If you’re looking for the BEST Classic Lasagna Bolognese recipe straight from Italy, then this version is for you. It is loaded with perfectly cooked lasagna pasta, homemade bolognese and béchamel sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses for an unbelievable flavor!
This is a classic Italian lasagna recipe (lasagne al forno) that has been in my Italian family table for generations. I know you will love it too! I wrote a story about my love for lasagna here: Sunday Story: Lasagna Love.
You may also want to try these recipe: Authentic Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna (Vegetarian), Polpette Con Sugo (Italian meatballs in tomato sauce)and BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu and Baked Eggplant Slices Recipe with Ricotta Cheese.
Ingredients for Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel Sauce
- 1 Recipe for Classic Italian Ragu (Meat Sauce)
- Lasagna pasta noodles (or make your own favorite Homemade Pasta Recipe)
- Freshly grated parmigiano cheese
- Butter unsalted
- All-purpose flour all purpose
Exact measurements on recipe card
Classic Italian Lasagna Bolognese Recipe
Lasagna Bolognese includes only fresh egg pasta, Bolognese ragù (slow-cooked meat sauce), creamy béchamel (white sauce) and plenty of grated Parmigiano cheese.
The result is a melt in your mouth, creamy, decadent, and satisfying lasagna that is distinct to Italy.
When you make this recipe you will feel like you are dining at an Italian trattoria on the streets of Italy.
This is a recipe loved by all and brings me back to my home in Italy!
It is my Nonna's recipe that I grew up eating at large tables filled with family, love, and laughter. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Honestly, it is the BEST lasagna recipe!
How to make Classic Lasagna Bolognese Step by Step with Photos
How to Cook and Prevent Lasagna Noodles from Sticking Together:
1 - Make sure the salted water is at a roaring boil before adding the lasagna noodles. This will make sure the pasta cooks evenly and has plenty of room to swim so it doesn't stick.
2 - Cook the pasta until al dente (a little undercooked- see photo). If the pasta is overcooked they are more likely to stick together and get mushy.
3 - Make sure to put the lasagna noodles on a clean tea towels and cover while you are waiting to layer them in the lasagna pan.
How to Layer Lasagna in a Pan
- Start by adding a little tomato sauce or ragu sauce at the bottom of the pan to prevent the pasta from sticking.
2. Add first layer of pasta (lasagna noodles). Depending on the exact shape of the pan you may need to cut the ends to fit the pan.
3. Add ⅓ of the bechamel sauce over the layer of pasta layer.
4. Add ⅓ of the bolognese meat sauce over the layers of pasta and bechamel sauce.
5. Add ⅓ of the parmigiano cheese.
Optional: add a little bit of mozarella cheese as seen in the photo above.
6. Repeat the process until all the layers are complete. Finish the final layer with bechamel sauce and extra parmigiano cheese (and mozzarella, if desired). Bake to perfection!
What is the difference between Lasagna and Lasagna Bolognese?
In short, one uses ricotta and the other uses bechamel sauce. Instead of thick layers of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, lasagne alla bolognese features delicate layers of pasta noodles coated in a luxurious mix of hearty ragù bolognese (slow-cooked meat sauce) and creamy béchamel (white sauce).
This authentic Italian Lasagna Bolognese recipe is different from the most common version, famous in the United States, made with layers of meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
Both meat sauce and grated parmigiano cheese are common in both the recipes.
The difference between classic lasagna and lasagna Bolognese is Classic Lasagna mixes the meat sauce with fresh ricotta while the Bolognese version uses the béchamel to bind the filling.
Both recipes come from two famous Italian recipes, born in two different cities: Lasagna Bolognese (from Bologna) and Classic Lasagna (from Naples) known in Italy as Lasagna Napoletana.
Classic Italian Lasagna Ingredients
Let's look at each component in Lasagna Bolognese to find out what makes it different:
What is Italian Ragu Sauce?
Ragu depending on where you are in the world is a meat-based sauce usually consisting of finely chopped vegetables, ground meat and cooked slowly with a high quality crushed tomato as a base.
For this recipe I use my Nonna's tried and true RAGU RECIPE that we eat weekly with pasta.
A certain magic happens as the ground beef and aromatic vegetables slowly cook down tomato sauce in this classic ragu recipe.
This part of the recipe adds depth in flavor. The stewed rich tomatoes add that Italian flavor you crave when seeking a quality lasagna recipe.
STORING: You can make this and store in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge OR freeze for several months
What is Bechamel Sauce?
Béchamel sauce (besciamella in Italian) has French origin and has become part of Italian culinary tradition for a very long time.
It is a smooth, creamy white sauce made made with just 3 ingredients: flour, hot milk, and butter.
If you want to make it the true Italian way, you also add a pinch of nutmeg.
How Do You Know When Your Bechamel is Done?
Know your béchamel is done: A properly thickened roux should “coat the back of a wooden spoon,” which means dip your spoon into the béchamel and then draw a finger through the coated spoon.
