Lasagna Bolognese is lasagna in its purest form. Just layers of tender noodles, beef ragu, and creamy béchamel all baked together into this classic, crowd-pleasing, make-ahead meal. It takes a little bit of time, but the result is totally worth it.
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil (olive oil works great; I use grapeseed oil or avocado oil for most everyday cooking)
- 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (93% lean)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 3 1/2 cups Milk, divided (preferably whole milk for a richer flavor and creamy texture, but 2% will work)
- Pinch Ground Nutmeg
- 1 lb Dried Lasagna Noodles
- 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Make the ragu
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. (Note: if you are going to cook the entire sauce on the stovetop, be sure to use a pot that will hold all of the ingredients.)
When oil is hot, add beef, salt, and pepper.
Cook beef, breaking it apart with a spoon or spatula, until cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.
Add garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, water, and crushed tomatoes. Stir well.
Let sauce cook until it begins to bubble, 5 to 6 minutes.
Reduce heat so that the sauce is barely simmering and give it another good stir.
Place a lid on the pot and let it simmer gently for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Check the sauce occasionally to be sure it isn’t burning on the bottom and to reduce the heat if needed.
Stir sugar into the finished sauce. Taste and season the sauce with some salt and pepper or a bit more sugar, if needed until it tastes balanced.
Make the béchamel:
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted whisk in flour and cook, whisking frequently (and checking to be sure that none of it browns or burns on the bottom of the pan), until the mixture turns light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add about 1 cup of milk (just eyeball it) while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking until the milk heats up and everything is evenly combined. Slowly pour the remaining milk into the pan while whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking everything until the mixture thickens and becomes a smooth, creamy sauce, about 10 minutes. (Note: Resist the urge to turn up the heat and speed things along. If the milk starts to boil it can make the béchamel gritty.)
Remove béchamel from heat and whisk in nutmeg. If you used unsalted butter, whisk in ½ tsp of salt.
Boil the noodles
Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add lasagna noodles and boil according to package directions. As the noodles cook, use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently separate them so they don’t stick together while boiling.
Drain noodles and lay flat in a single layer on a baking sheet or cooling rack.
Assemble and bake
Heat the oven to 325°F.
Spray a 9x13 baking dish (or a 9x9 baking dish with very tall sides) with nonstick cooking spray or rub it with some olive oil.
Spread the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of ragu (it should not fully cover the bottom). Add noodles, a drizzle of béchamel, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and another layer of ragu. Repeat the layers until you have used all of the ingredients. Finish the top layer with noodles, béchamel, and parmesan cheese.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place it on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case it bubbles over).
Bake, covered, for 1 hour. (Note: If you are making a thicker lasagna in a 9x9 dish or if you baked your lasagna straight from the refrigerator, add 5 to 7 minues here to be sure it's piping hot all the way through.)
After 1 hour, remove foil and increase oven’s heat to 400°F.
Return lasagna to the oven and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes to let the edges get crisp.
Let the lasagna cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. (It’s much easier to slice and serve if it’s had a few minutes to cool.)
Want to make the ragu in the slow cooker or Instant Pot? Get instructions for those cooking methods in this Simple Beef Ragu.
The entire dish can be assembled and refrigerated up to 24 hours ahead. If you prefer to make the components ahead, the beef ragu can be made 4 days ahead, the béchamel can be made 2 days ahead, and the noodles can be boiled (and left at room temperature) 5 hours ahead.
If you’re going to freeze this meal, attach this label to the top so the instructions are right at your fingertips.
Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 415IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 295mg | Iron: 3mg