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Lasagna Al Forno {No Boil Recipe}

Lasagna Al Forno {No Boil Recipe}

Lasagna Al Forno is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It’s also super easy to make!

Filled with delicious Italian beef ragu, creamy Bechamel sauce and generously grated Parmesan cheese this homemade lasagna will leave the whole family asking for more.

You can make this lasagna with no boil lasagna sheets or with fresh pasta.

There are just a few tricks that nobody talks about that you need to do to make the most delicious Lasagna Al Forno.

What is Lasagna Al Forno?

Lasagna is arguably one of the most popular Italian pasta dishes. It’s made with wide rectangular pasta sheets that are layered with meat ragu, bechamel sauce and cheese.

Translated from Italian Al Forno means in the oven. Al Forno style simply means it’s oven baked. 

Like Lasagna Al Forno, Tortellini Al Forno, Frittata Al Forno, Castagne Al Forno etc.

Why You’ll Love Lasagna Al Forno

  1. It’s a make once – eat twice (or more) type of meal.
  2. It reheats well the next day and it’s perfect for the freezer.
  3. There’s no need to boil lasagna sheets before assembling your lasagna, but there are 2 tricks that you MUST do to have evenly cooked lasagna.
  4. This lasagna can also be made with fresh pasta sheets – homemade or store-bought.
  5. You can prepare some of the ingredients in advance – like ragu sauce. It tastes even better the next day.
  6. In fact, you can even make the whole dish in advance and reheat before serving.
  7. Which makes lasagna perfect for big family gatherings.
  8. Last but not least, you’ll fall in love with rich, hearty and comforting combination of layers of pasta, beef ragu, bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Is this a cheater Lasagna recipe?

No, not at all. This is an authentic Nothern Italian lasagna, just how nonna makes it!

The only difference is that most nonnas make lasagna with fresh pasta. While you can also make this lasagna with fresh pasta I’ll teach you all the tricks to make the most delicious NO BOIL lasagna using dried pasta sheets.

Lasagna Al Forno Overview

Lasagna or Lasagne?

So you’ve heard people say Lasagna and Lasagne, but which spelling is correct?

The answer is BOTH. And no, it’s not the difference between American and British spelling.

Being an Italian dish let’s take peak in Italian grammar for a second.

Lasagne is a plural form of lasagna.

Lasagna is a single flat pasta sheet, lasagne more than 1 pasta sheets.

Lasagna used in singular form also refers to a dish itself.

So technically you can say Lasagna Al Forno (as a dish) or Lasagne Al Forno (as you use multiple pasta sheets to make the dish).

Lasagna Al Forno

Lasagna Ingredients

Lasagna Pasta Sheets – you can use dry or fresh pasta sheets. Dry lasagna sheets will often read on the package: oven-ready lasagne. But even if it doesn’t say that you can still use any lasagna sheets because of the magic tricks that I’m going to teach you.

Beef Ragu Sauce – traditional lasagna recipe calls for authentic Ragu Alla Bolognese also known as Bolognese sauce. However this simplified beef (or mixed meat) ragu will also work great.

Selection of meat for ragu depends a lot on your personal preference. Mixed meat (half pork, half beef) makes rich and flavorful sauce while a mix of pork, beef and chicken or turkey makes a lighter and more delicate ragu.

You can also use beef only or beef + pancetta (salt-cured pork belly) to make ragu for your lasagne.

Bechamel Sauce – simple white sauce for lasagna which is also known as Salsa Besciamella.

Remember that Bechamel Sauce for Lasagna should be slightly thinner than the classic version, This means you need to use more milk for that same amount of butter and flour.

It’s ready in 5 minutes from start to finish. That’s why it’s best to make it right before assembling your lasagna and avoid store-bought Bechamel sauce.

Parmesan Cheese – freshly grated Parmesan cheese will give the most flavor but in this case even grated quality store bought Parmesan will work great.

You can also use half Parmesan and half Pecorino cheese if you like stronger flavor.

Mozzarella Cheese (optional) – classic Lasagna recipe doesn’t include any other types of cheese except Parmesan but a lot of Italian nonnas love to add a few cubes on Mozzarella cheese between the layers.

I like to add it just on the tops for delicious cheesy crust. You can try both ways and what you like best.

How To Make Lasagna Al Forno – Step By Step

Start preparing lasagna by making ragu meat sauce.

Ragu can be made a day or 2 in advance.
This helps significantly to cut down lasagna preparation time.

