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Lasagna without Ricotta – Asiago Cheese Sauce

Lasagna without Ricotta is made with an Asiago cheese sauce instead of ricotta cheese. This lasagna is full of robust Italian flavor and will leave your guests asking for leftovers! 

Serving of lasagna without ricotta on a plate with salad.

Note — this post is full of tips and suggestions to help you make the best lasagna ever. I suggest you read through everything before starting. While homemade lasagna is time-consuming, it’s really not complicated. However, if you just want the printed recipe then scroll all the way down. 

Even though lasagna is basically the same dish everywhere—pasta, sauce, cheese—there are thousands of possible variations within the sauce and cheese parameters.

So this recipe for lasagna without ricotta is just one version and made the way my family prefers lasagna—with no ricotta or cottage cheese—and it’s hearty, cheesy, messy, and really, really good.

Since my family doesn’t care for ricotta cheese, I decided to try making lasagna with the same ratio of butter, flour, and milk that I use to make the sauce for my macaroni and cheese, which is my variation of a Béchamel sauce—or maybe it should be called a Mornay sauce?

In any case, it works to make the best lasagna without ricotta!

Bechamel lasagna

Instead of cheddar cheese, I use freshly grated Asiago and the result is a creamy, cheesy sauce that complements the red sauce and pasta perfectly to make the best bechamel lasagna.

Here’s the thing: this lasagna recipe is not a quick and easy recipe. It is time-consuming, but worth it. It’s a great party dish because you can make it the day before and just bake it right before your event.

You can even make the Bolognese sauce a couple of days before you put the lasagna together, or several days or weeks in advance and freeze it!

Best cheese for lasagna

I use freshly grated and sliced mozzarella, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan, and freshly grated Asiago. I prefer the regular dried noodles as opposed to the no-bake lasagna noodles.

**Pro-tip for Shortcut Lasagna Noodles

Did you know you can soak pasta and not have to deal with boiling, draining, and keeping it moist? Check out this article from Serious Eats. This is so awesome if you cook a lot of baked pasta dishes!

Just place the noodles in a large baking dish, cover with the hottest tap water you can get, and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Then drain and use as normal. The noodles will be tender and ready for baking!

Ingredients

  • Ground round
  • Ground sweet or mild Italian sausage
  • White onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Dry red wine
  • Tomato paste
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Dried parsley
  • Unsalted butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole milk and half and half
  • Asiago cheese, Parmesan cheese, and Mozzarella cheese
  • Nutmeg freshly grated
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tools

A few years ago, I got a little obsessive about finding a perfect pan for my lasagna without ricotta recipe. I wanted one that was deep so I could have multiple layers and not worry about the cheesy goodness flowing over the sides.

I ordered two or three pans, including an expensive one from All-Clad—and I sent them all back because they weren’t deep enough. I do like this one from Cuisinart, but I’m still looking for that absolutely perfect pan. This one is also good.

You also need a good spatula to remove the lasagna from the pan, especially since it’s going to be a little looser and cheesier than regular lasagna.

How to make lasagna without ricotta

Step 1. Make the red sauce.

Start by making the Bolognese sauce. You can do this up to three days before you want to bake the lasagna.

Step 2. Make the Bechamel sauce (steps for this are below.)

Next, you’ll make the Béchamel sauce, which you could also do a day ahead.

Step 3. Prepare cheeses.

There’s a lot of cheese in this recipe! You can buy pre-sliced mozzarella cheese from the deli or buy a big chunk and slice it yourself. Then grate more mozzarella, enough for about five cups. Grate the Asiago cheese, 5 cups. And grate 4-5 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Whew! I hope you’re using a food processor to grate all this cheese! That’s how I do it.

Steps for making the Bechamel sauce

Step 1. Melt butter.

To make the cheese sauce, melt butter completely in a large skillet or Dutch oven.

Step 2. Whisk in flour.

Then slowly whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking continuously, for about two minutes.

Step 3. Whisk in milk.

Slowly whisk in milk and half and half and whisk continuously for about 8 minutes or until thickened.

Step 4. Remove from heat.

Remove pot from heat and stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Step 5. Stir in cheese.

Then stir in the grated Asiago cheese until melted and sauce is smooth. Set this aside and start assembling your lasagna.

How to Layer the Bechamel Lasagna

Step 1. Spread sauce on bottom of pan.

Spray the lasagna pan lightly with cooking spray and then spread about 1/2 cup Bolognese sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Step 2. Layer pasta, then sauce.

Layer: Add a layer of pasta, overlapping the edges slightly and cutting to fit the pan if needed. Then another layer of Bolognese, about a cup.

Step 3. Layer Bechamel sauce, then cheese, pasta, red sauce, and keep going.

Next, a layer of Bechamel, about a cup. Sprinkle lightly with some Parmesan. Add layer of pasta. Layer of Bolognese. Add layer of Bechamel, about a cup. Layer of mozzarella cheese slices.

**Pro-Tip: To help your lasagna hold its shape after serving, alternate the orientation of the noodles with each layer. For example, the first layer is lengthwise and the next layer is perpendicular, and continue alternating the layers. 

Step 4. More cheese.

Sprinkle some Parmesan over the mozzarella. Pasta. Bolognese. Bechamel. Mozzarella. Parmesan. Pasta. Bolognese. Bechamel.

Step 5. Finish and top with cheese.

The last layer should be pasta, then Bolognese topped with mozzarella and Parmesan.

