Lasagna Bolognese with Ricotta

Updated: Jun 1st, 2024 · By Bethany Kramer
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This Lasagna Bolognese is one of the most incredible lasagnas I’ve ever made or eaten. Between layers of soft pasta noodles is creamy ricotta filling with fresh herbs, melty Italian cheeses, and a richly flavored bolognese ragu sauce. Everyone I serve this to agrees; it is truly the best of the best!

A white rectangle shaped baking dish with bolognese lasagna in it. The baking dish with lasagna is placed on a wooden background with a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind, fresh basil leaves, and a gray napkin displayed around it.

Lasagna is my favorite food of all time. And I’m so excited to share this recipe that might just be the best lasagna I’ve ever had – lasagna bolognese.

A classic bolognese lasagna found in Italy would typically be served with a bechamel sauce (made of flour, butter, milk, and nutmeg). But, in my personal experience, I think the rich bolognese sauce paired with a bechamel is almost too rich. I can only eat a few bites before it becomes too much. But this lasagna is a different story.

Instead of bechamel, I used a creamier ricotta and filled it with bright herbs, garlic, and parmigiano reggiano. It’s lighter than bechamel but still brings a perfect creaminess to the lasagna! It’s more of an Italian-American version, but still just as delicious.

The bolognese sauce itself is what makes this recipe sing. It uses our homemade bolognese sauce made of pancetta, beef, and pork and is simmered with soffritto, wine, and tomatoes. The sauce is one of my absolute favorite Italian dishes of all time, so pairing it with lasagna (another one of my favorites) is simply perfect.

While this recipe takes a little bit more time and effort, which every good Italian recipe does, the results are completely worth it. And your guests will taste the love and effort that went into it!

Ingredients

Below, you’ll find the ingredients you’ll need to make this dish, plus information and tips on the ingredients to help you in the process. Full recipe information and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Ingredients for lasagna bolognese with ricotta displayed on a wooden background.

Bolognese sauce – a hearty and rich ragu/meat sauce that is thicker in consistency but rich in flavor. You’ll need to make this sauce before you start on the lasagna! You can either start the sauce early or make it the day before.
Lasagna noodles – I like to use lasagne noodles that need to be boiled in water, but you can also use non-boiled/oven-ready noodles.
Ricotta – as stated above, this recipe uses creamy ricotta cheese instead of bechamel as the filling. I recommend using Belgioioso ricotta if you have it available, as it’s extra creamy.
Parmigiano Reggiano – is used to flavor the ricotta filling and layer throughout the lasagna for rich flavor!
Mozzarella – is mild in flavor but brings the iconic melty cheese to any good lasagna. Freshly grated mozzarella is best because it has more moisture and melts beautifully.
Garlic – a few cloves are minced to flavor the ricotta filling.
Egg – is used to bind the ricotta filling ingredients together.
Herbs – we use a lot of fresh herbs in this lasagna to bring bright pops of flavor. Mostly fresh basil is used with a touch of fresh oregano!

How to Make it

A collage of three images showing step by step how to make lasagna bolognese. The first image, step one, is cooked lasagna noodles in a strainer that have been drained. The second image, step two, showing the lasagna noodles in a stainless steel pan with water to prevent the noodles from sticking. The third image, step three, is a bowl with ricotta and herbs being mixed.

Prepare the lasagna ingredients

  1. 1

    Cook the lasagna noodles. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (use package instructions for timing). Stir the pasta once it goes into the pot to prevent sticking. Drain when finished.

  2. 2

    Place the lasagna noodles in cold water. Once the noodles are drained of water, place them in a dish with cold water while you prep the rest of the ingredients. This will help them stay fresh and not stick together.

  3. 3

    Mix ricotta filling ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta, chopped basil and oregano, minced garlic, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, and salt and pepper.

A collage of two images showing how to layer lasagna bolognese. The first image, step four in the recipe process, is a white rectangle baking dish with sauce spread on the bottom of the dish and lasagna noodles being layered over top. The second photo, step five, is showing ricotta cheese being spread over top of the lasagna noodles.

Layer the lasagna

  1. 4

    Bottom layer. Layer a baking dish first with a thin layer of bolognese sauce, then with lasagna noodles (shake off any excess water from the lasagna being in the water bath).

  2. 5

    Ricotta layer. Then spread a thin layer of ricotta filling over top of the lasagna noodles.

A collage of two images showing how to layer lasagna bolognese. The first image, step six in the cooking process, is bolognese sauce being layered into a lasagna thats in a white rectangle dish on a wooden background. The second image, step seven, is the lasagna finished with the layering process unbaked.
  1. 6

    Bolognese Layer. Over top of the ricotta, spread a thin layer of bolognese sauce.

