionally catered parties when unemployed but the restaurant scene and the hours are and always will be difficult if not completely insane. So I went corporate, occassionally lifting what was supposed to be simple dinner party to a multi-course feast but never succumbed to the food bug of my youth. Your simple delightful blog and your posted life experiences has renewed my interest in my food education.

    Thank you. You have always been my only food website favorite.

    P.S. I’ve had BBQ spahgetti in Texas and have an idea for a pulled pork BBQ lasagna. Next poker game is a few weeks away. I’ll keep you posted.

  188. Charlotte

    This, THIS IS so beautiful! Your homemade, paper thin pasta sheets truly make the dish!!
    Would you consider Fontina cheese in lasagna? It is the ultimate in my opinion!

  189. This is just another reason for me to invest in a pasta roller. This lasagna looks amazing. I’ll need to find a crowd to make it for, I’m not sure it would be good to have extras lying around:)

  190. in_jin_jo

    My husband HATES ricotta in lasagna. This recipe will go in the box as one to try, and try very soon. To smacksaw who said pasta iis made from semolina and “stopped reading.” You are correct. Durum wheat semolina is made for high end pastas and is a very dense hard or “durum” wheat. This is why the lasagna noodles are thick and hard. Using regular wheat or “cake” flour which is softer, makes the noodles lighter and in my opinion just heavenly. Homemade pasta rocks. Great recipe Deb.

  191. I must say that Lasagna Bolognese is a great dish. I’ve never taken the chance to make it, because the one I had was so wonderful. The steps you took in making your lasagna noodles, I can tell that you took special care to make sure they weren’t tough or gummy. The sauce looks bold in color and literally makes me wish I had scratch and sniff computer screen. The pictures were great and very natural as you took the steps to make this great dish.

    Also Im a meat eater, however mushroom lasagna is a great way to take a break from the meat every once in a while.

    Great post

  192. I’m heating up last night’s leftovers right now. This was the best lasagna ever! Thank you so much for the time you spend finding the “just right” version of classics like lasagna (and chocolate pudding which we had for dessert). I made everything but the pasta.
    P.S. I got distracted after I made the bechamel and when I went to assemble it was probably a little thicker than it should have been. I think it would have been even a tad more perfect had I not let it cool (unintentionally).

  193. Tammie

    When I read the words “Homemade pasta” and then saw all the other items you did from scratch my first thought was akin to “Julie” in Julie & Julia, “SEVEN PAGES!!!!!” when she discovers how labor intensive Julia’s beef Bourguignon was going to be; but dang it looks gooooooooood.

  194. Katie

    I may have to try this one day when I get my pasta machine. My fiance is Italian and he will appreciate the homemade lasagna noodles, I’m sure. I must add the pasta machine to my wedding registry right now! I don’t know why it wasn’t there before!

  195. Amy

    Great post. I was very surprised though to hear that this was your Everest due mainly to the use of ricotta in lasagna instead of béchamel sauce. I have never heard of a lasagna without white sauce! Is ricotta an American thing? I have used it in veggie lasagna along with white sauce but not as a replacement. One question about the ragu – some would say to use chunks of beef that then fall apart during the cooking but you clearly have decided that ground is best and I bow to your greater knowledge and expertise after so many years of experimentation. Any reason though? Thank you Deb. Hope you had a well deserved rest after this!

  196. Kory

    Made this for my wife last night ( or should I say ALL of yesterday ) for Valentines Day. Started making the Bolognese sauce at 8:30, made the Béchamel at noon, made the dough at 4pm, made the noodles at 5, assembly at 6, dinner by 7. It was the best lasagna I’ve ever had and I have Bolognese to spare. Thanks for sharing this!

  197. This looks absolutely divine!!

    Oh, and just to let you know, I have selected you as one of my favourite food blogs! Congratulations! :) I love your simplistic approach to creating delectable dishes, and your blog layout itself is definitely envy-worthy.

    I wrote a little write-up on my own blog (, so feel free to take a look! :)

    – Hilary

  198. You have inspired me to change my cooking club (5 1/2 years running, TYVM)dinner plans tonight from soup to lasagna! I made my favorite MS brisket recipe (an old one, circa 1995) with a bottom round rump roast over the weekend and the sauce is very similar to this. {} Since I had plenty of sauce left over I just Cuisinart-ed and sweated a leek, some garlic and carrots, browned some Italian sausage, finely chopped the small amount of leftover shredded beef and dumped the whole mess into the leftover sauce, which is now simmering on the stove and smelling ridiculous.
    Other than that I’ll follow the rest of the recipe and I CAN’T WAIT to eat it.

  199. Kerry

    Is the Ricotta thing an American thing? I never saw it in Lasagna until I moved over here and I have to agree that I don’t like it. This is the same sort of deal as my mother made and that I now make when it comes to Lasagna. Bolognese sauce layered with pasta and a white cheese bechamel sauce. YUMMY!!!!

  200. ELR

    I have been following a recipe from Saveur magazine that is also meat ragu, bechamel and homemade pasta (in their case, spinach pasta). I do not have a pasta maker, so I buy fresh lasagna sheets, but there is nothing like this dish! It is amazing, as yours most definitely is. However, it does take *all* day, so I only attempt it when I have unconditional childcare (aka grandparents) who double as grateful tasters when the dish is finally complete.

  201. Cantagallo

    This is the kind of lasagna I grew up with. Mom is from near Florence, Italy and this is how they make it there. The only variation is that it is often prepared with green (spinach) noodles. I think the key flavor that makes it authentic for me is the hint of nutmeg in the bechamel. I just wanted to mention for those who are fresh pasta averse or low on time, the sauce, bechamel and cheese can be tossed with slightly under-done penne for a great baked pasta dish called penne stascicate!

  202. kathy

    What’s with all the ricotta-hate? It’s not an American invention or a 50s cookbook invention, it’s Sicilian, people! And delicious, I may add! It’s the only lasagne my Sicilian grandmother made, learned from her mother, and you couldn’t find a better Italian cook in all of New York City than either of them. Bechamel is also wonderful, but that’s why this version is called “Bolognese”, as in from Bologna!

  203. my goodness, you have my respect forever! this does not look easy, and i had no idea pasta existed without ricotta. nothing against ricotta, but bechamel definitely sounds like a good addition. i wish i could try this!

  204. Mimi

    I’m soooo glad you posted this recipe!!! My parents are from the south of France and when my mommy (or maman as i call her lol) makes her lasagna its always with homemade bolognese that has 2 or 3 types of meat in it and a mornay sauce (just a bechemel with cheese melted in it) I never understood why the ricotta and loads of heavy mozzarella on top of lasagna that everyone else raved about being awesome because to me it just sucked to be missing out on the mornay…. Love your blog :)!!!

  205. Bellissimo you have done a fantastic job of presenting this classic recipe. We use Ricotta much like many of your readers and look forward to trying your variation. Ciao and Mangia Bene

  206. Coralie

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this, with a few tweaks (elk instead of beef, and a nettle pasta rather than plain egg pasta). It was absolutely fantastic, and filled our (his)hunter-(mine)gatherer bellies splendidly! Thanks for all of your hard work, and sharing your culinary Everest with the rest of us.

  207. Epic, indeed! I was so inspired by this post that I made up some printable recipe cards on my blog. It might take a dozen to write down this masterpiece of yours, though :) Thanks for posting your experience and this delicious looking recipe!

  208. S.F.

    When I was in Rome a few years back, our tour group was brought to a small restaurant where we were served a “white lasagna” that tasted heavenly but I couldn’t figure out if the sauce was alfredo or bechamel. I had never had lasagna with no tomatoes in it before. Anyway, it also had chicken and mushrooms in it (probably to satisfy American tastes) but it was absolutely rich and delicious. Only problem, it was almost cold by the time we were served. Most ate it anyway but the woman next to me complained and they (frowning) took her dish and returned it shortly. I don’t know how (or if they did) warm it since microwaves are not usually in use but the complainer ate it anyway. I’ve always thought of trying to duplicate the yummy dish and now, maybe I will! Thanks for the post!

  209. Sharon

    I made (very close to) this recipe tonight (well, I actually made the red sauce on Monday). We don’t eat meat, so I subbed sliced mushrooms for the beef, but followed it otherwise. I used fresh egg pasta sheets from Loved, loved, loved this. My husband said, “Best lasagna ever.” So of course, not the same as a lasagna with meat, but an awesome veggie option for those interested. Thanks so much for the recipe and inspiration.

  210. Hey, I like this post. this past few days i ate a lasagna pizza and it was so delicious i wont forget that day. this lasaga is nice it looks so yummy even its only a photo. i dun have a talent to create one too bad for me but i can eat it in one bite :)

  211. mimi

    I have about 2lbs of brisket in my freezer that would be great for this recipe. One question though – should I chop it prior to putting it in the pan? I assume I wouldn’t just put it in whole, and I don’t have a meat grinder.

  212. Wow. You had me salivating at first sentence. I LOVE that you don’t have a heavy dose of ricotta and mozzarella in this. For one, I really just can’t eat it (without a huge allergic reaction). Cheese is best in moderation. The dance of the ingredients in this dish is absolute perfection. Brava!

  213. Mary

    This was hands down the BEST lasagna I’ve ever eaten let alone made. I moaned with pleasure throughout the entire meal. I’m thrilled there is leftover sauce waiting for me in the freezer. Thank you so much Deb! You always come through!

  214. rambant

    Making the Ragu today! It differs slightly to my usual, especially in cooking time (I normally spend an hour tops!). I intend to freeze 1/2 of it to make lasagne in future, I’m sure it’ll freeze fine.

    Deb- I’ve always made my beschamel using cold milk and it works perfectly. Hadn’t encountered a recipe that calls for warm milk.

    Wish me luck!

  215. Sarah

    Hey Deb! Amazing post- making it next week for my parents’ anniversary. What Italian food blog were you reading when you came across the mention of a ricotta-less lasagna? I’ve never found a really good Italian food blog despite my best efforts. I guess I compare every blog to yours and so am perpetually disappointed!

    1. deb

      Hi Sarah — I actually cannot remember, only know that the writer stopped posting years ago. It’s hard to find blogs that go for years and years.

      mimi — I am sorry, I’ve never started with a whole piece of meat. I think this kind of cooking is best for ground.

  216. Joana

    So funny, I’ve been cooking my own bolognese lasagna more or less instinctively for years and it’s nearly exactly the same thing!!! I just cook it for one hour though, I usually don’t have the time to do more than that. And I replace red for white wine, but otherwise identical! :)

  217. mimi

    Thanks for the reply Deb! I’ll probably save that brisket for another use. I’ve had sauce at a local Italian place that has little bits of chopped beef in it, but I’m not sure if it’s pre-cooked and then added to the sauce or what.

  218. Raquel

    I’m confused as to the ricotta being included in “americanized” lasagnas!? In any case, this is a classic recipe for me living in Spain, I cook it every week, is a major win, but it doesn’t feel like a burden or too time consuming. I reduce cooking time for the bolognese to 3 hours by adding half a cup of milk so that the meat tenderizes. Other tweaks: no carrots, always a can of whole tomatos (crushed by hand with juices) and always some kind of stock instead of water. A whole cup of whatever cheese/s are lying around gets also thrown in to the bechamel (off the fire or cheese will burn) and a dash of mustard powder for kick) that I leave a little bit runny so I can use dry noodles that will cook in the oven with the excess liquid. Finally, mine always overflows with the bolognese and bechamel, it’s not as dry as in the pictures. Tip for not burning (and changing the taste of) your bechamel: add a tsp of olive oil or 2 to butter when melting to prevent butter from burning.

  219. Oh, I do love epic dishes now and then– so perfect in today’s fast-paced world. Not everything is meant to be easy and fastfastfast, no matter what the commercials try to tell us. This looks bountiful and ever-so-worth-the-time.

    And on a side note, those chubby cheeks! I hope you nibble on them from time to time. He is such a handsome young man!

  220. Maryann

    Love this recipe! Have never made lasagna with fresh pasta. That is about to change as I received a pasta maker for Xmas. I make my lasagna with the homemade bolognese (pork and beef) and homemade bechemel. With a layer of ricotta, parm seasoning and fresh parsley and a layer of sauteed mushrooms and spinach. It took me 15+ years to perfect. Here a tweek there a tweek and after many,many tries. Baaaa-zing!

  221. Carl

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try it out.

    One question for any scientific types out there. As Deb and Anne Burrell both say, a “boiled meat sauce” would be bad so one shouldn’t add all the water at once.

    I’ve always followed this advice myself in any braised or stewed dish but I’ve also always wondered why this technique is so axiomatic.

    A concentrated mixture certainly seems “thick and robust” compared to the same mixture diluted with a lot of extra water, but as long as you boil out all that extra water eventually does it really make any difference? The only reason I can see that it would is that a lower concentration of water to solid ingredients might simmer at a different temperature.

    Anyone know if this is the case or is there a completely obvious reason I’m missing?

