Hearty Dinners/ Pasta/ Pork

Sausage and Fennel Lasagne

February 12, 2020 (Last Updated: March 16, 2020) by Chris Collins

This Sausage and Fennel Lasagne is absolutely bursting with flavour! It’s the easy and delicious twist on a classic lasagne that you never knew you needed.

overhead shot of scooping out sausage lasagne

Sausage Lasagne

‘What’s wrong with a classic lasagne?’ I hear you cry! Stick with me here, I promise this non traditional lasagne is a total winner. I’ve seen some whacky lasagne variations in my time, from Mexican lasagne right through to dessert lasagne 😳 This sausage version doesn’t stray too far from the classic, but still offers a really tasty and noticeable difference. Here’s why you’re going to love this variation just as much (if not more):

  • Sausage and Fennel – Sausage and fennel is a beautiful combo that is celebrated in all it’s glory here.
  • Flavour – Sausage/Pork is much richer in flavour in comparison to beef.
  • Texture – Sausage also tends be softer and juicer than beef.
Can I use this recipe and sub Beef 🤔 – There are a lot of similarities but also a good few differences between this lasagne and a traditional beef one, so beef isn’t best suited for this version. If you’re after a beef version check out my classic homemade lasagne!

closeup shot of lasagne in dish with cheese spilling out

Sausage and Fennel Ragu

Now this is the star of the show. It’s rich, flavoursome, soft and juicy. It’s fairly similar to my Sausage Ragu Pappardelle, just with a few tweaks.

Sausage and Fennel Ragu Key Ingredients

  • Sausage – You’ll find ground sausage meat in most supermarkets/grocery stores. If you can’t find any, just grab some good quality ‘neutral flavoured’ sausages and squeeze the meat out the skin.
  • Fennel – You’ll need dried whole fennel seeds, which are widely available in the seasoning section. From there you just need to crush them (I’ve added a section on this in the recipe card).
  • Thyme & Bay Leaves – No other herbs needed! Just enough to add a gentle background flavour, but not too much the fennel is overpowered.
  • Red Wine – All good ragus have red wine – hey, I don’t make the rules 😁
Top Tip – It’s crucial to simmer for ragu for AT LEAST an hour with a heavy lid on top. This will allow the flavours to marry together AND tenderise the meat. The heavy lid with keep in the steam to stop it reducing too much.

How to make Sausage and Fennel Ragu (quick summary)

  1. Brown sausage.
  2. Remove. Add celery, carrot, onion, garlic.
  3. Toast fennel seeds.
  4. Add tomato puree.
  5. Fry tomato puree.
  6. Deglaze with red wine.
  7. Add sausage back in.
  8. Pour in tomato passata and seasoning. Simmer.

How to make sausage and fennel ragu for lasagne - 8 step by step photos

Bechamel Sauce

All good lasagnes are made with a bechamel sauce – again, I don’t make the rules 🤣 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. Here’s what you’ll need for a simple bechamel sauce:

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients

  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Parmesan
  • Nutmeg

Just like the ragu, it’s important to thicken the sauce before layering the lasagne. It should easily coat the back of a wooden spoon. If the consistency is too thin, the lasagne will come out sloppy.

How to make Bechamel Sauce (quick summary)

  1. Melt butter.
  2. Stir in flour to form a paste.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk until thick.
  4. Stir in parmesannutmeg and seasoning.

How to make Bechamel Sauce - 4 step by step photos

How to Layer Lasagne

There is no real written rule on how to layer a lasagne, so long as you distribute the fillings out evenly.

Can I make Sausage and Fennel Lasagne in advance?

Yep! Just ensure the ragu and bechamel sauce cool before layering the lasagne (or the sheets will start to cook and the lasagne will come out soft and mushy). Just cool, cover and store in the fridge for up to 24hours before cooking. Cook at the same temp, just consider adding an extra 5-10mins (or bring to room temp before baking). Or, store in the freezer for up to a month, then thaw in the fridge and cook accordingly.

Fresh vs Dried Lasagne Sheets

I always go fresh. I prefer the texture and the lasagne stays intact better. They also don’t come out so wavy. If you’ve only got dried sheets then just 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).

How to Layer Sausage and Fennel Lasagne (quick summary)

  1. Spread layer of ragu to stop pasta sticking.
  2. Add pasta sheets (1).
  3. Top with Ragu (2).
  4. Pour over bechamel sauce (3).
  5. Add mozzarella (4).
  6. Repeat and finish with parmesan.

That 4 layers of each (including ragu at the bottom)

How to layer sausage lasagne - 6 step by step photos

What to serve with Sausage Lasagne?

And there we have it! If I haven’t sold a sausage lasagne to you now I never will 🤣 Hey, whilst you’re here, why not check out my other recipes!?

Easy Sausage Recipes

Family Comfort Food Recipes

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full sausage fennel lasagne recipe!

overhead shot of sausage lasagne fresh out the oven with serving spoon digging in

How to make Sausage and Fennel Lasagne (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead shot of scooping out sausage lasagne

Sausage and Fennel Lasagne

This Sausage and Fennel Lasagne is absolutely bursting with flavour! It's the easy and delicious twist on a classic lasagne that you never knew you needed.
5 from 6 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: 860kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • 9" x 13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
  • Large Pot with Heavy Lid (for ragu)
  • Medium Pot & Whisk (for bechamel sauce)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Serve Spoon (to spread layers)
  • Box Grater

Ingredients (check list):

