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Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese

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Pure comfort food, this tasty Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese and Sausage makes for a fabulous meal. This is one entree the whole family adores.

Super cheesy, with a hint of spice from the mild Italian sausage, and layers of flavor from the slow-cooked tomato sauce, this Ricotta Lasagna is a winner suitable for any gathering.

Ricotta Lasagna with Sausage in a white rectangular baking dish

Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese

My mom used to make lasagna with cottage cheese. I guess that’s the way it was done in the Midwest way back when. Ricotta cheese was not readily available unless she’d venture to Des Moines to an Italian market. But with 4 young girls, that wasn’t going to happen!

It wasn’t until a dinner party at some dear friends’ house that I first tasted this fabulous lasagna recipe made with ricotta cheese. Since that time, this Italian sausage lasagna is my go-to recipe.

What is Ricotta?

Ricotta translates to recooked in Italian since it was originally made from the whey. Whey is the liquid leftover liquid after milk is used to make something else, like cheese. An acid and some milk is typically added to the whey to help coagulate the proteins and form ricotta. Now, in the US, ricotta is made with whole milk instead of whey, but using the same technique to make the curds which become a fluffy ricotta cheese.

Creating homemade ricotta is really quite easy, but it’s even easier to buy it at the market! Besides lasagna, ricotta can be used in stuffed shells, manicotti, on pizza, as a smear instead of cream cheese, in dips and to dollop on soups.

A slice of Sausage Ricotta Lasagna on a white plate with a sprig of oregano

Ricotta Lasagna

Adding cooked Italian sausage slices or bulk Italian sausage is a way to incorporate more flavor into every bite. Since my mostly vegetarian daughter does not enjoy meat in her lasagna or spaghetti sauce, adding slices is easier for her to pick around.

Instead of adding raw sausage, cooking it first helps intensify the flavors through the browning process, something known as the Maillard reaction. By way of cooking, the amino acids in the meat and the reducing sugars have a chemical reaction giving the distinct, delicious flavor of browned meat. So make sure to get a little color on the sausage while sauteing for the best outcome.

Lasagna with Italian Sausage on a white plate with a red handled fork

How to Make Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese

Simmering a flavorful sauce for 2+ hours provides a delicious foundation for your lasagna. Using crushed tomatoes makes for a nice sauce consistency.

The addition of cooked sausage or ground beef adds that umami, or layer of meaty flavor.

Use either shredded or sliced mozzarella for the cheesy component. This time, I used shredded.

My preference is whole milk ricotta. It’s difficult to spread over the sauce, so I disperse spoonfuls of ricotta over the sauce.

Bake with greased or non-stick foil covering the lasagna. At the end of the baking time, remove the foil and broil for a couple of minutes or let the heat of the oven brown the cheese a bit if desired.

PRO-Tip: For a meatless lasagna, or a Lasagna with Spinach, eliminate the sausage. Then mix the ricotta with a defrosted, squeezed dry 9-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach along with an egg, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Layer this mixture in place of the plain ricotta.

Lasagna Ingredients

There are so many different versions of lasagna, but for this ricotta lasagna, add these ingredients to your shopping list:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cans of crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Celery
  • Italian sausage, mild or spicy depending on your preference
  • Whole milk ricotta 
  • Shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Check your pantry for olive oil, brown sugar, salt, dried oregano, thyme, and a bay leaf

More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:

This recipe was originally shared in December 2011. Photos and text were updated in 2019.

A slice of ricotta lasagna on a square white plate

Ricotta Lasagna with Italian Sausage

A fabulous lasagna with flavorful sauce, dabs of ricotta cheese, mild Italian sausage plus gooey mozzarella!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stalk of celery, cut in half
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 links Italian sausage (1 1/2-2 pounds), sliced and cooked
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella, grated
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, soaked in warm water for about an hour or no boil lasagna noodles

Instructions

In a large pan, saute onion in olive oil till translucent.  Add garlic and saute till fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, oregano,thyme, bay leaf, celery and water.  Simmer for 2-3 hours.  Remove celery and bay leaf.

Soak dried lasagna noodles in warm water for about an hour.  No need to boil using this method. Or use no boil lasagna noodles.

Cook sausage in a saute pan till browned on both sides and cooked through.  Add to sauce.