    1. deb

      Carl — I have thought a long time about this too! I think that it’s what you said, about proportions. A little water to “loosen” the sauce (so it doesn’t stick and burn) (oh, and by the way, I suggest less water at at time than Burrell does to keep the proportion low, even though it requires more frequent additions) is different from letting it cook in a soup of a sauce. So, you’re looking for an amount of water that will let it become a looser-than-needed sauce, so it can cook without burning until the next addition, but not so much that the meat will taste watery as it cooks.

  222. Allison

    I made this tonight and it turned out beautifully! My whole family loved it and after dinner I heard exclamations of delight that no one felt overly full or weighed-down by the meal. I added some slivered basil to each layer, since I had a beautiful, fresh bunch, though otherwise I stuck to the recipe. As always, your recipe was a hit!

  223. Becca

    I think the only time I’ve had ricotta (or was it feta?) in lasagne was once eating a vegetarian one. Maybe it came to be as someone ran out of Béchamel sauce?
    I’m delighted to see that your bolognese recipe is nearly identical to my Mum’s (only missing lotsa tomatoes, some capsicum and a good shake of cinnamon!); she learnt from her dad who was a chef way back when. My Aussie take on this recipe has developed alongside my 93%-vegetarianism-plus-dedication-to-eating-as-locally-as-possible. So I tend to cook with minced kangaroo meat – it’s readily available here in our markets, and easy to cook with once you know how. And yes, it does work, with the added benefit of being loaded in iron and unloaded in fat. So there’s a variation on a theme for you – not sure if you’ll ever get to try it though.
    Good on ya, Deb!

  224. JoanneP

    I also have the Atlas Pasta Machine – my husband is a lot like you Deb – he researched for weeks to find the best. He also bought me the electric motor and oh how I love him for that! I am making this Sunday!

  225. HA – I feel the same way about mozarella – I HATE cooked mozarella … in lasagne, on pizza all of it – HATE. I always sub goats cheese instead! BUT this looks like a delicious option. I also love putting anchovies in my lasagne – gives it real edge!!

  226. I am really a great fan of home-made pasta, at the beginning can take your time but really is worth it. I am not a big fan of bechamel for healthy issues but i really like your classic bechamel, nutmeg and pepper is a magic mix!

  227. Mid Mod Tom

    Last week, at Filomena’s in Georgetown, I had the BEST Lasagna Bolognese I’ve ever had in my entire life (a bit more than 4 decades). The Bolognese had beef, veal, and sausage. It was an impossible 8 or 9 layers of the THINNEST lasagna noodles ever. The ricotta simply melted away, and the whole thing was PERFECTLY cheesy. I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect lasagna for quite some time, meaty, cheesy, and oh so tender. Filomena’s delivered and now I just I have to go back whenever I truly need Lasgana Bolognese

  228. justine

    Being Italian and coming from a make your own lasagna, sausage, bread crumbs (yes, breadcrumbs), and olives clan, you can definitely freeze any casserole-style pasta dish. If in a rush, make pasta al forno instead. Simply boil your favourite penne or rigatoni as instructed on the box. Mix cooked pasta with sauce (sauce can be from a frozen batch as well, just defrost and reheat before). Place in baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle with your favourite cheese (we use parmesan and mozzarella). Bake for 30-45 minutes. Its easier than making your own pasta if you’re in a rush. It can also be frozen for quick meals (cook from frozen in about an hour) and great leftovers.

  229. justine

    Oh and may I add, we never use ricotta in lasagna. Not sure you decided this was a good idea. Ricotta is only for desserts and toast. End of story.

  230. Katie

    I too grew up with the more Southern Italian version. We never had ricotta or bechamel sauce in our lasagna, and occasionally had hardboiled eggs. I got used to the ricotta versions but one thing I’ve never been able to wrap my head around was the addition of bechamel sauce (to be fair it’s more of a preference thing, I think it tastes like sour milk so I tend to hate it in everything). This looks amazing and I will definitely be planing a weekend of lasagna making (minus the bechamel)!

    And Angela, it’s not just a Naples thing. My family’s from Calabria :)

  231. Ann

    Deb, my ears (eyes) pricked up when you wrote that you had an Atlas pasta machine as I’ve been thinking about investing in one but wasn’t sure which brand.
    Anyway when you said you ‘lucked out’ I wasn’t sure what you meant, so of course I googled it. Did you know that in the UK, that expression means to have bad luck but means the direct opposite in the US where it means to get lucky?
    Recipe looks divine by the way!

  232. hilly jacklin

    This is SO GOOD! And here is my rushed for time cheater alert–instead of fresh pasta ( no time) or heavy heavy dry lasagna noodles I used fresh egg roll wrappers. I boiled water in a frying pan, cooked each one for 30 seconds to a minute. I had the 9×13 pan and everything thing else lined up and ready to go. As each layer was cooked (4 sheets) I assembled that layer.
    And I started the Bolognese sauce on the stove top in a dutch oven then transferred it to the oven to bake slowly. There is much less chance of anything sticking.And I used beef broth instead of water. And I added layers of spinach too. But everything else was the same, really!

  233. Andrew

    I have never heard of Lasagne with Ricotta.. Lasagne is normally made with béchamel. (At least here in Europe it is..)

    Love your website, keep it up! :)

  234. My atlas pasta machine arrived this morning! So excited to try it out with this and some of your other pasta recipes. I actually couldn’t wait and made this lasagne yesterday with dried lasagne sheets, it has been inhaled by my entire family – it is magnificent! Can’t wait to try the homemade pasta version, probably within the week.
    Your recipes are an inspiration. Thank you for all your hard work!

  235. Paul

    Hi Deb. Congratulations! What a wonderful recipe and adventure. If you ever want to explore another mind blowing lasagna recipe, look up “The fine art of Italian Cooking”, by Buigallia (sp?). In it, he has a “lasagna al forno” that is a magnificent dish, one he says is “a revelation in lightness to non Italians”. In it he alternates layers of homemade spinach pasta with layers of homemade egg pasta. His bolognese sauce has chicken, prosciutto, and beef. He also uses besciamella and cheese layers. All I can say is that it is delicious and impressive visually. He has tricks like parboiling the sheets and then layering them in between two damp towels. Thanks for another great post. Let me know if you ever try this!

  236. Jane

    Thank you for such a beautiful post – so completely inspiring. I’m a vegetarian, so I often only skim through the ‘meatier’ posts. However, this one had me hanging onto every word, and I can’t imagine now NOT making my own pasta. You make it sound so easy! (or at least, time well invested). I loved the detail in each step… thoughtful.

    I can’t be convinced to convert back from the veggie life, but you sure do put up a strong argument! Thank you Deb.

  237. What a revelation! Deep down cooked ricotta has always bothered me, but I towed the party line anyway. Thanks for snapping me out of my stupor. And for a delightfully epic recipe–I’ll be clearing my schedule to make this sometime soon.

  238. Leslie

    Just finished dinner. DELICIOUS!!!!!! I admit to some cheating, I bought fresh, handmade pasta sheets from whole foods due to lack of time. Also used a little bit of ground pork in the blend and milk – other than that followed the recipe to the letter and it was fantastic. Thank you.

  239. Vicki

    I’ll never forget the looks on people’s faces when they
    tasted the lasagna made from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials
    cookbook. You have to cook the meat sauce for hours but
    it is so worth it. The calls for spinach lasagna noodles also.
    Heaven. I don’t think her recipe could be improved by anyone.

  240. Lily

    Your wonderful recipe and instructions gave me inspiration to tackle this beast of a truly ‘made from scratch’ cooking project. And I DID IT! The kitchen is still destroyed but I’m so excited. I foolishly attempted this while tending to a sick 11mo old of all times and managed to assemble the final dish together by 9:30pm last night. It will be baked for Sunday family meal today since we did not make it to that step last night (am I crazy to want to bake it for breakfast instead?). I added milk to the bolognese and my KA pasta attachment lifted a load of stress off from rolling out the sheets of lasagne (I had a cheap-o manual pasta roller that drove me bonkers). Grazie Deb!!

  241. Jennifer

    I too have been trying to make the perfect lasagna bolognese for a couple of years! I came so close this past fall but didn’t write down any of my steps/changes/measurements. So I was back to square one and defeated. Your recipe has re-lit the fire and I’m going to get to work on this asap using your wonderful recipe. Thank you!!

  242. allysha

    this is in the oven right now! the sauce is so good i had to use much restraint to stop eating it right out of the pan. there is absolutely no way this won’t be delicious. thank you for the recipe.

  243. HappyHibiscus

    Hi! I made this last night, and the husband said, it was AMAZING! I was already in bed by the time it was done. Which was what you warned us about, but totally worth the effort! Thanks for this rad recipe! It is amazing the mix of these two sauces, which by themselves are only okay, but together, could bring on World Peace!

  244. Stefanie

    Made this last night and it was delicious. I made the sauce the night before, and bought fresh pasta from an old-school italian pasta maker rather than making it myself. I couldn’t bear with the thought of putting so much time into the sauce and then using boxed pasta, but didn’t have time to make the noodles myself. It was divine – so light, melts in your mouth – a recipe I will continue to make the rest of my life!

  245. Beth

    Long time reader, first time commenter. (Ha, I’ve always wanted to say that! Happy to lose my cheesy-intro virginity to such a fine blog.) I made this lasagne over the weekend and I have to say, dinner last night was divine. There’s nothing like sitting down to a meal that you’ve spent hours preparing, especially when those hours didn’t really involve any tricky culinary contortions, just time and patience. I lingered over every bite, enjoyed a glass (or two) of cab sav, and munched on a crunchy baguette I also made and turned into garlic bread. And then I ate chocolate pudding (your best chocolate pudding recipe) with a big fat dollop of whipped cream on top. Because, you know, I obviously hadn’t had enough dairy in my dinner. Thank you, Deb, for inspiring nights like this!

  246. Betsy

    I just made this recipe last night and it was delicious! Followed the recipe almost to the letter but I had to buy pre-made pasta. I can only imagine how delicious it is if you make your own pasta. Thanks for the great recipe, Deb! I think this one may convince me to finally just go buy a pasta roller…. :)

  247. Susan

    Kathy #298…Thank you! I knew the use of ricotta had to have come from somewhere. It’s used in (non bolognase) lasagna at Italian restaurants all too often to have bastardized the supposed “real” lasagna exclusively to suit the American palate. I mean…it’s easy to make bechemel, most don’t know how to make ricotta and have to plan to make lasagna so they remember to buy the ricotta.

  248. Rachel

    thank you thank you thank you – best ‘sanga ever according to my 5 yo daughter.

    Even though I forgot the cheese in the first layer and used ready made pasta!

  249. My husband and I often have trouble cooking together because we are both too bossy in the kitchen. This recipe was perfect for us: he did the pasta and I did the sauce. The whole thing was delicious. Our entire family raved. Thanks for giving us a great recipe we both could partake in.

  250. Guess who made tagliatelle with bolognese sauce earlier in the week? ;)

    Great minds, etc.

    As for the authenticity thing, I never thought that the substitution of fennel over celery would spark a minor discussion as the one that’s going on right now over a picture I posted on Facebook.

    *rushes off to look at your post on ricotta cheese in the meantime*

  251. andrea

    thank you for posting this! i had been itching to make lasagna for a get-together with friends planned for this weekend, but been undecided as to how far ‘from scratch’ i wanted to go. your post encouraged me to break out my pasta machine for the first time in years and build a lasagna completely from scratch! i made it for a few friends this afternoon, and it was so perfect. cheers!

  252. Eden

    I’m from the UK and I admit I have never had or seen a lasagne with ricotta in it! I think this must be something only done across the pond :) This recipe sounds lovely; particularly the massive quantities! There’s something wonderfully heartening about cooking a huge pot of meat sauce!

  253. I am looking forward to trying out this recipe just as soon as my oven arrives…we just relocated and life is kind of sad without an oven in the kitchen! I just started a blog about positives in my life and added a link to your site….I must say that on particularly difficult days reading your blog (like a storybook, with no intention to cook something even) uplifts me! Thanks Deb!

  254. Wow, this looks like a great recipe. Similar to what my brother-in-law makes but with a few nice twists. I think I will make it next weekend and have him over. Thanks for the great recipes and the GREAT photos!!

  255. Erika

    I made this and it was fabulous. Only thing I did differently was add about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for some spice to the bolognese sauce. Definite keeper.

  256. Julia

    I have an old recipe from the Time Life cookbooks (my fathers) with a very similar recipe. It has always been the ONLY lasagna recipe I use. The combination of the bechamel and ragu (without the heavy cheeses) is amazing. Also – since everything is already hot/cooked it doesn’t need the long cook times of so many lasagna recipes. I encourage everyone to try this – it is worth every minute spent preparing it.