The cheese and sauces may not cover the pasta completely throughout the layers, but be sure you cover the top pasta layer completely or it will dry out.

How long should you cook lasagna

Whether you make this Lasagna without Ricotta or regular lasagna, you should plan ahead as far as your timing. Every lasagna needs to have time to rest in the pan after baking.

For this recipe, you can store the lasagna unbaked overnight in the refrigerator and take it out about 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Then bake at 375° for about 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

It’s cheesy and messy and may run all over the plate if it doesn’t rest long enough. But your family and your guests will not mind, I promise you. They will be too busy scooping up every last bite.

Fully baked pan of lasagna without ricotta ready to serve.

Expert tips:

  • This is a make-ahead dish. You can make the cheese sauce 1 or 2 days ahead and you can make the bolognese sauce weeks in advance and freeze it.
  • I use a deep lasagna pan, which is slightly deeper than a regular 9×13 dish. If using a dish you will probably want to decrease layers just a bit.
  • To help your lasagna hold its shape after serving, alternate the orientation of the noodles with each layer. For example, the first layer is lengthwise and the next layer is perpendicular, and continue alternating the layers.

How to freeze lasagna:

  • If planning to freeze lasagna, I would suggest using a large aluminum disposable pan.
  • You can finish the lasagna all the way up to baking and then cover with aluminum foil and place in the freezer. If using a disposable pan, place the pan on a baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze lasagna overnight and then you can remove the baking pan.
  • Thaw the lasagna overnight in the refrigerator and then bake as directed.
  • You can also divvy up the leftovers after baking and freeze cooked lasagna. I love these small aluminum pans from Tiger Chef—you can freeze servings for two or get these slightly larger ones for a family!

What to serve with lasagna?

Lasagna without Ricotta is a pretty heavy dish, so you don’t need much to go along with it other than a simple green salad and some sliced bread.

I typically serve my favorite Green Salad with Arugula and Fresh Herbs with my homemade Lemon Vinaigrette, and for dessert I’ll keep it simple with Cream Cheese Pound Cake or Fudge Pie. You could even just serve up some Chocolate Chip Cookies or Brownies on the side for easy, bite-sized desserts.

If you’ve tried this recipe, please rate the recipe and leave a comment below!

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A closeup serving of lasagna without ricotta on a white plate.

Lasagna without Ricotta

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Lasagna without ricotta—cheesy, amazing lasagna made with a cheese Béchamel sauce instead of ricotta cheese.

Ingredients

For Bechamel Sauce:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1 cups half and half
  • 3 cups asiago cheese, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For Lasagna:

  • One recipe Bechamel sauce
  • One recipe bolognese sauce
  • One pound lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. sliced fresh mozzarella cheese

Instructions

Soak Lasagna Noodles:

  1. Place lasagna noodles in dish and cover with the hot tap water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and use as normal.

Make Bechamel sauce:

  1. On medium-high heat, melt butter completely in large skillet or Dutch oven. Slowly whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking continuously, for about two minutes.
  2. Slowly whisk in milk and half and half and whisk continuously for about 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove pot from heat. Stir in nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in grated cheese until melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.

To make lasagna, layer in this order:

  1. Bolognese sauce on bottom of pan, about 1/2 cup or a little more.
  2. Add layer of pasta, overlapping edges slightly and cutting to fit the pan if needed.
  3. Layer of bolognese, about a cup. Layer of Bechamel, about a cup.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with some Parmesan. Add layer of pasta. Layer of bolognese. Add layer of Bechamel, about a cup.
  5. Layer of mozzarella cheese slices. You won't cover the pasta completely. Sprinkle some Parmesan over the mozzarella. Continue layering and end with bolognese topped with mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. You can keep this overnight in the refrigerator if you want to make it ahead.
  7. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

Tips for making the Best Lasagna:

  • This is a make-ahead dish. You can make the cheese sauce 1 or 2 days ahead and you can make the bolognese sauce weeks in advance and freeze it.
  • I use a lasagna pan, which is slightly deeper than a regular 9x13 dish. If using a dish you will probably want to decrease layers just a bit.
  • To help your lasagna hold its shape after serving, alternate the orientation of the noodles with each layer. For example, the first layer is lengthwise and the next layer is perpendicular, and continue alternating the layers. 

To Freeze the Lasagna:

  • If planning to freeze the lasagna, I would suggest using a large aluminum disposable pan.
  • You can finish the lasagna all the way up to baking and then cover with aluminum foil and place in the freezer. If using a disposable pan, place the pan on a baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze overnight and then you can remove the baking pan. 
  • Thaw the lasagna overnight in the refrigerator and then bake as directed. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 12 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 763Saturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 2420mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 46g

Did you make this recipe?

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If you like this Lasagna without Ricotta recipe, you might also like these recipes:

How to Make Italian Meatballs

Sausage Risotto

Baked Italian Sliders

Update Notes: This post was originally published June 7, 2013, and on December 14, 2018, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

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Kasia

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

I have always made lasagna this way, this is how I was taught to make it in Europe. I never boil noodles either (I really dont like overcooked noodles). I thought I was the only one making it this way :) Thanks for the recipe. I also don't add the cheese to bechamel sauce, use almond milk (milk allergy but can eat rennet-processed cheeses like cheddar) and use turkey to cut calories, too.

Lucy Brewer

Monday 27th of July 2020

Sounds great!

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