Three-cheese meatball lasagne served in a pan

Three-cheese meatball lasagne

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(27 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 35 mins

More effort

Serves 6-8

Take lasagne to the next level by swapping the meat sauce for sausage meatballs. The fennel seeds and chilli add another layer of flavour and a little spice

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: Per serving (8)

  • kcal771
  • fat47g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs55g
  • sugars17g
  • fibre6g
  • protein29g
  • salt1.7g
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  • 12 sausages
  • 2 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 onions, chopped



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

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
    Fennel seeds

    Fennel seeds

    feh-nell seeds

    A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

  • 2 tsp dried oregano or a small handful of fresh oregano leaves, chopped



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

  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 500ml passata
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes



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

  • 100g butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1l milk



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

  • ¼ fresh nutmeg, finely grated



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

  • 100g baby spinach
  • handful basil, leaves torn



    Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…

  • 50g parmesan, grated



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

  • 250g dried lasagne sheets (about 12 sheets)
  • 50g cheddar, grated



    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • 150g ball mozzarella, torn into small pieces


  1. Squeeze the meat from the sausages and roll into meatballs – you’ll get about four balls from each sausage. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide, deep frying pan or casserole dish. Cook the meatballs in batches, making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan, until they’re all golden brown. Put them aside on a plate when they’re ready.

  2. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add the onion. Cook for 8-10 mins until soft, then stir in the garlic, fennel, oregano and chilli, if using. Stir around for a min or 2, then add the sugar, passata and tomatoes. Swish a little water around the containers to wash out all the tomatoes and add to the pan. Season well and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 mins over a gentle heat until the sauce thickens and the chopped tomatoes break down.

  3. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the bay leaves and let them sizzle in the butter for 1 min, then add the flour. Whisk to make a smooth paste, then add the milk, a little at a time, stirring continuously until it’s all incorporated and you have a thick white sauce. Add the nutmeg and some seasoning. Leave over a low heat for 5 mins to allow the bay to infuse, whisking every now and then.

  4. Keep about 10 meatballs aside and add the rest to the tomato sauce. Spoon half the tomato sauce and meatballs into a baking dish (ours was 25cm x 35cm). Top with half the spinach, the basil and a little parmesan. Pour over about a third of the white sauce, and top with a layer of lasagne sheets, breaking them up to fit the dish if you need to.

  5. Repeat the layers once more; meatballs and sauce, spinach, basil, parmesan, white sauce, pasta. Pour the remaining white sauce over the lasagne, spreading it to the corners to cover the pasta. Dot with the meatballs you set aside earlier and the mozzarella, then scatter over a generous helping of parmesan and cheddar. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Or if not eating straight away, chill for up to 24 hrs or freeze for two months (defrost in the fridge overnight before cooking).

  6. Bake the lasagne for 40-50 mins until bubbling and golden with lots of crusty cheesy bits around the edges. Leave to sit for 5-10 mins before serving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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7th Jun, 2020
This was really good. It does take ages to make, but its worth it. I added 1/2 the amount of fennel and it was perfect for me - think it may have been a bit overpowering otherwise, but I am not a big fennel fan. Yes it is a bit sloppy, but that's one of the reasons we liked it as it made lots lovely tomotoey creamy sauce to soak up with garlic bread. Will definitely make this again.
Hazel Horley's picture
Hazel Horley
21st Dec, 2019
Delicious with steak or beef meatballs - has become a regular and freezes very well!
koolk_2009's picture
18th Nov, 2019
This was tasty enough, but I felt that there was way too much white sauce which made everything quite sloppy. Would make again with some tinkering.
mhchevalier's picture
9th May, 2019
I altered the recipe a bit to fit the ingredients I had. Overall I think it was delicious and my whole family really enjoyed it. I made the meatballs a little smaller which I think improved the dish. Will definitely make it again. (Also, did not take as long as I thought, only 2hours and 20minutes and it was worth it.)
Fanmail Only's picture
Fanmail Only
28th Apr, 2019
Totally delicious and worth the effort. You cut down the time significantly once you’ve made it before. I couldn’t find normal sausages easily as I’m living in Spain at the moment so I just used beef/pork mixed mince, packed them into balls with my hands and sealed them in batches and left them to rest for a little as I did the rest of the prep. Then I cooked them in the tomato sauce. Don’t worry that the lasagna sheets don’t fit properly, just chuck them in and by the end they’ve magically made layers!
11th Mar, 2019
I loved this recipe, I just added onions to the meatballs to save time and only cooked the tomato sauce (with meatballs in) until white sauce was ready, all saved time. It was delicious, I’m not that keen on fennel so only put one teaspoon and it worked well. Will make again soon!
27th Jan, 2019
made this as a family friendly recipe. didnt add spinach, basil or fennel seeds as i have a fussy child. however followed everything else and went down very well. need to make this again
14th Nov, 2018
We all loved this recipe, the only downside is the amount of prep/cooking time. I took me about 3 hours in total! However, if you were to make the sauce side of things the day before or earlier in the morning then it wouldn't feel such a chore. It is definitely worth the efforts if entertaining guests. The only issue I came up against for some reason was the white sauce, it seemed to take forever to thicken up but I persisted and it came good in the end (this is most likely my lack of experience with making white sauce). I also made my meatballs from mince meat rather than sausages. I will be making this again when my parents visit :)
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