What You Need To Know About Making Lasagna For The First Time

You can't go wrong with layers of pasta, cheese, and beef.
PHOTO: (LEFT) sunorwind on Unsplash, (RIGHT) Kristine Tumanyan on Unsplash

The beauty of a lasagna is the fact that, in its most classic form, it’s made up of layers of noodles, cheese, and beef—so, only good things. Of course, people will always find a way to make their own version—usually with several types of cheese—but even the simplest recipe can be so, so satisfying. If you’ve never made lasagna before and are just finding your way around the kitchen, here’s everything you need to know.

How to make lasagna: A simple + classic recipe

Beginners can try The Kitchn’s recipe because it’s the easiest guide out there. For one, you won’t have to make your own sauce; you can 100 percent rely on store-bought sauce so make sure you go with one you know you love. You won’t be pre-boiling the noodles in this recipe—to avoid overcooking—so it’s essential that you cover it with sauce so it cooks evenly in the oven.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar or three cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 3 separate cups of  shredded, low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • 15 dry lasagna noodles about, divided
  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese, divided
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Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to a little over 200 degrees Celsius, placing a rack in the middle.
  2. In a large skillet, place the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the chopped yellow onion.
  3. Add the beef followed by the kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Break up the beef and let it cook for six to eight minutes. Remove from the heat and set it aside for five minutes.
  4. Take a baking dish and spread a thin layer of marinara sauce at the bottom. Mix what’s left of the sauce into the beef you just prepared.
  5. Now it’s time to layer. The first layer should be of lasagna noodles, followed by a cup of ricotta cheese. It’s okay if the noodles overlap a little—don’t stress over it. Spread a cup and a half of the meat sauce over the ricotta before sprinkling a cup of mozzarella. Repeat for another round before topping it with a final layer of lasagna noodles and sauce.
  6. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for an hour. To check if your lasagna is ready, poke it carefully with a knife. It should go all the way through. If it doesn’t, cover it with the foil again and bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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How to freeze lasagna

Ideally, you’d freeze your lasagna after you assemble it and before you pop it in the oven. But don’t worry, if you’ve already baked your lasagna and still want to preserve what’s left of your delicious creation, you can do so. As with everything you freeze, the taste might be slightly different, but not enough to keep you from enjoying another round, I promise.

Let your hot lasagna cool down. This will help keep the texture of the noodles and prevent bacteria from growing. When that’s done, use a plastic wrap and aluminum foil to keep that baby sealed in. You don’t want air to get in your dish ‘cause it might get freezer burn. Of course, you can opt to slice your lasagna into smaller pieces and keep them in freezer-friendly containers as well.

How to reheat frozen lasagna

You actually have two options when you’re ready to feast on your lasagna again. The long way is letting it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating it up in the oven again. But if you can’t wait that long, feel free to skip this step. Preheat your oven before popping your lasagna in there. Let it bake for double the time. Keep the foil over the dish until the last 15 to 20 minutes; the last few minutes is to let the cheese turn a gorgeous golden brown again.

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Technically, if you have a powerful enough microwave, and you’ve cut your lasagna into smaller pieces, you can use this over an oven. Use a microwave-safe dish and drizzle a couple tablespoons of water over the lasagna to keep it moist as it reheats. Cover the lasagna and heat it in 60-second increments until the whole thing is warm.

Enjoy!

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