The Best Sausage Lasagna

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Put that meat front and center with this, the BEST Sausage Lasagna—spicy Italian sausage mixed with tomato sauce, spices, and three types of cheese.

Best Sausage Lasagna featured image focused shot

There are few menu items that can cause my eyes to widen as much as lasagna. My mouth salivates, my nose is permanently set to ‘inhale’ so I can catch as much of its lovely scent as possible. Even my ears perk up whenever a lasagna in the vicinity is removed from an oven. I didn’t think my body could respond any more positively to any meal. Ever.

So it was with some surprise that my eyes, mouth, nose, and ears went into overdrive when, while over at a friend’s house, she cooked up a lasagna. I knew, though, that this couldn’t be just ANY type of lasagna. My tingling spidey senses told me that. So I asked her. “It’s Sausage Lasagna,” she replied. Ahhhhhhh. That explains it.

Remember that Thanksgiving episode of Friends, when Rachel makes the “meat trifle”? Joey loves it: “What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Good.” I’m the same way. Sausage? Good. Lasagna? Gooooood. Now I love to experiment with my lasagnas, not only with the ingredients I use but also, in how I cook them—Skillet Lasagna or Slow-Cooker Lasagna, anyone?—but using Italian sausage was so obvious, I had overlooked it for something more exotic. Well, no more! Today I’m tweaking my lasagna and taking it to a whole new level. Watch out, eyes, mouth, nose, and ears!

Ingredients //

  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 carton whole-milk ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
  • 1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 12 no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups partly skimmed mozzarella cheese, shredded
Best Sausage Lasagna top shot ingredients

How To Make Sausage Lasagna // The Steps

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onion over MEDIUM heat, breaking the sausage into small crumbles. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink and the onions are soft, about 5–7 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste, stirring for about 1 minute, until fragrant.

Best Sausage Lasagna front shot

Step 2: Add to the skillet the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

Best Sausage Lasagna steps close up shot

Step 3: In a separate bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, ricotta cheese, 1-1/4 cups of Parmesan cheese, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. This will be your rich and creamy cheese layer.

Best Sausage Lasagna steps top shot

Step 4: Spread 1-1/2 cups of the meat sauce along the bottom of a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Place 4 no-cook lasagna noodles over the sauce. Over the noodles, spread 1-1/2 cups of the ricotta cheese mixture, then sprinkle 1-1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Pour another 1-1/2 cups of meat sauce over the cheese. Repeat these layers once more, and finish with a final layer of noodles, the remaining meat sauce, and a generous topping of both mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Best Sausage Lasagna steps top shot

Step 5: Cover the baking dish with foil that’s been lightly greased to prevent sticking. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and the lasagna is heated through, about 5-10 additional minutes. After baking, let the lasagna stand for about 15 minutes.

Best Sausage Lasagna steps top shot

Top Tips For a Perfect Sausage Lasagna //

  • Letting the lasagna rest is an important step; don’t skip it. It allows the layers to set, making it easier to cut into neat servings.
  • Preparing the lasagna ahead of time then storing it in the fridge before you cook it lets the flavors meld. If you have time, I suggest doing so.
  • Make sure the lasagna noodles are completely smothered in sauce so that they cool sufficiently while in the oven.
  • Grate the cheeses yourself. The difference in taste when compared to pre-shredded cheese will blow your mind.
  • Don’t use fresh mozzarella, as it contains too much water. If you’re adamant about using it, squeeze it among paper towels to absorb some of that water up.
Best Sausage Lasagna close up shot

FAQs //

I only have regular, hard noodles. Can I use them?

Yes, you can use them. Just boil them al dente. Don’t worry if they still feel stiff; they’ll continue to cook and eventually soften in the sauce in the oven.

Does it matter which type of Italian sausage I use: mild or spicy?

Nope. Totally up to you. If you decide to use spicy sausage, you can even add some red pepper flakes to really increase the heat.

Which other herbs and spices do you recommend?

Complete the set by adding other Italian herbs, like oregano or thyme.

Do I need to use nonstick spray?

No, not if you remember to use the meat sauce as your base layer.

Do I have to use foil at all?

The foil keeps the top of the lasagna from prematurely browning and burning before the rest of the lasagna has a chance to fully cook. If you want to run that risk because you know your oven isn’t that harsh then feel free. And you can obviously leave the foil on for the entirety of the cooking if you want minimal browning.

Best Sausage Lasagna top shot

Other Lasagna Variations To Try //

Lasagna Pie: All the meat, cheese, and pasta of the Italian classic… but in pie form! The kids will love this novel way of serving lasagna.

Turkey Lasagna: A healthier version that substitutes beef and/or pork with ground turkey meat.

Easy Lasagna Roll-Ups: A one-pan dish that’s ideal for potlucks. Have fun thinking of ways to fill the pasta each time you make it.

Vegetable Lasagna: You’ll be so bowled over by the herbed ricotta, sauteed mushrooms, peppers, onions, and spinach, that you’ll fail to notice the absence of meat.

How to Prep and Store Sausage Lasagna //

If you have the time, make the lasagna a day ahead of time. Letting it sit in the fridge allows the flavors to meld. You can also store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just be sure to wrap it well to prevent freezer burn. When it comes time to cook the lasagna, you may need to add 5–10 minutes to compensate for the now-chilled dinner. If you have any leftovers, cover them in the casserole dish with foil or plastic and store them in the fridge. You can also remove the lasagna from the casserole and store it in an airtight container. The lasagna should last in the fridge for up to 4 days or 3 months in the freezer. To reheat, let the frozen lasagna thaw in the fridge overnight. Then put it in the oven at 325°F for 20–30 minutes. When it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, it is done.

Best Sausage Lasagna close up shot
Best Sausage Lasagna featured image focused shot

Best Sausage Lasagna

Put that meat front and center with this, the BEST Sausage Lasagna—spicy Italian sausage mixed with tomato sauce, spices, and three types of cheese.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 14

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 carton whole-milk ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
  • 1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese divided
  • 12 no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups partly-skimmed mozzarella cheese shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onion over MEDIUM heat, breaking the sausage into small crumbles. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink and the onions are soft, about 5–7 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste, stirring for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add to the skillet the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, ricotta cheese, 1 1/4 cups of Parmesan cheese, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. This will be your rich and creamy cheese layer.
  • Spread 1-1/2 cups of the meat sauce along the bottom of a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Place 4 no-cook lasagna noodles over the sauce. Over the noodles, spread 1-1/2 cups of the ricotta cheese mixture, then sprinkle 1-1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Pour another 1-1/2 cups of meat sauce over the cheese. Repeat these layers once more, and finish with a final layer of noodles, the remaining meat sauce, and a generous topping of both mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil that's been lightly greased to prevent sticking. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and the lasagna is heated through, about 5-10 additional minutes. After baking, let the lasagna stand for about 15 minutes.

Notes

  • Preparing the lasagna ahead of time then storing it in the fridge before you cook it lets the flavors meld. If you have time, I suggest doing so.
  • Make sure the lasagna noodles are completely smothered in sauce so that they cool sufficiently while in the oven.
  • Grate the cheeses yourself. The difference in taste when compared to pre-shredded, packaged cheeses will blow your mind.
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