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.
Why you’ll love Bechamel Lasagna
Have you ever felt rushed and just picked up a pre-made lasagna from the grocery just to get home and be so disappointed with the lack of flavor? Same here, which is why I love having a pan of homemade lasagna with béchamel instead of ricotta in my freezer. There is 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 for 30 years and thought it was time to share the recipe.
What’s a béchamel sauce?
This is just a fancy name for a traditional white sauce. Made with butter, flour and milk it’s the sauce you use in croque monsieur, mac & cheese or broccoli cheese casserole. In the South, we call it a “white 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 for Lasagna with Bechamel
- 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
What type of meat is best for lasagna?
For the best flavor use a combination of Italian sausage and ground beef.
Bechamel Sauce Lasagna Variations and Substitutions
Can you leave out the mushrooms?
The mushrooms add to the overall flavor of the meat sauce, but you’ll still have a wonderful sauce without them.
How to make Homemade Lasagna Recipe
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.
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.
Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.
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.
Combine shredded mozzarella and parmesan
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.
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.
How to layer lasagna
When you layer lasagna, it can be helpful to divide up each layer into thirds so that you don’t use too much in the first layer and not have enough for the last. For the meat, you can just use a spoon and separate it into 3 portions in the pan. For the white sauce, try putting it in a large measuring cup so you can easily add a third at a time, the same with the cheese. Of course you can just eyeball it and have some layers thicker than others
How long do you bake lasagna?
Lasagna needs to bake for about 30-40 minutes so that all the flavors can come together. The cheese will have melted and it will be bubbly around the edges.
Bechamel Sauce Lasagna Variations and Substitutions
If you like mushrooms, they add a lot of flavor so throw in a few more. Of course you can always add more garlic. Most people like a lot of tomato sauce in their lasagna and if that’s you, then use tomato sauce instead of chopped tomatoes.
Serving this Lasagna Recipe with Bechamel
A fresh salad is always a great choice to serve with a heavy dish like lasagna. A spinach salad with strawberries is a light refreshing, or try a cucumber and corn salad or broccoli salad to add even more veggies to your meal.
What to serve with lasagna besides salad
In addition to salad, you’ll need some type of bread. While garlic bread is always a good choice, challah rolls are a favorite and can be made in advance. Of course it never hurts to have a light dessert like lemon chiffon pie or serve some lemon pistachio bars, neither are too heavy but still provide something sweet at the end of the meal.
Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce Storage
How to reheat lasagna
If lasagna is frozen, let it come to room temperature first. Then cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes until it is heated through.
How to freeze lasagna
If you are planning to freeze an entire lasagna try making it in a metal disposable pan. Tightly cover it with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
How to reheat frozen lasagna.
To reheat frozen lasagna, let it thaw completely. If you try to bake it partially frozen the outside will be dry before the inside is warm. Once it has reached room temperature, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 -20 minutes at 350º.
Lasagna Bechamel FAQs
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.
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.
Homemade lasagna does not need to be covered while it bakes. There is enough moisture that it will not try out so there is no need to cover it. When you reheat a lasagna, it is better to cover it so that it doesn’t dry out.
The three main components of lasagna are pasta, a meat layer and a cheese layer. For this recipe, a bechamel sauce is used instead of a ricotta layer and the cheese is added as a fourth layer.
The first layer for lasagna will be the pasta layer, this helps keep its shape when cut.
To layer lasagna, start with pasta, then add the bechamel sauce followed by meat and finally add the cheese. Repeat this three times, ending with cheese.
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
If you loved this recipe, give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Also, snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #butterandbaggage and tagging me @butterandbaggage.
Lasagna Bechamel Recipe
- 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.