Layers of rich braised meat sauce, three cheese white sauce and no-cook lasagna noodles makes this three cheese lasagna recipe a family favorite. It’s as good for a comforting dinner as it is for a family feast and guarantee empty plates, every time.
- Soffrito: This aromatic mix of onions, celery and carrots form the base of many slow-cooked or braised dishes.
- Fresh garlic cloves.
- Fresh herbs: I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano. Marjoram, basil, parsley and bay leaf can also be used.
- Ground meat: I used both ground beef and ground pork (beef mince and pork mince). You can use beef only, if you prefer.
- Crushed tomatoes.
- Tomato paste.
- Beef broth/beef stock.
- Pinch of sugar (optional).
- Salt and black pepper.
For the three cheese sauce
- Flour. All purpose flour.
- Milk. I used whole milk/full cream milk but you can use half and half too if you prefer.
- Cream. Heavy cream or fresh whipping cream.
- Cheese: I used cheddar cheese, gruyere and parmesan cheese. Any good melting cheese will work well but choose cheeses that are rich in flavor. Asiaga, mozzarella cheese, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, Havarti, etc.
For the lasagna
- Noodles/pasta sheets. I used no-boil dried lasagna sheets but you can use fresh pasta too.
- Extra cheese for the topping. You can use the same cheese mixture you used for the sauce or use only one cheese for the topping.
How to make three cheese lasagna
- Make the meat sauce: Cook the meat sauce in a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the vegetables in a splash of olive oil until soft and fragrant then add the garlic and herbs. Add the meat and allow to brown then pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock. Season with salt, sugar and pepper then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the meat is cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Make the cheese sauce: Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan set over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Whisk in the liquid and once smooth, simmer the sauce until cooked. The sauce is cooked once it’s thick and the flour is cooked through (with no floury taste left behind). Remove the sauce from the heat then stir in the grated cheese and season to taste.
- Assemble and bake: In a deep casserole dish or baking dish, layer the meat sauce, white sauce and pasta sheets. Repeat layers until you’ve used all the meat sauce and finish with a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese then cover with foil and place in a preheated oven. Bake the cheese lasagna covered for 45 minutes until a sharp knife can easily be inserted. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Can I make lasagna ahead?
Lasagna is the perfect make-ahead dish. It can be assembled fully then covered and kept in the refrigerator for a day before baking. To freeze lasagna, assemble in a freezer-safe dish. Cover with foil and wrap in plastic wrap then freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen until the lasagna noodles are cooked through. Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days and reheated in the microwave or a hot oven.
What to serve with lasagna
Lasagna is a delicious meal on its own but adding garlic bread or a simple side salad is always welcome.
Four cheese lasagna
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and finely chopped
- ½ cup celery finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 500 g (1lb) ground pork / pork mince
- 500 g (1lb) ground beef / beef mince
- 800 g (28oz) crushed tomatoes chopped tomatoes can also be used
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup beef broth / beef stock
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1½-2 cups milk You might not need all the milk.
- ½ cup cream
- 2 cups grated cheese a mixture of cheddar, gruyere and parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch nutmeg
For the lasagna
- 500 g (1lb) no-boil lasagna sheets
- 2 cups grated cheese
For the meat sauce
- Heat a large, deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Sauté the vegetables in a splash of olive oil until soft and fragrant then add the garlic and herbs.
- Add the meat and allow to brown for 5 minutes then pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste and beef stock.
- Season with salt, sugar and pepper then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the meat is cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
For the white sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan or medium-sized pot set over medium heat.
- Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- This allows the flour to develop a slightly nutty taste and starts the cooking process.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and cream then reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, whisking regularly to assure the sauce is smooth.
- The sauce is cooked once it's thick and the flour is cooked through (with no floury taste left behind).
- Remove the sauce from the heat then stir in the grated cheese and season to taste.
Assemble and bake
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- In a deep casserole dish or baking dish, add a spoonful of the meat sauce then add a layer of pasta sheets.
- Add another layer of meat sauce then another layer of pasta sheets.
- Top with a layer of cheese sauce and sprinkle over some grated cheese (optional extra) then another layer of pasta.
- Repeat layers until you've used all the meat sauce and finish with a layer of white sauce.
- Top with grated cheese then cover with foil and place in a preheated oven.
- Bake the cheese lasagna covered for 45 minutes until a sharp knife can easily be inserted.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.