Lasagna al Forno

Lasagna al forno is a classic Italian dish made with pasta sheets, meat sauce, vegetables, red wine, and a creamy béchamel sauce. The dish is an absolute symphony of incredible flavors and textures. The pasta is soft and delicious, the cheese is creamy and perfectly crisped at the edges, and nobody can resist the allure of a wonderful homemade lasagna recipe. Lasagna al forno translates to mean baked lasagna, and this makes such a delicious dinner.

A plate of baked lasagna al forno with a fork and basil.

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Lasagna al forno is a classic Italian dish that makes a flavorful, satisfying meal. Everyone will love how amazing this tastes and you’ll want to make it often.

If you love lasagna as much as I do, you might also like to try lasagna rollups with ham, one of these easy lasagna recipes or even slow cooker lasagna soup.

A plate of baked lasagna on a table.

Why You’ll Love This

Traditional: Lasagna al forno is an Italian classic from the Emilia-Romagna area (where my family is from). There are different variations of lasagna but this is one of the most delicious!
Easy: There’s nothing hard about making a perfect lasagna and this recipe shouldn’t present any difficulties.
Rich and tasty: The combination of beef and pork, along with a rich tomato sauce, bechamel sauce, and vegetables means this lasagna al forno definitely isn’t lacking in flavor!

A spatula holding a piece of baked lasagna al forno with meat sauce.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below

Ground meat: I like to use a pound each of beef and pork mince but you can use only beef if you prefer.
Vegetables: Carrot, celery and onion add color, flavor and nutrients to the lasagne al forno.
Red wine: This helps fortify the flavor. Use alcohol-free red wine if you prefer. If you’d rather not use any wine, use an extra cup of beef stock and give the sauce an extra 15 minutes or so simmering time.
Tomatoes: Tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste feature in the Bolognese meat sauce.
Parmesan cheese: You might be wondering where the mozzarella is, but lasagna al forno doesn’t necessarily have that thick topping of mozzarella. Instead, we are using parmesan cheese, both in the bechamel sauce and as a light topping.
Ground nutmeg: This adds a warm, nutty flavor to the bechamel sauce.
Lasagna sheets: Use oven-ready lasagna sheets so you don’t have to pre-soak or pre-cook them.

The ingredients for a classic lasagna al forno recipe.

How to Make Lasagna al Forno

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card

Cook the ground meat: Sauté the ground beef and pork in a Dutch oven or large pot until no pink remains, and then drain the meat and set to one side.
Soften the vegetables: Add a splash of olive oil to the same Dutch oven and cook the carrot, celery and onion in there until slightly softened.
Add the meat and wine: Put the cooked beef and pork mixture in with the vegetables, along with the red wine, and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.
Add more ingredients: Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, beef stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 2 hours or until thick enough for a wooden spoon to stand upright. Discard the bay leaves.
Make the bechamel sauce: Melt the butter then mix in the flour and cook, stirring constantly. Gradually add in the milk and then the nutmeg and, once thick, add the parmesan and some salt and pepper.
Assemble the lasagna al forno: Ladle a cup of the meat sauce into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, then add 3 lasagna sheets and then another cup of meat sauce and 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce.
Repeat these layers: Repeat the layers 4 more times, adding 2 cups of extra sauce on top and a cup of bechamel on top, then finally some parmesan cheese.
Cook: Cover with plastic wrap and then foil and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Discard the wrap and foil and cook for 20 minutes more.
The finishing touches: Broil the top of the lasagna for a minute or 2 if liked, and then let it rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and parmesan and serve hot.

A plate of baked lasagna with bolognese sauce and basil.

Substitutions and Variations

Different meats: I love the combination of pork and beef together but you could make this using only beef or, if preferred, only pork.
Vegetarian lasagna al forno: Sub your favorite vegetables or use a meat alternative for the beef and pork if you like.
Different lasagna noodles: Fresh lasagna noodles, homemade pasta, dried lasagna noodles or oven-ready ones all work for this recipe. Some people even prefer to use pasta shapes in place of the lasagna noodles but then it wouldn’t be a traditional lasagna al forno any more.

A plate of baked lasagna with a fork and bread.

Serving Suggestions

Appetizers: Start Italian night with burrata caprese salad or tuna white bean salad.
Side dishes: 
Pair your Bolognese sauce filled lasagne al forno with garlic bread, smoked asparagus or perhaps mushroom and onion focaccia.
Dessert: End the meal on a high note with tiramisu cheesecake mini trifles and some homemade limoncello!

Italian Baked lasagna in a white dish with a spatula.

How to Store Lasagna al Forno

Store:  Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
Freeze:  You could freeze portions of this, although it won’t taste as good as freshly baked lasagna.
Thaw:  Thaw portions overnight in the fridge.
Reheat:  You can reheat your lasagna in the oven or microwave.

A plate of baked classic Italian lasagna with a fork and a bowl of food.

Top Tips

You can’t rush perfection: The long simmering time for the sauce is important because it blends all the flavors together beautifully. Also, it helps keeps the lasagna layers separate once cut and served up.
Roux success: When making the roux for the bechamel sauce, it’s very important to keep stirring all the time because it can brown very easily if you turn your back on it for even a few seconds.
Make the sauces thick: The meat sauce for your lasagna Bolognese is ready when you can stand a wooden spoon up in it and the bechamel sauce is done when it can coat the back of a spoon.
Don’t omit the plastic wrap: The reason for the plastic wrap layer under the foil is it helps create steam for that perfect result (don’t worry, it won’t melt on to the lasagna!)

