Lasagna Bolognese is a classic baked dish typical of Italian cuisine, in particular from Emilia Romagna and specifically from Bologna city. Which is why it’s called Lasagne alle Bolognese.
Made with fresh egg pasta, in the shape of rectangles called “Lasagna”. First you lay them in a lasagna pan then cover with meat sauce (Bolognese), bechamel and parmigiano, layer by layer. Finally cook lasagna in the oven, where all the ingredients are combined together.
Lasagna Bolognese recipe is different from the most common version, famous in the United States, made with layers of meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Lasagna Bolognese wants only fresh egg pasta, Bolognese ragù (slow-cooked meat sauce), creamy béchamel (white sauce) and plenty of grated Parmigiano cheese.
Beloved and known all over the world, here is the authentic Lasagna Bolognese Recipe. With all the tips, tricks and step by step photos that explain how to make homemade Lasagna Bolognese, just like that of nonna and the best Italian restaurants!
Authentic Lasagna Bolognese Recipe
Doses for a 13×9 inch lasagna pan.
For Bolognese Sauce
- 300 g (10 oz) of coarsely ground beef
- 150 g (5 oz) of sliced pancetta
- 300 g (10 oz) of tomato passata or crashed peeled tomato
- 50 g (1,70 oz) of carrot
- 50 g (1,70 oz) of celery
- 50g (1,70 oz) of onion
- 100 ml of dry white wine
- 100 ml of whole milk
- 300 ml of meat stock
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- About 14 lasagna: you can make fresh homemade lasagna noodles following our step by step recipe
- Or you can buy authentic Italian flat lasagna, oven ready (no cooking or boiling necessary), made with durum wheat (we recommend Tuscanini brand).
- Plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (at least 200 g/7 oz).
For Bèchamel sauce
- 500 ml of whole milk
- 50 g (1,7oz) of unsalted butter
- 50g (1,7 oz) of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
- freshly grated nutmeg
First of all Make the Bolognese Sauce
Are you ready to make some delicious homemade lasagna bolognese? So first you have to make Bolognese sauce, this delicious dish made with minced meat, soffritto and tomato passata, useful for seasoning any type of pasta, so make plenty. You can prepare the Bolognese sauce even 1 or 2 days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
Step 1) – First cut the carrot, celery and onion in very tiny pieces. The more the better. Set aside. Then cut the pancetta as finely as possible with a sharp knife or a food processor. Now place the minced pancetta in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time.
Step 2) – Add the extra virgin olive oil and the finely chopped vegetables. Stir and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Then add the ground beef.
Step 3) – Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium / high heat. Now put the heat on high and add the white wine. Stir and let it evaporate.
Step 4) – Finally add the tomato passata. Cover with a lid and simmer over LOW heat for about 2 hours, adding broth when needed. Towards the end, add the milk to dampen the acidity of the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Bolognese Sauce is ready when you can see an oily, creamy sauce on the surface.
Make Bechamél Sauce
While the Bolognese sauce is cooking, make the béchamel. See Besciamella: the Italian white sauce recipe for more information on this delicious sauce.
Step 1) – In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat then add the flour – using a flour sieve – while mixing QUICKLY with a whisk. Cook for 30 sec/1 min stirring, so the flour becomes tastier and absorb the butter fats. The mixture of butter and flour is called roux and it should be a nice golden color. Now set aside and let it cool. Meanwhile heat the milk, without bringing to a boil.
Step 2) – Pour the milk slowly over the roux, while stirring vigorously with a whisk to prevent the formation of lumps. When the milk is completely poured over the roux sauce, put the saucepan back on low heat. Keep mixing constantly, until you have a fairly thick consistency (about 10/15 minutes). The sauce is ready when it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon. Finally, add a pinch of fine salt and grated nutmeg to taste.
If you have used a whisk and stirred at supersonic speed (lol) you shouldn’t have any lumps in the sauce. If any lumps form, beat them out with an immersion hand blender until they dissolve. You can make Besciamella ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator for 2/3 days.
Prepare Lasagna Bolognese
Now that you have all the main preparations, we can start assembling the layers of our lasagna bolognese. If you are using fresh pasta lasagna made with our recipe, DO NOT FORGET to dip them 1 minute in boiling salted water and let cool and dry on kitchen towels before using them for your lasagna recipe. If you are using the lasagna noodles that we have recommended in the ingredients, you do NOT NEED TO COOK them. They will cook in the oven thanks to the liquids of the meat sauce and bechamel.
