This Lasagna Recipe Without Ricotta or Cottage Cheese is a hearty and decadent alternative to classic lasagna. It’s made with tender lasagna noodles layered with a rich meat sauce, creamy bechamel, and mozzarella cheese.
Easy Homemade Lasagna Recipe
Lasagna is one of my favorite meals. And of the greatest things about lasagna is that there are so many different versions and so many ways to customize it.
This is one of my favorite lasagna recipes and, believe it or not, it’s made without any ricotta or cottage cheese.
Rather than the classic ricotta cheese layer, we use a layer of creamy béchamel sauce, which adds a mouthwatering richness. That is layered with tender lasagna noodles and a meaty, hearty sauce.
The white sauce mixes with the tomato sauce and creates a rich, cheesy, decadent flavor. We’re also topping it off with mozzarella cheese to give it that gooey finish.
It’s just like any classic lasagna recipe, but…dare I say…better?! This lasagna is a hearty meal with simple ingredients that the whole family will love.
How to Make Lasagna Without Ricotta or Cottage Cheese
This simple lasagna looks like a lot of steps, but it really is so easy to make. Just a little bit of prep and your meal is on the dinner table and ready to enjoy!
Here’s a quick summary of the recipe.
Scroll to the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and the full instructions.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, and cook until the onion softens. Add in the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds.
- To the same pan, add in your meat of choice (beef and/or pork), then cook until browned. Drain the grease if needed.
- Add tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and seasonings, cook for a couple of minutes, then pour in the tomato puree and crushed tomatoes. Cover and cook at a simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Pour in the milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, then simmer over medium heat until your desired thickness is reached.
- Cook the lasagna noodles al dente according to package instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray.
- Place a layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan, then layer on lasagna sheets. Top with more meat sauce, then add 1 cup of Bechamel sauce.
- Sprinkle with cheese, then repeat the layers in that order two more times. For the final layer, add noodles, the rest of the meat sauce and white sauce, and the last 2 cups of cheese.
- Bake your lasagna in a preheated oven uncovered until the cheese is melty and golden brown and the sauce is bubbly. Rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve.
Tips and Notes
- Boil the lasagna noodles to al dente. Undercooking them by just a minute or two prevents them from becoming over-cooked once the lasagna goes in the oven.
- Bake uncovered. This allows the cheese layer on the top of the noodles to get nice and melty.
- If you do notice the cheese burning before the lasagna is cooked through, cover the pan with aluminum foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Nutmeg or no nutmeg. Our white cream sauce is made using a little bit of nutmeg which adds a delicious underlying flavor. You can omit this if desired!
- Salt to taste. Feel free to adjust the salt in the meat sauce and bechamel sauce. Mozzarella is fairly salty, so it’s best to add a little, then add more only once you’ve tasted them.
- Meat options: I like to use a combo of ground beef and ground pork or one or the other. Alternatively, try your lasagna with Italian sausage or ground turkey.
- Make it vegetarian. Simply leave the meat out of the sauce OR make it a vegetable lasagna by adding in cooked mushrooms, peppers, or zucchini.
- Spice it up. Give your homemade lasagna a little bit of heat by adding some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper with the other spicy seasonings.
A mouthwatering lasagna recipe like this one should, of course, be served with a mouthwatering side dish!
Here are a few recipes you can pair with this classic recipe:
To store leftover lasagna, let it cool to room temperature, then pack it up in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days.
To freeze your lasagna, you have a couple of options:
- Unbaked: Prepare the lasagna ahead of time in a freezer-safe, oven-safe pan. Wrap tightly in freezer paper and aluminum foil and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to serve, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake as directed.
- Baked: Let the baked lasagna cool completely, wrap it in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil, and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
What Can I Use in Lasagna Instead of Ricotta or Cottage Cheese?
Bechamel sauce! Seriously. A delicate layer of bechamel gives the lasagna a decadent creaminess that’s just unmatched.
Keep in mind that the white sauce and tomato sauce mix together, so the tomato flavor isn’t as strong as traditional marinara or meat sauce.
If you prefer a stronger tomato sauce flavor, use less bechamel. Alfredo sauce makes another tasty option!
What is the Correct Order to Layer Lasagna?
A lasagna starts with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. This helps prevent the noodles from burning on the bottom.
Once that’s spread onto the pan, the layering order is as follows:
- Meat sauce
Those ingredients are layered in that order three times for this lasagna, then finished with a top layer of noodles, meat sauce, white sauce, and cheese.
This last layer allows you to simply use up the remainder of each ingredient.
If you would rather not have three full layers of lasagna plus the top layer, reduce it to two full layers, plus the top layer. You will just have ingredients leftover.
More Pasta Bake Recipes You’ll Love
- Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole
- Cheesy Pasta Bake Casserole
- Chicken Alfredo Bake
- Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- Broccoli Cheese Pasta Bake
For the Meat Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ to 2 pounds ground beef, may also use a combination of beef and pork
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup beef broth, or red wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 28 ounces tomato puree
- 14 ½ ounces crushed tomatoes
For the Bechamel Sauce:
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, (whole or 2%)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste (See note)
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
For the Lasagna:
- 1 pound lasagna noodles
- 20 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (5 cups)
To Make the Meat Sauce:
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion, and cook until the onion softens. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.1 tablespoon olive oil1 medium onion4 garlic cloves
- Place the beef and/or pork in the pan, and cook until no pink remains. Drain excess grease and return the meat to the pan.1 ½ to 2 pounds ground beef
- Add the tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings, sugar (if using), salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, and cook for 2-3 minutes.¼ cup tomato paste½ cup beef broth1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1 teaspoon dried oregano1 teaspoon dried basil1 teaspoon granulated sugarSalt and ground black pepper
- Pour in the tomato puree and crushed tomatoes, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally then remove from heat.28 ounces tomato puree14 ½ ounces crushed tomatoes
- While the meat sauce cooks, make the bechamel sauce and cook the pasta noodles.
To Make the Bechamel Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Whisk in the flour, and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- Pour in the milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes while stirring.2 cups milk2 cups heavy cream½ teaspoon ground nutmeg½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- When the sauce reaches desired thickness, remove from heat.
To Assemble the Lasagna:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook lasagna noodles to al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water.1 pound lasagna noodles
- Prepare a 9×13-inch pan with a light layer of cooking spray. Place 1 cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place lasagna noodles over the meat sauce (trim the edges if necessary).
- Pour an additional 2 cups of meat sauce over the noodles and spread to the edges.
- Add 1 cup of bechamel sauce, and use a spatula to spread it around the meat sauce (it will not be enough to cover the noodles).
- Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese then repeat the layers 2 more times.
- For the final layer, add a layer of noodles followed by the remaining meat sauce, the remaining white sauce, and the last 2 cups of cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes until the cheese melts and the sauce bubbles.
- Let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Scroll up and see the post to see tips, FAQs, and storage recommendations.