  257. I just made this over the weekend for my mom’s birthday. I really had fun making it- the bolognese simmered as I watched TV and did some work on my computer; two days later I made the pasta and béchamel, put it all together a couple of hours before guests arrived and then popped it in the oven. My husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever made and had three pieces; my dad kept up with his pace and groaned with each bite. I loved how the rich, slick bolognese blended with the mild and creamy béchamel and it reminded me of the lasagnas I ate in Italy and Tokyo. Thank you so much for your recipe- it is one of the most comprehensive, easy-to-follow and accurate ones I’ve followed in awhile. The pasta made just enough for five layers, the bolognese twice what you need (just like you said), and the way you wrote everything left no room for error. Two days after the meal I’ve already gotten requests from family members to make it again, so I know I will be putting this into regular rotation. Thanks again!!

  258. I feel blasphemous because the ricotta is my favorite part of my father’s lasagna. Lasagna is on the list as my favorite all time food but I only really mean my dad’s. I’m usually disappointed with lasagna for one because they tomato sauces are often too sweet. I’m dreaming of eating yours and perhaps adding ricotta to my ragu.

  259. Colleen

    I made this lasagna tonight! Absolutely delicious! The first time my husband had homemade lasagna noodles and he will never do store bought again! Said they were so light and delicious! The bolognese sauce was so rich and delicious! Definitely worth the effort!

  260. Caroline

    I made this on Friday. It was amazing. I purchased amazing fresh pasta sheets from Whole Foods, but everything else from scratch. I’ve made bechamel before, but your directions were the best and it was perfect. I paired it with roasted brussels sprouts. It was awesome. Thank you! I can’t wait for your cookbook.

  261. Maryann

    Marcella Hazan’s books offer all sorts of fetching lasagne recipes – if memory serves there is a ham and asparagus – no tomato, bechamel only – fantastic. Her son’s pasta cookbook has a Seafood Lasagne – also no sauce – disturbingly delicious; my favorite probably, and I am Neapolitan.

    What most people don’t realize about Italian food is that it’s about balance. Too much ricotta is revolting (like oversaucing pasta which Americans tend to do). Also, the pasta is a player – it’s not there to hold the other ingredients.

  262. Mei

    Yum! I followed this recipe exactly and the lasagna came out perfectly! It was definitely worth the time and effort! Now my fiance and I will have lunch for a week! One question though, what do I do with all the extra bechamel sauce?

    1. deb

      Hi Mei — Uh-oh, you had extra? I actually had a bit too (maybe 2/3 cup) but figured it was better to keep it scaled that way than to risk leaving some people short of bechamel if for whatever reason their sauce amount was different. Best use of leftover bechamel: mac-and-cheese! Reheat it gently, add more milk so that it thins (cheese will thicken it back up quickly) a bit and stir in a cup or two of grated cheddar. Mix with pasta. Be happy.

      1. Sandy Lentz

        I too had ‘way too much bechamel. Made this for a dinner party, (everyone loved it, though it seemed a bit dry) and the ragu, just as it was, is now my go-to pasta sauce. Using only a half cup of bechamel per layer should have been the tip-off when starting with four cups of milk. Next time, and there will be one, I will double the amounts in both the sauce and bechamel layers. Not so much rage left for another day, but oh well….

  263. Shoshana

    This lasagna is in its final resting stages on my counter now cooling from the oven, in preparation to devour. I am serving it with homemade garlic bread and salad. My house smells like heaven.

    I read a lot of comments before I made this and was curious to see if anyone made it with boxed lasagna noodles. I searched for fresh lasagna pasta sheets and could not find any where I live at local grocery’s. I do not own a pasta rolling machine so I was not going to attempt making the pasta, even though I have a small tiny kitchen like yourself – I don’t have the proper tech to do it.

    In any case, I made the bolognese for 3.5 hours on the stove (adding extra garlic and fresh herbs from my csa – rosemary, oregeno, basil), the bechemel came out beautifully (really thick), and the pasta tasted just dandy in between the whole thing – I can only imagine what real fresh pasta noodles tasted like.

    I always made lasagna with ricotta and mozz and parm – this is so delicious with bechemel and parm only. not even mozz!! Great recipe – thanks for sharing :)

  264. laura

    I made this tonight and did not follow some of your great suggestions like splitting the work over two days or waiting 10 minutes before cutting. But it still tasted good even though I’m super tired and everything oozed the moment I cut into it! :)

    I thought I’d add that due to my dish having really high sides, and having lots of pasta and béchamel left, I went ahead and created more layers, and I ended up using up the whole recipe of bolognese and since I’m don’t like overlapping my noodles, I had one of two sheets left. I also used 1% milk instead of whole (only because it was expiring and I didn’t want it to go to waste!) which probably made the béchamel a little thinner but it still tasted good.

    thank you for sharing your recipe, I grew up eating this kind of lasagna and love the challenge of making everything from scratch for recipes like this.

  265. byron

    Chris made this tonight, and it was spectacularly good. Thanks again, Deb.

    And I’m still way back in reading the comments, but in case nobody else has already, I’ll second gWrD’s request for the scone recipe :-)

    “you said you don’t like béchamel sauce right?”
    “are you kidding? the first time you made lasagna for me, i told you i was all about the besciamella…”

  266. Chris

    I made this over this long weekend. The Bolognese sauce was so good,I was sneaking spoonfuls constantly. I’ve wanted to try making fresh pasta and this was my excuse to do it. The noodles were not the prettiest but they were so tender! The whole dish was simple to assemble and tasted so good. My wife loved it and wanted to share it with her friends.Thank you for giving me an excuse to use the pasta machine.

  267. Whenever I have a good Bolognese sauce, it is surprisingly light, no matter how much meat is involved. I completely understand what you are saying. This lasagna looks absolutely perfect, and it has been far too long since I’ve had a slice of one.

  268. Judith in Ottawa

    Oh, Deb, another winner! I made the bolognese sauce on Sunday, and on Monday set the pasta to rest just before picking up my 20 year-old son at the bus depot for reading week. We spent a happy afternoon catching up while we assembled this together. And such slurpy squishy goodness as a result!

    I substituted the tops from a fennel bulb for the celery just because it was on hand. Will have to hop over and see what the fuss is about. In the future I will also likely try a vegetarian riff on this recipe. And yes, deliver unto us the semolina scone recipe, please.

    Thanks so very much for your continued hard work, and please do keep us posted when the book gets to the pre-order stage!

  269. gmg

    Though I agree that desserts are where it really shines, despite the insistences otherwise there IS a place for cooked ricotta in Italian savory dishes. I’ve eaten delicious ricotta gnocchi in Tuscany, just to name one example. It’s not the automatic marker of an inauthentic, American (ugh!) approach.

    On a less grumbly note, the ragu (I might tweak it to add pancetta and use a bit less tomato paste) and the lasagna look FANTASTIC and evoke many memories of time spent in Bologna and environs. I tend to stick with tagliatelle as my ragu delivery vehicle but man, I might need to clear my schedule to make this.

  270. Meg

    So – after ogling this recipe for awhile, I made it last weekend for a small dinner party and it was a huge hit. I’ll never make lasagna any other way! Thank you for yet another wonderful recipe!

    1. deb

      Elisa, Kathy — I miss you too and will be back very soon, hopefully later today. I am working on something new right now, in the muffin department…

  271. Amy

    Deb, after almost 400(!) comments it seems redundant to add, but I must. I made this over the weekend and enjoyed it with the family last night. It was my first time making my own pasta and the whole thing was just divine. The alchemy between the bolognese and bechamel sauces is fabulous and the fresh, thin, delicate noodles just pushed it over the edge. My husband made me promise not to make it more than once a year (lest our waistlines suffer from the multiple servings we HAD to have!). Luckily (?) it’s not something you can just whip up on a whim. Since I usually don’t like the crusty noodle edges of regular lasagna, I didn’t let mine brown too much, but the edges were unbelievably tasty, so next time I’ll be sure to brown it well. Thank you for another winner, and congratulations on your insane popularity! Hopefully it will bode well for the success of your cookbook!

  272. Stephanie

    Made it with wonton wrappers – turned out exceptionally well. I will say MAKE SURE you boil the wrappers first – took longer than normal fresh pasta would take. Fantastic recipe!!

  273. My British boyfriend and I have had a rather extensive discussion on this to the point where I’m starting to take it personally. I can’t help it if I’ve only had lasagna with ricotta if that’s all anyone ever makes here! I’d never even heard of making it with bechamel sauce until we started dating (although it sounds dreamy).

    So after a bit of…well, as extensive research as I’m inclines to make just before dinner :) the internet seems to indicate that making it with ricotta is a Neopolitan style done specifically for Carnivale (lasagna napoletana di Carnivale). Our theory is that immigrants to the U.S. came in greater numbers from some areas than others and this ended up being the recipe that “stuck” and was propagated to the general masses.

    Love to hear someone from Naples comment on the subject!

  274. Maryann

    I am Neapolitan-American – yes we make lasagne with ricotta, perhaps once for Mardi Gras – like pancakes – you know rich things before Lent (and also to use up all rich things before Lent), however, Italian-Americans make it for all holidays.

    The problem I think is that expensive ingredients were so plentiful and cheap here in the United States, the ricotta, the mozzarella, the meat were increased – there is little less appealing than overstuffed lasagne oozing too many ingredients. (Hazan writes about this.)

    So, when people are talking about disliking ricotta in Lasagne this is what they are encountering I think. Additionally, one shouldn’t encounter ice cream scoop dollops of ricotta in lasagne. It can be lightened by adding an egg or thinned using sauce. Obviously, it always about discrimination.

  275. I like to use a little milk in my bolognese. I find it helps breakdown the meat and make it extra tender. I also like a combination of pork, beef (80% lean) and veal, aka the meatloaf mix. For me, the veal makes the biggest difference.

    I just made lasagna bolognese at a dinner party the other week and it was not as beautiful as yours!

  276. ps. Deb, have you ever had the Lasagna at this little hole-in-the-wall Italian place called Max on Ave B? They use bechamel and fresh noodles (although they don’t seem quite as nicely thin as yours) and it is hands down my favorite.

  277. Another of those coincidental moments. I’ve never before come across a lasagna bolognese with ricotta in it. I can’t even begin to wonder why anyone would put ricotta in it. Back home and even here in Ireland I’ve only ever had it made with bechamel sauce.

    Anyway, a couple hours ago was also reading an Italian food blog and the comment was something like “a classic lasagna bolognese without the ricotta”.

    And here I see you mention it too!

    Anyway, I’m rambling, your lasagna looks fantastic. Definitely all about finding the meat sauce that you’re happy with.

    I wish I could get veal mince here! Would LOVE to try lasagna with a combo of veal, beef & pork mince!

  278. katalia

    Thank you for including the “don’t eat meat?” link! My husband is a vegetarian and as much as I would LOVE to make your recipe and eat it all myself, it’s just not practical. Lasagna is his “holiday meal” so we make it at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and a few times in between. I’m constantly hunting for veggie lasagna recipes to tweak!

  279. Nora

    Your blog, and this post in particular, is food porn.

    I’m on a on a path to eating healthy, but oh, do I dream about making your lasagna…

  280. Carrie

    Having given my boyfriend a pasta maker for Christmas, I thought this would be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Indeed it was an afternoon and then some! I prepared the sauce and lasagna as instructed and it was heavenly. Two notes- the 2 cups of red wine added to the sauce ended up making the sauce a bit tangy, which I loved, but didn’t seem as appreciated by two children. I even added in a couple tablespoons of sugar, but that didn’t seem to change the wine flavor much. The pasta recipe made enough for 6 layers rather than five when taken to level 7 on the machine, so I just kept on going with that and had an extra layer of deliciousness. All-in-all was a fun food preparation adventure!

  281. This had me thinking of nothing else but creating this lasagna till I did. I cheated on the pasta and bought fresh lasagna sheets. They worked fine but would have loved tasting a true homemade version. I have another confession: I did not like this as much as I hoped. It was still a ton of work and I missed cheese. Not ricotta, as I too, loath it, but melty cheese. (as did my guests) It tasted better the following day as leftovers with more time to settle into itself. Don’t get me wrong I am totally loyal to all recipes SK, but won’t repeat this guy.

  282. Ilka

    I feel blessed to have a husband who regularly makes lasagna. It’s my job to make the bechamel sauce (no garlic, white pepper) but he makes the ragu (always with some clove). We haven’t progressed to making our own pasta yet. (There’s a nice anecdote from our honeymoon in Italy: My husband ordered lasagna al pesto in a restaurant in Liguria and was really surprised when all he got was pasta sheets with pesto sauce. Delicious nonetheless!)

  283. Joanne

    I made this lasagna last Sunday. I did as Sharon suggested and substituted wonton wrappers for the lasagna noodles (I forgot I already packed my pasta machine). You had thought that they might need to be cooked first. I did cook them briefly to soften them a bit and proceeded to assemble the lasagna. I must say it was one of the more delicious lasagnas I’ve ever had, however, (you know there just has to be a but…) I would NOT boil the wonton wrappers next time. They had an almost gooey/slimy texture to them. It wasn’t bad enough to ruin the taste but it definitely made it a bit “off”. I’ll make it again when I move and unpack THE machine :) Keep up the great work Deb – I love trying all these new recipes and I can’t wait for the cookbook!!

