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(83 ratings)

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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    For the meat sauce

    • 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 leaves
    • 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

    For the lasagne

    • 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 white sauce (béchamel)

    • 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 leaves
    • 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



      One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury


    1. First infuse the milk to make 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. To finish the béchamel sauce, 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    11th Nov, 2017
    Love this recipe, I've used it loads of times. Just one thing though: 500ml is way too much wine, you don't need it to be that heavy in taste and it adds to the amount of liquid you end up with. Those 187ml small bottles you can buy in supermarkets I find is the perfect amount (I don't like to waste drinking wine on cooking). Plus, adding some tomato paste can help with the texture and tomato-ey taste.
    28th May, 2017
    Really lovely traditional lasagne. Followed the recipe, no deviations. As mentioned previously, cook slowly with patience. My picky 5 year old niece, who hates most food types, demolished 2 servings and keeps asking when I will make it again. Taste improves as time goes on. It is quite a dense meaty dish and not at all cheesy. An alternative way to serve this (for those that like cheese) is to cut a serving of lasagne and put in a separate oven proof dish. Pour over some home made ragu, top with mozzarella and bake. Similar to the lasagne you would get in an Italian restaurant.
    14th May, 2017
    Tasty lasagne though very time consuming. I added some tomato puree to the meat mixture as it didn't seem tomatoey enough and also added some mature cheddar with the parmesan.
    30th Mar, 2017
    I'm sorry but I really don't understand why this recipe got so many good reviews? I usually just make lasagne with simple pasta sauce from a jar and plain bechamel sauce and it tastes waaaaaay better than this. The proportions meat sauce / bechamel sauce are way off. There is not enough tomato sauce to really taste the tomatoes. The herbs in this recipe did really not work for me and made it taste more like a Pastitsio than a Lasagne. Even a frozen lasagne tastes better than this recipe. Do yourself a favour, save some time and skip this recipe!
    29th Mar, 2017
    Makes lasagne worth eating, all my children enjoy it
    9th Nov, 2016
    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
    24th Aug, 2016
    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!
    22nd Aug, 2016
    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
    29th Mar, 2016
    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.
    27th Mar, 2016
    Rich and tasty ragu, I used all beef and a a bag of Soffritto and all dried herbs.


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    shikiraclare's picture
    23rd Jul, 2017
    Forgot to mention - no red wine is added to my lasagne - 'burly beefy' kind of flavour only needs gravy granules and complimentary spices. Wine is a fab accompaniment to large joints of connoisseur meats, yet mince meat has most of its 'beef element' sucked out of it during factory process and why it is such a difficult one to flavour in any kind of rich tasty cuisine.
    shikiraclare's picture
    23rd Jul, 2017
    The great thing about Lasagne is that you can 'quirk it' up so easily with almost anything and although mince beef is the basic staple ingredient (apart from pasta itself) - always bulk it with lentils and grated carrot so that you get a wholly nutritious dish as well as save a fortune on meat - you can't even taste the difference if you are a real meaty lover and follow my tips here: 6 ounces of mince beef with 12 ounces lentils will make a meal for 4 if you also add two grated carrots, chopped celery - any other vegetable going spare in your fridge. The trick to the 'meatier' tasting lasagne is to always sprinkle gravy granules in the tomato based sauce - stock alone doesn't give any kind of meat the burly beef flavour some people like in their favourite meals. Gravy granules also stops beefy sauces getting too runny and tomato puree (also not very good) as a thickening agent. Another great tip for my lasagne is to add some paprika spice and a little sweet-chilli sauce if you prefer a more tomato-exotic taste.
    18th Oct, 2015
    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!! :)
    shikiraclare's picture
    23rd Jul, 2017
    Wine is a fab accompaniment to large joints of connoisseur meats, yet mince meat has most of its 'beef element' sucked out of it during factory process and why it is such a difficult one to flavour in any kind of rich tasty cuisine.