Prepare Italian Beef Ragu

making beef ragu for lasagna
  • Start by preparing soffritto. Dice carrot, onion and celery into small cubes. Put them in a large pan with a generous splash of olive oil (about ¼ cup).
    Let simmer until onions become semi-translucent. 
    TIP: If you want to add extra flavor to your ragu, start by frying pancetta (salt-cured pork belly) cut into small cubes in a dry pan. Once pancetta is nicely roasted, add soffritto (carrots, onion, celery).
    In this case just a quick drizzle of olive oil will be enough.
  • Once soffritto is ready add ground meat crumbling it with your hands.
    Set the heat to high and continue to stir and break any large lumps of meat with a wooden spoon. You’ll see meat will start to release some liquid.
    Continue to cook on high heat lightly roasting the meat until all the liquid has evaporated. 
    TIP: I like to cook soffritto and meat in a large pan to help meat roast perfectly without boiling it. Once it’s ready for tomato sauce I’ll transfer everything in a dutch oven. You can cook ragu from start to finish in a large pan or in a dutch oven.
    This step is extra which you can skip, but trust me, the flavor it gives makes a big difference.
  • Once meat is lightly roasted add wine. Red wine or white wine of your choice. Let evaporate.
  • Add salt and a little pepper to taste. If you used pancetta remember it already contains salt. Plus, you can always add extra salt at the end.
  • Add tomato passata (tomato pure) and water or broth with 1:1 ratio. When adding water I like to add water to the tomato pure can and wash out any remaining pure, then add it to ragu.
    Cover with a lid leaving a small opening for steam to come out and set on slow simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • Check on your ragu occasionally making sure there’s still enough liquid.
    If needed add a little more water or broth to thin it out. Remember ragu will thicken a little as it cools.
  • As a final result you should have ragu of medium thickness or of medium thinners I would say. 
    Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed.

Prepare Bechamel Sauce

When you’re ready to assemble lasagna start preparing the Bechamel sauce.

how to make bechamel sauce for lasagna
  • In a stove-top pot set on medium heat add butter. Once butter is melted add flour and whisk well until a thick creamy paste forms. Stir well for a few seconds.
  • Slowly pour in about ⅓ of the milk.  Continue whisking energetically breaking all the lumps. Make sure to scrape well the bottom and sides of the pot.
  • Once you have reached smooth consistency slowly add the rest of the milk, nutmeg and salt to taste.
  • Continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken. It should still be runny, creamy but not watery! Turn the heat of and cover the pot with a lid.
    Remember! Bechamel sauce will continue to cook a little even with the heat of. So it’ll thicken further without you knowing this. It’s a good practice to the turn the heat of once you’ve reached ALMOST desired consistency.

How To Layer Lasagna

Once you have all ingredients for lasagna ready put a pot or a kettle of water to boil.

Pour hot boiling water in a large bowl or shallow dish that can fit a single lasagna sheet. Add a few drops of oil (any oil) to prevent lasagna sheets from sticking together.

IMPORTANT: This step is necessary only if you use dried lasagna sheets. Skip this step and further reference to it if you’re using fresh pasta!

how to layer lasagna step by step
  • Put lasagne sheets in hot water – 3 at a time or the quantity that you need to make one layer of lasagna. Let sit for about 30-60 seconds.
  • In the meantime spread a few tablespoons of ragu over the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Layer soaked lasagna sheets. Don’t worry if they don’t fit the baking dish perfectly (see photo) They’ll expand in the the oven.
    TIP: If needed, you can carefully cut lasagna sheets after soaking for 60 seconds using big sharp scissors.
  • Add a generous layer of ragu sauce making sure you cover all the angles.
  • Top with about ¼ of bechamel sauce and ¼ of all grated Parmesan cheese.
    IMPORTANT: Put the next batch of lasagna sheets needed for the next layer to soak in the same water as soon as you removed the ready to use ones.
  • Repeat all the layers starting with lasagna pasta sheets.

    If you like you can top the last layers (or all layers) with Mozzarella cheese cut in cubes.
    Here’s the order of the layers:

    Lasagna Sheets – > Ragu Sauce -> Bechamel Sauce -> Grated Parmesan Cheese -> Mozzarella Cheese (optional)
  • Once you’ve finished the last layer of Parmesan & Mozzarella cheese, pour a little bit of milk all around the edges of lasagna. This is the second magic trick that nobody knows! It will help lasagna cook evenly and not curl up or burn in the corners.
how to assemble top layer of lasagna

You should have total 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of ragu + what you’ve put on the bottom of the baking dish, 4 layers of Bechamel sauce and 4 layers of Parmesan cheese.

If you want, you can add an extra 5th layer, but be sure to divide all ingredients in 5 parts and use more lasagna sheets.