  284. Hope

    My go to recipe is Ed Giobbi’s from the 70s (I think NYT?) Looking forward to trying this out though (although I do love ricotta in my lasagna), but I feel the bechamel totally makes it and now lasagna doesn’t taste like lasagna without it!

  285. TCL

    I made this last Saturday and it’s very much worth the effort you have to put in to it. I made the pasta while the sauce simmered and then made the béchamel when the sauce was almost cooked down. Assembly was easy. So it is possible to pull off this dish in one very busy morning. The hardest part of the whole endeavor was being patient while it was in the oven. Oh, and resisting the urge to just stand over the pot of sauce with a crusty loaf of bread, dipping until everything is gone.

  286. Rambant

    Ragu bubbling away- big pre-wedding party tomorrow evening. I’ll layer it all tomorrow. Can’t wait! I made this ragu before to eat with spaghetti and it was delicious. This time tastes even better!

  287. Lola

    I am a bit stunned that this is the first time you’d heard of this kind of lasagne, this is my most favourite traditional family dish that is cooked many times during the winter months in my house. This recipe looks amazing though and I am looking forward to trying another version of the dish! :)

  288. I’m a lurker, but I have to say thanks for posting this. I moved to China last year (originally from the US) and have been without many of the foods I love and took for granted in the States. I’ve never been more thankful for my dad’s cooking lessons from an early age! I love lasagna. I also love ricotta, but I don’t really like it baked either. All the lasagna recipes I’ve looked at have ricotta and don’t have all the parts laid out from scratch. I’ve found the separate parts, but didn’t want to risk all the time just to have a weird, cobbled together lasagna. Thank you for posting every step and part of this from scratch. Even the noodles!!! I will be making this sometime soon. Thanks in advance for my boyfriend’s reaction!

  289. Sonia

    I’m italian, i live near Como Lake, i was very surprised to read that you used a bay leaf in the ragu!! It’s a “secret” that most of italian don’t know!! Only the real gourment use it :)
    Love you!

  290. Katie H

    This recipe is very similar to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe called lasgna bolognese (simplified) – only their version uses a wetter sauce and no boil noodles. If you aren’t up for the home-made noodles, I highly recommend that recipe. It is also without ricotta – which after making dry baked ziti with ricotta this weekend – I agree with Deb that ricotta is better raw!

    1. deb

      Katie — Didn’t that one have a ton of gelatin in it? Maybe it was a different bolognese recipe of theirs I’d run into (in a recent issue, I think), which made me shudder.

  291. Lasagna is my ultimate comfort food; I add spinach and grated carrot to the meat sauce (not as part of the soffritto) so that I get my veg too. Think I am going to have to try making my own pasta after seeing yours – looks amazing.
    n.b. I’ve never heard of adding ricotta before reading this. It doesn’t seem to be the standard in Australia

  292. Katherine

    Have you ever made lasagna using crepes instead of pasta? When I make crepes, I try to make enough left over to be able to make a lasagna with them the next day. (This is hard to do, because how can you have too many crepes?) I make mine just the way you describe yours: layering the crepes with homemade sauce (sometimes bolognese, sometimes an all-veg version with mushrooms and zucchini and whatever else needs to be used), bechamel and parmesan. C’est tout. Soooo yummy!

  293. dawnkey

    We’re making our version of lasagne right now, no ricotta in it here in bonny scotland, but we do add green lentils to the meat sauce, tastes yumlovely :D picked it up from a nigella Lawson ragu recipe.

  294. Janet

    Just put this in the oven so I’m not sure of the final result but everything I’ve sampled so far is delicious. With regard to quantities – I used a 9×13 inch pan but felt that 1 cup of the ragu was far too skimpy when I looked at it between layers. So I used 2 cups between each layer and about 1 cup of bechamel. I ended up only doing 4 layers of pasta then, and was left with 2 cups of ragu and 1 cup bechamel which I just combined as a rose sauce for future use. The hubby is a type 1 diabetic and so we tend towards less pasta, more meat.

    Did you find that your meat layers were very thin? From the picture it seems this way.

    1. deb

      Janet — The meat layers are on the thin side. In one of my earlier versions, I made it with 1 1/2 cups between each layer and found the whole thing a bit wet and falling apart. That said, the photos look a bit dryer than the lasagna actually is. I had to reheat a leftover slice to get the top photo, and realized a bit after (you know, at lunch time) that it wasn’t heated through, which explains why it doesn’t look as gooey and rich as the lasagna actually is when bubbling hot.

  295. YES YES YES! I am a firm believer in the traditional ragu, bechamel and Parm version of lasagna. I have been trying for years to convert people off of their Americanized ricotta and Mozz versions. I wrote a whole rant about it on my blog last year. Your recipe sounds very similar to my ultimate lasagna recipe, except that I use veal and white wine, which gives it a bit of a different tang. I also use the Barilla no-boil noodles – as someone else mentioned they are nice and flat and super easy. I haven’t braved making my own pasta yet (mostly b/c I don’t have a roller), but I would love to try it.

  296. marewood

    Dinner tonight. Not my first foray into homemade pasta, but the first with lasagna and it’s actually easier. Love the crusty top and can’t wait to try a vegetarian version for my ever increasing circle of family/friends who eschew meat. I want to make the mushroom lasagna, but need to make it and without announcement. Thank you so much for all the trial and error.

  297. Austin

    I made this and it was great, homeade pasta did make a difference. I ended up using 80/20 on the beef. I would probably use 85/15 or 90/10 next time. Thanks

  298. Jen J

    I am eating the leftovers from this dish as I write. It is soooo good! I don’t have a pasta machine (yet), so I used store bought pasta, which only made 4 layers and wasted some of the fillings. I should have done the math, but I was just so eager to put it all together at that point. To the machine-less: do your math!

  299. chewy

    Your recipe has just beef but you really gots to get some pork up in there and even if you don’t you HAVE TO try this — Add a few browned chicken livers. It will deliver an earthy smoky depth of flavor to your sauce that you will swear by forever thereafter I promise you. It’s not that crazy noticeable so don’t worry (I don’t tell my wife) but it’s huge.

    Also, the 2 tbs of heavy cream of milk just before serving is how they do in Bologna. It’s not really optional IMO.

    Keep up the delicious eating

  300. Lindsey

    Made this over this past weekend for some foodie guests and it was a huge hit. When making fresh pasta, I usually make the dough and leave the rolling to my husband. I decided to take a chance and try the pasta recipe above and although it tasted fabulous, I will most likely use my original fresh pasta recipe as I felt this recipe was a little too dry. I would also add more Bolognese to the top of the dish and cover that with cheese. Thank you for sharing this fabulous recipe with me Deb! It’s a true winner in my book! BRAVO!

  301. Shelly

    I have never been a fan of lasagna ….. mushy noodles, too heavy meat sauce, ricotta cheese that seemed out of place (or worse, cottage cheese) ….. but this …. this is heaven. I used fresh (but not home made) pasta noodles that are much thinner than the dried ones, the bolognese is perfect, the bechemal (my first ever) turned out perfect. Layered into a pan and baked to browned bubbly nirvana!! Best of all its not a greasy mess from layer after layer of cheese. This, Deb, has made me a lasagna convert.

  302. Megan

    Am I the only person (American, of Sicilian descent) here whose mother made an EXCELLENT ricotta lasagna, and who uses the same recipe herself to the great happiness of her English husband, who has only ever had the bechamelled bolognese stuff?

    Although this looks great (and I’m sure it is; I hold you in high esteem, Deb!), I really can’t understand bechamel in general except as a base for something else (souffle, cheese sauce, etc.).

    Long live the well-made, not very mozzerella-y, pecorino’d ricotta lasagna!

  303. sshah

    tried this for dinner tonight and the entire 9*13 pan was finished (one piece left!) between my hubby and me and my 4 year old daughter! great recipe…never thought of trying bechemal with lasagna, but i LOVE it so much better than ricotta! Thanks!

  304. Jane

    I am moved to comment on this. One of the happiest days I’ve experienced in the last five years was finishing a scratch made lasagna bolognese with spinach noodles. I literally fell asleep smiling. So happy to see you conquered your culinary Mount Everest. Hopefully you’re faced with another one soon ;-)

  305. Dani

    Hi Deb- This is amazing. I first had lasagna this way when I lived in Europe (Germany specifically). No one had heard of making lasagna with ricotta and looked horrified when I told them that is how I usually make it. I have a couple of questions though-in the bechemel sauce, where do you add the salt? I put it in with the pepper because that is where it normally would go but I couldn’t find anything in the directions, only in the ingredient list. Also, if your bechemel sauce becomes too lumpy, I have found a good way to “un-lump” it is with a hand blender. This recipe was very rich but satisfying.

  306. Gina

    I’ve been making this Lasagna since I first had it at my Aunt’s house in Rome circa 1986. She was feeling fancy that day and made sauce with teeny tiny meatballs instead of bolognese sauce. I believe she also put pecorino romano (instead of parmaggiano) in it but being Rome, that’s no surprise. Many times over the years, my other Aunts (one in Florence and one in Perugia) have made this exactly the way you did. If freezes so well, too.

  307. Jamie

    WOW! Is there even another word to describe? Hands down best lasagna I’ve ever made, and I was too wiped out to do the noodles since I ran out of time to do the bolognese sauce the day before. But there will definitely be a next time for that, because there is nothing like homemade noodles and that lasagna… The hubby loved it and it is by far his favorite. THANK YOU!!! I won’t even tell you how much of it the two of us ate the first night… yikes! And yes the 3 year old loved it too! You have once again made our household and my recipe book very very happy!!!

  308. Joan

    I made this for guests this week and it was THE BEST EVER! I cooked and froze the bolognese sauce more than a week ahead, and assembled the lasagne a day ahead of baking it. I LOVE recipes that let me spend time with my guests rather than slaving in the kitchen.

  309. Hi Deb. Thanks very much for a great recipe. As a Brit, I always make it with Bechamel but i have never made the pasta from scratch so today i decided to make some with my five year old and we had so much fun making it. Thanks for introducing me to the joys of making your own pasta! I debated on not cooking the pasta before assembling and am very glad that i took the time to do it because i realised that the pasta becomes much stronger after 30 seconds boiling.

  310. Stephanie

    Wow…I have not made a lasagna in years! this was amazing!! The only thing I did differently, was I made it with beef, lamb and pork…

  311. Rowen

    Amazing! I’m trying this out as we speak. I do have one question. Many of the ragus that I’ve made (mainly following my dad’s example/recipe of throwing some stuff in a pot with some spices and letting it simmer for 3 hours) taste very . . . tomato paste-y. Does this mean I should use less tomato paste? More water? A different brand of paste?

  312. Renee

    I have a pan of this lovely lasagna ready to go in the oven. I usually make Mama D’s recipe which does use ricotta, but it is mixed with the raw ground round, romano cheese, garlic, egg, etc like a meatloaf mixture and spread between layers of noodles and a lovely marinara it is wonderful but from a different region. Looking forward to this (oh, and some chocolate sorbet in the freezer- thanks for the suggestion). Love the blog Deb. I think the oreos are in order this week.

  313. Debbie

    What a great recipe, the sauce was soooo good, this was a huge hit! I did use the no-boil noodles, but it came out fantastic! Thank you for this recipe!

  314. Arissa

    I have a quick question, and I want to apologize if someone already had this question, but with a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old I don’t really have much time and read 454 comments is just taking too long!!
    On your pasta recipe it states 2 eggs and on your picture it has 3 eggs… I just want to make sure if it is 2 or 3. Even though I don’t have much time, I will definitely try making this recipe when hubby is home to take over the boys!! Thanks for this great blog!!

    1. deb

      Arissa — Just to confuse you! I initially made the recipe with a 3 egg volume. I had 1/3 leftover; you’ll only need a 2-egg volume of dough.

  315. Suki

    I’ve only been following your blog for a short while, but I love it! I made this lasagna this past weekend for a family birthday gathering at my house. Everyone loved it, one of my guests took her first bite and said “it’s so light!”. I don’t have a pasta machine, so I bought fresh sheets from a tiny little fresh pasta place in my hood in Toronto, excellent pasta and a lovely owner named Carlo with a booming voice that always greets you with “Bella! How are you?” Thanks again for an amazing recipe.

  316. Mia

    Deb, this lasagna looks amazing, though it’s strange to think of lasagna without ricotta. My father always uses it when he makes his, and his is FANTASTIC! I will have to try. Love the blog! Mia

  317. mimi

    im australian, and i have never in my life heard of putting ricotta in lasagna! is this an american modification? im just shocked, ha! bechamel all the way :)

  318. Ann

    Deb, your post and recipe was so compelling that I had to tackle my first (ever) lasagne. What finally caused me to cross over? The no-ricotta rule, of course! I made mine with parmesan and pecorino though next time I would add mozza too. Thanks for working so diligently over the years to perfect this recipe and share with the rest of us. The mister gives his wholehearted approval as well. :)

  319. Michelle

    Deb, this lasagna is amazing! I made it last night. I’ve always known lasagna to have ricotta in it (except for my chicken alfredo lasagna) The sauce was so creamy, my boyfriend love it, and most importantly and 5 & 3 years old sons asked for seconds! You first one me over with your chocolate peanut butter cake (I made for my sons birthday in feb), and now this! Amazing! Thanks so much!