  2. 7

    Final layer, then bake. For the last layer, sprinkle mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano. Repeat with noodles, ricotta, bolognese, and cheese for another two layers. For the top layer finish with a little bit of a more generous bolognese layer to cover the noodles, and finish with a generous amount of cheese. Cover with foil, then bake at 375F 20 minutes covered, then 20 minutes uncovered. Broil on high for the last minute to brown the cheese. Then cool for several minutes – slice and serve!

Tips for Lasagna Success

Keep the layers thin – I often am overly generous with lasagna layers, but the key is to keep them thin because they build up as you make each layer. This will help the lasagna slices hold their shape and not fall apart from being overfilled.

Always stir the lasagna noodles – once they are added to the boiling water, stirring them immediately helps them cook evenly in the water and prevents them from sticking once drained.

Cold water bath will keep the noodles from sticking – this step isn’t essential, but it’s recommend to avoid the lasagna noodles from sticking, especially if you aren’t ready to layer the lasagna when the noodles are drained. The cold water keeps them separated and makes the noodles a little slippery so they don’t stick together. It’s never fun layering a lasagna with broken and uneven noodles.

Fresh herbs help lighten it up – my mom always taught me to layer lots of fresh herbs like basil throughout the lasagna. It brightens the flavor and helps cut through any richness if a lasagna is overly heavy.

Drain the ricotta if needed – some ricotta cheeses can have extra moisture/water in it, which can make the lasagna watery. Every brand is different. If you find your ricotta has a lot of liquid drain it through a fine mesh strainer.

A slice of lasagna bolognese being lifted out of a white baking dish with a spatula.

What to Serve with Lasagna

Crusty bread is a popular side dish in our house when serving lasagna – either a crusty Italian loaf, homemade sourdough, or rosemary garlic bread!

An Italian salad is also a must in our family. I like to serve this with either our Tuscan artichoke salad or this chopped Italian salad. Or a light salad with greens and my favorite Italian vinaigrette!

Any roasted or sauteed vegetable in season is a great addition to lasagna too!

More Lasagna Recipes to Try

If you love this lasagna, you might also want to try our Sweet & Spicy Italian sausage lasagna, spinach lasagna, or vegetable lasagna! Or, for a fun twist on lasagna, our spinach and herb lasagna roll-ups.

Lasagna Bolognese with Ricotta

This Lasagna Bolognese is one of the most incredible lasagnas I've ever made or eaten. Between layers of soft pasta noodles is creamy ricotta filling with fresh herbs, melty Italian cheeses, and a richly flavored bolognese ragu sauce. Everyone I serve this to agrees; it is truly the best of the best!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves 8 slices

Ingredients

For the Lasagna

  • 1 lb dry lasagne noodles
  • 5 cups bolognese sauce
  • 1 lb mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

For the Ricotta Mixture

  • 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, I like using the brand Belgioioso because it's extra creamy
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Cook the lasagna noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and then add the pasta, stirring once you add them. Cook them until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain once finished, and place them in a pan or dish filled with cold water.
  • Make the ricotta filling. Add all the ricotta ingredients to a bowl and mix together completely.
  • Layer the lasagna. Then, start to layer the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish. First, spread a thin layer of bolognese sauce on the bottom (this prevents the noodles from sticking), then a layer of lasagna noodles (shake off or dry any excess water from them being in the water bath), a thin layer of ricotta spread across the noodles, more bolognese sauce, a generous sprinkle of mozzerella and Parmgiano Reggiano. Repeat the layers with lasagna noodles, ricotta, bolognese, mozzarella, and Parmigiano Reggiano until you reach the top. Typically lasagna has four layers, but this depends on the depth and size of your baking dish.
  • Final layer. Once you reach the top of the lasagna, do a little bit more of a generous layer with the bolognese and cheese so it's completely covered. Lightly pat down any cheese that may be poking up so it doesn't get stuck on the foil when it bakes.
  • Bake. Semi-tent the foil, cover the baking dish, and bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes. Then broil on high for 1 minute for a brown cheesy top. Slice into 8 pieces, then serve and enjoy!

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • This lasagna can be cut into 6 large pieces or 8 regular-sized slices. 
  • To freeze the lasagna, assemble it, cover it with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw at room temperature before baking as the recipe instructs until fully cooked.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword lasagna bolognese, lasagna bolognese with ricotta
Freezer Friendly Yes

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