Prep: 1 hr Cook: 3 hrs, 10 mins Plus milk infusing


Serves 8
Little is more satisfying than cooking a classic to perfection - Sarah Cook gives us a lesson in how to make lasagne

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal794
  • fat38g
  • saturates17g
  • carbs63g
  • sugars16g
  • fibre4g
  • protein48g
  • salt2.74g
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  • 3 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 1 onion, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 carrot (about 100g/4oz) finely chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 140g pack cubetti di pancetta



    Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly - the equivalent of streaky bacon. It has a deep, strong,…

  • 500g pack beef mince (we used 10% fat)



    The classic cut of meat for a British Sunday roast, beef is full of flavour, as well as being a…

  • 500g pack pork mince or British veal mince
  • 200ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 rosemary sprig



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 2 thyme sprigs


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 2 tsp dried oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 500ml red wine
  • about 400g dried pasta sheets



    Pasta is the Italian name for Italy's version of a basic foodstuff which is made in many…

  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

For the bechamel sauce

  • 1½ l milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 1 onion, thickly sliced



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves



    The dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a wide variety…

  • 100g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 100g plain flour
  • good grating of nutmeg


  1. First infuse the milk for the béchamel sauce. Put the milk, onion, bay and cloves into a large saucepan and bring very gently just up to the boil. Turn off the heat and set aside for 1 hr to infuse.

  2. For the meat sauce, put the oil, celery, onion, carrot, garlic and pancetta in another large saucepan. Gently cook together until the veg are soft but not coloured. Tip in all the mince, the milk and tomatoes. Using a wooden spoon, stir together and break up and mash the lumps of mince against the sides of the pan. When the mince is mostly broken down, stir in all the herbs, the stock cubes and wine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hr, stirring occasionally to stop the bottom catching. Uncover and gently simmer for another 30 mins-1 hr until the meat is tender and saucy. Taste and season.

  3. To finish the béchamel, strain the milk through a fine sieve into one or two jugs. Melt the butter in the same pan then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour and cook for 2 mins. Stir in the strained milk, a little at a time – the mix will thicken at first to a doughy paste, but keep going, adding milk gradually to avoid lumps. When all the milk is in, bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly (if you have lumps, give it a quick whisk). Gently bubble for a few mins until thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

  4. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Spread a spoonful of the meat sauce over the base of a roughly 3.5 litre baking dish. Cover with a single layer of pasta sheets, snapping them to fit if needed, then top with a quarter of the béchamel. Spoon over a third of the meat sauce and scatter over a little Parmesan. Repeat the layers – pasta, béchamel, meat and Parmesan – two more times to use all the meat sauce. Add a final layer of pasta, the last of the béchamel and remaining Parmesan. Sit the dish on a baking tray to catch spills and bake for 1 hr until bubbling, browned and crisp on top.

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Comments (75)

finleyalan's picture

Ive never been a fan of lasagne, but this is amazing. I don't use wine, just extra stock and Cheddar instead of parmesan. My eldest son, who won't eat any veggies, devoures this every time. It's all about the cloves and the nutmeg

Shd93's picture

Please do not waste your time cooking this lasagne if you know what good food is! The worst lasagne I have ever tasted!!!! The meat sauce was overpowered by the wine and stock cube giving it this awful taste before it even went in the oven. It was soo over powering You couldn't even taste the herbs that went in there. The sauce was okish but as much as I think experimenting with recipes is good, I really don't think nutmeg belongs in a bechamel sauce! Once made I took a spoonfull of this and threw the rest away I couldn't even try and eat it because I was hungry. The awful strong taste made me feel ill! 3 hours of wasted time and effort!!! Certainly won't be getting any recipe ideas from 'Sarah Cook'! Poor effort!

JudeIrwin's picture

Lasagne is widely regarded as a "foolproof recipe anyone can make". It's not. One can so easily spoil this interesting multi-storey feast. For example, if you add cheese to the bechamel, you are making a cheese sauce. If that's what you want, fine. But it's not a classic lasagne. Keep the bechamel and the cheesy layers separate and enjoy "eating through" them. For the same reason, I prefer the top of my lasagne to be a bubbling, pale brown of nicely baked bechamel - not a rooftile of hard pasta and cheese that will break your teeth and defy your knife and fork. I make my sauce the day before and let it mature, and I use a lot of good read wine for depth of flavour. A mixture of beef and pork or a trio including veal makes the most succulent combo, and is the most authentically Italian way to make a meat sauce. Simmer slowly. Do not rush lasagne. And in spite of whatever the pasta packet says (if you buy ready-made), DO pre-cook to al dente. You will be rewarded by the right mouth texture; using unbaked pasta is daft and will spoil all the effort you have made over the rest of this lovely dish.

Richard Out East's picture

This was tasty. I made it to the recipe first time (but half of everything for 4 ppl). The only difference was I used dried herbs. Everything else was the same. I made some changes the 2nd time I made it (again for 4 ppl), and in my opinion (and my wife's) it was much better. I browned the mince and removed some fat before adding to the main pan. I added 2 heaped teaspoons of tomato paste (puree) along with the canned tomatoes. I reduced the red wine content 20% (down to 200ml for 4 ppl), added twice the recommended garlic and I added a level teaspoon of sugar. I par-boiled the lasagne for about 4 minutes. I also topped it with a mix of grated cheddar and mozzarella as well as some shaved parmesan. I added a little cheddar (maybe 30 or 40g) to the bechamel too. Next time I am going to increase the amount of meat sauce as I felt both times it was slightly too slanted towards the bechamel. A great starter recipe easy to adapt to ones own preferences.