Italian baked lasagna al forno on a plate with a fork.

Lasagna al Forno Recipe FAQs

Why isn’t there mozzarella cheese in lasagne al forno?

Traditionally, this type of lasagna recipe doesn’t have a thick layer of mozzarella cheese on top, just a light amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese. You also don’t need ricotta cheese for the béchamel sauce, as you’re making it from scratch the Italian way!

Can you prepare the sauce ahead?

Cook the sauce ahead if you want. Just let it cool down and then keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days.

Can you use dried lasagna noodles?

If you can’t get oven-ready pasta sheets, you can use dried ones in this lasagna Bolognese recipe. Just par-cook them in boiling salted water as described on the packaging. Another idea is fresh pasta sheets, which work in any classic lasagna recipe.

A close up of classic lasagna bolognese.
Baked lasagna with bolognese meat sauce on a plate with a fork.

Recipe for Lasagna al Forno

A plate of baked lasagna al forno with a fork and basil.

Lasagna al Forno

5 from 34 votes
Course: Main Course, Meals
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: beef, pasta
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 426kcal
Author: Bella Bucchiotti
Lasagna al forno is a classic Italian dish that makes a flavorful, satisfying meal. Everyone will love how amazing this tastes and you'll want to make it often.
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Ingredients

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic minced fresh, 3 to 5 cloves
  • ½ Cup carrot chopped fine
  • ½ Cup celery chopped fine
  • 1 Cup white onion chopped fine (about ½ a large onion)
  • 1 Pound ground beef 90/10
  • 1 Pound ground pork
  • 1 Cup red wine
  • 15 Ounces tomato sauce
  • 28 Ounces crushed tomatoes canned
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste 45 ml
  • 2 Teaspoons Italian seasoning dried
  • 3 Cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 Cups whole milk
  • 1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ Cup parmesan cheese grated
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Additional Ingredients:

  • 9 Ounce lasagna sheets oven-ready, 15 to 17 sheets
  • ½ Cup parmesan cheese fresh grated, for topping
  • basil or parsley, chopped fresh, optional garnish

Instructions

Make the Meat Sauce:

  • In a large Dutch oven on medium to medium high heat, add the ground beef and ground pork. Break up and cook until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the meat mixture from the Dutch oven to drain any grease. Set aside in a small bowl.
  • In the same Dutch oven, Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat and add the carrot, celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables just start to soften about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked beef and pork and mix well.
  • Add the wine. Continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients- tomato sauce, paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, beef stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to a simmer, continue cooking for about 2 hours or until a wooden spoon will stand up in the middle of it.
  • Note: This sauce needs time to simmer and come together so when it is built with layers of fresh lasagna pasta, once cooked it will help the layers stay as layers and not sink into each other once cut and served.

Make the Bechamel Sauce:

  • When the meat sauce is done, remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and make the bechamel.
  • In a small saucepan on medium/low heat, melt the butter then mix in the flour to form the roux. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring continuously. Keep the temperature of this mixture low/medium low, roux can brown very quickly and easily when you’re not looking.
  • Slowly add in the milk whisking constantly to avoid lumps from forming. Add the nutmeg.
  • Continue to cook on medium low, stirring constantly. Once the sauce starts to thicken add the parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.

Build the Lasagna

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Spray a 9×13-inch casserole pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Ladle about 1 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan, and spread around using a spatula. Layer 3 lasagna sheets across on top of the meat sauce, and top with another 1 cup of meat sauce. Drizzle with ½ cup of bechamel sauce.
  • Repeat these layers 4 more times (for a total of 5 layers, using the entire box of lasagna sheets).
    a. Fresh lasagna pasta – 3 ½ sheets (for remaining 4 layers. Breaking 1 sheet in half lengthwise will provide a ½ sheet)
    b. Meat sauce – 1 cup
    c. Bechamel sauce – 1/2 cup
  • On your final layer, add extra sauce (about 2 cups) on top covering all the pasta sheets, and drizzle at least 1 cup (or more) bechamel sauce. Top with ½ cup shredded fresh parmesan cheese.
  • Cover the lasagna with plastic wrap then cover again with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Note: Adding a plastic wrap layer helps create steam inside the casserole, which also helps in the cooking process. With the foil covering the plastic wrap, it will not melt to the casserole.
  • Remove the foil/plastic wrap and continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes.
  • If you’d like to lightly brown the top of the lasagna, turn your oven to low broil and brown the casserole for 1 to 2 minutes **longer if you want is really browned..
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and additional parmesan cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 784mg | Potassium: 897mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1433IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 221mg | Iron: 3mg
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The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Lasagna pasta noodles, Bolognese sauce, béchamel sauce, fresh vegetables, and more combine to make this exquisite lasagna al forno that is going to impress the whole family. Nobody can resist homemade Italian beef lasagna because it’s such a hearty and delicious dish. The rich meaty, creamy flavors it offers are second to none and this lasagna recipe could very well end up as one of your family favorites!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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Recipe Rating




  1. Renee T wrote:

    5 stars
    I love lasagna! This recipe is my fave so far!

    Posted 3.14.24 Reply
  2. Ami Fields wrote:

    5 stars
    This recipe is superb!! This is my favorite lasagna ever!

    Posted 3.25.24 Reply