Every home cook needs an amazing 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! 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!
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!
What makes Chi-Chi’s lasagna recipe so darn special? Maybe it’s the love that goes into it? Or maybe it’s the spirit and excitement of the season? I can vouch for the fact that this dinner tastes amazing at just about any time of year, though!
It’s the dish that Chi-Chi brought us for the freezer after each of our babies was born, and it’s the dish that I’ve prepared for my own boys at home when we just need a little bit of a lasagna “fix” before the holidays!
Chi-Chi makes her sauce extra-creamy by stirring a little bit of Alfredo sauce right into the pan. You can’t taste it specifically, but you can tell that there’s something special in there!
Her other favorite tip? Prepare the meat sauce with a combination of ground Italian sausage and lean ground beef. It adds SO MUCH flavor to the dish!
When I shared my Quick and Easy Vegetable Lasagna earlier this year, I mentioned that it was a healthier, vegetarian twist on my mother-in-law’s lasagna recipe.
While so many of you have enjoyed my veggie-laden version, I’ve also received many requests for Chi-Chi’s meat-based original. That’s why I’m sharing it with you today!
Carole was kind enough to write down her lasagna recipe on an an index card for me a couple of weeks ago, but it was really just her “process.”
Like many of us, Chi-Chi doesn’t follow a specific set of instructions when preparing the dish, and instead eyeballs everything as she goes.
I recorded the measurements as I was making the lasagna recipe myself so that I could include the full details here for you. As you get in the kitchen and assemble your own meal, please know that you have free reign to use more or less of any of the ingredients!
If you love an extra cheesy casserole, add more mozzarella and more ricotta. If you prefer just ground beef instead of the sausage, then double the beef. I’m pretty sure that you can’t mess this one up, and I hope it becomes a family-favorite in your house this holiday season!
CHI-CHI’S CHRISTMAS EVE LASAGNA RECIPE
Chi-Chi's Christmas Eve Lasagna Recipe
- ¾ lb. lean ground beef
- ¾ lb. bulk Italian ground 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 Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato Basil sauce*
- 2 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
- 24 ounces shredded mozzarella**
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Drain pasta and use paper towels to wipe off any excess water. Lay the cooked noodles out in a single layer on foil.
- While the noodles cook, get started on the meat. In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown beef and sausage until no longer pink. Drain off fat and return cooked meat to the skillet.
- Stir in marinara sauce and Alfredo sauce.
- Spoon enough of the meat sauce into the bottom of the prepared dish to cover in a thin layer (about 1 ½ cups). Add a layer of noodles (about 3 noodles across).
- 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 spatula to gently spread it in an even layer.
- Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella over top of the ricotta (I use about 1 cup of mozzarella per layer).
- Repeat layers twice more.
- Finish with a final layer of sauce, sprinkle with another 1 cup of mozzarella, and top with Parmesan cheese.
- Cover a large baking sheet with foil (to catch any drips), and place the lasagna dish on top of the foil.
- Bake lasagna, uncovered, for about 45 minutes (or until heated through). Allow the lasagna to stand for about 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
*You can sub with a jar of regular Alfredo sauce if you can't find either of the brands that Chi-Chi likes.
**I prefer to use a block of mozzarella that I grate by hand, because I find that it melts better than the pre-shredded packaged cheese. Either option will work, though!
Cooking for a Smaller Family? Cut the ingredients in half and prepare the lasagna in an 8-inch square dish. You will have to cut or tear the lasagna noodles to fit the size of your dish, but that's fine! Cooking and baking instructions remain the same.
Want to Prep Ahead? This is the idea make-ahead dinner! Assemble the lasagna as instructed through Step 9. Cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator overnight or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw the lasagna in the refrigerator overnight. Allow the dish to sit on your counter for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature, and then proceed with baking as instructed.
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