This no-boil lasagna is made with Ragu (or Bolognese) sauce, Bechamel, and mozzarella. This is an easy and fast way to make the traditional Italian lasagna recipe with no ricotta. If you prefer a lasagna with ricotta, you can add it to make it juicier. However, we do not use ricotta in lasagna in Italy, and we love a nice crunchy crust. By using these no-boil lasagna noodles, you can make a delicious quick dinner in only 30 minutes mess-free.
No boil lasagna noodles are dried lasagna pasta sheets sold in boxes. In Italy, Barilla, De Cecco or Rana make them.
They do not need to be boiled before composing and baking the lasagna, as they are preboiled before they are dried.
You absolutely should NOT SOAK these lasagna sheets in water!
Pasta is boiled to soften and coagulate the gluten to achieve that firm texture Italians love. Soaking pasta in not-boiling water would only make the pasta soggy. The gluten needs to cook at a minimum of 275 F - 80 C to coagulate and give the "Al Dente" texture Italians love.
In the article: Can' Passive Pasta' Reduce Energy Bills? The Italian Chef vs. the Nobel Laureate, you can read more about boiling the pasta in a recent debate between Italian Nobel laureate for physics, Giorgio Parisi, and starred chef Antonello Colonna.
Easy lasagna made from scratch
Making lasagna from scratch doesn't have to be a long and complicated process. The preparation is very simple as I use 3 shortcuts:
- I made the Bolognese/ragu sauce with a pressure cooker that only takes 30 minutes. Often I already have a batch ready in the freezer (You can read more about my Once a Month Freezer Meal Prep)
- I buy ready-made Béchamel sauce, which in Italy and France you can find in all supermarkets. Although, if you cannot find it, bechamel sauce is very easy to make, and if you make some extra, you can freeze it to use on busy days.
- I use no-boil lasagne pasta sheets from De Cecco, Barilla or Rana. They don’t need to be pre-cooked. They will cook directly in the oven for only 20 minutes. Using enough tomato sauce and bechamel, the lasagna sheets will cook with those juices while baking and absorb all their flavors.
I will show you step-by-step how to make a lasagna from scratch.
The Bolognese sauce I make in this recipe is a simplified version. In the article Bolognese sauce, you will find the traditional recipe and the difference between a ragu and a Bolognese.
Here you can also find the detailed recipe for Homemade Béchamel: white roux.
This makes 1 lb - 500 gr of sauce
- 3 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1 stalk of celery stalk diced
- ½ cup - 120 g of bacon
- 1 cube of beef stock
- 1 lb - 500 gr of lean minced beef ( for Bolognese, use a mix of beef and pork)
- 1 lb - 500 gr of regular tomato sauce
- Black pepper
- ½ cup of Marsala wine or white wine, optional but highly recommended
Fresh Béchamel sauce
This makes 1 cup - 300 ml of Bechamel
- 2 tablespoon - 30 g flour
- 2 tablespoon - 30 g butter
- 1 ¼ cup - 300 ml milk
- 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- salt & pepper
The rest of the ingredients
- 1 lb - 500 gr Lasagna pasta sheets - De Cecco, Barilla or Rana
- 1 cup - 100 gr of parmesan cheese grated
- 3 tablespoon of olive oil
- 14 oz - 400 gr of Mozzarella
- Fresh basil if you like
Making the sauce in the pressure cooker
- Stir fry the onion, carrot, and celery to make a soffritto, add the bacon and once cooked, add the meat.
- Stir the meat until it is all brown, then add a ½ cup of Marsala and let it evaporate.
- Add the tomato sauce and the beef stock, stir and close the pressure pan.
- Once the pressure is built, the sauce has to cook for only 30 minutes.
N:B: If you don't have a pressure cooker, the sauce should simmer for 2 hours.
Making Béchamel: White Roux
- Stir for 1 or 2 minutes the flour and the butter in a pan over low heat with a wooden spoon to create a white roux.
- Remove from the heat and gradually add warm milk, ensuring no lumps are formed.
- Put back on the heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
- Lower the heat and keep stirring till it reaches the right consistency.
- Add salt and nutmeg at the end.
Composing the lasagna
Oil a baking tray and spread the first layer of lasagne sheets. Add the Béchamel sauce and the Parmesan cheese to the Bolognese sauce. Cut the mozzarella into thin slices. Pour the sauce, lay the mozzarella over the sheets, and make the lasagne layers. Continue until the last sheets are used.
- Add the mozzarella and sprinkle with olive oil in the last layer.
