We love making lasagna at home! This No-Boil Lasagna Bolognese is seriously comforting and perfect to make the entire family happy.
Lasagna Bolognese is the authentic way to prepare lasagna. You know it’s the real deal with it’s made with a bolognese sauce and bechamel sauce, the perfect combination for a hearty lasagna with deep flavors.
Making lasagna with no-boil lasagna noodles is super easy and convenient. This recipe is also make-ahead and freezer friendly.
It’s been a while since I made lasagna at home. Out of the many lasagnas I’ve made in my life, this No-Boil Lasagna Bolognese is simply my favorite. It’s cozy, hearty, and creamy all at the same time.
No-boil lasagna means that you don’t need to boil the lasagna sheets. You can achieve this by using “oven-ready lasagna sheets,” which you can find in grocery stores.
Lasagna bolognese is made with a rich and hearty bolognese sauce and a creamy bechamel sauce. There is no ricotta cheese in this recipe – the bechamel is perfect to make this no-boil lasagna perfectly creamy in between every single layer.
If you prefer lasagna made with ricotta, try my Skillet Lasagna recipe.
Made with No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
No-boil lasagna noodles (also known as “oven-ready lasagna sheets”) are seriously a game changer. They save me so much time.
All you have to do is layer the dry pasta sheets in between the sauces and cheese. I love using Barilla’s brand Oven-Ready Lasagne. They will cook and soften with the sauces.
Once assembled, no-boil lasagna sheets take about 35-40 minutes to cook in the oven. The trick is to make sure the sheets are fully covered with the sauce, otherwise they won’t soften.
Bechamel Sauce and Bolognese Sauce
Traditional Lasagna alla Bolognese does not use ricotta. Instead, it uses bechamel sauce and bolognese sauce.
Bechamel sauce: Also known as besciamella or white sauce, bechamel is a creamy white sauce made with a roux (butter and flour) and milk. Bechamel is known as one of the “mother sauces” in French cooking. In fact, it’s the same sauce used to make mac and cheese.
Bolognese sauce: A meat-based sauce made with sofrito (onions, celery, carrots, garlic), crushed tomatoes and pancetta. It’s usually simmered for hours, but my version requires only 30-35 minutes on the stovetop.
You can find the complete list of ingredients in the recipe card down below, but I want to make a note the following for the bolognese sauce:
- Celery, onions, carrots, and garlic: Used to make a “sofrito,” the base flavors for the bolognese. Make sure everything is finely diced so it melts into the sauce.
- Pancetta: Adds depth of flavor.
- Red wine: I’d recommend using Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Thyme: If you can’t find fresh thyme, use dried Italian seasoning to taste.
Notes for the bechamel and lasagna assembly:
- Oven-ready lasagna sheets: A typical 9 ounce box comes with about 15-16 sheets. To make a 5-layer 9×13 inch lasagna, you need 15 sheets.
- Milk: To ensure proper consistency and richness, use whole milk. Skim or 2% milk can be very diluted.
- Shredded mozzarella: Use WHOLE milk mozzarella. It melts a lot better than part-skim mozzarella.
Step 1 | Make the bolognese sauce
- Brown the ground beef and Italian sausage. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 6-8 minutes until softened, using the moisture released from the vegetables to scrape the brown bits. Then, add garlic and pancetta and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add red wine and scrape any leftover brown bits. Simmer on low for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and return the cooked beef and Italian sausage. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. With the lid partially covered, simmer for 30-35 minutes.
Step 2 | Make the bechamel sauce
- Melt butter and add the flour over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to smell nutty. Tip: this cooks off the raw taste of flour, so don’t rush it.
- Gradually add 2 cups of milk, whisking to prevent lumps.
- Once there are no lumps, stir in the remaining 2 ½ cups of milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly.
- Continue whisking until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of ground nutmeg.
Tip: The bechamel is ready when it easily coats the spoon. You can also run your finger through the spoon – if the sauce stays in place, it’s ready.
Step 3 | Finish the bolognese sauce with milk
After 30 minutes, the bolognese sauce should be thickened. Stir half a cup of milk to add richness.
Step 4 | Assemble the lasagna
- Add a thin layer of bolognese to the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Top with a single layer of no-boil lasagna sheets.
- Next layer is bolognese sauce, about 3 heaping ladles or 1 cup per layer.
- Next is a layer of bechamel sauce, also about 3 ladles.
- Next, a thin layer of mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with 3 more layers of lasagna sheets, bolognese, bechamel, and cheese. The last layer should be three lasagna sheets fully covered with the remaining sauces, mozzarella, and grated parmesan cheese.
Step 5 | Bake and broil
Loosely cover the assembled lasagna with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F. Uncover and bake for an additional 8 minutes until melted and bubbly. Then, broil for 1-2 minutes until golden brown on top.
Make-Ahead and Freezing Tips
Let the bolognese and bechamel sauces completely cooled down first. Then, assemble the lasagna and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bake for 40 minutes covered (or until heated through), then 10 minutes uncovered plus 1-2 minutes of broiling.
You can also freeze unbaked lasagna for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, bake for 60 minutes covered (or until heated through), then 10 minutes uncovered plus 1-2 minutes of broiling.
This recipe uses oven-ready lasagna sheets, so there’s no need to pre-boil them. Just make sure that the lasagna sheets are covered with sauce entirely in the baking dish.
No. As long as they are fully covered with sauce, they will cook and soften beautifully in the oven.