  320. I was born in Italy and this is the only way my mom, both my grandmas, all my aunts and I made/make lasagna. Making lasagna this way takes time so this dish was always a “celebration” dish. Imagine my dismay when we immigrated to Canada and found lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella…zoinks! I make this lasagna in my diner which always sells out…my customers love it!

  321. Chrisi

    Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for this recipe! I always make some kind of large, extravagant dinner for my Mom’s birthday, and as soon as I saw this recipe I knew this was it. I made it last weekend (breaking in my new pasta maker that my boyfriend bought for me on our anniversary [wanted one for a long time!]). This is fantastic and went very quickly; I foolishly thought there might be leftovers to freeze – wishful thinking!
    Seriously, though, this lasagna is so delicious and really unlike any I’ve had before. I also recommend making the bolognese the day before as it does take a long time – this way you get to take your time on all components (which makes the process more enjoyable, I think). I even had time the second day to pull together homemade garlic bread and mini chocolate cakes with coffee buttercream and raspberries (I told you, I go all out for my Ma!).
    Thanks again, and I really love Smitten Kitchen! It’s my go-to site for new ideas and adventures in cooking! (Could seriously go on all day long about all the different recipes of yours I’ve made and continue to return to!)

  322. BKK

    Made this this weekend and it was so delicious! We decided to make it vegetarian so we just added some mushrooms and red peppers to the other veggies in the sauce and it was so good! The bechamel! Probably my favorite part of this whole dish tasted wonderful and you’ve convinced me, I will be poo pooing ricotta in lasagna. The only thing, and it was totally my fault, is that the whole wheat noodles were way too thick for this lighter lasagna. I don’t know if I’ll be making my own noodles next time but I will search out a better noodle at a specialty store. Thanks for the recipe, you’ve never let me down!

  323. Perry

    I’ve actually tried to make my own pasta before and failed miserably. But I thought I’d try again with this recipe and it went perfectly!!! Thanks so much for this wonderful lasagna!

  324. Emily

    Deb! (Someone!) Help!

    I made the sauce tonight so I could make the lasagna for a friend’s 30th this weekend. I made it in a cast iron dutch oven and now it has a metallic aftertaste. Did I completely screw up?! Will that fade or not be noticeable in the lasagna?! Do I have to completely re-do it?! I think I might cry….

    1. deb

      Hi Emily — Was it an enameled Dutch oven? (Most are these days.) If it was enameled, it shouldn’t have been reactive. If it wasn’t, then yes, that could be the culprit. It doesn’t make the dish dangerous to eat, just throws the flavor a bit. Crossing my fingers nobody notices!

  325. Kim

    You inspired me to make this and had a wonderful two days doing it! My son also helped ‘crank’ the noodles (three arms/hands would be helpful using that contraption), and the lasagna, though mine was more runny than yours, was absolute heaven. It’s still heaven reheated from the freezer weeks later!

  326. Heather

    I made this recipe last weekend and hands down teh best lasagna I have heard made! The leftovers were even better! Thanks so much! Love your website!

  327. This looks like a another great recipe. I may have to try this but Ill need the right time to do it. If i start it when I cant dedicate myself it will be a big disaster.Keep the pasta recipes coming!

  328. Michael

    Hi. I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I just love the way you write and it is so clear what a passion you have for cooking. Your spot-on instructions were just perfect; the only step I skipped due to time constraints was the boiling of the pasta. Still came out as scrumptious as you have described. My 2 boys (6 and 4 years old) couldn’t get enough. Thanks again. Great job!

  329. Made this tonight–it was really, really good! Thanks-I had never had it before! One consideration which may be helpful for others is that I had quite a bit of béchamel left over. Doing the math, 4 cups of milk is quite a bit to get 4 x 1/2 c. plus 1/4 c. on bottom and 1/2 c. on top (total 2 3/4 cups sauce required for recipe). Next time I’ll reduce it by a quarter.

  330. Agustin

    I’ve made this twice now, and both times, between 3 people, there were no leftovers. On each occasion our guest said it was the best lasagna they’ve ever had.

  331. Liz

    I made this last week and it was amazing! I only had 1% milk and buttermilk on hand, so I made the bechamel with half milk and half buttermilk. The bechamel itself was a bit sour, adding a handful of parmesan toned it down a lot, but it was great in the lasagna!

  332. CJ

    Hi Deb! Long time reader, first time commenter. I’ve got this in the oven now! I am following your wine suggestion and hoping for an incredible result. I made my first ever bechamel and it turned out perfectly! The ragu is incredible. I made the double portion a week ago and froze two batches. I used one last week and then defrosted the other to make the lasagne. I can’t wait to taste it! Thanks for the great inspiration. :)

  333. Amy

    My husband made this yesterday and today. We had it for dinner tonight and it was to die for. Each bite was better than the one before. The homemade pasta was so tender and the bolognese sauce delicious. Everything was delicious. We had leftover pasta, so I used it to clean out the pan that the bechamel was made in. This is by far the best lasagna I’ve ever had. I’d say it was a lot of work, but my husband did everything. He even cleaned up the kitchen, which took as long as it did to make the dish!

  334. Jessica P

    We made it! Followed your recipe to a T. It was amazing and we would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Loved every drop. And so did our snooty friends!

  335. Lindsey

    I did it! I kind of relate to the folks who sumitted Mt. Everest, not gonna lie. I made a pan of this lasagne and a pan of your cremini lasagne. Huge hit with the crowd… I was super impressed myself! Thanks for doing all the heavy lifting! I’m a recent Smitten Kitchen follower, now convert.

  336. I made this over the last two days and served it to my husband tonight. We both loved it and had it with the Smitten kitchen Caesar salad and dry hard cider. Thanks for the recipe! I so appreciate following this blog.

  337. Patty

    Hi Deb – Need Help!…in the midst of making ragu now. Following recipe exactly. Smells heavenly, but the initial amount of water I added ‘one inch over the top of meat’ is not cooking down much at all. It has been on for an hour and 20 minutes and still looks quite soupy. Worried I am headed in a bad direction. Am I worrying needlessly? Have one a low simmer…bubbling a bit, etc.

    1. deb

      Patty — Nope, it will be fine. You might find you don’t need to add more water, or at least not until the end. And, if god forbid it doesn’t cook off, there is NO harm in cooking it longer, as long as needed for the texture to even out. Many traditional ragu recipes call for all-day simmers. (I just hedge and go with a few hours.)

  338. Patty

    Hi Deb – I will try to be concise. Thanks so much for quick response. I doubled recipe and froze one for Easter Sunday. Will let you know how that worked. Bringing other to neighbor across the street after work…she just had 1st baby. I am amazed at the beauty of my work. I am assuming that it will taste even better than it looks. I am a bit of a square corners kind of gal and had to let it go with the pasta sheets. Ended up with barely enough meat sauce and alot of bechamel left over. Not sure why but don’t think it matters. Made extra pasta and cut into fettucine noodles. Added some good marinara to leftover bechamel and tossed with fettucine…I outdid myself (hubby and daugher agreed). Thanks for what you do…you are making me a better cook!

  339. olive

    Totally too late comment, but this is an awesome recipe! Thanks for the inspiration. I used 1/2 ground pork and 1/2 toasted mushrooms, both whizzed in the food processor after cooking for a fine textured sauce. BTW…I love bolognese in all the sacrilege versions I make. I haven’t yet delved into pasta making, so I used egg roll wrappers instead. (also great for ravioli) Love the lighter result as opposed to “traditional” heavy noodle ricotta lasagne.
    Thanks again! Happy cooking!

  340. olive

    BTW…. for anyone out there stuck with an electric cooktop trying to get a low simmer…. (Mine is absolutely impossible. Any length of time on the lowest of the low results in a boil.)
    I use the oven instead. Bring to a medium bubble up top then drop in a 285-300 oven. This makes it totally low maintenance.

  341. Humanus Genus

    Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat.

    I poured in about three cups of water before I noticed that the beef mixture floats – I hope I didn’t ruin it (I’m up to the 4 hours of simmering)

  342. Humanus Genus

    Update: there was no need to worry. At 3h40 minutes it looks so good I have to stop myself from eating it with a spoon and during the time it has spent simmering I needed to add an additional 2 cups of water. Can’t wait to make the rest of it tomorrow!

  343. ZooNursery

    I made this as well as the mushroom lasagna for my family yesterday. Both were a huge hit and this is the first lasagna that my husband actually liked. Thank you so much for great recipes and for detailed instructions that really help this hesitant cook!

  344. Hi Deb, I was wondering if this, Keller’s 7-yolk, or another recipe is your go-to for all pasta making these days. I’m looking to try a new recipe, and your pasta looks lovely every time. I know you went with food processor, but do you still do it by hand?

    I’ve already commented on how lovely and surprisingly light this looks, but it deserves repeating!

  345. Mary Ann

    So, having a rainy weekend here I thought this might be a good project. I made the bolognese last night, but only ended up with about 4 cups. Perhaps it should be much more liquid than I ended up with – not sure how it is supposed to be. Will probably heat it up and add some water, but think it will be very runny if I make it 8 cups worth! Bought an Atlas yesterday with a holiday gift card looking for an opportunity, so will play around with it this morning – will have time to pick up commercial noodles if this is a complete failure:)

  346. Elizabeth

    I made this about a month ago and I’m now making another batch with the leftovers from the sauce. It’s the best I’ve ever had!! Highly recommend it.

  347. Kathy Y

    Used the suggestion above for won ton wrappers and tried it. Quite yummy. I liked the thinness of the wrappers compared to store bought lasagna noodles.

  348. chris

    First off – this is a fantastic lasagna. I’ve never done pasta dough in the food processor, I’ve always made it using the well method, but this was so easy!

    Next thing…if I wasn’t already commenting on something else, I wouldn’t even post this, but you often mention (in a way that doesn’t appear to be sarcastic) you appreciate it when eagle-eyed readers find a typo. To whit, ” because this stetting makes for thin” – should obviously be “setting.” Too much book on the brain :) Can’t wait for the cookbook, pre-ordering today.

    1. deb

      Hi Chris — Thank you. I appreciate help with the typos. I read these posts 10 times before hitting publish but always miss things.

  349. Claudia

    Deb, I´m making lasagna bolognese for a mother’s day luncheon, I have made the ragu and here’s where I have a comment. I took a french cooking class and the teacher always said that you don´t put salt before reducing completely the wine otherwise it will turn acid, I’ve tried and it works, I didn’t add any salt until almost the end of the cooking time and I also added chicken broth instead of water.
    Lovely bolognese, now the noodles to work on.
    love your blog-

  350. Patty

    Quick question, I am making this right now (using ground chuck) and this produced a lot of fat.. do you ever pour a little bit of it off??

  351. Caley

    Thank you do much for this! Have been hovering a while now and thought I should finally let you know that every single recipe I’ve tried to date has been fantastic. Lasagna in the oven – we can’t wait – and I’ve got my feet up per your very specific instructions! Can’t believe how long a wait it is before the cookbook is out :(

  352. Beth

    I made this on a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon. I took hours and hours, but it was actually quite relaxing. I read celebrity gossip magazines while I stirred the bolognese and almost every dish was clean by dinnertime. Although I substituted store-bought, no-boil noodles for the homemade, it was still the BEST lasagna I’ve ever tasted! Thank you, thank you for this amazing recipe.

  353. Warren

    Our apartment in wintery Melbourne Australia is smelling devine!! Stumbled across your site whilst finding a lasagne recipe. I think I have found my new best friend. Thanks.

  354. Jema

    Hi Deb. My husband requested lasagna for his birthday this year and I’ve been eyeing this recipe since you posted it. Looking forward to making it! I have a quart of 2% milk at home. Can I use that for the bechemel or does the full fat milk make a big difference? I’m thinking with the roux it wouldn’t be that different but would like your take on this. Thanks!

  355. Noell

    I made my first lasagna with bechamel sauce a few years ago and I will never go back!! It’s the only way to go.

    New to your blog and I’m a fan already. I’ve already put your cookbook on my wish list at Amazon.

  356. Amber

    I made this lasagne last night and it was amazing! I have a different (but similar) bolognese recipe that I made a month or so ago. I specially saved 1/2 to make this dish.
    I used wonton wrappers for the noodles, and that mostly worked. I had major issues with them clumping together while boiling (good thing I got 2 packages, just in case), and my pasta layers seemed very thin in the final product. That said, the dish was nearly perfect and I will use wonton wrappers again, but will probably have 2-3 layers per layer (if that makes sense). Thanks!

  357. Alice C.

    Deb, this was amazing!!! I made a double batch yesterday for a group dinner… And everyone raved about it, saying it was the best lasagna they had ever had.

