Make Ahead Lasagna

Make ahead lasagna saves you time in the kitchen. It’s a little more effort, but well worth the delectable work of art at the end.

Yes, this might be more work than your typical weekday dinner, but it is so worth it. And in fact, if you make this the night before (in less than 40 minutes), all you have to do is throw it into the oven the next day and–voila! Dinner is done in less than an hour.

This lasagna has amazing curb appeal, is delectably rich and hearty with a deep flavored tomato sauce that will have you licking the plate. You are sure to get “ooohs” and “ahhhs” when you pull this work of art out of the oven.

If you’ve never made lasagna before, you may feel intimidated. After all, it seems like so many steps–making the sauce, cooking the noodles, assembling the layers, and finally, baking it. But I’m here to tell you–it really isn’t hard–especially if you make this the night before. I keep saying this because making it the night before allows you to skip the “simmer on the stove” step. Letting it sit overnight melds the flavors together so you can omit the 90 minutes of stove time.

This is no stress make-ahead food. That’s the kind I like.

And I love that this recipe can feed a crowd. So it’s perfect for entertaining friends or keeping the leftovers for a second family dinner.

I adapted this recipe from Allrecipes website; it’s been a mainstay in our family dinner rotation for many years. I’ve really only altered the directions to include time-saving steps (like soaking the noodles versus boiling them). If you make this lasagna the night before, you can skip simmering sauce altogether. It may not have the depth of flavor from a slow-simmered sauce, but for me, the time-saving trick is worth it.

Is it Kid-Friendly?

I’m not sure how much kid-friendlier you can get with pasta, cheese, and sausage. All of the kids love this and will eat mountains of it.

Is it Allergy-Friendly?

Unfortunately this is one I can’t recommend for folks with dairy allergy/intolerance. (There’s a lot of cheese.) There is also an egg whipped into the ricotta, so be sure to omit that if you have an egg-allergy. If you’re trying to avoid gluten, I use brown-rice-lasagna noodles and they work amazingly. You can’t tell they’re not wheat.

Recipe Notes

Cook (or soak) the noodles

You have 2 choices. You can cook 10-12 noodles in a salted boiling pot of water (as the package directs), or you can just soak the noodles in hot water for 20-30 minutes until they are sort.

This is a nice time saver. I use the 9×13 inch pan that I’m going to cook the lasagna in (translation: less dishes!)

Ricotta Mixture

In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsley and nutmeg. Stir until combined into an even mixture.

Make the sauce

Brown the meat and the veggies. Drain the grease (if desired). Add the canned ingredients

Bring to a boil. If you are making this lasagna ahead of time, you don’t need to simmer the sauce. You can go straight to assembling the lasagna and into your fridge to sit overnight.

If you are making this to eat the same day, you can cover the pot and low simmer the sauce for 90 minutes on the stove.

Building the Lasagna

Here is the order of layers. (You will do this twice):
1. Meat sauce
2. Lasagna noodles
3. Ricotta cheese
4. Shredded cheese

First Layer: Meat sauce. Spoon the meat sauce into your 9×13 inch pan. I use a little less than half the sauce.

Second Layer: Noodles. Take the softened noodles and layer them over the meat sauce. I like to overlap them a little so that there’s no gaps.

Third Layer: Ricotta mixture. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles

Fourth Layer: Shredded cheese. Sprinkle half the shredded cheese onto the ricotta layer.

Repeat the Layers 1-4 again. You are finished!

If you are making this a day ahead, you can cover the lasagna with foil and stick it in the fridge. Tip: I spray the foil with cooking spray so that the cheese won’t come off when I remove the foil halfway through the oven time

Bake with foil in preheated oven at 375F for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. After the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly, take the lasagna out.

As tempting as it is to cut this beautiful work of art and start scarfing, do let it rest for 15 minutes.

This gives it a chance to cool and set. It’ll be a lot easier to cut and serve after it cools. I know this from personal experience. Lots of personal experience. Lots and lots of personal experience (wink).

Adapted from Allrecipes website. Note: if you make this lasagna the night before, you can skip the step to simmer the sauce. If you make the lasagna for day of, then add 90 minutes to the overall cooking time to account for this. It may not have the depth of flavor from a slow-simmered sauce, but for me, the time-saving trick is worth it.

Make Ahead Lasagna

Prep Time45 mins

Cook Time50 mins

Rest Time15 mins

Total Time1 hr 50 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: comfort food, feed a crowd, noodles, pasta, tomato

Servings: 8 people


  • 10-12 lasagna noodles (depending on the brand you use)

Lasagna Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 pound sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce


  • 2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Ricotta Cheese Mixture

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley


  • 1 cup (divided) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup (divided) shredded parmesan cheese


  • Cook the lasagna noodles until al dente (according to package instructions). Or, fill a 9×13 inch pan with hot water and soak the noodles for 20-30 minutes until softened.

Lasagna Sauce

  • Dice the onion, mince garlic.

  • Brown the onion & garlic, sausage, and ground beef until no longer pink (10 minutes). Drain grease (optional).

  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and all the seasonings (sugar, basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, parsley). Bring to a boil then turn to low heat.

  • If making the lasagna to cook the day of, simmer the sauce with the lid on for 90 minutes, and stir occasionally. If prepping the lasagna a day ahead, you can skip this step. (You may not get the full depth of flavor from a slow-simmered sauce, but letting the flavors meld overnight is a close second.)

Assemble Lasagna

  • Preheat oven to 375F (if making this the same day).

  • Meat Sauce Layer: spoon half the meat sauce into the 9×13 inch pan.

  • Noodle Layer: layer the lasagna noodles over the meat sauce.

  • Ricotta Layer: spread half the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.

  • Shredded Cheese Layer: sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella & 1/4 cup parmesan cheese over the ricotta mixture

  • Repeat the 4 layers.

  • Cover tightly with foil. (It's best to spray the inside of the foil with cooking spray to prevent the cheese from sticking to it.) You can store in the fridge like this if you are making this for the day after.


  • Bake in preheated oven at 375F for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes. When cheese is lightly browned on top, it's done!

  • Take out the lasagna and let it sit for 15 minutes to cool. (It needs time to set and is much easier to cut when cooler.)


The overall cook time will increase by 90 minutes (to simmer the sauce), if you make this lasagna day of. 

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Antonette Greenfelder
Antonette Greenfelder
Antonette Greenfelder was born and raised in Washington. Antonette enjoyed writing, cooking, and traveling. Antonette's skills as a hard worker led her to becoming an editor at Homecook Mom. As an editor, Antonette has enjoyed helping others improve their writing skills.