This Lasagna Casserole tastes just like traditional cheesy, delicious lasagna but it only takes 10 minutes to get it prepped and ready for the oven!
I love lasagna with its layers of tomato sauce, meat, noodles, béchamel, and cheese. But I’ll be honest there are times when I just can’t muster the energy it takes to prepare the classic dish. I’m happy to say that this Easy Lasagna Casserole has come to my rescue on a couple of occasions when the lasagna craving hit.
There is nothing to pre-cook, nothing to boil, nothing to grate (if you buy the cheese pre-shredded. You’re pretty much just mixing a few things together, putting it into a pan, and baking it for awhile. The most amazing thing about this recipe though is that after it bakes, and after it rests (don’t skip the resting!), the lasagna is sliceable and you get perfect squares of what looks just like lasagna. There are no layers there, but unless you look really closely, you won’t notice. Amazing, right?
Lasagna casserole has all of those delicious lasagna ingredients that you love, but they’re combined in a quicker way so that the whole dish can be made much easier. Also, none of the ingredients require cooking or boiling before assembly, so you can whip this up in no time.
- The Meat: I’m using pre-cooked Italian sausage as the meat so that you don’t have to spend time cooking it. These sausages are sold in the lunchmeat section of the grocery store near the kielbasa and wieners.
- The Pasta: To make this really seem like lasagna, I’ve chosen to use broken up lasagna noodles. You just break them into pieces while holding them over a bowl of sauce. Note that regular dry lasagna noodles work in this recipe, as do the ones labelled no-boil or oven-ready. You can instead use a thin pasta shape like a medium-shell if you’d like.
- The Ricotta: It’s the ricotta that really gives this recipe the lasagna feel. I like to use a smooth ricotta that doesn’t have curds, but whatever you like in your lasagna will work. To make the ricotta really shine, you’ll mix it with salt, garlic powder, and pepper before adding an egg. I have also added 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or of dried oregano to this mixture and it was good, but I prefer it without it. Oh, and note that when I season ricotta this way, even people who claim to not like ricotta with their pasta, like it. So be sure to give it a try!
- The Cheese: Pre-shredded mozzarella is a huge time-saver here. The recipe calls for 3 and 1/2 cups of the cheese, and so shredding that all takes time. I’ve stuck with only the mozzarella and no other cheese here because my family is not big on other cheese varieties. But, you can absolutely stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to the sauce mixture, and also mix in some more with the mozzarella that goes on top.
- The Sauce: A lot of lasagna casserole recipes have you sauteeing onion and aromatics, then adding the sauce to that and simmering it. You can do that if you want to, but I don’t really think it adds much in this case. My advice is to just get a jar of marinara sauce and pour it in! Note, to help the pasta cook in the oven, there’s quite a bit of water added to the sauce. One trick is to put some of the water into the emptied marinara jar, put the lid on, and shake it up. That gets you every last bit of tomatoey goodness from that jar.
How To Make An Easy Lasagna Casserole
Putting this casserole together starts by combining the ricotta cheese with the seasonings. I like to taste it (to make sure it’s good lol) before stirring the egg. Set this aside, it’ll be used to top the casserole.
The “filling” of the lasagna is a combination of marinara sauce, water, the pre-cooked sausage, half of the mozzarella, and broken-up lasagna noodles stirred together. To break the noodles, get your bowl of sauce ready, then hold 2-3 noodles over the bowl and bend them until they break into about 2 inch pieces and shards.
After the filling is mixed, spoon it into a 9″x13″ cake pan that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray. Then spoon the ricotta mixture over top. I typically will dollop it on in about 8 scoops evenly spaced and then use a spoon to spread it into an even layer over top. Then you sprinkle some more shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over top.
The pan is then covered with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray – spray side down. The foil helps everything come up to a simmer in there more quickly, and then it helps to hold in the moisture so that the noodles cook. It also protects the cheese from burning since it is in the oven for quite a while. Spraying the foil makes sure that you don’t loose any of that melty deliciousness when it’s removed. You’ll bake that covered in a 375F oven for 50 minutes. Then you take the foil off and bake it uncovered for another 15 minutes.