  358. I made this last night after months of drooling over it starred in my Google Reader. Deb, you are wonderful. This was truly perfect. All the extra work and effort was actually a pleasure. I did skip the ragu step; my mother makes a mean ragu and I keep some frozen on-hand all the time. It was fabulous. Thank you!

  359. Candi

    This is my favorite food blog! As I am writing this there is a huge pot of bolognese sauce simmering on my stove. I am looking forward to putting the lasagna together tomorrow. I am trying some whole wheat no-bake noodles this time. I expect it will work well with the hearty sauce and bechamel sauce. YUM!!! Thanks!

  360. H

    BEST Lasagna I have ever made!!!
    My pan is a little bit larger than this, so I only had about 1 cup of meat sauce left. I’ll make more next time.
    But, VERY WORTH THE EFFORT. Fantastic!!!

  361. I just wanted to say that I am in the process of trying out your lasagne recipe. I only had one thought and it relates to making the lasagne sheets. I used to have a lot of difficulty working with the dough before someone told me to let it rest preferably overnight. It is a lot easier to work with the next day.

    Anyways, I just wanted to add that I think your blog is fantastic and I can’t wait to see your cookbook. I hope they release it in Australia. If not, I’ll have to chase it down on Amazon. Good luck!

    1. deb

      Auskat — Thank you! They will. There will be a UK/Aus edition out February 7th next year (2013) from Square Peg. No preorder yet.

  362. Dear Deb!
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe, it sounds soooooo yummy!
    I made the Bolognese today, exactly like it says in the recipe. i simmered it for 3 hours using 1 KG Meet which is slightly more than 2 american pounds. When i divided the Sauce (one to freeze, one for tomorrow) i used an american metal cup measure thing to bring the sauce into the containers. there i realized i have much less than 8 cups! I have about 4. i weight it and it weighs 1,2 KG.
    Did i do something wrong? Or is a cup of Sauce not the amount that fits into the metal measuring cup?
    Please Help! thank your very very much!

    i am very impressed that you can cook in your tiny kitchen!!!! Chapeau!
    and, i am waiting for your Cookbook!!!!!!!
    Many greetings from germany

    1. deb

      Hi Claudi — I am sorry that you came up short but I am not sure what could have happened. It’s very hard for me to guess without being there. Sorry I cannot be more help.

  363. I made this over the weekend, and it is hands down the best lasagna I’ve ever had. Like Claudi, though, I wouldn’t say I had 8 cups of the bolognese after the long simmer. I did have extra, but maybe only 2 cups extra. Perhaps I reduced it far more than required? Mine was close to a sloppy-joe consistency when it was finished. Oh well – the remainder shall go over some other pasta dish later this week. It was still VERY tasty!

    I don’t own a pasta roller, so I purchased some fresh lasagna sheets from a local Italian market. They worked quite well, so I recommend that as an option for those who don’t have the equipment to make pasta (or the inclination). :-)

  364. I’ve made your lasagne so many times, I’ve lost count. Neighbors love it, kids love it – even my sister who hates lasagne loves it (it was the ricotta – blech!). It doesn’t matter if I make this for 2 or 20, the dish is always licked clean!

  365. Bee

    This recipe might just be the answer I’ve been searching for! I’m lactose-intolerant, and am trying to find a lasagna recipe that I can make and still be able to eat. I haven’t found anyone who makes lactose-free ricotta or cottage cheese. I’ve tried and tried to make my own ricotta, but it never turns out or makes enough…and it takes SO long! I can make lactose-free bechemal very easily. I’m trying this tonight. Thank you!!!

  366. WifeToAnAmazingCook

    This was tonight’s dinner in celebration of a third birthday in the house. The birthday girl specifically requested “zanya” for dinner and this did not disappoint. We substituted store-bought noodles (so that we could have a week-night dinner at a reasonable hour), but next time I’ll make it on the weekend so that we can have the fresh pasta, too. Thanks for making a birthday girl (and the rest of the family!) very happy.

  367. Erica

    I made Debs fresh tomato sauce and added 2-3 cps of diced sauteed mushrooms and zucchini. I made the pasta using 1/4 cp semolina and splitting the rest of the flour between 00 and AP. I rinsed and dried the pasta, but didn’t pre cook it. The béchamel was stunning. I did slip a bit of mozzerella into the middle layer but thank you lord, NO ricotta. I’m pretty impressed. I’m not sure how the noodles are going to warm up tomorrow, but I’m hoping the semolina will help them not turn to mush. The process took awhile, but it was FUN.

  368. Elizabeth


    I fully agree with you on regular baked ricotta being disgusting.
    BUT–and while I can’t wait to try this recipe–my favorite lasagna still uses ricotta as a staple.
    Probably because its mixed with a block of silken tofu and an egg before being seasoned up with salt/pepper/marjoram.
    Believe me, you might consider going back!

  369. Dario

    Hey, Deb! I made this for a family vacation and it was a major hit!
    This Monday, the 17th, is my birthday and I’m taking a page from your book and making my this for myself! I’m also taking another page from your book and making myself birthday brownies ;) Birthday heaven!

    P.S. I’ll be turning 17!
    P.S.S. I love this blog and I hope to buy your book :D

  370. I finally dug my pasta maker out of the basement yesterday and made lasagna using your recipe as my guideline. It turned out to be SO delicious that my husband and I both stuffed ourselves and I awoke this morning thinking about the leftovers.

    One big difference: we are vegetarians, so I used a veggie ground “beef.” Add also a little Marmite for umami and, with all the other deliciousness, it is very similar. I will have to try the mushroom one now, though.

    Thanks for posting such a beautiful recipe!

  371. michelle

    Hi everyone! I have been a long-time reader, and enjoyed many of SK’s recipes, but it’s my first time commenting! I was inspired by Deb and her homemade pasta. My BF is a bigtime foodie, and has been talking about getting his own pasta maker for years and I would love to get that for Christmas. He wants a hand-crank pasta roller. Does anyone have any good suggestions? Thanks so much!

  372. michelle

    Oh my. I literally just got up from the table and I had to rush over to the computer. That was A. MAZING. My BF, the foodie, said ‘Except for my mom’s, that was the best lasagna I have ever had.” And she’s an amazing cook.

    Every bite was heaven. I ate two full servings, but I am not uncomfortably full at all. I already can’t wait for lunch tomorrow. Major props to you, Deb!!!!!

  373. Tenshi

    Wow, that ragú is not simply to-die-for, because dying would mean I could never eat it again, and that would be such a shame. It is to-kill-for – and I don’t mean innocent bystanders, but people close to my heart. Seriously, I think I might just tell my guests to order pizza and have it all for myself, it is that good. It’s heaven. I know your recipes are always good, but this is more than good, it’s indescribably perfect, worthy of multiple tastegasms. ;)

  374. deb

    Hi Michelle — I mentioned in an early comment and in the recipe that I have an Atlas pasta machine and a lot of commenters have said they do to. We universally agree it’s the best thing out there. I can’t recommend it enough.

  375. Ok. Its 3:42 am. This is definitely past my bedtime. BUT! I have a gurgling pot of Bolognese on the stove right now, and it (as I) is nearing its 3-4 hour time limit.
    I, too, am slightly insane (albeit, happily).

    Question: the consistency of the finished Bolognese–thick like chili, or soupy chili?

    Love your writing, and your food. Besos!

    1. deb

      Erika — It’s more about how you like it (and of course, how you picture chili). But I think you can go on the thicker side, but it should still spread a bit, not just mound, on a plate if you ladled it onto one.

  376. I found your blog via a blog post on s website…Potato soup. That recipe sounded so good, I decided to check you out. I’m so glad I did… You are so talented! I can’t wait to try this lasagna recipe… and a few others too!

  377. Lindsey

    Any recommendations if I do not have a food processor for the pasta? I have the small food prep one, but this amount of dough will not fit and I don’t want to cut down the recipe and mess up the proportions. Do I just need to make it by hand?

  378. Maribel

    This was amazing! I made it with gluten free pasta and gluten free bechamel. Everyone (even those than can have gluten) loved it. We’ll be making this again. Thanks!

  379. nina

    I just made this, it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever cooked, eaten, or been a part of whatsoever. You’re awesome and I can’t wait to buy your book!

  380. The recipe sounds amazing and congratulations on the book! I should have my copy soon! I’m intrigued and entertained by the lengthy thread of comments here. People take their lasagne seriously! :)

    I’ve been making mine for 24yrs and am doing one right now as a traditional birthday meal for my oldest daughter who turned 23. I used to make my own pasta and rolled it by hand (still do it sometimes for better texture that allows the sauce to cling beautifully but it’s work and in the summer: sweaty torture). I switched to a pasta machine a decade ago. So much fun! It’s child’s play as I crank away to see the beautiful sheets come out effortlessly. People are so intimidated by it until they try it and then they realize how easy/fun it can be. It’s a labor of love yes and time consuming a bit but so worth it! With the kids it’s even better! When I used to roll it by hand, my oldest would help me and we would hang the pasta to dry on any surface we could think of. Brooms sticks propped between counter and table, back rest of chairs, handles of cupboards, it was like a crazy kitchen and she enjoyed it so much more. The cooking was super quick and sometimes just a bit of butter with some freshly grated parmesan was all we had patience for to savour the treat.

    I do 2 different kinds of Lasagne usually. The 1st one is a bolognese sauce with béchamel, a recipe from the North. I would never think of adding ricotta to that! My 2nd one is from Naples and is so simple and pleasant and light with only a good tomato sauce (flavoured with a bit of garlic, basil) layered between pasta and YES gasp! Ricotta! :P Don’t disapprove and mozzarella. No meat. It’s so fragrant and light. A recipe I got from the South of Italy. Was I a fool to believe it? I’m quite surprised that many Italians who commented here claim that there is no such thing as ricotta in Lasagne. Wether they’re right or not, I think it tastes lovely when well done and when using a light hand and I impressed too many guests at my table (including Italians) to ignore it. Funny enough it’s my daughter’s favourite and she is a big meat eater! :)

    All that said I always try new ones and I certainly will try yours! That and a wild mushroom version I saw in an old Martha Stewart magazine.

  381. michelle

    Am dying to know if anyone who froze this had good results. I want to make it to take on a trip, but would need to freeze it to get it there. Has anyone had success?

  382. Dawn

    I made this recipe two weeks ago and it was amazing! I had made Anne Burrell’s bolognese before but never had time to let it simmer for the full five hours. Well, this time I did and I couldn’t believe the difference! I did make the pasta by hand (for the first time–no food processor or pasta machine (although I have made it in a food processor since) and the entire meal was amazing (I promise, anyone can do it. Just set aside a rainy afternoon and enjoy yourself). The bechamel was a team effort and was perfect. Making it on my own, a different story, haha, but I’m still trying. Thanks so much for this recipe and post!

  383. I had never had bolognese from scratch before stumbling on it here. It seemed so daunting and complex! I owe rest of my years of easy (cheesy!) meat sauce enjoyment to you Deb. It’s sooooo yummy!

  384. I was dreading making it, since it looked like a long process. But I figured if I could read War and Peace from start to finish, I could give this a try as well :).
    It turned out very well. I like the no-ricotta option and the minimal cheese use. People tend to rely on cheese too much these days to hide the lack of flavor.
    I used only the finest ingredients for this special dish, and it turned out really really good.
    Couple of notes I wanted to add:
    1. there is no need for a pasta machine. The dough is stiff yet pliable, and if you let it rest for at least an hour after kneading, it will be nicely stretchy to roll it out with a regular rolling pin to an almost paper thinness
    2. I reduced salt in Bechamel; between the robust meat sauce and the quality Parmegiano, you don’t really need as much salt
    3. I found that pasta, however thin, had expanded during cooking considerably, so when I attempted to roll out the 9×13 lasagna sheets, I ended up trimming them around after cooking. Just something to keep in mind.
    4. No need to lay all of the lasagna sheets on separate trays (another dirty dish, parchment and space saving trick). I cooked them one by one right during the assembly stage – drained, laid out on ONE tray, trimmed, and assembled. Since they don’t cook long, it worked really well.
    5. I took liberty with the meat sauce and added 1 oz of baking nonsweet chocolate to it. The meat sauce reminded me of Cincinnati Chili a little, so I couldn’t resist the temptation :)

  385. Suzan

    My husband never liked ricotta cheese especially in lasagna so I am definitely going to make this for him. I don’t use alcohol in my cooking or drink it. What would be a good substitution for the alcohol?


  386. Sharon

    Can I simmer the bolognese in the crockpot? I apologize if it’s already been asked and answered, but there are hundreds of posts and I want to make this for my boyfriend’s birthday this Sunday.

    1. deb

      Sharon — I haven’t done it in a crockpot (maybe #177 has?) but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The tricky part to approximate is the water level — it’s hard to guess what would be needed in one.

  387. Sharon

    Deb – thanks. I did do it in the crockpot, but to verify that it worked, I’ll need to try it on the stove top next. The lasagne was sublime and I will definitely make it again. Anyway, I had leftover noodles and bechamel, so I took my lefltover noodles and rolled them up and cut them into wide strips, which I then mixed up with the leftover bechamel. What a tasty side dish!