- Cook in a hot oven for 20 minutes at 355 F - 180 C, and the lasagna is ready!
A crispy vs soft lasagna crust
Italians like a crispy lasagna crust. No wonder three Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura's signature dish is the crunchy part of the lasagne.
If you like softer lasagna sheets, add more milk to the bechamel sauce or use more tomato sauce.
Make ahead for busy days
I usually make the lasagna when I know I will be home late and I will not have time to cook.
I prepare it beforehand and:
- I either leave it in the fridge and cook it when I return home or;
- I cook it for 15 minutes only and cook the remaining 5 minutes when we are all ready to eat.
This is the most classic lasagna, but many more variations exist. You can make white lasagna with vegetables and cheese like mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, ricotta, provola. You can also make it with seafood and bechamel, no cheese.
Prepare the mix you want to add. Just make sure there are enough juices for the no-boil noodles to cook. If you are making a seafood lasagna, I suggest you don't cook the fish before assembling it. Otherwise, the fish will be overcooked. You can get inspiration from the recipe: Fish pie with a Mediterranean twist.
Suppose you want to try something similar to the lasagna but made with different ingredients than lasagna sheets. In that case, you can try eggplant Parmesan, where eggplant slices are used instead of pasta, rice timbale or bake pasta Anelletti .
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📋Traditional Easy No Boil Lasagna With Bechamel
For the Bolognese sauce
For the bechamel
Make the Bolognese sauce or Ragu
- Stir fry the onion, carrot and celery to make a soffritto, add the bacon and once cooked add the meat.1 lb lean minced beef, 1 onion diced, 1 carrot diced, 1 celery stalk diced, ½ cup bacon
- Stir the meat until it is all brown, then add a ½ cup of Marsala and let it evaporate.½ cup Marsala wine
- Add the tomato sauce and the beef stock, stir and close the pressure pan.1 lb regular tomato sauce, 1 cube brown beef stock
- Once the pressure is built, the sauce has to cook for only 35 minutes
Make the bechamel
- Stir for 1 or 2 minutes the flour and the butter in a pan over low heat with a wooden spoon to create a white roux.2 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoon butter
- Remove from the heat and gradually add the warm milk making sure no lumps are formed.1 ¼ cup milk
- Put back on the heat and bring to boil stirring constantly.
- Add salt and nutmegpinch freshly grated nutmeg, salt & pepper
- Lower the heat and keep stirring, till it reaches the right consistency.
Making the lasagna
- Add the Béchamel sauce, the basil leaves and the parmesan cheese to the Bolognese sauce. Cut the mozzarella into thin slices.1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 14 oz mozzarella block
- Oil a baking tray and spread the first layer of lasagna sheets.1 lb lasagna sheets, 3 tablespoon olive oil
- Pour the sauce and lay the mozzarella over the sheets and start making the lasagna layers. Add some sliced mozzarella every 2 layers and continue until the last sheets are used.
- In the last layer just add the mozzarella and sprinkle with olive oil.
- Cook in a hot oven for 20 minutes at 355 F - 180 C and presto, the lasagna is ready!
- no-boil lasagne pasta sheets don’t need to be pre-cooked. They will cook directly in the oven in only 20 minutes. As long as you use enough tomato sauce and bechamel, the lasagna sheets will cook with those juices while baking and will absorb all their flavours.
- If you want to prepare the lasagna ahead of time you can:
- either leave it in the fridge for a few hours and cook it when you need it or;
- cook it for 15 minutes only, and cook the remaining 5 minutes when you are ready to eat.
- You can prepare ahead of time the bolognese sauce and the bechamel and freeze it.
- If you don't have a pressure cooker the sauce should simmer for 2 hours.
- The lasagna if made fresh can be frozen, not if you use ingredients that have been frozen already.
- You can put some mozzarella between each lasagna sheet layer, but you will not be able to cover the entire surface. So I prefer to put a full covered layer in the middle and one on top so the mozzarella is well distributed. Once you serve the lasagna every serving of lasagna will have two mozzarella layers.
- You can make white lasagna, filled with vegetables and cheese like mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, ricotta, provola. You can also make it with seafood and bechamel, no cheese.
- Prepare the mix you want to add, just make sure there are enough juices for the no-boil sheets to cook.
- If you are making a seafood lasagna, I would suggest you don't cook the fish before you assemble it otherwise the fish will be overcooked.
Yes, you can. As long as the sauce temperature exceeds 175 F - 80 C and there is enough liquid in the sauce, the lasagna sheets will cook anyway. Just keep the lasagna few more minutes in the oven.