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 9 x 13 inch pan.  Put a small amount of sauce (without sausage) on bottom of dish.

Start layering with half the noodles, then half the sauce, half the ricotta, and half the cheese.  Repeat. Cover with a greased piece of foil or non.  Bake for 1 hour. May remove foil for last 15 minutes to brown the cheese if desired.

Cool about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

Lasagna can be frozen, then baked straight from the freezer. Baking time will need to be extended to 1 1/2 hours or until hot throughout.

Adapted from Creme de Colorado.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 627Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 1404mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 5gSugar: 13gProtein: 38g

HOW MUCH DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?

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58 comments on “Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese”

  1. Lucky neighbor! A great lasagna is a necessity. This would hopefully last a few days, but who knows….

  2. Creme de Colorado is one of my fave Junior League cookbooks–JL cookbooks always supply great inspiration.

    Fingers crossed that you are chosen to participate in the bloggers tour.

  3. What a fun trip that would be! Good luck!

  4. Lizzy…….your Lasagna looks so good. I’m always trying new lasagna recipes.

    Hope Red Gold picks you, fingers crossed.

  5. that looks perfect for our weather too, I’m sure Red Gold wants to send you to the Super Bowl too!

  6. What an interesting recipe in all my day I have never seen onion added to a lasagna, mine is unique too with boiled egg. This will probably have a hearty taste for sure… My family unfortunately wouldnt ever eat them due to my allergy to them… but this sure looks fantastic!

  7. Lasagna is a family favorite for us. It speaks comfort food. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would love to have a neighbor like you!

  8. You see you are so lucky to have wonderful neighbours and thats really nice to hear Lizzy.

    This is one complete meal which will do us good and simply look tasty and a change from our normal rice.

  9. This, this is definitely something I need to learn how to cook. My girlfriend loves lasagna.

  10. I’ve never met a lasagna I didn’t like! I love the idea of soaking the noodles! Bet you’ll be headed to the SUper Bowl with this one!

  11. Sweet of Shelli to let you have this wonderful recipe to share with us! It is something I need to try and put on my dinner table. Good luck in the Taste of the NFL contest!

  12. I just finished having lunch but i’m quite sure that a plate of this delicious lasagna will enter my tummy.

  13. This looks delicious, just the sort of meal that’s a nice change after turkey and all the rest. Happy New Year to you.

  14. oooh, cheese cheese I see cheese… I’m in cheese delirium… cheese cheese … melted cheese … heaven….

  15. Look delicious dear Lizzy I love lasagna too:)

  16. I’ll have to try this recipe next time I make lasagna.

  17. A sweet neighbor who throws dinner parties AND makes delicious food? How perfect! ๐Ÿ™‚ The lasagna looks amazing. There’s little that’s better than a good lasagna recipe.

  18. OMG I love Lasagne they’re so delicious and yours look so crispy!!! Good job!

  19. I โ™ฅ lasagna! Yours looks delicious!

  20. That does looks wonderful!

  21. This is not a traditional Italian sauce, but I do love it!
    Sounds really good, with the celery stalk added to it. I also, always add bay leaf for additional flavor, and as for sauteing chopped onions and garlic before adding the tomato…to me, it’s always a MUST, so I do love the sauce…but as far as cooking the sauce for 3hrs, is really not necessary (that’s an old fashion method in huge huge pot) 1 1/2 hrs, is totally enough time to cook the sauce! Love the sausage, in the sauce…of course, and the ricotta is a must in layering.
    Great idea for soaking the lasagna noodles…takes away from pre-cooking it, since it has to bake in the oven!

    Great job, Lizzy! Looks and tastes delicious! Hope you’ll be one of the winners! If I win, I will surely hook up to meet you, and will have to bundle up…brrrr!
    xoxo

  22. Thanks for sharing another great recipe

  23. I can’t describe the way I fell looking at this recipe… I’m mouth watering… wonderfull!!!

  24. The lasagna looks to die for! Happy Holidays :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  25. Looks delicious Lizzy, I love lasagna for the holidays. I have never tried just soaking the noodles before, that’s interesting, I am going to try that the next time. Thanks for the tip.

  26. During my holiday grocery excursions I noticed all of the lasagna noodles were sold out at the stores. It’s amazing how many families make lasagna for the holidays. This recipe is a keeper!