  388. Wanda

    Okay I finally got around to making this. I confess I did not make the pasta home made; but I made the meat sauce and the white sauce. It was great! One of the best lasange I have ever made.

  389. Alex

    Hey Deb, I just made this for our traditional pre-xmas celebration. I may have forgotten to put cheese in the first two layers, and I didn’t make my own pasta. Still, this recipe is the BEST! My entire family loved it and we have some hardcore Italians.

    Also, I just got the ramekins as a 1/2 birthday present. I love em! Can’t wait for some portion conrol servings of creme brulee :D

  390. Anna

    Deb, I made this tonight, and I think you’ve ruined me for all other lasagna. I’ve never had lasagna with homemade noodles before, and oh man is it worth the extra effort. We have a cousin in town from Italy, and even he said it was one of the best lasagnas he’s ever had! Awesome recipe, lady – you really outdid yourself with this one. Delicious!

  391. Sonia

    Deb, I am new to your smashing blog — found with the help of my daughter in law, who requested your cookbook for Christmas. (I didn’t really want to give it away!)

    Anyway, I have been in a Lasagna Bolognese fever ever since we first had it in Venice in October. It was a delicious revelation after the ricotta version we are used to here in CT, and I HAD to try making it when we got home. After some experiments, I settled on the Cook’s Illustrated version (found on their website). The ragu uses 1/2 pound each ground beef, pork and veal — makes for a very succulent sauce. I do follow Julia Child’s bechamel method where you heat the milk before adding: that seems to speed up the process, and there are never any lumps. CI also suggests the no-boil noodles, and soaks them briefly in hot water to soften. Worked great, IMO. As you say, it is a Project and a labor of love, but very worthwhile!

  392. Shirley

    Made this yesterday. My daughter said it tasted just like the lasagna she had in Rome! Didn’t make my own pasta (FOD – fear or dough) but did use pasta sheets from a great local pasta store here in NJ. I think the leftovers (there were, after all, only three of us, hence leftovers) will be even more delicious. What do you think about subbing in Italian sausage (out of the casings, of course) for some of the chopped meat? I made this all in one day and, yes, I am tired.

    Bravo, another winner for the Smitten Kitchen!!!

  393. Britt

    Dear Deb,

    I love the idea of using fresh pasta however, not having a pasta maker, I bought fresh lasagne from Portland’s fabulous fresh pasta market, Pastaworks. I’m perplexed, though, on the question of whether to cook or not cook the pasta before layering. The Pastaworks lady said you don’t need to cook it but I see you call to cook your fresh pasta. The pasta I bought has the same ingredients and appearrance that yours does… Hmm… Ideas?

    Thank you,

    1. deb

      Britt — I found that if I didn’t cook the pasta first, it tasted mushy and fell apart a little (especially if rolled paper-thin; i.e. thinner than you’d buy it). Basically, it’s a dough before it is cooked. Very little holds it together. Once it is boiled, the egg holds it together like a muscle and keeps the pasta from starting to disintegrate into the sauces. Like all things with lasagna, it’s a matter of personal preference. I did it both ways, and much preferred the final result with the cooked pasta. (It’s also easier to handle.)

  394. ellie

    Hi Deb,

    I love your blog (know I’m late to the game). Used to live in the E Village and envy you postings about the take it! Anyway, I have the sauce simmering away on the stove right now but it is tasting very heavy in wine, almost like a bourginon! Is this correct? I’m worried perhaps I didn’t use enough tomato paste (I used about 1 1/2 tubes as I’m living in Germany and the cans don’t exist ;). Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi ellie — It might benefit from more tomato paste (I can’t remember how much is in the tubes but there is a LOT in this recipe). The alcohol in the wine should cook off almost completely over the long cooking time, leaving a faint sweet winey flavor, but the main one should be the beef and tomatoes. I hope you liked it in the end.

  395. Carrie

    I rarely post comments on recipes, but I just had to tell you how wonderful this recipe was! I’ve been drooling over it for months, and with my new Atlas pasta maker from Santa I was so excited to try it. It was a joy to make, a joy to eat, and I can’t wait for my leftovers for dinner. Thank you for posting!

  396. Kathy

    I may be late to the party on the posting of this recipe. I did make this. All I can say is DIVINE. Beyond wonderful. The best Lasagna we have ever had. Your gifted girl.

  397. Liz

    Deb, I actually like American style lasagna with ricotta, but I made this today and I’m a convert. It was so light! And the bechamel and Parmesan were so flavorful that I didn’t miss the cups and cups of cheese I normally use. So, so good. P.S. I used won ton skins since I don’t have a pasta maker and couldn’t find fresh pasta sheets. They worked perfectly.

  398. Staci

    So, I’ve made this twice now. The second was definitely better than the first. The first time I put too much sauce between the layers and it was mushy. Delicious but mushy. Definitely follow Deb’s measurements for 1 cup bolognese and half cup beachamel between layers. Also, I used RP’s Pasta company fresh egg lasagna sheets (made in Madison, WI) both times and they are delicious. Also, the bolognese didn’t cook down a ton for me, I only added a total of about 3 cups of water, including the very first addition. Last comment, this is not that much work if you use ready-made fresh pasta. I just made it for Sunday night dinner and will now have it for lunch all week. It’s gonna be a darn good week! Excellent recipe Deb! Thanks again!

  399. Colorado cowgirl

    Deb. everything was good. And it worked out well. I only have one comment. I made a half batch of ragu. Dumb! I think I ate a cups worth as it cooked! I also think the rest of the recipe (pasta,cheese,bechamel) ruined the sauce!

  400. Nancy

    Wow! I planned ahead (rare) and gathered the ingredients for this pre-storm (no panicked shopping here) and hoped the power would stay on. It did and I spent a happy day puttering around the kitchen with this dish (I made your creamy dreamy scones today, too). Thanks for always having wonderful, fail proof and delicious recipes! Your site is my go-to.

  401. Vict

    Hand kneaded and sheeted pasta dough. Definitely doable. Thank you for the recipe. Anyone listening, please do not under-brown the bolognese. You will cry.

  402. Your lasagne bolognese look amazing! I, too, use Besciamella and cannot stand ricotta haha. I love making fresh pasta. You should try adding spinach in the pasta dough It is lovely.

    FYI, “lasagna” is singular and refers to one pasta sheet while “lasagne” refers to more than one sheet of lasagna. In Italian, the”s” is not a plural marker; instead, the ending vowel indicates singularity or plurality (e.g., “panino” vs. “panini”).

    Anyway, I hope to try put the your rendition of Burrell’s ragù along with the addition of pancetta. yum! lastly, I personally have nothing against using some mozzarella and parmigiano in my lasagne.

  403. Hey Deb,

    Your bolognese recipe looks great! I’ve been looking at various recipes for an explanation of what you are looking for when the sauce is done. There is usually a window for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (Mario Batali) or, in the case of yours 3 to 4 hours. Hope this isn’t a stupid question.

    1. deb

      Alonna — Some people cook them all day! Others, just an hour. It’s flexible and more about how much depth of cooked flavor you’re looking for. The meat is fully cooked before an hour is up.

  404. John

    This is very similar to the “Nona’s Lasagna” from Iltoscano Restaurant (NY)that charges $20.00 a slice. Will try to make it and hopefully wont have to go there to have! thanks!

  405. Ceri

    My son (10) is learning how to cook and wanted to learn how to make lasagne. We mad the suace one a Saturday (he set a timer and checked it every 15 min.), the dough Sunday morning, the bechamel after lunch, then began rolling the pasta and assembly. We made two for a large group of friends. HUGE success and boosted his confidence in his cooking skills. Will def. make again! Thanks!

  406. Maressa

    Hey Deb!
    Just wondering (and am so sorry if someone has asked before) if you can use boxed pasta sheets instead? I know – how awful – but I’m moving net weekend into a new apartment and will be stressed to the max so don’t want the hassle of digging through boxes to find my pasta machine :)
    Thank you!!

  407. Rachel W.

    I bookmarked this recipe as soon as I read it. I was waiting for the right time to make it. Last week was my chance! I spent two leisurely days making two of the most delicious lasagnes ever. Today, I am making bolognese sauce again for another lasagne this week. (We just didn’t get enough on Friday…the two just barely fed 20!)
    Thank you so very much!

  408. Reen

    Deb, have followed you for a number of years & read your post often, however, had to comment on this one…my 84 yr old MIL is Italian and makes the best lasagna EVER!!! (I have tried many & don’t bother anymore to avoid disappointment). The secret to any lasagna is the sauce and it can’t be those thick full of mushrooms, peppers kind of sauces. Your sauce recipe is very similar to hers except she uses ground beef/pork (2:1), white wine & lots of fresh basil/parsley but no tomato paste. She also lightly rinses the cans of tomatoes with water & adds to the sauce at the beginning so you’re not needing to watch & add during cooking. Another tip she gave me, to add extra flavor to the sauce at the end of cooking, is to add chicken bullion cube(s)). Also, the sauce is simmered for no longer than 2 to 3 hours with only a stir required occasionally so nothing sticks. As most Italians, she makes a large pot of sauce regulaIrly to have for pasta, add to soups, make lasagna or freeze in portions for quick meals. While she’s made fresh pasta for a long time, she now uses boxed Italian lasagna noodles that don’t need to be pre-cooked (these noodles are thinner than the regular ones & similar to fresh without a noticeable difference). She sometimes makes the lasagna & freezes it for another time. Another tip is to add just a little water around the edges of the pan so the thin lasagna noodles don’t get dry while baking in the oven. She also uses a little mozzarella w/ the parm & bescimella and finishes the top with this layer. So what you get is layers of thin pasta in-between gooey, creamy, cheesy flavourful tomato sauce and every bite is undescribably delicious!!! On a different note, I enjoyed meeting you in Vancouver & am loving the cookbook. I made the French toast for Christmas & it was wonderful! Thanks, Deb for all the fantastic recipes and teachings!

  409. Natalie

    Hi Deb!

    Long time reader, first time poster :) Made this on the weekend and now just enjoying my wine after a lasagne which made me and my partner very happy!

    Sometimes I am ready to turn away from seeing all the directions but having you assure me it’s worth the effort always makes me want to see how I go. Not a problem with this one, I am so pleased with myself now and will be printing this one out tomorrow.

    Even better, I finally ordered your book on Amazon (in Australia – turns out it’s hard to get here) and CAN’T WAIT to see what you have in there!!

    Thanks — Natalie

  410. Wow! I just made this last night – well all afternoon :) – and it’s SO good. I had bought a pasta machine from a couple who are moving away so this was my first try. I was totally going to open a can of spaghetti sauce, but the afternoon looked so empty that I caved and made the ragu from scratch. Only problem was that when it came time to put it all together, the tomato sauce was a little watery, so we ended up eating the lasagna from bowls with spoons. But it was SO delicious, we didn’t mind, and I’ll make it again someday (at a time when I can make it all the day before and leave in the fridge overnight before cooking probably).

  411. Erin T

    For anyone wondering like I was: I tried the wonton route this weekend and was stymied over whether or not to boil the wrappers first. In the end, I rinsed four at a time in a strainer with hot water. That removed the excess flour on them and added a little extra moisture to the wrapper. The resulting noodles were perfect and in no way undercooked. I feel like pre-boiling them may have resulted in a much mushier lasagna, but maybe someone else who made this with won ton wrappers and did boil them might be able to clarify.

    I used 12 sqaure wrappers per layer, which meant 1 package of wrappers endeed up not quite being enough.

    And now I’m thinking about how good the leftovers are going to be for dinner tonight. Yum.

  412. Kyla

    I had my doubts. As a few people have mentioned above, the meat layer looked to thin when I was spreading it out. I shouldn’t have worried. This tastes amazing, and is now going to replace my lasagna recipe that I’ve been making since I was 15. It’s certainly more work, even though I cheat and don’t make my own pasta, but I think it’s worth it.

  413. Lisa

    I made this tonight…. with a small variation…. I also chopped a red pepper and added to my onions, carrots and celery…. I made the pasta fresh… didnt boil it, and it was perfect. Thanks for the inspiration.

  414. Melissa

    Hi Deb – I know you had an awesome post about a dinner party with this and your mushroom lasagna! I found the recipes and instructions for preparing the two together, but I know you had some other great info in that party post. I’ve been searching but can’t find it! Please help!

  415. Jeni

    I have been dying to try this recipe since it was published, but always scared off by a horrifying fly-be-the-seat-of-my-pants lasagna I made when I first started cooking. It was so so awful I was traumatized for 5 years. After simmering the ragout for 4 hrs, I just tried it and nearly cried it is so good. This is my first attempt at fresh pasta (sans machine) too, another fear of mine. Thank you endlessly for the inspiration, hope, and stunning recipe. I tweaked it 2:1 beef and pork, and used beef stock with a couple Tbs of red wine vinegar instead of the wine to accomodate the alcoholic in the house. I am so pleased with the results so far!! Can’t wait to assemble tomorrow!

