Lasagna Bolognese

May 27, 2021
11 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

My love of cooking definitely comes from my family—everything was always fresh and homemade growing up. This lasagna bolognese is very close to my heart; it's a recipe that I learned from my mother many years ago and I've kept it in regular rotation in my house ever since (you can even find it in my kids' lunch boxes). If you're feeling really ambitious, you can make your lasagna sheets from scratch, but if you don't have time, just pick up a few fresh lasagna sheets from your local store. The key to this recipe is the from-scratch Italian red sauce and the béchamel, which gets its rich creaminess from organic milk and plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (there's never too much cheese in an Italian lasagna). —Anna Francese Gass

What You'll Need
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Lasagna Bolognese
  • To make the bolognese sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (plus 1 clove finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional, and more to taste)
  • 8 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 pound organic ground beef (93% lean)
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • To make the lasagna:
  • 4 cups bolognese sauce
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups organic dairy milk, warmed
  • 9 lasagna sheets (or 1 package fresh lasagna sheets)
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano cheese, plus 1 cup
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella (optional)
  1. To make the bolognese sauce:
  2. Make the red sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil with basil and garlic (add the crushed red pepper flakes for a spicy sauce). On very low heat, allow the basil and garlic to simmer in the olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes. This steeping process will allow the olive oil to become fragrant. Be careful that garlic gets toasted brown, but not black. Remove from the heat and strain the aromatics, saving the olive oil. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, pour in the tomato sauce and the water. Add the tomato paste, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the reserved olive oil into the sauce and mix to combine. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and allow sauce to simmer for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes. (This recipe yields about 8 cups; you will only need 4 cups to make the bolognese.)
  5. Make the bolognese: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and brown the pancetta in the pan until crisp. Then add the onion and garlic. Maintain low heat to cook onions and garlic until translucent, being careful not to brown.
  6. Increase the heat to medium-high and add ground beef, breaking it up with the side of a wooden spoon, incorporating the onion and garlic as you work. Allow the meat to brown until almost cooked though and all excess liquid has evaporated.
  7. Deglaze the pan with wine and let it cook until the meat is aromatic and the wine has reduce by half.
  8. Add 4 cups of the red sauce and the bay leaf to the pan; reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the sauce has become very thick.
  9. Remove the sauce from heat and add mascarpone cheese, mixing it to melt it and create a slightly pink hue.
  1. To make the lasagna:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Make the besciamella: In a large pot, melt the butter. Add flour and whisk until a light brown roux forms. Slowly add warmed milk, whisking constantly until a thick sauce is created. It should coat the back of a spoon. Add 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Add the besciamella to the bolognese sauce and mix gently to combine the two.
  4. In a large lasagna pan (9 x 13-inch works best), add a layer of your sauce. Place three lasagna sheets down. Cover layers with more meat sauce and continue this process until all the sheets are used. The top layer should be a thick layer of sauce and then grate additional parmigiano on top. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, you can add fresh mozzarella and place under the broiler for another 5 minutes or just sprinkle a bit more parmigiano on top and serve. I prefer the latter.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alexia Erlichman
    Alexia Erlichman
  • Yiannis Psaroudis
    Yiannis Psaroudis
  • Sara G
    Sara G
  • Gloria Hart
    Gloria Hart
  • Tenni W
    Tenni W
Cookbook Author. Heirloom Kitchen.Food52 contributing editor & Recipe Tester.

17 Reviews

Summertenille December 21, 2022
Do I ask my question here. I am making this for Christmas and was wondering about the garlic and which one to use where. Thanks
[email protected] March 18, 2022
Omg!!! Lol, its always good to read the recipe and the reviews before preparation . One of the best Lasagna’s I’ve ever made despite the poorly written recipe .. it’s the only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 !
Taoseno February 5, 2022
I loved the author's description and embarked upon making this recipe only to find the instructions impossible to follow and both incomplete or erroneous. About halfway through I gave up and just started to make the lasagna based on prior experience - turned out great. It's hard to mess up with good ingredients, but it is frustrating when attempting to follow a poorly written recipe.
Alexia E. April 16, 2021
Making this for guests, if making it for the following day, should I assemble and then cook the same day as serving or cook the day before? If cooked the day before do I need to let cool completely before refrigerating? Any help would be immensely appreciated!
Yiannis P. February 16, 2021
In Step 2—“In a large pot or Dutch oven, pour in the tomato sauce and the water. Add the tomato paste, salt, and pepper.”—tomato sauce is referenced, but tomato sauce is not listed in the ingredients. Was “crushed tomatoes” meant?
dccblue December 31, 2020
I assume the extra 1 T. chopped basil goes in the red sauce?
The "plus 1 clove finely chopped" garlic is the garlic referenced when making the bolognese?
Sara G. September 28, 2020
Beautiful dish. The recipe is well laid out, but could be a tiny bit better organized. There is a tbsp of basil the recipe doesn't say where to add - they are listed as two separate ingredients. I used the fresh lasagna sheets from Oliveri (in Canada) but next time I will use the regular sheets because these did not fit the pan very well and I had to cut them as they didn't fit evenly into the baking dish. It still was amazing though. Aaaand I used the red sauce to make spaghetti sauce too! Wonderful to make this fairly easy recipe from scratch, thank you.
Gloria H. May 30, 2019
I made this luxurious dish the day before planning to serve, and re-heated. SO delicious, I totally recommend!! Think it will become one of my Christmas Eve centerpiece dishes!!
Alexandra D. January 19, 2019
I just made this recipe today and it is the best thing I have ever made. Best red sauce. Best bolognese sauce. Best lasagna. I will probably make this red sauce every few weeks and have it for pasta or when I want to make this lasagna again. Love it! Thank you!
Anna F. January 20, 2019
Wow! This made my day. Thank you for letting me know! Buon Appetito!!
Tenni W. November 6, 2018
I've made this lasagna recipe twice and it's a new favorite among my household and friends. The sauces are deliciously creamy and hearty! It's helpful to prep the red sauce a day or two before you intend to make the lasagna, as it's nice to minimize how much time is spent preparing the lasagna on the day of serving.
Anna F. January 20, 2019
Totally Agree and so glad you like it! Xx
Tenni W. January 22, 2021
Thanks for sharing your recipe :)
Bel October 26, 2018
First may i say this looks awesome. So love to bake and cook. love a challenge
. but DUDE after reading the recipe lay out...... bit confused.,,,,,, keep it simple gezzz

Maureen September 24, 2018
So the lasagna sheets are not pre-boiled? There's enough liquid to cook them?
Elizabeth D. October 4, 2018
They looked pre-boiled to me. I wonder if it'd be ok to use no boil noodles with this recipe?
Anna F. October 17, 2018
The sheets were par boiled however no boil noodles will work for this recipe. I have done it and it's great. Just make sure you are using enough sauce to completely cover the noodles and baking it covered for an hour. Hope this helps!