Sausage Ragu

  • 2lb / 1kg Ground Sausage Meat (see notes)
  • 4 cups / 1 litre Tomato Passata (Pureed Tomatoes in US)
  • 1/2 cup / 125ml Red Wine
  • 2 stalks of Celery, finely diced
  • 2 medium Carrots, grated
  • 1 large White Onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Whole Fennel Seeds, crushed (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3-4 small sprigs of Fresh Thyme, leaves only (can sub 1 tsp dried Thyme)
  • 1 tsp Sugar, or to taste
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
  • 5 tbsp Flour
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 small Nutmeg, grated
  • 1 cup / 80g Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Lasagne

  • 12oz / 350g Fresh Lasagne Sheets (see notes)
  • 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 cup / 40g Freshly Grated Parmesan, to top
  • Fresh Parsley, to serve

Instructions:

Sausage Ragu

  • Add a drizzle of oil to a large pot over medium-high heat and add your sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon until it begins to brown, then season with salt and pepper. Continue frying until nice and golden, then pour into your baking dish (discard fat as necessary).
  • Add more oil if you need and lower temp to medium. Add celery, carrot and onion and begin frying until they begin to soften and brown. Add garlic, continue frying for another 1-2mins then clear a hole in the centre of your pot.
  • Add fennel seeds and allow to toast for 1-2mins, then stir with everything in the pot. Clear another circle and add your tomato puree. Allow to fry for 1-2mins, the stir with everything in the pan.
  • Pour in red wine and deglaze with your wooden spoon. Leave to simmer for 5mins, then pour in passata. Add thyme, bay leaves and sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. Pop on a (heavy) lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 30 mins (important to simmer for at LEAST an hour to marry together the flavours and tenderise the meat). Take off lid and simmer for another 10mins, or until nice and thick (see video for consistency & see notes). Meanwhile...

Bechamel Sauce

  • In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add butter and stir until melted. Stir through flour to form a paste, then gradually whisk in milk. Allow to simmer for 5-10mins until it thickens, then stir through parmesan, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste. 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 sausage ragu. This is just 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.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley then tuck in!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Sausage Meat - You'll find sausage meat in most supermarkets/grocery stores. If you can't find it just remove the meat from sausages. Try and use good quality sausage and stay away from extravagant flavours, just a 'neutral' flavour will do fine!
b) Fennel - Definitely make sure you crush the seeds. Here's 3 easy ways to do so:
  • Pestle & Mortar
  • Zip Lock Bag - Just pop them in a bag a smash with a rolling pin.
  • Chopping Board & Oil - Place on a chopping board and drizzle with a little oil. You can then dice them with a sharp knife without them bouncing everywhere.
c) Heavy Top Lid - Needs to be heavy so the steam doesn't escape otherwise it'll reduce too quickly.
d) Consistency - It's important to reduce the Ragu AND the Bechamel sauce. For the Ragu, if there is a layer of water on top whilst it simmers, you need to reduce further. The bechamel sauce should easily coat the back of a wooden spoon. If both are too watery, the lasagne is going to come out the oven overly sloppy. 
e) Fresh Lasagne Sheets vs Dried - I normally go fresh (find in fresh pasta section in supermarket/grocery store). I prefer the texture and the lasagne tends to stay intact better (not so wavey). If you’ve only got dried lasagne sheets then just 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 quite so much (the dried sheets will suck up more liquid than fresh).
f) Make Ahead - Perfect to make in advance! Just make sure the ragu and bechamel sauce cool before you assemble the lasagne, or the pasta will start to cook (meaning it will come out soft and mushy after it's baked). Cover and store in the fridge, then bake at the same temp (add on another 5-10mins or bring to room temp). Or freeze, then thaw in the fridge overnight and bake accordingly.
g) Leftovers - Cover and store in the fridge or freezer and reheat in the oven at the same temp until piping hot through the centre. 
h) Calories - based on sharing between 8, using 1 tbsp olive oil.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Sausage and Fennel Lasagne
Amount Per Serving
Calories 860 Calories from Fat 509
% Daily Value*
Fat 56.52g87%
Saturated Fat 23.76g119%
Trans Fat 0.269g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6.05g
Monounsaturated Fat 22.701g
Cholesterol 174mg58%
Sodium 1598mg67%
Potassium 950mg27%
Carbohydrates 45.87g15%
Fiber 4.4g18%
Sugar 11.38g13%
Protein 38.84g78%
Vitamin A 3844IU77%
Vitamin C 20.4mg25%
Calcium 539mg54%
Iron 4.84mg27%
* 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!

If you loved this Sausage Lasagne Recipe then be sure to pin it 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
    Gerry
    February 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, used Lincolnshire Lincolnshire sausage and dried pasta sheets (only for this occasion),will make my own fresh pasta next time

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      February 27, 2020 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your review, can’t go wrong with Lincolnshire sausages!! 🙂 Chris.

  • Reply
    Helen Strawson
    February 27, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    5 stars
    I made this for hubby and me and it was delicious!! I halved everything and made the Ragu the day before to let the flavours meld. Truly yummy and leftovers in the freezer for another day. Thank you

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      February 27, 2020 at 11:48 pm

      That’s awesome to hear!! Glad it went down well with you both, thanks for popping back and sharing your feedback! 🙂 Chris.

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    February 13, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    5 stars
    There’s nothing more comforting than homemade lasagne. I love that you added fennel to it. Nice idea!

  • Reply
    Danielle Wolter
    February 13, 2020 at 11:55 am

    5 stars
    I am drooling over this. I could just looks at the photos all day. This recipe sounds incredible and would be just perfect for my family get together this weekend!

  • Reply
    Katherine
    February 13, 2020 at 11:39 am

    5 stars
    Oh this looks incredible. Great use of fennel – so underrated/underused!

  • Reply
    Dannii
    February 13, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I love sausage and fennel together and it sounds delicious in a lasagna.

  • Reply
    Kushigalu
    February 13, 2020 at 10:41 am

    5 stars
    Very interesting lasagna flavor combination. Would love to try this soon

  • Leave a Reply

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