  416. Hi Deb,

    I bumped into you at Babbo over Labor Day. Hi! I’m a longtime reader, and absolutely love your recipes.

    I made this last night for a dinner party, and while the flavors were mind blowing, it was a huge soupy mess! I let it cool for 10 minutes before serving it, and it just totally fell apart. Help! I want to make this again but want a presentable result next time. Thank you!


    1. deb

      Hi Mariel — That was so funny, and such a packed space! Hope you had a great meal. Soupiness here would come from too much bolognese between the layers — did that seem to be what it was? Many people do that intentionally, the messiness being part of the charm. The measurements I suggest here should keep the meat sauce from being too thick or wet, however. The other thing is could come from is a sauce that was on the sloshy side, maybe a little thin. Since you’re really eyeballing it for ideal thickness, it’s possible you ended up with a thinner one that I had in mind.

  417. Midmodtom

    I have been doing the same thing: trying to come up with the perfect lasagna. I am making this for friends in a couple of weeks and realize that mine is typically soggy because I don’t cook the sauce down until it is nice and thick and rich. I don’t think I dried my parcooked (I parcook dry pasta for just a few minutes) enough either and that contributed to sogginess … and a lasagna that will never set up (I always get the lasagna ‘slide’) My question though is about continually adding water. I do regard myself as a very good cook, but adding water over and over again … doesn’t that just dilute the sauce? I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around that idea. And to see Ms. Anne add almost twice as much as your recipe really has me confused. Any insight or assurances you might be able to provide would be greatly appreciated!

  418. Midmodtom

    One more question: Where did you get your lasagna pan/what kind is it? My 13 x 9 x 2 pan certainly won’t hold 20 layers, it barely holds 10

  419. Emma

    I forgot to make the béchamel! Realized this somewhere in the middle of cooking time. But I definitely agree with this version of bolognese in all it’s wine-y and tomato-y glory. And, we totally ate the lasagna anyway and will eat the leftover sauce with pasta all week. Completely worth the effort if you can spare the afternoon.

  420. Thi

    Dear Deb, First of all: Thank you so much for your wonderful website! I’ve discovered your blog a few weeks ago and ever since am addicted to trying out your recipes. I’ve made your pasta sauce last night and it was a great hit amongst my hubby and two picky pasta eaters (yes, there are kids who don’t love pasta!) and they LOVED the sauce. I also made your “best birthday cake” for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. It was a great hit as well. I can’t wait to try out more of your recipes. Thanks again!

  421. Cynthia

    Made this for diner tonight. It was AMAZING!! I decided not to cook the noodles prior to assembly and the lasagna still came out delicious. Great job with the recipe, definitely a keeper : )

  422. Jennifer

    Fantastic! I grew up with that ricotta/curly noodle mess, which still has a place in my heart because of all the wonderful hours spent in the kitchen prepping and assembling with my mom and sister. But I always found it too messy and rich, and this perfectly took care of both issues. I am not one to ever stick to a recipe – just goes against my rebellious instincts I guess. But I really tried to do my best this time since the recipe was so different from any I had tried before.
    1) For the bolognese sauce I used just one cup of wine (all I had left from the night before) and cooked it down for about 5 hours. Ended up with 7 cups of sauce, and used 4 in the lasagna.
    2) Homemade pasta was not an option – I have neither a pasta maker nor a rolling pin. I experimented using “fresh” pasta from the grocery on one side (actually was parboiled sheets) and Barilla boxed sheets (no-boil) on the other side. We tried a small piece from each side and definitely preferred the “fresh” pasta – more tender and soaked up the sauces a bit better than the Barilla sheets.
    3) Made the bechamel just before assembling, and used the entire recipe because I was worried about it drying out since I didn’t have the homemade fresh pasta. Glad I did; it was perfectly saucy without being messy. To make the sauce I used a mix of 2 oz of half-and-half to every 6 oz of skim milk as a substitute for the whole milk, and it worked great. Had to use the blasphemous garlic powder after my last clove of garlic bounced off the counter, right into the cat’s canned food dish at my feet.

    Thanks for such a great recipe and a real adventure in cooking. As someone who loves to cook, but rarely puts in more than 10 minutes of prep for my typical meals, this process reminded me to take my time and enjoy the moment.

  423. Hillary

    I’ve used this bolognese recipe a gajillion times, and felt inspired to make a vegetarian version since we had those soy protein crumbles lying around. Generally I’m hesitant to use meat substitutes, but figured this would be a good way to impart a lot of flavor into what could be described as dog food for humans (I mean it looks like it, and smells a little like it too, right?)
    It worked great! Felt a little silly simmering packaged protein for 3 hours but hey, when we were eating I thought it was all worth it. Thanks Deb!

  424. Greta

    Made the bolognese yesterday, house smelled wonderful while it was cooking. Don’t have a pasta machine so used no cook noodles. Bechamel was silky and wonderful. Assembled tonight and will be baking and taking to our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. I usually put cottage cheese through a strainer to make it more like ricotta (can’t eat ricotta for some reason, it doesn’t agree), only used Parmesan as directed, and no mozzarella or provolone so this will be a different lasagna for sure. Am looking forward to eating it!

  425. Meagan

    I’ve made this lasagna several times since you’ve posted the recipe with great results, so I decided to make two for our Thanksgiving Eve meal. I made the lasagnas about five days ahead of time and froze them. I pulled the lasagnas out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge overnight the evening before I planned to cook them. They were still somewhat frozen when I popped them into the oven. I baked them at 425 for about 1.5 hours covered with foil for the first 45 minutes and then uncovered so they would brown up. They were hot and cooked through after 1.5 hours , but very soupy even after a good rest. Still delicious just much runnier than normal. However the ½ lasagna that was leftover had firmed up quite a bit by the following day. My Mom and I had debated just going straight from the freezer to the oven with no defrost time, but I feel like this would have taken forever to cook, and I’m not sure if it would help with the soupiness. In the future I’ll most likely make them the day of whenever possible, this time with Thanksgiving chaos it was easier to try the freezing route.

  426. Leanne

    I grew up eating my Grandma Maria Romano’s lasagna made with ricotta (mixed with an egg and parsley until creamy) and it is divine. It is the authentic Sicilian way that lasagna is made (not an American added thing). Yesterday was the first time I made the lasagna for our traditional Christmas dinner. I decided to change up the recipe and make the noodles from scratch. I found your site and used your recipe and added the béchamel. It was heavenly!!! Everyone raved at the lightness of our old family recipe. I am going to try the ragu style since having it in bologna a few months back. I will always use my grandma’s recipe with ricotta for Christmas dinner but am excited to try something new during the year and your recipe sounds perfect…if only mine will come out looking as good as yours!

  427. deb

    I have an Atlas pasta maker and love it. If you do a word search for “Atlas” in this comment section, you’ll see that a lot of other people responded that they have and love one, or have bought one since and enjoy it. I think they’re the best.

  428. Natasha

    I made this for New Year’s day and it was amazing. In France, they mostly make lasagna with a bechamel sauce, which I thought was standard everywhere until I moved to the US. I’ve always hated the lasagna with ricotta in the U.S. PS: i cheated and use pre-made barilla lasagna noodles that were not precooked. I boiled them for 4 minutes, then dropped in ice water, kinda dried them and then layered the lasagna. The lasagna came out perfectly.

  429. Lindsay

    Just whipped this up to surprise my husband. I rarely cook but felt compelled to make it after reading the recipe. So delicious!!! I also used no-boil noodles since my local whole foods lacked fresh lasagna noodles.
    Thank you, thank you, for this.

  430. Katie

    I made 2 versions of this for thanksgiving dinner. One was exactly as the recipe stated, and the other supstituted vegetarian protein crumbles for the meat as another reader suggested. I cooked them exactly the same way, same time, same pots even. I have to say, the vegetarian was better. The protein crumbles browned a lot more and there were lots more brown bits stuck to the pan. It took on more of a smokey interesting flavor.
    I also used fresh pasta from fairway market because I didn’t have time to make my own. It was a little too thick for the amount of filling called for in the recipe. Will make my own next time.

  431. irma

    I made this accidentally TWO days ahead! Should I freeze it or can it stand one extra day in the refrigerator?
    By the way, this is not the first time I am making this; this recipe is worth the effort. I can’t wait to eat this!

    1. deb

      irma — It can totally sit in the fridge, but it’s better to do it after its baked. (Is that what you meant?) It reheats wonderfully, exquisitely, for I’d say 4 days after baking.

  432. irma

    Thank you! That was exactly what I meant. See, I prepared the dish and planned to keep it in the fridge until tomorrow (a day in advance, like your do ahead note) and bake it before our guests arrived. But we had to re-schedule for a day later.
    But now that I know it reheats wonderfully, exquisitely – I will bake it now and empty my mind about this issue :)

  433. John Hobson

    I have been playing around with Bolognese sauce for years, and I have collected many recipes. These remind me of a comment by Samuel Johnson, “Politics is like men’s watches. Each one says something different and each man swears by his own.” Some say no garlic; another has six cloves. Some say ground meat, some say diced meat. Moreover, which meat? I have recipes with just beef; others with beef, pork and veal; one with pork and veal; one with pork, veal and lamb, another with pork, veal and chicken livers. I have heard of chicken bolognese, I have seen a recipe with venison. Some have 4 ounces of thinly sliced diced pancetta, others no pancetta, two say mortadella, one says pancetta and mortadella. There are recipes with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste; others with a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. Some say red wine, others white, one has no wine. Most have some sort of dairy, some milk, others cream; but there is also a contingent saying beef stock instead of dairy.

    It’s like recipes for chili: Ground meat vs. chopped meat, how many and which sort of peppers, which meat (I once had some chili in Texas made with armadillo, and another batch made with venison), wine or beer or some other liquid and the biggie — beans or no beans. In this fight, I’m on the side of chopped beef, a couple of diced and seeded poblano peppers, red wine and no beans. On the other hand, my wife makes hers with ground beef, red kidney beans, tomato juice and some elbow macaroni added right at the end. She also bends over the pot and says “peppers”, making sure not to say it too loudly. It’s much the same with ragu bolognese.

    Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem, “In the Neolithic Age”, in which two neolithic tribesman are arguing about the correct way to write epic poems for the tribe. They go to the tribal shaman, who says,

    There are nine and sixty ways
    Of constructing tribal lays
    And every single one of them is right.

  434. Last night, curled up in bed, I read this post in The Best Food Writing of 2012. What a testament to the power of the words that 12 hours later I felt compelled to come here. And in both experiences I found something- last night an essay, the story. And today answers to questions I had about the recipe, and other bits of unexpected wisdom, in the comments section. And, of course, the pictures. Thanks you.

  435. Amanda

    I made this recipes months ago — it was PHENOMENAL, and I have had family begging me regularly to make it again. My plan is to knock out several pans worth on a day off, and freeze. I waded through many of the comments, but didn’t encounter any with freezing suggestions. Has anyone had luck with freezing and reheating this dish?

  436. Lindsay

    Here we are two years later, and the ragu is simmering away on the stove. It’s Autumn here in Australia, and I’ve been craving lasagna like my mother used to make – which is almost identical to this. My lasagnas have always been a bit lacklustre, never wonderful, and your recipes have never failed, so I’m settling in for this two day epic adventure. Thank you always, for your wonderful writing and recipes.

  437. Mitzi

    After spending the better part of two days creating my first ever true Lasagna Bolognese,  I simply had to write about it to someone – and it had to be someone who understood.  

    It took me weeks to decide on the Bolognese sauce.  I ended up combining your recipe with Marcella Hazan’s.   I won’t bore you with the details,  but it was absolutely incredible.

    I worked through the two days using your plan of action.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.   And it was indeed an epic cooking experience.  

    I decided that the most important ingredients are these:

    1.  Patience – it takes time and love to do this.    If you don’t have any of that to spare right now, don’t make this dish until you do.   Every little step should be enjoyed – even savored.   The browning, the reductions, the simmering, the repeated rolling of each sheet of pasta dough, and handling the delicate noodles all take time and TLC.   Nothing will ruin this creation like rushing through it.  

    2.  Faith:  Believe that Bolognese sauce will eventually become amazing (it will).  Believe that the noodles will work (they will).   Believe that the little flaws won’t matter (they won’t).  Believe that this sauce doesn’t need a lot of herbs (it doesn’t (and don’t)).

    3.  A bottle of wine:  half for the Bolognese sauce, half for you.  

    4.  Music.    Put on your favorite music and dance around the kitchen when you’re not otherwise occupied by mixing, stirring, kneading, rolling, cooking,  or building.  And,  whatever you do,  do not do laundry or clean some other room or read work emails or solve someone else’s problems while you’re engaged in creating.  Believe it or not,  this whole experience is for you!   (Although everyone who ate the lasagna was blown away by how much better is was than any lasagna they had ever eaten)

    So,  thank you for letting me express myself.   
    PS – I found that the cooked noodles actually did stick together,  even after spritzing them with oil.  So I put them on prepared sheets of wax paper.