Does the sauce wipe clean, leaving an open space? Then your béchamel is done and ready. It will also stick to the spoon like in this photo of the spoon on the pot of bechamel.
This is a recipe my mamma taught me years ago. It is so simple and traditional. I know you will love it.
This is the key component that sets Italian Lasagna Bolognese apart from any other version.
STORING Bechamel Sauce: You can make and store bechamel for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Use Freshly Grated Parmigiano and Mozzarella to make your Lasagna Bolognese.
Don't use anything other than the real stuff (also, grate it yourself!) OR, you chance the risk of getting a gloppy goopy mess. You can read my article about Why you Should Grate your Own Cheese .
Some people use cottage cheese in lasagna- you can do this, but it is not the authentic Italian way to make lasagna.
If you want a lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese make: Authentic Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna with Tomato Sauce.
Make your Own Fresh Pasta Noodles for Lasagna
This is optional! If you want to go all out- try making your own fresh pasta sheets for the pasta layers: Best Homemade Pappardelle Recipe (Italian Egg Pasta).
After making the pasta sheets do not cut them into strands leave them whole to fit into your lasagna pan.
Can you Make Lasagna Ahead of Time?
YES!! You can make it ahead of time.
You can make it a few hours earlier, for example early in the morning to bake them for lunch, but even the evening before.
In this case, wrap it in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.
When you want to cook it, leave it at room temperature for half an hour: in the meantime, preheat the oven.
How to Freeze Lasagna
You can freeze lasagna bolognese both uncooked and cooked, whole or in pieces. In both cases you will get an excellent result by following these tips:
Freezing Uncooked Lasagna:
Simply assemble your lasagna in your oven safe dish and cover generously with plastic wrap.
When ready to eat defrost the lasagna the night before so that it thaws perfectly and the cooking in the oven remains uniform.
You can also pull straight from the freezer and add 30 minutes to the cooking time.
Freezing Cooked Lasagna:
If you cooked lasagna leftover you can freeze them by wrapping them individually. In this case you will have to let the lasagna cool before freezing.
When you want to reheat it, defrost a few hours ahead then reheat in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
TIP: just cover the surface with aluminum foil to prevent it from further toasting.
For both freezing options it’s better using fresh products that have not already been frozen.
What to serve with classic lasagna bolognese?
This homemade lasagna recipe is filling and delicious! For sides I recommend a few light dishes. Start with a Italian Fennel, Citrus, Pomegranate and Salad and serve with a side of Fast Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread.
More Classic Italian Recipes For YOU
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The BEST Lasagna Bolognese! Layers of flat lasagna noodles baked with alternating layers of slow-cooked Bolognese sauce, bechamel, and Parmigiano cheese.
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- 1 Recipe for Classic Italian Ragu (Meat Sauce)
- 12-16 dried lasagna pasta noodles
- 2 cups freshly grated parmigiano cheese
- 3 tbsp butter unsalted
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour all purpose
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon of parmigiano
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt or to taste
- Make the ragu sauce recipe and set aside (can be made days in advance and stored in fridge)
- Make the Bechamel Sauce (can be made days in advance and stored in fridge): In a medium saucepan on low medium heat melt the butter.
- Whisk in the flour until well combined with butter. Keep whisking for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of ingredients: milk, nutmeg and salt and whisk everything together.
- Cook for another 5 minutes and keep whisking as it gets thicker. Add the parmigiano and stir to combine. You will know it is ready when it sticks to the back of the spoon. Turn off heat and set aside.*
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Make the Bechamel Sauce (can be made days in advance and stored in fridge): Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta (6 at a time for dried pasta) until they are tender but still underdone (they will finish cooking as the lasagna bakes).
- Set the al dente pasta noodles on a clean tea towels as you are layering the lasagna. Cover with another tea towel so the pasta doesn't dry out or stick together.
- Grease a 9X13 rectangular baking dish with the olive oil, add a large dollop of ragu sauce and spread it around the bottom of the pan.
- Put a layer of lasagna pasta (use 4-5 depending on size) in the dish (you may need to cut any excess to make them fit) top with a layer of ragu sauce, one-third of the bechamel sauce, and one-third of the parmigiano cheese (use your fingers to spread it evenly).
- Season with salt and pepper if desired. Repeat this process until layers are complete ending with bechamel and cheese on top.
- Bake until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is melted and lightly browned on top, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before serving, or cool completely, cover well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze.
*Know your béchamel is done: A properly thickened roux should “coat the back of the spoon,” which means dip your spoon into the béchamel and then draw a finger through the coated spoon. Does the sauce wipe clean, leaving an open space? Then your béchamel is done and ready.
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Cook Time: 30 min
- Category: Savory
- Method: Italian
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: lasagna, traditional Italian recipe, lasagna bolognese, lasagne bolognese, lasagna recipe, meat sauce, ragu, bechamel, white sauce, dinner recipe, Italian dinner