Have you seen the price of lasagna in restaurants lately? The last time I saw lasagna on a menu it was $20… per slice! Talk about sticker shock. So I knew that if I was going to get my lasagna fix, I would have to make it at home. Make no mistake, it’s a splurge whether you order it at a restaurant or make it at home because it’s chock full of meat and cheesy goodness. But at least homemade lasagna is closer to $20 for the whole pan, not per slice. 😅
The Three Main Components of Lasagna
Lasagna is the perfect trifecta of ingredients: pasta, tomatoes, and cheese. Or, more specifically, the three main components of a classic lasagna are a red meat sauce, lasagna noodles, and a mix of ricotta and other cheeses. You can swap out any of these three components to make different styles of lasagna (white lasagna, vegetarian lasagna, spinach lasagna, etc.) but the recipe we have for you today is a classic lasagna with a tomato-based meat sauce, ricotta cheese blend, and lasagna noodles.
How to Layer Lasagna
There are no hard rules when it comes to layering lasagna (don’t @ me if you disagree), but there is one method that will make your life a whole lot easier. For a stress-free lasagna, layer the lasagna in the following order:
- Sauce first (this keeps the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the dish)
- Lasagna noodles
- Cheese (it’s easier to spread the cheese on top of the solid noodles than on the sauce)
- Repeat: sauce – noodles – cheese two more times
- Finish with sauce and more cheese
Not into layering? Try our Baked Ziti recipe! It has all the same great flavors but with an easier free-form construction.
Homemade Lasagna is so Worth It
Making homemade lasagna is not exactly a quick dinner fix. It definitely takes a little time and effort, but it’s oh-so worth it! The layers of rich seasoned red sauce, the tender noodles, and plenty of melty cheese make it the epitome of comfort food. Plus, lasagna is very freezer-friendly, so you can put in the work once and enjoy the fruits of your labor for weeks to come.
How to Freeze Lasagna
Freeze after baking: Allow the lasagna to cool slightly, then it divide into single portions. Chill each portion in a resealable container in the refrigerator, then transfer it to the freezer for long-term storage. The lasagna will stay good in the freezer for about three months. To reheat, simply grab a slice out of the freezer and reheat it in the microwave. For best results, I suggest using the defrost mode first, then microwaving on high until heated through.
Freeze before baking: If you prefer to freeze first and bake later, simply follow the recipe below all the way through the layering step, then cover and chill the lasagna fully in the refrigerator. Once chilled, transfer to the freezer (in an air-tight container) and freeze until solid. To bake the frozen lasagna, let it thaw completely in the refrigerator for a full 24 hours first. Then bake as directed, adding an additional 10 minutes to compensate for the chilled ingredients.
Budget-Friendly Ingredient Swaps
If you’re looking to make your homemade lasagna even more budget-friendly, here are a few ingredients you can swap to bring the total price down:
- Substitute the ricotta cheese with small curd cottage cheese (this does produce a “looser” texture to the lasagna filling.
- Substitute half of the Italian sausage for sautéed mushrooms. You may need to add extra Italian seasoning to make up for what’s in the missing sausage.
- Use a store-bought red sauce instead of making your own (some brands are more expensive, so make sure to comparison shop!).
- Buy your mozzarella in large blocks to get a lower price per ounce. Freeze half for later.
What to Serve with Lasagna
You just spent all that time making your masterpiece homemade lasagna, so I suggest keeping the sides simple. You really can’t beat some homemade garlic bread and a simple side salad! Or maybe you just want a little snacky-snack appetizer to serve while the lasagna is in the oven? If that’s the case, some Bruschetta is your ticket!
- 1 lb. Italian sausage $3.99
- 1 yellow onion $0.37
- 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes $1.69
- 3 oz. tomato paste (about 5 Tbsp) $0.45
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning $0.30
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta $3.19
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend $1.25
- 1 large egg $0.21
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
- 9 lasagna noodles (about ½ lb.) $0.90
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella $2.49
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) $0.10
- Add the Italian sausage to a deep skillet and cook over medium heat until browned. While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and then add it to the skillet with the sausage. Continue to stir and cook until the onion has softened (about 3 minutes).
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning to the skillet and stir to combine. Partially cover the skillet with a lid, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer while you prepare the other ingredients. Stir the saue occasionally as it cooks.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the ricotta cheese, Italian cheese blend, egg, and pepper to a bowl, then stir to combine. Set the cheese mixture aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and add ½ Tbsp salt. Bring the pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the lasagna noodles and cook just until tender (about 8 minutes). Drain the noodles in a colander.
- Spread about 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Lay three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Spread ⅓ of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Repeat the layers (sauce, noodles, cheese) two more times. Finish with the remaining sauce, then top with the shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil, turn the oven from bake to broil, and broil for about 5 minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Watch the lasagna closely as it broils!
- Top the lasagna with chopped parsley if desired. Slice the lasagna into nine (or twelve) pieces and serve!
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Lasagna – Step by Step Photos
Start by browning 1 lb. of Italian sausage in a deep skillet. While the sausage cooks, dice a yellow onion. Add the diced onion to the sausage and continue to cook for a few minutes more, or until the onion has softened.
Add one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, ½ of a 6 oz. can of tomato paste (about 5 Tbsp), and 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
Partially cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Next, prepare the cheese filling. Add 2 cups whole milk ricotta, 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, 1 large egg, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper to a bowl. Stir until everything is evenly combined, then set the cheese aside.
Fill a large pot with water and add ½ Tbsp salt. Bring the water to a boil, then add 9 lasagna noodles. Boil the noodles just until they’re tender (about 8 minutes), making sure not to overcook the noodles. Soft noodles tear easily and they will get mushy as the lasagna bakes. Drain the noodles in a colander.
Spread about 1 cup of the meat sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Divide the cheese mixture into three portions (one for each layer of the lasagna), then spread one of the portions evenly over the three noodles.
Repeat the sauce-noodles-cheese layers two more times (for a total of three layers), then top with the rest of the meat sauce and two cups of shredded mozzarella.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake in the preheated 350ºF oven for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and turn the heat on to broil.
Broil the lasagna for about five minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Broilers can vary quite a bit, so watch the lasagna closely during this step! Top the baked lasagna with chopped parsley if desired.
Slice the lasagna into 9 (or 12) portions and serve! …Or chill the portions and then transfer to the freezer later (hello homemade Stouffer’s!)
The post Easy Homemade Lasagna appeared first on Budget Bytes.