It takes about 35 minutes in the oven total.
I’d highly recommend using bechamel sauce for this bolognese lasagna recipe. If you want to use ricotta, try my Skillet Lasagna recipe (you can make it in a baking dish).
Tips for Success
- Use “oven-ready lasagna sheets” also known as “no-boil lasagna noodles. For a full 9×13 lasagna, you need about 9-10 ounces, or about 15 sheets.
- Important: Once assembled, make sure the lasagna sheets are FULLY COVERED with sauce so they cook properly.
- Make sure the bolognese sauce is thick and not runny, or you’ll end up with lasagna “soup.”
- Use whole milk shredded mozzarella (part-skim mozzarella doesn’t melt as well).
- Buy freshly grated parmesan or grate it straight from the block. Don’t use pre-shredded bagged parmesan, as they come with added starch that makes it hard to melt.
Easy Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound Italian sausage - casings removed
- Olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 4 to 5 cloves cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 ounces finely diced pancetta - see note
- 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves - or 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¾ cup red wine
- 3 (14-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes - see note
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 ½ cups whole milk, plus more as needed
- A pinch of grated or ground nutmeg - see note
- Salt and pepper to taste
To assemble the lasagna
- 1 (9-ounce) box oven-ready lasagna sheets - I use Barilla brand
- 1 pound whole milk shredded mozzarella - don’t use part-skim mozzarella
- ¾ to 1 cup FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving - see note
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Make the bolognese sauce
- In a large 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, breaking it up into very small chunks, about 6 minutes. If it starts releasing too much moisture, absorb it with paper towel. Remove from the pot, and set aside. Then, cook the Italian sausage the same way and transfer to a plate. Note: If your pot is large enough to cook both at the same time without overcrowding, go for it.
- To the same pot (don’t wipe it clean), heat a few drizzles of olive oil and cook the diced onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes until softened, scraping the brown bits from the pot with a wooden spoon. If the brown bits are burning too fast, add a splash to wine and deglaze.
- Add the garlic, pancetta, and thyme and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant
- Add the red wine, scraping any leftover brown bits. Simmer it down for 3-4 minutes, until about half-reduced.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves. Return the cooked ground beef and sausage, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30-35 minutes, with the lid partially covered. This will allow moisture to escape, helping the sauce to thicken faster.
- Once it’s done, finish it off with ½ cup whole milk.
Make the bechamel sauce
- Meanwhile, make the bechamel. In a medium 3-4 quart pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly until it smells a bit nutty. This will get rid of the raw flour taste. Note: It should cook on a simmer so it doesn’t burn.
- Gradually add 2 cups of milk, stirring and breaking up any lumps as needed. Once no lumps remain, add the remaining 2 ½ cups of milk and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thickened. It will thicken as it heats up. Season with salt and pepper, plus a pinch of ground nutmeg. Tip: It’s ready when it easily coats the spoon. You can also run your finger through the spoon – if the sauce stays in place, it's ready.
Assemble the lasagna
- Layer a thin layer of bolognese sauce in a 9×13 inch baking pan.
- Top with a single layer of no-boil lasagna sheets. Next layer is bolognese sauce (about 2-3 ladles or ¾ cup). Next is a layer of bechamel sauce, also about 2-3 ladles. Next, spread a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat this process 3 more times to build the layers.
- The last layer should be three lasagna sheets fully covered with the remaining sauces, a thin layer of mozzarella, and ¾ to 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Note: Make sure the lasagna sheets are fully covered with sauce, otherwise they won’t cook properly.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place it on a large sheet pan (just in case it spills over) and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
- Uncover and bake for 8 more minutes until bubbly and melted on top. Broil for 1-2 minutes until beautifully golden brown. Tip: keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn – broiling happens really fast.
- Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving (this will prevent the layers from falling apart). Serve with extra parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!
- Oven-ready lasagna sheets: These usually come in 9-ounce boxes. You need about 15 sheets for a 5-layer 9×13 lasagna. My favorite brand is Barilla.
- Make sure the lasagna sheets are fully covered in sauce once assembled so they cook properly. There’s no need to pre-soak or pre-boil oven-ready sheets.
- Grated parmesan: Buy freshly grated parmesan or grate a block of parmesan. Don’t used pre-shredded bagged parmesan, as they come with added starch that makes it hard to melt.
- Mozzarella: Use whole milk shredded mozzarella instead of part-skim mozzarella. It melts a lot better.
- How to tell if the bolognese is ready: It should be thick (not runny) but not dry. You can achieve this by simmering it on the stove for 30 minutes with the lid partially covered.
- How to tell if the bechamel is ready: It’s ready when it easily coats the spoon. You can also run your finger through the spoon – if the sauce stays in place, it’s ready.
- Make-ahead: Let the bolognese and bechamel sauces completely cooled down first. Then, assemble the lasagna and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bake for 40 minutes covered (or until heated through), then 10 minutes uncovered plus 1-2 minutes of broiling.
- Freezing: Freeze unbaked lasagna for up to 2 months, wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, bake for 60 minutes covered (or until heated through), then 10 minutes uncovered plus 1-2 minutes of broiling.
- Crushed tomatoes: You can also blend canned whole peeled tomatoes until smooth.
- Pancetta: Finely diced prosciutto or bacon.
- Fresh thyme: Instead of 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, use 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
- Add-ons: Sauteed spinach (excess moisture removed), diced roasted vegetables.