Lasagna with béchamel and Italian sausage is an all time favorite comfort food. Smothered in a creamy sauce it’s the best homemade lasagna you’ll find. Easier than it sounds and perfect if you want to feed a crowd.
Recently, I was feeling rushed and just picked up a pre-made lasagna from the grocery. We were so disappointed in the lack of flavor that I had to make a pan of my homemade lasagna with béchamel instead of ricotta, there was no comparison!
Using a béchamel sauce instead of ricotta makes each layer so creamy and when added to the meat sauce you get a great consistency in every bite. I’ve been making this version of lasagna forever and thought it was time to share the recipe.
What’s a béchamel sauce
Both girls love my homemade lasagna so for Taylor’s birthday I made a double batch, and froze one for her to take home. You can freeze this before or after it’s been baked. I hardly ever make enough for just one batch. My theory is that if you’re going to make a mess, you might as well double it and have another meal in the freezer.
What you’ll need
- Ground beef and Italian sausage – adding the Italian sausage adds so much more flavor than if you just use beef.
- Mushrooms – if you have mushroom haters, they’ll never know since they are chopped, they do add to the flavor but you can leave them out.
- Onions and garlic
- Crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce – I don’t like lots of tomato sauce in my lasagna so I use just enough to coat the meat and not all 21 ounces. This is purely a preference thing so add as much tomato sauce as you like. I prefer the flavor of crushed tomatoes over tomato sauce but I’ve used both depending on what’s in my pantry.
- Fresh basil and a bay leaf – If you don’t have fresh basil, add a teaspoon of dried.
- For the béchamel, you’ll need milk, butter, flour and nutmeg.
- Mozzarella and parmesan
How to make lasagna
Just because this has lots of steps doesn’t mean it’s difficult. It’s a very forgiving recipe, you can’t mess it up.
Step 1: Make the Meat sauce – brown beef and Italian sauce, once almost cooked add onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook until softened.
Add crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and a bay leaf and simmer.
Step 2: Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.
Step 3: While the meat sauce is simmering make the béchamel. Add butter to a saucepan and once hot, add flour and whisk until incorporated. Slowly add warm milk until it has thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Step 4: Combine shredded mozzarella and parmesan
Step 5: Assemble. Add a single layer of pasta to a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread ⅓ of béchamel on top of cooked pasta.
Next add ⅓ of the meat sauce.
Next add ⅓ of the cheese mixture.
Repeat 2 more times but reserve the final cheese mixture.
Step 6: Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and add the last ⅓ of cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
If you’re not feeding a crowd and have leftovers, this is even better the next day and just as good if you need to freeze it.
FAQ’s and tips
You can assemble and freeze before baking, or bake, let it cook completely and then freeze. Let thaw completely and if already cooked, warm covered at 350º for about 30 minutes.
The mushrooms add to the overall flavor of the meat sauce, but you’ll still have a wonderful sauce without them.
For the best flavor use a combination of Italian sausage and ground beef.
If kept in an air-tight container, it can last about 2 years.
Yes, there is not enough liquid in the recipe for the noodle to absorb while cooking.
More Italian pasta recipes you’ll love
If you love casseroles, try these favorites
- Brisket with mac & cheese
- Tater tot casserole
- Sloppy joe’s
- Southwest chicken and rice
- Taco spaghetti
- Skillet chicken tamale pie
- 1 lb. hamburger
- ½ lb. sausage
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 21 ounces crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 teaspoons fresh basil chopped or 1 tsp dried
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2½ cups milk
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
- 9 pieces pasta ½ lb
- Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- In a large skillet cook hamburger and sausage until almost cooked through. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce and seasoning. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Boil gently uncovered about 10 minutes.
- For béchamel sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, pepper, nutmeg and salt. Cook for 1 minute and slowly add milk whisking until thickened.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water, rinse with cold water.
- Arrange a single layer of pasta in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan. Spread with ⅓ béchamel sauce, ⅓ meat and ⅓ cheese. Repeat 2 more times reserving the final cheese layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove and add final layer of cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can use tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, adjust the amount based on your preference.
- For a cheesy top that’s easy to cut through add the last layer of cheese with just 10 minutes left to cook.
- Don’t use pre shredded cheese, it will not melt as well as a block of cheese.
- You can freeze before or after it has been cooked. Let come to room temperature and bake as directed. If already cooked, cover with foil and warm in the oven at 350º for about 30 minutes.
- You can re-heat individual portions in the microwave.