Step 1) – Preheat the oven at 190° (380 F). Spread on the bottom of a baking dish (better ceramic or pirex) two tablespoons of bechamel. Then put a lasagna noodle over it, trying to cover the entire bottom of the pan. If one lasagna is not enough for you, use another one, whole or in half, depending on the size of the lasagna. Layer on two tablespoons of bolognese sauce and two of bechamel sauce.
Step 2) – With the help of a tablespoon, cover the entire surface of the lasagna. In the end, sprinkle two tablespoons of grated Parmigiano.
Step 14) – Repeat these steps for at least five layers (lasagna – bolognese sauce – bèchamel – parmigiano), in any case up to fill your baking dish.
Step 4) – Finish by covering the last layer with plenty of Parmigiano cheese, that cooking make a crispy crust. Bake at 190° (380 F) for about 30 minutes.Let cool Lasagna Bolognese out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Can you Make Lasagna Bolognese Ahead of Time?
So, as you can see, there are three different recipes, which you can make at different times. For example you can make Bolognese sauce a few days ahead and freeze it. Even 1 mounth ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. Fresh lasagna noodles and béchamel sauce can be made the day before. After you have prepared them, you can start assembling the layers of this delicious and rich Italian dish.
So yes! It’s possible to make ahead of time lasagna Bolognese recipe: it can be made a few hours earlier, for example early in the morning to bake them for lunch, but even the evening before. In this case, wrap it in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. When you want to cook it, you must leave it at room temperature for half an hour: in the meantime, preheat the oven to a cooking temperature of 190° C (380 F).
How to Freeze Lasagna
You can freeze lasagna bolognese both uncooked and cooked, whole or in pieces. In both cases you will get an excellent result by following these tips:
- Freezing uncooked lasagna: for example you can make a lasagna pan or two and want to freeze to have them ready for the next time. This is typical when you have a dinner or lunch with many guests and you want to make ahead the main dish. So just defrost the lasagna the night before so that it thaws perfectly and the cooking in the oven remains uniform. Then bake at 190° (380 F) for about 30 minutes.
- Freezing cooked lasagna: if you have a cooked lasagna pan or some pieces leftovers you can think of freezing them. In this case you will have to let the lasagna cool before freezing. When you want to reheat them, just defrost some hours ahead then heat up at 190° C (380 F) for about 10 minutes. TIP: just cover the surface with aluminum foil to prevent it from further toasting.
For both freezing options it’s better using fresh products that have not already been frozen.
Lasagna Recipe Variants
In Italy each region has its own version of lasagna recipe and every family makes his own personal changes, thus increasing the number of possible variations in an incredible way.
The gastronomic tradition of each region has significantly influenced the development of the local version of lasagna. In mountain areas, for example, it’s not uncommon to find mushrooms as a filling, instead of meat sauce.
In Sicily, lasagna is very often stuffed “alla Norma“, with ricotta and eggplant.
In Marche and Umbria, famous is lasagna “vincigrassi”, in which the sauce is enriched with chicken livers, sweetbreads, bone marrow, bovine brain or truffle.
Finally, in Sardinia, they use carasau bread in place of lasagna noodles.
Of all these variants, however, only two are competing for the title of Italian lasagna in the collective imagination all over the world: that of Emilia Romagna (lasagna Bolognese) and that of Naples (classic lasagna).
What is the Difference Between Classic Lasagna and Lasagna Bolognese?
Meat sauce (obviously with the due differences in cooking methods) and grated parmigiano cheese are common in both the recipes. But the difference between classic lasagna and lasagna Bolognese are more consistent. Both recipes come from two famous Italian recipes, born in two different cities: Lasagna Bolognese (from Bologna) and Classic Lasagna (from Naples) known in Italy as Lasagna Napoletana.
Classic Lasagna mix the meat sauce with fresh ricotta while the Bolognese version uses the béchamel to bind the filling.
In Italy, traditional Lasagna Napoletana presents a greater “richness” of the filling, which includes (not necessarily all together) semi-hard cheeses, diced salami, hard-boiled eggs and fried meatballs.
What matters is that lasagna, which started from two points in Italy (Naples and Bologna), has become one of the gastronomic symbols of Italy in the world, especially in the United States.