  • Place Lasagna in a preheated to 390F (200C) oven for 40 minutes.
  • At 25 minutes mark lower the temperature 355F (180C).
  • If you notice lasagna started to brown too much, cover the top with an aluminum foil and continue to cook.
  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes for serving.

Ingredients listed in the recipe are good for 7.5/10.5 inch baking dish.
A 7×11 or 8×10 will also work. If you have a large dish feel free to double the ingredients and make an extra layer or make another small dish of Lasagne Al Forno. 

As an alternative you can freeze just ragu and use it later in the recipes like Pappardelle Alla Bolognese.

No Boil Lasagna

Top Tips For Making The Best Lasagna Al Forno

  • If you want to have a perfect top layer of lasagna set aside a little less than ¼ of ragu and a little more than ¼ of bechamel sauce (or ⅕ if you plan to make 5 players. Same for Parmesan cheese.
    This way you can divide the remaining sauces between the layers and even if you over do one of the layers you still will have enough sauce for the top layer!
  • Spread ragu sauce well, especially around the corners. Nobody wants to eat a corner piece without the meat.
  • Lasagna sheets don’t have to fit the pan perfectly as they’ll expand in the oven. In fact, if you’re using dry lasagna sheets it’s highly recommended there’s a little space left around the edges.
    If lasagna sheets fit the baking dish to a T they might curl up in the oven as they puff. 
    Another option how you can avoid this is to slightly cross-layer the sheets.
  • If you’re using fresh pasta sheets to make lasagna make sure your beef ragu and bechamel sauce are not too thick! This is super important to help the pasta cook in the oven.
  • Cover your Lasagna with an aluminum foil or parchment paper if you notice it starts to brown too much in the oven (usually after 25 minute mark).
  • Once lasagna is baked, let it rest on the kitchen counter for 10-15 minutes before serving so that you can cut perfect individual portions. The layers of hot lasagna tend to slide if cut immediately. 

LASAGNA FAQS

lasagna al forno inside layers

Is this a Make-Ahead Lasagna?

Both! You can prepare and cook it in advance, store it in the fridge for 1 day and reheat when ready to serve. If you need to prepare lasagna more time in advance see freezing options.

It’s also perfect to be cooked and served immediately.

Can I make Lasagna with fresh pasta?

Absolutely! There’s no need to pre-boil or soak fresh pasta sheets, just make sure to slightly thin out ragu and Bechamel sauce.

Can I make Lasagna without Ricotta Cheese?

Absolutely! This Lasagna is made without Ricotta.

In fact, classic Lasagna recipe from Emilia-Romagna where it originated from doesn’t call for no other cheese except Parmesan. There are however lasagna recipes from other parts of Italy, mainly from Campagna region – Naples where ricotta cheese is substituted for Bechamel sauce.

How many layers are there in Lasagna?

Do you have to boil lasagna sheets?

No, this is a 100% no boil lasagna recipe! You can use lasagna pasta sheets that say no boil lasagna sheets” in the package or ANY dried lasagna sheets taking into consideration my tips about making it.

How long does it take to bake Lasagna?

It takes about 40-45 minutes total. Bake Lasagna at 390F for about 25 minutes and than bake it  at 350 for another 15-20 minutes until golden crust.

Can you freeze Lasagna?

Yes! In fact, you can make a big batch and store in the freeze for up to 4 months.

Always freeze Lasagna AFTER baking and once it’s completely cool.

You can freeze it as whole or in individual portions. If you’re freezing Lasagna in individual portions make sure to arrange each portion in a pan that fits perfectly. If you freeze it in a bigger container lasagna might fall apart when you reheat it.

How to reheat frozen lasagna?

Homemade frozen lasagna should be first thawed. If you’re planning to make it for lunch, take it out of the freeze the night before. If you plan to eat it for dinner, take lasagna out of the freeze in the morning. Once thawed or almost thawed cover with an aluminum (tin) foil and cook in a preheated to 350F (175C) oven for 20-25 minutes.

Lasagna Al Forno in a baking dish

Lasagna Al Forno {No Boil Recipe}

Delicious, juicy Lasagna Al Forno can be made without the need to boil lasagna pasta sheets. Learn all the tips and tricks for this perfect no boil lasagna!
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Prep Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Pasta, Pasta Al Forno
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6

Ingredients

For Beef Ragu

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1.1 lb ground beef or a mix of ground pork & ground beef , 500 g
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cup tomato puree (tomato passata)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ cup beef stock (add more if needed)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste

For Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter , 40 g
  • 4 leveled tbsp flour , 40 g
  • 2 ½ cup milk , 600 ml
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg , a few pinches
  • Salt to taste