  27. Lasagna is a family favorite. I’ll be right over to get my plate of your wonderful lasagna. Yum, yum!

  28. OK, the fact that your neighbors have themes and specialty drinks for all their dinners is making me a little embarrased about my dinner parties. Your lasagna looks absolutely wonderful–a classic.

  29. Ohhhh MAMA I am packing a bag immediately. No more dilly dallying. I’m on my way. Lol!

  30. Awesome to have such neighbours, and I am sure they are pleased to have you as a neighbour too. I bet property prices have gone up in your neighbourhood, lot of people trying to live there – a food paradise:)

  31. Your lasagna looks amazing. I haven’t made it in awhile, so I’m bookmarking this one. I would also like the spinach version.

    Good Luck going to Red Gold Super bowl tour!

  32. yum, I love hearty pasta dishes like this, and it looks delicious ๐Ÿ™‚

    THanks for sharing!!

  33. Lasagna is always the perfect comfort food, and if you add spinach to it, even better! Yum. I am jealous of your neighbors…I need some more foodie friends close by darnit! Merry Christmas Lizzy!

  34. Thanks, everyone!!!

    Ann, great tip…I’ll pick one up soon!

  35. delicious looking lasanga happy holidays

  36. This looks fabulous! Good luck, Liz! ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Liz…this looks fabulous! I love adding spinach to lasagne too. But I’ve yet to try and make my own pasta! Keeping every body part that can cross…crossed for you that you get picked for the tickets! : )

  38. I would LOVE to have a neighbor like that! We had this great family that lived across the street, but they got transferred to London about a year ago and I miss them like crazy!

  39. It IS a fantastic recipe and best of luck with the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl…how cool would that be?

  40. Wonderful lasagna recipe…have fun at the Super Bowl, please take a lot of pictures for those of us at home, I’m cheering for you to win!

  41. That is one good looking lasagna…it is so comforting to me. i feel like mom my always used to make this during the winter. Such a good warm me up dish. I am intrigued that there is celery in it though! I am sure it is delicious

  42. Themed dinner parties are so fun! My friends used to host them every Saturday but for some reason we haven’t had one in over a year ๐Ÿ™

  43. I grew up with lasagna as our Christmas Day Feast. And while we veered from tradition this year, I am saving this because I am sure this dish is in my future in January (and yes, homemade pasta does make a difference – not that I always do that!). And yes, Red Gold definitely wants to take you to their party!

  44. Liz-Thanks for posting this fantastic sounding recipe. Even though I’m working New Year’s Eve, I’m thinking I can pull this one off.

  45. This lasagna does look fantastic! It is always such a comforting dish! Best of luck to you with getting to go to that party!

  46. Homemade lasagne is absolutely the best, this looks fabulous!!

  47. Your lasagna photo is so mouthwatering! Yum!! I should try making one soon!

  48. This looks like such a great lasagna recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  49. That lasagna really does look delicious!
    Fingers crossed ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Absolutely irresistible! Homemade lasagne is the BEST.

  51. A nice hearty fall or winter meal! The kind that feeds an army too:@)

  52. I love making lasagna during the fall and winter months. So cozy and comforting! And adding sausage sounds so delicious! ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Valentina

  53. I have not made lasagna in years…your looks fabulous with ricotta…absolutely delicious…Thanks for the recipe Liz…have a great week!

  54. My mom was lucky to be trained as a young girl by an Italian chef and mom’s lasagna had ricotta AND cottage cheese with the sausage, etc….best lasagna in the world. Thanks for the memory!

  55. My mom used to use cottage cheese too. Good, but ricotta is SO much better. And I love lasagna — why haven’t I made it in ages. Years! Your version looks excellent — thanks.

  56. My neighbor is Italian and made us the best lasagna this summer . She uses ricotta and mozzarella. Your lasagna looks great, I have to try it.ย 

  57. Whenever I see lasagna on a blog it makes me so sad, because i lOVE lasagna. And I just don’t make it. It’s just the two of us anymore, and my husband doesn’t want to eat carbs. It’s so frustrating. And you can hardly make a little lasagna – they’re just so involved and pretty time consuming it you do it right. Yours looks wonderful. I love including Italian sausage. I now make lasagna soup (on the blog if you’re interested although the photography is probably terrible!) and I use Italian sausage and all of the various cheeses and fewer noodles for my skinny husband!

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