Then the all important part. Do not skip this!!! The resting time. Allowing the lasagna casserole to rest for 15 minutes allows the bubbly-baking-agitation to calm down, making scooping out nice, square portions much easier. Also, the molten cheese is less likely to burn the roof of your mouth. Please believe me that the whole thing will still be really hot when you serve it. The 15 minutes is not enough to bring the temperature down that much. All that it does is let everything settle so that it holds together better.
What Kind Of Meat Can I Use?
Part of the “easy” in this Easy Lasagna Casserole is using pre-cooked meat. I like using a pre-cooked Italian-style sausage because I feel like the flavors work well in the dish. If you prefer andouille or chorizo, use that. Or, you can use any already cooked meat. Rotisserie or leftover cooked chicken or ground beef are great. Even diced ham will work! You can alternatively skip the meat entirely and use two cans of drained cannellini beans.
Are No-Boil Noodles Required?
No, I’ve developed this recipe with enough water and a long enough cooking time that both no-boil (sometimes called “oven-ready”) and regular dry lasagna noodles will work. Don’t use fresh lasagna noodles though. As an alternative to lasagna, you can instead use any thin pasta shape, like medium-sized shells or bow ties. I’ve never tried it with tube shapes so I’m not sure about those.
More Lasagna Recipes
If you do find yourself with the lasagna craving and have the time for a little more prep, here are some great recipes:
- Best Lasagna – a classic recipe with lots of lasagna tips
- No-Boil Lasagna – classic-style using regular noodles that haven’t been boiled
- Lasagna Soup – technically not lasagna, but all of the flavors in 15 minutes
- Beefy Stuffed Shells – okay, not quite lasagna but it hits the same cravings
More No-Boil Pasta Bakes
And, if you love just putting the dry pasta and sauce into a casserole and popping it into the oven, you’re going to love these other pasta bakes that also don’t require you to cook the noodles first. So easy!
Have a great day! -Christine xo
Podcast Episode On Making Lasagna Casserole
Listen to learn how to make this recipe, along with some great tips from Christine:Print
This Lasagna Casserole tastes just like traditional cheesy, delicious lasagna but it only takes 10 minutes to get it prepped and ready for the oven! How is that possible, you don’t have to pre-cook the noodles, you’ll be using already-cooked sausage for the meat, and the noodles are broken up and mixed with it all instead of layered. Then you spoon on a well-seasoning ricotta mixture and cheese as a top coating to finish it all off.
- 15 oz. whole milk ricotta*
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 – 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
- 1 and 1/2 cups water, divided
- 12 oz. pre-cooked Italian-style sausage, roughly chopped**
- 3 and 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 12 oz. uncooked dry lasagna noodles
- Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray an 9″x13″ cake pan with cooking spray. Spray one side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the pan with cooking spray, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper egg. Add the egg and stir until well-incorporated.
- Pour the marinara into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the water to the marinara can or jar and swirl it around to get all the tomato sauce mixed with the water. Pour the water into the bowl with the sauce. Add the remaining 1 cup of water to the bowl.
- To the sauce and water in the bowl, add the sausage and 2 cups of the mozzarella. Stir.
- Hold 2-3 lasagna noodles over the bowl and break them roughly into 2 inch pieces and shards. Repeat with remaining noodles. Stir well to coat all sides of all noodles in sauce. Transfer to the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.
- Scoop 8 dollops of the ricotta mixture evenly spaced over the noodles. Then spread them out to form an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of mozzarella.
- Cover pan with the foil, sprayed side touching the cheese, and seal it well all around the pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until top is browning just a little, 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest uncovered for 15 minutes (don’t skip this step!).
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*I prefer the smooth ricotta where you don’t see the curds for this. But whatever ricotta you like in lasagna will work.
**Any fully-cooked meat will work here. Rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken, cooked ground beef, diced ham, etc..
***You can use regular dry uncooked lasagna noodles, or those labelled no-boil or oven-ready. They all work in this recipe, as do thin pasta shapes like medium-sized shells.