For Lasagna Layers

  • 12 Lasagna sheets (for 8×10 inch baking pan)
  • 1 ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese , 150 g
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese , cut in cubes (optional)
  • Milk , about ¼ – ⅓ cup for the rim
  • 8×10 or 7×11 inch baking dish

Instructions

Prepare Beef Ragu

  • Prepare soffritto. Dice carrot, onion and celery into small cubes. Put them in a large pan with a generous splash of olive oil (about ¼ cup). Let simmer until onions become- semi-translucent.
    1 small onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery rib, Olive oil
  • Once soffritto is ready add minced meat crumbling it with your hands. Set the heat to high and continue to stir and break any large lumps of meat with a wooden spoon. You’ll see meat will start to release some liquid. Continue to cook on high heat lightly roasting the meat until all the liquid evaporated.
    1.1 lb ground beef or a mix of ground pork & ground beef
  • Once meat is lightly roasted add wine. Let evaporate.
    ½ cup dry white wine
  • Add salt and a little pepper to taste.
    Salt, pepper
  • Add tomato passata (tomato pure) and beef broth with 1:1 ratio. Add bay leaf.
    1 ½ cup tomato puree, 1 bay leaf, 1 ½ cup beef stock
  • Cover with a lid leaving a small opening for steam to come out and set on slow simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours.
    Check on your ragu occasionally making sure there’s still enough liquid.
  • If needed add a little more water or broth to thin it out. Remember ragu will thicken a little as it cools.
    As a final result you should have ragu of medium thickness or of medium thinners I would say.
  • Taste for salt and pepper add more if needed.

Prepare Bechamel Sauce

  • When you’re ready to assemble lasagna start preparing the Bechamel sauce.
  • In a stove-top pot set on medium heat add butter. Once butter is melted add flour and whisk well until a thick creamy paste forms. Stir well for a few seconds.
    3 tbsp butter, 4 leveled tbsp flour
  • Slowly pour in about ⅓ of the milk. Continue whisking energetically breaking all the lumps. Make sure to scrape well the bottom and sides of the pot.
    Once you have reached creamy, lump free consistency slowly add the rest of the milk. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.
    2 ½ cup milk, ¼ tsp nutmeg, Salt
  • Continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken. It should still be runny, creamy but not watery! Turn the heat of and cover the pot with a lid.
    Remember Bechamel sauce will continue to cook a little even with the heat of.

Assemble Lasagna Layers

  • Once you have all ingredients for lasagna ready, put a pot or a kettle of water to boil.
    Pour hot boiling water in a large bowl or shallow dish that can fit a single lasagna sheet. Add a few drop of oil (any oil) to prevent lasagna sheets from sticking together.
    IMPORTANT: This step is necessary only if you use dried lasagna sheets. Skip this step and further referance to it if you’re using fresh pasta!
  • Put lasagne sheets in hot water – 3 at a time or the quantity that you need to make one layer of lasagna. Let sit for about 30-60 seconds.
  • In the meantime spread a few tablespoons of ragu over the bottom of the baking dish.
    Layer soaked lasagna sheets. Don’t worry if they don’t fit the baking dish perfectly (see photo) They’ll expand in the the oven.
    TIP: If needed, you can carefully cut lasagna sheets after soaking for 60 seconds using big sharp scissors.
  • Add a generous layer of ragu sauce making sure you cover all the angles.
  • Top with about ¼ of bechamel sauce and ¼ of all grated Parmesan cheese.
    IMPORTANT: Put the next batch of lasagna sheets needed for the next layer to soak in the same water as soon as you removed the ready to use ones.
  • Repeat all the layers starting with lasagna pasta sheets.
    Lasagna Sheets – > Ragu Sauce -> Bechamel Sauce -> Grated Parmesan Cheese -> Mozzarella Cheese cut in cubes (optional)
  • Once you’ve finished the last layer of Parmesan cheese, pour a little bit of milk all around the rim of the baking dish. This is the second magic trick that nobody knows about! It will help lasagna cook evenly and not curl up or burn in the corners.
  • Place Lasagna in a preheated to 390F (200C) oven and cook for 40 minutes.
  • At 25 minutes mark lower the temperature 355F (180C).
    If you notice lasagna started to brown too much, cover the top with an aluminum foil and continue to cook.
  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes

Ingredients listed in the recipe are good for 7.5/10.5 inch baking dish.
A 7×11 or 8×10 will also work. If you have a large dish feel free to double the ingredients and make an extra layer or make another small dish of Lasagne Al Forno.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!

This Lasagna Al Forno is perfect for big family dinners! Hope you and your family loves it.

If you learned something new in this recipe or have any other questions? Let me know!

Buon Appetito!

No Boil Lasagna {The Most Delicious Lasagna You've Ever Had!}
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