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Every home cook needs a classic lasagna recipe in her back pocket, and this is the one to keep! It has become a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, but it’s a perfect make-ahead dinner for just about any occasion.

Overhead shot of a classic lasagna recipe in a white baking dish.
Table of Contents
  1. A Christmas Eve Lasagna Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Classic Italian Lasagna Recipe
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Frequently Asked Questions about this Classic Lasagna Recipe
  7. Recipe Variations
  8. Tips for the Best Lasagna Recipe
  9. Chi-Chi’s Classic Lasagna Recipe

If you love lasagna as much as we do, be sure to try this vegetable lasagna, this spinach lasagna, a quick skillet lasagna, and a fun twist — Mexican lasagna — too!

A Christmas Eve Lasagna Recipe

Aren’t holiday traditions the best? Whether it’s the food, the activities, or the decorations, the familiar customs that we look forward to each year are by far my favorite parts of the season.

While this lasagna recipe is easy enough for just about any family supper, it’s also the dinner that my mother-in-law (known as “Chi-Chi” among the grandchildren) serves every year on Christmas Eve. It’s perfect for a holiday or special occasion because you can prepare the dish entirely in advance, and then just bake it in the oven when your guests arrive.

This way, Chi-Chi can focus on the stockings, unwrapping the gifts with the kids, and enjoying the evening with family. Plus, all of the little ones devour this lasagna recipe, so it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for guests of all ages. My mother-in-law has a few secret ingredients that make this easy lasagna recipe so special, and I’m sharing them all with you today!

Overhead image of two plates of ground beef and sausage lasagna on a wooden table.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for this easy lasagna recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Ground beef: substitute with ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork, or use additional sausage instead.
  • Italian sausage: mild, sweet, or spicy — you choose! I buy bulk ground sausage, but you can also just remove the casings from sausage links if necessary.
  • Lasagna noodles: do not substitute with no-boil or “oven-ready” noodles for this recipe.
  • Tomato basil pasta sauce: use a jar of your favorite store-bought sauce for convenience, or prepare a batch of homemade marinara when time allows.
  • Alfredo sauce: my mother-in-law uses Classico Sundried Tomato Alfredo sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce, or a Creamy Tomato Basil sauce from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find these varieties, then just use a regular Alfredo sauce or a Vodka sauce. They will still provide that creamy hint of rich flavor.
  • Ricotta cheese: use whole milk ricotta for the best flavor and texture.
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese: or sub with a blend of Italian cheeses for even more flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: for a flavorful finishing touch on top of the casserole.
Pan of beef lasagna recipe before baking.

How to Make Classic Italian Lasagna Recipe

While this recipe includes multiple steps and a bit more prep time than most of our weeknight meals, it’s actually very easy! I’ve included detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Boil lasagna noodles.
  • Cook the meat sauce in a skillet on the stovetop.
  • Layer the ingredients in a large baking dish. Finish with remaining sauce and cheese on top.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes.
  • Let the lasagna stand for about 15-30 minutes before slicing.
Pan of classic lasagna recipe in a white dish on a wooden table.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some sides that go well with this classic lasagna recipe:

Close up side shot of a slice of the best classic lasagna recipe.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: Assemble the lasagna in advance, but do not bake. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours before baking, or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, allow the refrigerated lasagna to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes before baking. If the dish is still cold when it goes into the oven, you’ll likely need to add some extra time.
  • How to Cook from Frozen: If you’re baking the casserole frozen (directly from the freezer), bake the dish covered in a 350°F oven for 1 hour. Then remove the cover and bake for an additional 45 minutes (or until the filling is hot and bubbling).
  • Storage: Leftover homemade lasagna will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: Let the dish sit on the counter for at least 30-60 minutes to come to room temperature. Cover the lasagna loosely with foil. Warm the dish in a 350°F oven just until heated through, about 30-40 minutes. You can also reheat individual slices of lasagna in the microwave until warm, about 30-60 seconds.
Horizontal side shot of a plate of classic lasagna.