mtp1905's picture

Rich and tasty ragu, I used all beef and a a bag of Soffritto and all dried herbs.

flosssy's picture

I don't use the bechamel recipe for this as I do one with olive oil, rather than butter. However, I use the meat sauce and timings etc and it is fab. Tastes even better the next day!

rachelling's picture

Gorgeous lasagne. I followed the recipe and quantities to the letter and it turned out fantastic! My friends said it was the best lasagne they'd ever had! As others have said, I did simmer the meat uncovered for around 1 hour 40 mins (instead of the recommended 1 hour) to reduce the liquid a bit more. Everything else in the recipe is spot on and the best thing is, I did the full recipe and there were 4 of us for dinner, so I have leftovers :)

DelzLovesToCook's picture

Best lasagne Ive ever made! If you have a bit of extra time, definitely go with this recipe. Its absolutely delicious.

vinniek's picture

Best lasagna I've ever made....but did add extras
In the ragu added tomato puree, olives, sundried tomatoes, basil n oregano, mushrooms and half beef mince half braising steak. Cooked on low uncovered for 3 hours and left covered until I needed it then reheated uncovered. Result a tasty thick ragu.
In my layers added mozzarella, cheddar, parmasan, chopped ham and beaten egg.
White sauce was just right only small amount left. Top w ith loads of cheese and mozzarella
Cooked for 1 hr and left out to cool and absorb any juice just covered with foil outside oven.
Delicious and huge!, served with greek salad and flatbread

nshine's picture

Great recipe! I browned the meat a little bit before adding the milk and tomatoes. Except for that I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly! Really great flavour, definitely worth all the effort.

fayesiedaisy's picture

This is so nice, was a big hit with the family. Agree with some of the other comments about the amount of liquid. I used all of the liquid stated for the meat. I simmered for an hour covered but then had to keep the pan at a rolling boil for the next 40 minutes to reduce the liquid down. Next time I think I will reduce to 100ml milk and 350ml wine. I also browned the mince before adding the liquid.

For the bechamel; I used all of the milk stated when I did the initial infusion, but when adding back into the roux later, it seemed like way too much so I didn't put it all back in. I put about 1200ml back in and even then was quite thin and took a bit of time to thicken up. I'd use closer to a litre next time I reckon.

That said, it tasted amazing! Definitely will be cooking again - next time I won't forget the garlic. I also used cheddar instead of parmesan and only put it on the top, not the individual layers.

Ukcharliedyer's picture

Delishous recipe! I found that there was a bit too much liquid with all the tomatoes, milk, wine etc. Therefore I spooned some out before assembling the lasagne so that it wasn't too sloppy. Worked perfectly.

brizzmus's picture

This is the best lasagne recipe I have come across. It is also easy to adapt for my dairy intolerant son. The bolognese is wonderful for other recipes; I keep a large batch in the freezer for quick dinners.

kim3er's picture

Great recipe. Easy to follow and tasted amazing. My youngest demolished it and he doesn't usually eat anything!

bryandeg's picture

Worth the time, and not really too much effort for a stunning result. There are things you just cant rush and this is one. This recipe, with great depth of flavour, sets its self apart from all the 'quick and easy' versions which are nothing more than bland cooked mince and tomato.

solrz's picture

I followed the recipe without omitting any of the ingredients or steps. My ragu simmered for an hour with the lid on and an hour without, what I was left with was a beautiful ragu that was not watery at all or soggy as some have experienced. I added a couple of dry red chillis to it before simmering for a little warmth in flavour.

It turned out beautifully with lots of good flavour and a sumptuous lasagna.

rk0088's picture

This was such a disappointment, would really recommend not bothering unless you're going to change the recipe - there are many tastier ones out there! Mince definitely needs browning, leave out the milk entirely and more tomato elements would give it some flavour... Took a lot of time for bland, soggy result.

kindabola's picture

I made some changes to this recipe after reading some reviews. Firstly didn't use milk in meat sauce. When I added the meat to onions etc I let it brown - added wine first and let it evaporate - then added tomato purée, tomato cans, herbs, instead of stock cubes I used 450ml of liquid beef stock. Also I simmered for 1hr uncovered and 30mins covered. Turned out really well, would make it again.

arwen9747's picture

I have done this recipe twice and it was wonderful! I just follow all the instructions and was delicious. :D

annieharris5808's picture

Definitely won't be making this again. The meat sauce lacked flavour and was very thin even after an extra 2 hours of cooking. The end result did not look anything like the picture it fell apart and look a sloppy mess


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Tips (1)

Tania150's picture

This is the base recipe for my now famous lasagne. I never measure anything and always change recipes to suit the taste and my own opinion. Having said that it may be why so many people seem to have failed with this one!

Firstly, definitely brown the meat, (I only use lean beef mince) add a splash or so of red wine, let it evaporate so the meat and veg mix is really rich, then add stock and tomatoes and purée. I don't add thyme as I don't think it adds much overall. I definitely do not add milk here either, sounded really odd and I think would ruin the dish. I usually add a couple of flicks of Worcestershire sauce here too. I then leave it uncovered and stir regularly. One the sauce has thickened and reduced, take off from the heat and leave to stand for fifteen minutes as it will become a lot less sloppy if that's an issue.

I generally guess the amount of milk and it usually turns out fine; I think the recipe probably has too much but just remember 'you can add but you can't take away' and you should be fine!

I also let my lasagne stand for fifteen twenty minutes before serving as it helps it keep its shape and stays warm!

I'm also cheeky and add cheddar and mozzarella to each layer, so not very healthy but very delicious!! :)