This Lasagne is made with an easy Homemade Bechamél Sauce, a rich and tender Beef Ragù and Cheese as far as the eye can see. What’s not to love?
For some, the thought of making a lasagne might be a little daunting. But here I’ll share with you some tips and tricks to making lasagne an absolute breeze. PLUS, this just happens to be one of the most delicious lasagne recipes in the world. Follow me…
First of all, let me just get my food snobbery out the way – I have never found a store bought lasagne that comes even close to a homemade lasagne. There, I said it.
The main thing to note about homemade lasagne is that whilst the steps are fairly straight forward, it takes time. There is no such thing as a quick lasagne, not one worth eating anyway! (sorry, the snobbery stops there). In terms of what are the layers of lasagne, here’s what we’re working with:
- Beef Ragu
- Pasta (lasagne sheets)
- Bechamel Sauce
Also, just one more elephant to address before we sink our teeth in:
Lasagne vs Lasagna
Unlike the American style version (Lasagna with an ‘a’ at the end), this version uses a homemade bechamel sauce, in contrast to a ricotta based layer. Before we get to that, let’s talk Ragu. Follow me…
Beef Ragu Sauce for Lasagne
A beef ragu in Italian cuisine, just simply means a meat based sauce (often served with pasta). This truly is the heart and soul of every lasagne. On the flip side, this is the part that really takes time.
My number one tip for the best lasagne is to slow cook your ragu.
It makes the world of difference in terms of developing the flavour of the meat sauce AND allows the sauce to reduce. This is important so your lasagne doesn’t end up too watery and sloppy at the end.
How to make Ragu sauce for Lasagne (quick summary)
- Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat with ground beef.
- Brown beef, then remove from pot.
- Add pancetta and fry until it begins to brown.
- Add carrot, celery and onion, and continue to fry.
- Add tomato puree, then deglaze the pot with red wine.
- Add beef back in and coat.
- Pour in beef stock, passata and seasoning.
- Simmer for 1 hour 30mins with the lid on, then 30mins with the lid off.
Lasagne with Bechamel Sauce
For those of you who aren’t sure, Bechamel sauce (otherwise known as ‘white sauce’) is a roux made of butter, flour and milk. It adds a nice creamy layer to the lasagne. For a Bechamel sauce in a lasagne I add a hefty amount of parmesan and nutmeg, just for extra flavour.
When it comes to making the Bechamel sauce, you’ll want to make it whilst the ragu is simmering.
How to make Bechamel Sauce (quick summary)
- Melt butter into a suitably sized pot.
- Stir in flour to form a paste.
- Gradually whisk in milk until thick.
- Stir in parmesan, nutmeg and seasoning.
Tips for the Best Lasagne
- Add Pancetta for extra richness (can sub bacon).
- Grate your carrot on a box grater. This will allow the carrot to disintegrate into the sauce and add gorgeous sweetness to the Ragu.
- Simmer the Ragu for a good length of time, this will develop the flavours and make the beef really tender.
- Make sure you reduce the sauce so most of the water disappears. Too watery and the lasagne will come out sloppy.
- Simmer the sauce until it thickens enough to comfortably coat the back of a spoon. Any less and the lasagne will come out watery.
- A heavy seasoning of salt, black pepper and nutmeg will really help the sauce stand out in the lasagne.
- Finish with a layer of cheese, just so it goes beautifully golden and crispy in the oven.
- Let it rest! As frustrating as it is to spend all that time making a lasagne and then have to wait, the lasagne will need to rest and reform shape after it’s taken out the oven. Plus, you won’t burn the roof of your mouth off, which is also a plus.
Can I make Lasagne in advance?
Absolutely! Just ensure the ragu and bechamel sauce cool before layering the lasagne (or the sheets will start to cook). Cover and store in the fridge up to 24hours before cooking. You might need to add 5 or so mins onto baking time or allow to come back up to room temp.
Fresh vs Dried Lasagne Sheets
I always go fresh. I prefer the texture and the lasagne stays intact better. If you’ve got dried then check the packet to see if you need to cook before hand. If you don’t then don’t reduce the ragu so much (the dried sheets will suck up more liquid than fresh).
What to serve with Lasagne?
And breathe. We made it and I’ve officially leaked all my lasagne knowledge out 🤣 Time for you to take the reins!
Hey, whilst you’re here why not check out my other recipes?
Family Comfort Food Recipes
- Mum’s Traditional Cottage Pie
- Dad’s Famous Chilli Con Carne
- Toad in the Hole
- Herb Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
- Meatball Pasta Bake
Okay, let’s tuck into the full homemade lasagne recipe shall we?
How to make Lasagne (Full Recipe and Video)
- 9x13" baking dish
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven with Heavy Lid (for Ragu)
- Medium Pot (for Bechamel)
- Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Box Grater (for carrot and cheese)
- Serving Spoon (to spread layers)
Ingredients (check list):
- 2.2lb / 1kg Ground Beef (see notes)
- 3.5oz / 100g Pancetta, finely diced
- 2 cups / 500ml Tomato Passata (Pureed Tomatoes in USA)
- 2 cups / 500ml Beef Stock
- 1 cup / 250ml Red Wine
- 2 ribs of Celery, finely diced
- 2 medium Carrots, grated on a box grater
- 1 large White Onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in USA)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/4 cup each: Fresh Basil, Fresh Parsley, finely diced (plus extra to garnish)
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1.5 tsp Sugar, or to taste
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Olive Oil, as needed
- 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
- 5 tbsp Plain Flour
- 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 small Nutmeg, grated
- 3.5oz / 100g Parmesan, grated (save some to top)
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 12oz / 350g Fresh Lasagne Sheets (see notes)
- 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded
- Drizzle around 1 tbsp olive oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add beef, break it up with a wooden spoon and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to fry until fully browned, then pour into your lasagne dish (discarding any excess fat).
- Add Pancetta and fry until it releases fat and begins to brown. Add onion, celery and carrot, and continue frying until they soften and begin to brown. Add garlic at the last minute, then add your tomato puree (tomato paste).
- Fry tomato puree for a few mins, then deglaze with your wine. Allow the wine to reduce for a few mins, then add back in your beef. Stir to coat beef.
- Pour in your beef stock, tomato passata, parsley, basil, oregano, bay leaves, 1 tsp sugar, salt & pepper (to taste). Turn heat to low, pop on a lid and allow to simmer for at least 1 hour 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Then take off lid and allow the sauce to reduce, another 20-30mins should be fine. Meanwhile...
- Melt your butter in a suitably sized pot over medium heat. Add flour, then stir into a paste.
- Gradually pour in your milk, whisking as you go to ensure lumps don't form. Allow the sauce to simmer away for 5-10mins to thicken, then add your nutmeg, parmesan and salt & pepper (to taste). Stir to combine, taste for seasoning, then remove from heat.
- You want the sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not so thick it won't pour.
- Pre heat oven to 356f/180c
- In a 9x13" (or close to) baking dish, spread a few spoons of ragu. This is so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Your layers will then go as follows: Pasta sheets, Ragu, Bechamel Sauce, Mozzarella. The last layer will be pasta sheets, then Bechamel, then mozzarella and parmesan to top. That's 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of Ragu (including very bottom layer), 4 layers of Bechamel and 4 layers of mozzarella.
- Pop in the oven for 30-40mins or until the surface is deep golden (Some 'burnt' parts are fine, extra flavour). Let it sit for at least 15mins. This is important or it will be too liquidy. That and it'll burn the roof of your mouth off.
- Serve with an extra sprinkle of basil or parsley. Enjoy!