Frequently Asked Questions about this Classic Lasagna Recipe

  • Which is better for lasagna — cottage cheese or ricotta? I prefer ricotta cheese because it has a thicker, smoother, creamier texture. For a lighter choice, you can substitute with small curd or whipped cottage cheese. If the cottage cheese looks like it has a lot of liquid, strain it before combining it with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Do you have to put egg in lasagna? No. Egg is a common ingredient in the ricotta mixture of many lasagna recipes, since the egg helps the cheese layer “set.” That said, the egg is not necessary. My mother-in-law doesn’t include any egg, so I’ve omitted that ingredient here. Just make sure that you allow the lasagna plenty of time to “rest” after baking before you slice into it. This gives the layers a chance to set so that the filling doesn’t ooze out all over your plate.
  • How many layers should lasagna be? There’s no correct or “absolute” number of layers that a lasagna must have; however, most lasagnas include between three and four layers.
Square overhead image of a white dish full of the best classic lasagna recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your lasagna from scratch with homemade lasagna noodles.
  • Swap out the ground beef and replace it with ground turkey, ground pork, ground chicken, or additional Italian sausage.
  • For even more flavor, add some chopped onion and a couple cloves garlic to the ground beef and sausage mixture. A little bit of Italian seasoning will boost the taste as well.
  • Add fresh herbs if you have them. Fresh basil, parsley, oregano, or thyme would also be flavorful additions to the sauce.
  • Stir a dollop of pesto into the ricotta for extra flavor.
  • Cooking for Two? Divide the full recipe between two smaller 8-inch square baking dishes. That way you get two meals with the same amount of effort, and you can freeze one for a later date. Alternatively, you can cut all of the ingredients in half and prepare one lasagna in an 8-inch square dish. The baking instructions remain the same.
Two plates of classic homemade lasagna recipe on a wooden dinner table.

Tips for the Best Lasagna Recipe

  • My mother-in-law uses Classico Sundried Tomato Alfredo sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce, or a Creamy Tomato Basil sauce from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find these varieties, then just use a regular Alfredo sauce or a Vodka sauce. They will still provide that creamy hint of rich flavor.
  • Add plenty of salt to the pasta cooking water. This is your opportunity to season the noodles.
  • Assemble the casserole in a fairly deep 9 x 13-inch dish. You’ll have thick layers that fill the dish to the top! I also like to place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet while it’s in the oven, just in case any of the sauce drips over the edge.
  • Use whole milk ricotta cheese for the richest, creamiest, smoothest texture.
  • Let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. This will help the cheese set so that it slices cleanly and doesn’t ooze out.
  • Garnish with plenty of fresh parsley or basil for a bright addition to the baked casserole.
Overhead shot of a pan of the best classic lasagna recipe.

More Easy Lasagna Recipes to Try

Square overhead image of a white dish full of the best classic lasagna recipe.

Chi-Chi’s Classic Lasagna

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 464 kcal
A delicious ground beef and sausage lasagna recipe that everyone at the table will love!

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ lb. lean ground beef
  • ¾ lb. ground Italian sausage
  • 9 lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces, or more or less, depending on the size of your pan)
  • 2 cups Tomato & Basil pasta sauce (or use your own homemade sauce)
  • 1 cup Classico Sundried Tomato Alfredo sauce (or sub with Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato Basil sauce, or just use regular Alfredo sauce)
  • 2 ¼ cups ricotta cheese (about 20 ounces)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

BOIL NOODLES

  • Cook lasagna noodles in a large pot of well salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain pasta. Lay the cooked noodles out in a single layer on foil or on a sheet pan that's lightly coated with cooking spray so that they don't stick.
    Cooked lasagna noodles on a baking sheet.

COOK MEAT SAUCE

  • While the noodles cook, get started on the sauce. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground beef and sausage until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off the excess grease; return the cooked meat to the skillet. Stir in the marinara sauce and the Alfredo sauce.
    Meat sauce in a skillet.

LAYER THE INGREDIENTS

  • Spoon about ¼ of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared dish to cover in a thin layer. Add a layer of noodles (about 3 noodles across).
    Layering noodles and meat sauce in a pan for lasagna.
  • Spread a layer of ricotta (about ¾ cup) over the noodles. I find that it’s easiest to drop small spoonfuls of the ricotta all over the top and then use the back of a spoon or rubber spatula to gently spread it in an even layer.
    Process shot showing how to layer lasagna ingredients in a dish.
  • Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella over top of the ricotta (I use about 1 cup of mozzarella per layer). Repeat the layers twice more (meat sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella). Finish with a final layer of sauce, sprinkle with another 1 cup of mozzarella, and top with Parmesan cheese.
    Pan of beef lasagna recipe before baking.

BAKE THE LASAGNA

  • Cover a large baking sheet with foil (to catch any drips), and place the lasagna dish on top of the baking sheet. Bake the lasagna, uncovered, for about 45 minutes (or until the inside is hot and bubbly).
    Horizontal shot of baked lasagna in a white pan.
  • Allow the lasagna to stand and set up for about 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
    Close up side shot of a slice of the best classic lasagna recipe.

