Beef/ Hearty Dinners/ Pasta

The Lasagne of your dreams!

June 19, 2019 (Last Updated: January 9, 2020)

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…

overhead shot of lasagne in baking dish fresh out the oven with spatula digging into it

Homemade Lasagne

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:

Lasagne Layers

  • Beef Ragu
  • Pasta (lasagne sheets)
  • Bechamel Sauce
  • Cheese

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…

one serving of lasagne being lifted from the baking dish with cheese hanging off

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) 

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat with ground beef.
  2. Brown beef, then remove from pot.
  3. Add pancetta and fry until it begins to brown.
  4. Add carrot, celery and onion, and continue to fry.
  5. Add tomato puree, then deglaze the pot with red wine.
  6. Add beef back in and coat.
  7. Pour in beef stock, passata and seasoning.
  8. Simmer for 1 hour 30mins with the lid on, then 30mins with the lid off.
What is Passata? – Tomato passata is essentially pureed tomatoes. The tomatoes are cooked and strained to make a thick tomato sauce. Perfect for a ragu.
Lasagne with Red Wine – The red wine adds a gorgeous depth of flavour and pairs beautifully with the beef. Most of the alcohol will burn off and I highly recommend using it.

How to make Ragu Sauce - 8 step by step photos

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)

  1. Melt butter into a suitably sized pot.
  2. Stir in flour to form a paste.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk until thick.
  4. Stir in parmesan, nutmeg and seasoning.
Top Tip – Ensure your milk is at room temp for the best chance of the sauce having no lumps.

How to make Bechamel Sauce - 4 step by step photos

Tips for the Best Lasagne

Ragu:

  • 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.

Bechamel Sauce:

  • 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.

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.

half of a lasagne in the baking dish with ragu spilling out

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

Okay, let’s tuck into the full homemade lasagne recipe shall we?

one portion of lasagne served on a plate with baking dish and garlic bread blurred in the background

How to make Lasagne (Full Recipe and Video)

half of a lasagne in the baking dish with ragu spilling out

Homemade Lasagne

This Lasagne is made with an easy Homemade Bechamel Sauce, a rich and tender Beef Ragu and Cheese as far as the eye can see. What's not to love?
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings (click & slide): 8
Calories: 646kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • 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):

Ragu

  • 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

Bechamel Sauce

  • 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

Lasagne

  • 12oz / 350g Fresh Lasagne Sheets (see notes)
  • 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded

Instructions:

Ragu

  • 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...

Bechamel Sauce

  • 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.

Lasagne

  • 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!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Pancetta Sub - If you're struggling to find pancetta, finely diced bacon will work instead.
b) Sugar - Start off with 1 tsp, then taste test after it's simmered and reduced. You'll find the flavour changes quite drastically after the ragu is fully cooked, so adjust accordingly then.
c) Consistency - It's imperative that you reduce the Ragu AND the Bechamel sauce. For the Ragu, if there is a layer of water on top whilst it simmers, it needs more reducing. For the Bechamel sauce, you need to be able to comfortably coat the back of a wooden spoon. If both are too watery, the lasagne is going to come out the oven overly sloppy. 
d) Baking Dish - 9x13" is a great size for lasagnes and gives you 4 pasta layers. Feel to use a smaller, but deeper dish and add more layers.
e) Fresh Lasagne Sheets vs Dried - I always go fresh (find in fresh pasta section in supermarket. I prefer the texture and the lasagne stays intact better (not so wavey). If you’ve got dried then check the packet to see if you need to cook before hand. If you don’t need to cook them then don’t reduce the ragu so much (the dried sheets will suck up more liquid than fresh).
f) Beef - I usually go for 10-12% fat. Gives a bit of fatty flavour but not so much the ragu goes oily. If you've only got very fat beef, say 20%, drain away most of the fat after it's fried.
g) Heavy Top Lid - Needs to be heavy so the steam doesn't escape otherwise it'll reduce too quickly.
h) Make Ahead - This is perfect to make in advance! Just make sure the ragu and bechamel sauce cools before you assemble, or the pasta will start to cook and come out super soft and mushy after it's baked.
i) Leftovers - Store in the fridge or freezer and reheat in the oven at the same temp until piping hot through the centre.
j) Calories - per serving (divided by 8)

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Lasagne
Amount Per Serving
Calories 646 Calories from Fat 312
% Daily Value*
Fat 34.64g53%
Saturated Fat 14.027g70%
Trans Fat 0.997g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.536g
Monounsaturated Fat 10.821g
Cholesterol 143mg48%
Sodium 876mg37%
Potassium 1162mg33%
Carbohydrates 33.29g11%
Fiber 3.3g13%
Sugar 12.46g14%
Protein 44.6g89%
Vitamin A 7500IU150%
Vitamin C 10.7mg13%
Calcium 430mg43%
Iron 5.2mg29%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

Looking for the perfect Lasagne Side Dish? Check out my Roasted Garlic Bread!

Roasted Garlic Bread fresh out the oven

If you loved this Homemade Lasagne Recipe be sure to Pin the recipe for later! Already made them or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Maria
    September 17, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Made this today and turned out ah-mazing!!! Its flavourful, its saucy, its cheesy, what not to like!! I tasted the ragu before adding it to the lasagne and I can image in it also on the top of a simple pasta like spagettini. Definitely 5 stars!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      September 19, 2019 at 10:19 am

      That’s so awesome to hear! Glad it went down well, thanks for coming back and sharing your feedback 🙂

  • Reply
    Rose
    June 25, 2019 at 12:18 am

    5 stars
    Olá Chris… Minha lasanha é quase igual a sua, nunca coloquei o bacon e o aipo para preparar o ragu, mas farei agora . E no meu molho branco, faço um tantinho assim diferente dos demais inclusive do seu, porque coloco uma colher ou duas de cebola raladinha e um dentinho de alho também raladinho, dou uma leve douradinha e acrescento a farinha de trigo daí pra frente é igual. Ah fiz o ão de alho e ficou uma delícia e bem suavinho.
    Obrigada.
    Rose – Rio de Janeiro- Brasil

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      June 25, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Hey Rose! I’ll have to try the onion and garlic in the white sauce, sounds delish! So glad you liked the garlic bread too 🙂

  • Reply
    Sara Welch
    June 19, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    5 stars
    I know what I will be having for dinner tonight! What a savory and flavorful recipe!

  • Reply
    Taylor Kiser
    June 19, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Total comfort food win! Making this for dinner this weekend!

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 19, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    5 stars
    Made this last night and I’m in love! Such a great comfort food recipe!

  • Reply
    Anita @ Daily Cooking Quest
    June 19, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    5 stars
    I have yet to try making a lasagne from scratch. Your recipe with the step-by-step photos and instructions make it all look so easy. I guess this coming 4th of July pot luck is as good as any to start learning how to properly make this. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristina
    June 19, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, this dish is really making me hungry! Love the crispy edges!

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