This Italian sausage lasagna is one of my family’s favorite lasagna recipes, and for good reason! Each layer is made up of tender pasta noodles, sweet & spicy Italian sausage, three Italian cheeses, and lots of fresh herbs. It’s cheesy, rich, and simply irresistible! From my family to yours!
Several years ago, my mom and I developed this lasagna recipe together. And years later, it is still one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever eaten!
We use quality Italian sausage (a blend of sweet sausage and spicy sausage) and layer it with an herbaceous cheese blend, rich marinara, and tender pasta noodles. Every bite is better than the last and it’s irresistible, to say the least!
I have so many fond memories of growing up helping my mom in the kitchen. Either helping her layer lasagna or being the “sauce stirrer” as the marinara simmered throughout the day for the lasagna. They are irreplaceable memories that fueled the love I have now for recipes like this!
This recipe will always remind me of my aunt Valerie who has since passed away. When we first made this recipe, we used her favorite Italian sausage from Brooklyn Pork Store. Because of her, really, this lasagna recipe was inspired to be.
I hope you love this recipe just as much as my family and I do!
Ingredients – What You Need
Lasagna noodles: you can use either boiled lasagna noodles or oven-ready noodles (that require no boiling to soften them). If I use oven-ready noodles, I love using these whole wheat noodles to make them healthier!
Italian sausage: to add a blend of flavor, use a combo of sweet & spicy Italian sausage.
Marinara: I always recommend using a quality marinara for lasagna. For homemade use our San Marzano Tomato Sauce or our favorite store-bought brand!
Mozzarella: to create lots of melty cheesy goodness!
Parmesan: for a little salty flavor – this cheese is used in the ricotta filling as well as the lasagna layers.
Ricotta: only a little is used in this recipe to create the filling, if you aren’t a fan of ricotta you can leave it out completely or swap it for cottage cheese.
Fresh basil: a must for fresh herb flavor! This recipe uses fresh basil in both the ricotta filling and layering throughout the lasagna. So you will need quite a bit of fresh basil to make it!
Oregano: I recommend using fresh oregano, this is used for the ricotta filling.
Garlic: use fresh garlic for the best flavor! Or save time by using 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Egg: this is used to help bind the ricotta filling together.
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If you use boiled noodles, cook them in a large pot of well-salted boiling water as the package instructs.
Step 1 – remove the sausage from the casing and cook in a skillet pan until fully cooked through (about 5-7 minutes). If the sausage is oily, place it on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the extra oils.
Step 2 – in a medium-sized bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, egg, and salt & pepper.
Step 3 – the first layer in the lasagna dish is spreading a layer of marinara on the bottom of the dish. Then layer with noodles, and spread a thin layer of the ricotta filling over top.
Step 4 – then top with an even layer of cooked sausage and fresh basil.
Step 5 – Layer more sauce over top, then finish with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Repeat layers: noodles, ricotta filling, sausage, fresh basil, sauce, and cheese until the layers are done.
Step 6 – final layer should be topped with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 375F for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes – broil on HIGH for the last 30-60 seconds to brown the top. Serve!
Tips for Success
Lightly layer ricotta filling – I prefer to use less ricotta in this lasagna because I really want the flavors of the sausage and herbs to shine. I find only using a thin layer throughout works perfectly! But if you prefer more ricotta, you can of course add it.
Fresh basil is a must – As you’ll find with a lot of my baked pasta recipes, I’m a big believer in using a lot of fresh herbs to get the most flavor. This recipe uses quite a bit of fresh basil, and it cannot be replaced with dried herbs. I only recommend using fresh for the best flavor!
Save time and use oven-ready noodles – of course using traditional boiled lasagna noodles is the best option! But to save time, you can also use oven-ready lasagna noodles that don’t require any boiling in water. Just layer them and they’ll soften and bake in the oven! You can use regular or whole wheat – we personally love whole wheat noodles and use them often.
Don’t like ricotta? If you aren’t a fan of ricotta that’s okay! You can swap it for cottage cheese or skip the filling altogether and layer it with mozzarella, parmesan, sauce, herbs, and sausage.
Make your own tomato sauce: If you’d like to really make this dish a labor of love and take it to the next level, you can make your own tomato sauce using my family’s San Marzano tomato sauce, or spice it up and use this arrabbiata sauce! If you want to save time and not make your own sauce, you can use our favorite store-bought sauce!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many layers should my lasagna have? Typically, lasagna should have 4 solid layers. This also depends on the depth of your pan and its size.
What kind of sausage is best for lasagna? Italian sausage is what I recommend! The spices and seasonings pair perfectly with all the lasagna ingredients. If you prefer to use a healthier sausage option, you can opt for turkey or chicken sausage!
Why did my lasagna turn out dry?
Not having enough sauce can cause your lasagna to dry out after baking. Avoid dry lasagna by always having a little extra sauce on hand. Sometimes with lasagna, it’s hard to gage how much sauce you need, I always make more than what I think I need. This question also has to do with how you bake your lasagna – which I explain below.
Why did my lasagna turn out watery?
This can be a couple of reasons. If you’re cooking with a homemade sauce, this can sometimes have more liquid to it than store-bought. Also, having too much sauce can of course create more liquid. I bake the lasagna for the last 20 minutes uncovered to help dry up any excess moisture. If by the end of your bake time, your lasagna is still watery, bake 5-10 minutes longer uncovered until liquids have cooked down.
How to Store Leftovers & Freezing Tips
How to store leftovers: allow lasagna to cool before storing in an airtight container. Keep it chilled in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
How to freeze & reheat lasagna (two ways): First way to freeze this lasagna would be to prepare the lasagna (do not bake), and freeze for up to 2 months. Then thaw and reheat as instructed. Or you can bake the lasagna, allow it to cool – then freeze it for 1-2 months. Thaw and reheat in the oven at covered 350F until the center is hot.
Tip: when freezing the lasagna, wrap it first in plastic wrap tightly, then cover tightly with foil.
More Lasagna Recipes To Try
- The Best Vegetable Lasagna (Without Ricotta)
- Herb & Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Eggplant Lasagna
Sweet & Spicy Italian Sausage Lasagna
- 2/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp (each) salt & black pepper
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cook the lasagna noodles: if using boiled noodles, heat a large pot of salted water with a drop of olive oil in the water, and cook the pasta as the package instructs until al dente. Stir the lasagna noodles when adding them to the water. Drain the pasta noodles when finished, then place them back in the pot and cover them with cold water.
- Cook sausage: in a pan, cook the sausage. Remove the sausage from the skin and break it up into pieces (no oil is needed to cook the sausage as it naturally will create oils). Cook sausage until fully cooked – about 5-7 minutes.
- Mix the ricotta filling: in a small mixing bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fresh basil & oregano, salt & pepper, and egg.
- Layer lasagna: In a large 13×9 baking dish, layer: 1 1/2 cups sauce, lasagna noodles (dab them dry of any excess water), ricotta filling (2 Tablespoon size scoops in the center of each noodle), cooked sausage, mozzarella cheese, and fresh chopped basil. Repeat the process until the ingredients are used up. Finish the final layer with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
- Bake: Then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Broil for the last 30-60 seconds to brown the top. Serve with fresh basil!