Everything you love about lasagna, in one pan, without boiling noodles and in much less time, thanks to fresh lasagna noodles and a quick cooking sauce.
Making lasagna has changed for me over the years. Gone are the multiple pots and steps. No more boiling noodles. I've ditched the long-simmering sauce. And now I do it all in just one skillet!
The biggest change I've made is making use of fresh (refrigerated) lasagna noodles, which are now readily available at most grocery stores. I have to confess, that while no-boil lasagna noodles seemed like a game changer, I've never loved the texture or the having to guess if I'd watered down my sauce enough. Fresh lasagna noodles cook up beautifully in a regular meat sauce, without the need to pre-boil them. They also produce a lovely crepe-like texture to your finished lasagna, which I love.
My lasagna also uses a quick and easy sauce, that benefits from starting with crushed tomatoes, so you don't need a long simmer to cook it down. It also has the added flavour of Italian sausage, together with ground beef or pork, garlic and herbs, so great flavour is guaranteed, without the long simmering time.
Fresh Lasagna Noodles - these are the lasagna noodle sheets that you'll find in the refrigerated pasta section of your grocery store. You'll need about 6 sheets. If you need to use the dried no-boil noodles, see the Cook's Notes below for adjustments you'll need to make.
Ground Pork or Beef - you will need about 1/2 lb of ground pork or beef in any variety (medium, lean or extra lean), as we will be spooning off any extra fat anyway.
Italian Sausage - any Italian sausage will work here. You will need about 3 average-sized links, removed from the casing or about 1/2 lb. of loose Italian sausage. I generally use Mild, though you could use hot if you're looking for a spicy lasagna.
Tomato Paste - you'll just need a small bit, so the tubes of tomato paste that are easily available in with the cans of tomato paste at the grocery store are handy to have on hand, so you don't have to open a can for a small amount.
Crushed Tomatoes - crushed tomatoes are highly recommended, as they make the nicest "quick" sauce. You could use canned diced tomatoes, but you' will need to simmer the sauce longer to allow some of the extra liquid to cook off.
Ricotta - I generally use ricotta in my lasagna, but if you prefer cottage cheese, just go ahead and use it instead.
Fresh Spinach or Parsley - a little green is a nice addition to the ricotta cheese layer, so add some if you have some. I used chopped baby spinach here, though fresh parsley is good, too. If you don't have anything on hand, you can just omit.
Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese - you'll need some Parmesan cheese to add to the ricotta filling. I love freshly grated, though you can use pre-grated in the same quantities. Likewise, use either freshly grated or pre-grated mozzarella cheese for topping.
You will also need - dried basil, thyme and oregano, white sugar, salt and freshly ground pepper.
This is a summary of the steps to make this easy lasagna. Please refer to the instructions in the recipe card below for detailed instructions.
- Using fresh pasta sheets means that your sauce doesn't need as much liquid as you might be used to using for the dried "no boil" noodles. That said, you do want to make sure it isn't dry. I generally add a splash of water to the finished sauce before adding the noodles, just to loosen it up. Also, you want to make sure to spread a bit of sauce over all the noodle surface on the top, so they cook properly.
- I haven't added the typical egg to the ricotta filling, simply because of the short cooking time of this dish. I haven't missed it, especially with ricotta, which is nice and thick right out of the container. Also, don't forget to season your sauce and your ricotta filling well with salt and freshly ground pepper, to bring out all the great cheese flavour.
- Add another layer of flavour to your lasagna with basil pesto! Simply spread a thin layer between the noodles and the ricotta cheese layer.
- You don't need to stress getting the lasagna sheets into the noodles. Anyway that works for you is fine, even cutting them in half to make them smaller and easier to handle is all good :)
- You probably want to use a slightly larger skillet than I used here :) A 10 or 12-inch (top diameter) cast-iron skillet would be a perfect size for this dish.
- If your skillet is jam packed, be sure to bake with a baking sheet underneath, to catch any bubble-overs.
- That said, don't feel locked into a skillet. You can certainly cook the sauce and then assemble it all in another dish and bake. It won't be "one-pan", but will still be delicious
- I love the crispy bits of pasta, so I left some sticking out and uncovered. I suspect not everyone would be a fan though (my husband thought it was a slight flaw, rather than a feature :). So if you don't want crispy pasta bits, simply trim the pasta to fit the pan (so it doesn't stick out at the edges) and make sure it's covered in sauce.
- Do be sure to let your lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes after baking, for best flavour and texture.
- You can make the lasagna ahead, refrigerate and re-heat later. To re-heat, bring it out of the fridge a little ahead (so it's not super cold going into the oven), cover with foil and re-heat in a 350F oven until warmed through.
- This lasagna will also freeze well.
Easy One-Pan No Boil Skillet Lasagna
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 6 oz mild Italian sausage (casing removed, about 3 links)
- 6 oz ground pork (or ground beef)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes (or see Note 1)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp white sugar (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 fresh lasagna sheets
- 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh spinach or parsley (finely chopped)
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (for topping)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet, about 10-12 inches top diameter. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30-45 seconds. Add ground beef and sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking up larger chunks with your spoon, until well browned. Spoon off and discard excess fat in the pan.
- Add the tomato paste and stir in and cook for about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, herbs, sugar (if using) and generously add salt and freshly ground pepper. *Add a bit of water to your empty can of crushed tomatoes, swirl it around and set aside in case you need to add a touch of liquid to your sauce. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer while you make the ricotta filling.
- In a medium bowl, add the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan, chopped spinach or parsley and salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine well and set aside.
- Remove your skillet from the heat. **Make sure your sauce is not too dry at this point. It should have some saucy liquid along with the meat. If you think it needs it, add some of the water in the tomato can that you set aside, as needed. I generally add a splash to loosen a bit.
- Assemble the lasagna: Take one sheet of fresh lasagna and slide it under the sauce, close to the bottom of the pan. Take a second sheet and repeat, but place it in the opposite direction, in a roughly + shape. Place two sheets on top of the sauce, diagonally, forming an X shape. Spoon the prepared ricotta filling on top and spread into an even layer. Place two more lasagna sheets on top, covering as much of the cheese layer as you can. Using a small spoon, grab some of the sauce from under the cheese layer and spread it over-top of the top noodles to moisten. You don't need a lot, but do be sure that there is enough to spread across all the noodle area. If you like, you can trim any excess noodles that are sticking out around the edges, or leave them to get crispy edges. Scatter grated mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
- Bake uncovered at 350F (not fan assisted), for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden. *If your skillet is jam-packed to the top, bake with the skillet on top of a baking sheet to catch any bubble-overs. Remove from oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.