Notes

  • My mother-in-law uses Classico Sundried Tomato Alfredo sauce, Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce, or a Creamy Tomato Basil sauce from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find these varieties, then just use a regular Alfredo sauce or a Vodka sauce. They will still provide that creamy hint of rich flavor.
  • Add plenty of salt to the pasta cooking water. This is your opportunity to season the noodles.
  • Assemble the casserole in a fairly deep 9 x 13-inch dish. You’ll have thick layers that fill the dish to the top! I also like to place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet while it’s in the oven, just in case any of the sauce drips over the edge.
  • Use whole milk ricotta cheese for the richest, creamiest, smoothest texture.
  • Let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. This will help the cheese set so that it slices cleanly and doesn’t ooze out.
  • Garnish with plenty of fresh parsley or basil for a bright addition to the baked casserole.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/12 of the recipeCalories: 464kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 29gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 898mgPotassium: 434mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 630IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 393mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: classic lasagna recipe, easy lasagna recipe, homemade lasagna recipe, lasagna recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2017. The photos were updated in November, 2023.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says:

    Holiday traditions are definitely the best! I look forward to those every year. I love that one of your traditions includes this lasagna on Christmas Eve. Looks amazing! I only make lasagna every so often because the recipe I use is pretty time consuming, so I will have to try this version. Love it!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Gayle! I don’t make this on a regular basis either, since it’s a bit more involved than my usual dump-and-bake meals! 🙂 That said, it’s still easy and it’s definitely worth a few extra minutes!

  2. Maryellen says:

    For years I have included Lasagna with my Christmas Eve Dinner. This recipe sounds great: to make it even easier, use the no boil lasagna noodles (Barilla) adding extra sauce to cook the noodles. One more reason to look forward to Christmas, Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome, Maryellen! I’m glad to know that we’re not the only ones enjoying lasagna for Christmas Eve! 🙂

      And yes — I’m a big fan of the no-boil lasagna noodles! I made an exception for this recipe, though, since I was making it just like my mother-in-law said to! Hah! 🙂

  3. Carla Patterson says:

    Oh, have I already told you how big of a Lasagna fan I am? And I’m on a diet… ah I feel so unfortunate, seems like now I even have to plan my meals in a few weeks ahead.. My life’s quality has definitely dropped, hah, but anyway – I will try to prepare it in a week or two – looks extremely tasty, thanks a lot!

  4. Dana Andes says:

    I made this lasagna for Christmas Day. It is so amazing! We loved it! It definitely has a creamier texture rhan others I have had, in a good way. Thank you Blair for sharing this wonderful meal. Will be making it again.

    1. Blair says:

      That’s great, Dana! Thanks for letting me know. I agree — it’s better than your average lasagna! 🙂

  5. Deborah says:

    Anyone tried this with no boil lasagna noodles?

    1. Blair says:

      Hey, Deborah! I think it would work fine! Just cover the dish with foil and bake at a higher temp (maybe 425 degrees) for about 40 minutes. Covering the dish will seal in the moisture, which is good so that the no-boil noodles don’t dry out the dish. Then remove the cover and put back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes to get the top crispy and browned. Let me know if you give that a try!

  6. Kerry says:

    5 stars
    About 7 years ago I decided to start making lasagna for Christmas Eve. We have tried several recipes 3 years ago I made this recipe and we decided it was the one! So for the past 2 years I’ve been making this its always a hit.

    I make it with no boil noodles but I soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain on a towel pat gently. Then I start assembling. I usually double the recipe and I do 2 jars spaghetti sauce, 1 jar alfredo sauce mixed with one jar sun dried tomato pesto. Everything else I do as your recipe says. I make the lasagna the night before and bake Christmas eve. Then Christmas Day with have sausage balls and leftover lasagna. So so good. Thanks for sharing your family tradition with us.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      That’s amazing, Kerry! I’ll have to tell my mother-in-law. It will make her day to know that others are enjoying the same tradition! 🙂

  7. Patti says:

    5 stars
    If I use oven ready lasagna noodles is there any difference in the cooking time etc. Thanks.

  8. Patti says:

    5 stars
    I just saw you already answered this question. Lol. Never mind.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      No problem at all, Patti! We hope you enjoy the recipe.

  9. Roy Squires says:

    So many commercials I can’t focus on the recipes. I’m sending your site to spam.

  10. Kerry says:

    I have not been able to find the sundried tomato Alfredo so I have been using Alfredo sauce and adding Sundried tomato pesto to taste to the Alfredo then I blend the sauces together. Just thought I would share for others looking at this wonderful recipe.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Kerry!

  11. Scott says:

    made this as is xmas eve… 1/2 size for 2, had leftovers… just added chopped fresh baby spinach to the ricotta… had to mix my own alfredo and sun dried tomatoes, can’t find it here… it was great! will make again. thanks!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Scott!