Lasagna – Perfect Meat Lasagna Recipe

A pan of baked lasagna sitting on top of a wooden cutting board

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This recipe is a meat lasagna, just like the one that most of us all grew up on. It’s incredibly delicious. I made my first ever lasagna with meat sauce from scratch when I was 18. I used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, and I followed it to the letter.

Best Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Best Lasagna with Meat Sauce

And, It turned out perfectly. Since then I have made many a lasagna, and in many variations,  and I no longer need a recipe to make it. But I will always remember that recipe, and this, for me is the best meat lasagna I have ever made or tasted.

The Joy Of Cooking

I don’t have that copy of the Joy Of Cooking now, and the newer version that I do own, doesn’t have the same lasagna recipe. But that’s OK. The original Joy Of Cooking lasagna recipe lives on in my heart forevermore.

If you love to cook, or want to learn, the Joy of Cooking may be the only cookbook you’ll ever need. It is literally the home cook’s bible. In this big book you’ll find out how to cook or bake almost anything. And it isn’t simply a recipe book. It’s packed full of everything else you need to know, such as Keeping and Storing Food, Cooking Methods and Techniques, and sections on Freezing, Canning, and so much more. There is a reason the Joy of Cooking is on the James Beard Foundation’s 20 Essential Cookbooks List, and the only cookbook named one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

Classic Meat Lasagna
Classic Meat Lasagna

How to Build Your  Meat Lasagna

Whenever I make this delicious meat lasagna, I always have this little mantra in my head. SAUCE, NOODLES, CHEESE. That’s the order you build a lasagna. (In my kitchen, at least) The Joy of Cooking left a profound lasagna impression on me. I’ve always followed that order, and my lasagna has always been a success. When something works, keep it up, right?

Everyone is a fan of lasagna, are they not? All those layers of sauce, pasta and gooey cheese in one hearty dish are a classic food love affair for mostly everyone, I’m thinking. I love the versatility of it, because, as long as there are noodles, and cheese, you can’t really go wrong, can you?

There are endless ways to make it. Here is my basic best lasagna with meat sauce. You can use lean ground beef, turkey, chicken, veal or pork. I’m using hot Italian sausage meat.

And by the way, lasagna is the easiest dish to use home made pasta because there is no cutting or shaping, and the sheets of dough are not required to be all nice & even. If you want to make your own, I just happen to have a recipe  for that coming soon. But you can also buy sheets of fresh pasta, or just use the dried stuff. It will be delicious no matter what.

More Lasagna

Lasagna is a versatile dish. For something other than this classic, you can also try Lasagna With Chicken and Mushrooms, or Roasted Vegetable Lasagna.

Best Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Classic Meat Lasagna


A baked lasagna in a pan

Best Lasagna With Meat Sauce- Perfect Lasagna Recipe

A classic Meat Lasagna with three cheeses based on The Joy Of Cooking Lasagna recipe.
4.13 from 8 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 342 kcal


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic crushed or finely minced
  • 1 lb extra lean ground meat
  • 1 14 oz can low or no sodium diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 5.5 oz can low or no sodium tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes but not if you are using hot Italian sausage meat, like me
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups part skim ricotta cheese one 500 gram tub
  • 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano is the best
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese grated


  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  
  • Add oil to the pan, then chopped onion & garlic. Turn heat down to medium low and cook about 5 minutes until onions are softened.
  • Turn heat back up to medium, & add ground meat to the pan, breaking up with a spoon and brown completely. Drain fat.
  • Add diced tomatoes with liquid , crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, hot pepper flakes, and salt & pepper. Stir in tomato paste.
  • Cover, turn heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. (We want a really saucy sauce because we aren't pre-cooking the noodles)
  • Pre heat oven to 350°
  • In a 9' x 13' roasting pan, put a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles, fresh or dried, to cover. Spread ricotta cheese over noodles evenly. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles again, then your mozzarella cheese, one more layer of sauce, and sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.
  • Put pan onto a baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until bubbly and golden and noodles are fork tender.
  • Let the lasagna sit on counter top for 10 minutes so that you can easily slice into squares.


The nutritional values shown for this recipe are based on using part skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and no salt added tomatoes and tomato paste.
Left over lasagna freezes well. Freeze cooled lasagna in an airtight container. When ready to serve, take out of the freezer the night before & let it defrost in the fridge. Bake defrosted lasagna 30 minutes @ 400 degrees.


Serving: 1gCalories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 22gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 397mgPotassium: 498mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 600IUVitamin C: 7.5mgCalcium: 270mgIron: 2.6mg
Keyword lasagna, meat lasagna, pasta
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!
Perfect Meat Lasagna Recipe
Perfect Meat Lasagna Recipe

4 thoughts on “Lasagna – Perfect Meat Lasagna Recipe

  1. Thanks for this recipe — I’ll be trying it shortly.
    In the list of ingredients there are 2 14oz cans of diced tomatoes, one “with liquid”. Is that correct?
    Also, how much mozzarella cheese is required please?

    1. Hi Dick, you are very welcome. Thank you so much for bringing those deficiencies in the recipe to my attention. The extra diced tomatoes were a duplicate, and I have now included the measurement for the mozzarella cheese, which is 2 cups. Enjoy your lasagna!

  2. I love lasagna and I always like trying new lasagna recipes, even tho I have one that we enjoy. I mean it’s lasagna why not try new ones, right? I am happy to find somebody else who uses the low sodium as well. We stopped eating a lot of it years ago when a family member was diagnosed with high blood pressure and honestly we can see a big difference when eating some foods now if cooked with a lot of salt.

    1. Hi Dawn, I agree, lasagna is a dish that’s made for trying new ways. And reducing sodium is a good idea for everyone, it’s just so easy to over do it because it seems to be in everything!

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