Ultimate Meat Lasagna

Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, a homemade marinara sauce and a few quick chef tricks will make you feel like you’ve ordered lasagna at your favorite Italian Restaurant.

Meat Lasagna on plate.
 Ultimate Meat Lasagna

This easy lasagna recipe is one I’ve been working on since my 7th grade home economics class. Over the years the recipe has been changed probably over a hundred times, but in the last 5 years it has not changed a single time. I finally got to a place with the recipe that I knew this was truly the Ultimate Meat Lasagna.

What are the best noodles for lasagna:

Classic noodles are favored for recipes where you boil the noodles but this recipe calls for the no boil Barilla variety for ease and for the look. The noodles resemble handmade noodles more and serve in a neater way.

Restaurant tricks to make this lasagna the next level:

  • Homemade Quick and Easy Marinara may not be a real “secret” but it is going to make the biggest difference in the flavor of your lasagna. You can use most levels of quality of cheese and sort of get away with it, but use a sauce that isn’t full of delicious flavors? You’ll immediately notice the difference.
  • I use all beef in this recipe, but the sausage flavor in most restaurant lasagnas is one I love duplicating. To do that easily here without using sausage, I add in some fennel seeds when browning the beef and I brown it in larger chunks. This gives the distinct sausage flavor and the larger chunks of beef help mimic the sausage texture.
  • I add an egg and season my ricotta cheese. This ups the richness of it and makes it taste a little less grainy than ricotta normally does.

How to serve the perfect slice of lasagna:

When serving, let the lasagna cool for an hour or more, cut the slice with a very sharp knife. Remove with two spatulas to ensure no breakage. Top with additional marinara, additional cheese and brown in a 425 degree oven until browned and bubbly. This makes each slice feel like their own “order” with its own set of bubbly cheese and overflowing with marinara sauce.

slice of meat lasagna on plate

Meal Prep/Freezer Friendly Lasagna:

Make the lasagna and let it cool completely (I put it in the fridge). Then slice the lasagna and freeze in single serving quantities. To reheat, add additional sauce on the top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Tools used in the making of this Meat Lasagna:
Baking pan: I use this one for the perfect edges and to handle more filling. Glass pans won’t cut it for this recipe.
No Boil Noodles: Skip the entire extra pan and boiling water, these taste great.

Meat Lasagna on plate.
5 from 35 votes

Ultimate Meat Lasagna

Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, a homemade marinara sauce and a few quick chef tricks will make you feel like you've ordered lasagna at your favorite Italian Restaurant.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Ultimate Meat Lasagna
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 364 kcal
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (I use flat no boil Barrilla noodles)
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound Provolone cheese , sliced
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese , sliced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, brown the beef in one large piece until it is browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes, breaking apart the beef into slightly larger chunks.

  3. Cook until the beef is browned and add in the basil, oregano, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds.

  4. Stir until you start to smell the fennel seeds starting to toast then drain the fat and add in the marinara sauce.
  5. In your ricotta container if you have space add the egg and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and mix well.
  6. Add your no boil noodles to the meat sauce (we are not looking to cook them, just coat them in the sauce to ensure they don't get dry in the oven).
  7. Put 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan (I use one with straight sides for easy assembly and for added height. If you are using a glass baking pan with curved sides it may not be large enough to fit this quantity of food).
  8. Add the dried no boil noodles in an even layer, for me it was 5 noodles per layer, four across and one broken in half lengthwise to go down the side of the pan.
  9. Add 1/3 the provolone slices, another 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, 1/4 of the mozzarella, 1/4 of the parmesan and 1/3 of the ricotta in spoonfuls dotting across the pan.
  10. Repeat with the same noodle/cheese/meat sauce process.
  11. Finally, add a top layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Cover with foil.

  12. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional ten minutes to brown the cheese.

  13. Let cool for 20-25 minutes before serving.

  14. Garnish with parsley.

Nutrition Facts
Ultimate Meat Lasagna
Amount Per Serving
Calories 364 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 115mg38%
Sodium 1626mg71%
Potassium 771mg22%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 1115IU22%
Vitamin C 8.6mg10%
Calcium 444mg44%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
meat lasagna collage of pictures
four cheese and meat lasagna

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Wow. This recipe is incredible! I’ve made a few different recipes before and they all fall apart when taken out of the pan- not this one!

    I did have to make some changes to the recipe because the stores were closed for New Year’s. I halved the recipe because I’m only feeding 2 people, and it fit perfectly in my 8×8 Pyrex. I grated the cheese rather than slicing and replaced the provolone with more mozzarella. I was out of basil so I used thyme, and I didn’t have parsley either so I just omitted it. Lastly I used fresh lasagna sheets instead of dried noodles.

    Even with my alterations it turned out perfect! The flavour of the sauce was rich and the pasta was a good texture, not too firm or mushy. My partner and I polished off the whole pan.

    One thing to mention is that the recipe made quite a bit of extra meat sauce, but I certainly won’t complain about having tomorrow’s dinner prepared! Thanks Sabrina for the great recipe!

  2. I made this last night for Christmas Eve and followed the recipe just as written and it was the best! I also your marinara sauce recipe in with the meat. So delicious. Thank you so much.

  3. This was my first made from “scratch” lasagna and it was amazing. Totally impressed my dinner guests. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You just want to coat the dry noodles with the meat sauce. Place the meat sauce in a bowl that’s big enough to dip the noodles into. Hope that helps explain it.

  4. This is the best lasagna I have ever made. Over the years i have made lasagna but it never had that “thing” that elevated it to that next level. The recipe is easy. I agree that anyone would mistake for one made at a restaurant. Quite delicious.

  5. Hi Sabrina! I made this recipe on the weekend and it was simply perfect! We had friends over and they thought I had ordered the lasagna from a restaurant. I only had ground fennel at home, so I switched it for the seeds, but I still think it was a great addition to the meat sauce. Thanks so much for sharing! This one is definitely a keeper.

  6. The recipe is very salty. I even cut it by 1/2 t because it seemed like a lot. Seems like too much sauce as well. I was really hopeful with the good reviews, but definitely needs a couple adjustments for a 5 star.

  7. Love this recipe! I used 3 lb of meat and three jars of marinara because if I only used two pounds I tend to run out. I usually have leftover sauce at 3 lb and I use that for my spaghetti later.

  8. Ingredients call for parsley…procedure forgets to mention when to add it.
    Just made it, hope it comes out good?

  9. we can’t always go to the grocery store to shop for ourselves… my Instacart shopper bought me the “regular” noodles (the one with the wavy sides) vs. the “oven ready” ones. Will these still work w/out boiling them first?

  10. Sabrina, this really hits the mark. Just like our favorite local restaurant and that is saying a lot, You rock!!!

  11. What size pan did you use? How many layers? Making this tonight for dads birthday, so will be making two lasagnas. Will doubling the marinara recipe be enough? How many noodles should i buy? Can’t wait to try!

    1. I used a 13×9 baking pan with straight sides. I would buy 2 boxes of noodles, just to be safe because each lasagna has 4-5 layers depending on how many you can fit in your dish. Enjoy!

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