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In Bologna, we learn lasagna isn’t what we think. It’s better.
Milk Street Bowtie Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese

Appears in March-April 2020

1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active) Plus cooling

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Lasagna Bolognese

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In Bologna, ragù Bolognese is a silky, rich meat sauce to serve over pasta or polenta. Married to creamy besciamella (the Italian version of French béchamel sauce), it makes a terrific lasagna. We also pair it with tagliatelle. Our take on lasagna Bolognese was inspired by a version we ate at Osteria Broccaindosso in Bologna. We liked Barilla oven-ready lasagna noodles for this recipe, preferring them even over fresh sheet pasta. Both the ragù and the besciamella should be warm for lasagna assembly; the ragù reheats well in a large saucepan over medium and the besciamella can be microwaved in a covered 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium microwave-safe bowl. A serrated knife is best for cutting the lasagna for serving.

8-10

Servings

Tip

Don’t use the noodles without first soaking them. Unsoaked noodles absorb moisture from both the ragù and besciamella, leaving the lasagna too dry. But don’t soak them for longer than 10 minutes.

1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Plus cooling

12 no-boil 6½-by-3½-inch lasagna noodles (see note)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
6 cups ragù Bolognese, warmed (see recipe)
3 cups Parmesan besciamella, warmed (see recipe)
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Ingredients
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Reviews
Amber M.
August 7, 2022
Fantastic Bechamele and Bolognese
What a wonderful recipe. I made this after watching it on your television program. I have traveled to Europe a multitude of times as a chaperone on high school senior trips and make it a mission to replicate some of the best meals we experience. My adjustments to this recipe: I used ground lamb and ground bison for the meat in the bolognese. I warmed the milk before adding to the roux and added nutmeg and tempered 3 eggs with bechamel to incorporate into the sauce. Lightest, best lasagna, ever! No more ricotta!I also did not strain the bechamel, but just fished out the bay leaves!
Jacqueline B.

I made this on Sunday for dinner. I have made MANY lasagnas in my day and I will never use another recipe than this ever again. This lasagna was a bit of a labor of love but the results are far superior to any other lasagna. Its rich and creamy without being too heavy. Only variation I made was to not strain the bechmele sauce I just fished out the bay leaves and kept the wilted basil in there. I can't wait to make this one again!

Celia C.

I also didn't strain the sauce, just fished the leaves out. Good call. Yum!

Chris W.

Mine is in the oven. Three packets of gelatine make 2 tbs. And it says to use all the noodles, sauce & besciamella, but there was over 1/2 of the besciamella left, so I just covered the top with the 3x 1/4 cups and rest of the sauce. Was I suppose to dump in all the left over besciamella??? It would have been swimming in it.

Janelle C.

Hi Chris,


Our Recipe Developer, Julia Rackow says you did the right thing. There could be many different factors at play with why you ended up with extra sauce, but you only needed 1/4 cup per layer. Next time save the extra and spoon it over roasted vegetables!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Peter J M.

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Peter J M.

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Paul D.

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Diana L.

I made this yesterday. It was the best lasagna I ever had but when I cut into it, it had alot of liquid in it. I will be making this again as it was delicious. Not sure what I did wrong and had so much liquid.

Pamela S.

Did you let the sauce reduce long enough? Mine cooked about 3 1/2 hours or more. And did you dry off the noodles? Lastly—did you take the foil off right out of the oven so it didn’t steam in there? I had no “soupiness” at all—it was truly perfect! Good luck the second time around!

Becca P.

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Pamela S.

I made this for dinner tonight—it is just so good! I was very skeptical about the no boil noodles but worked perfectly!!! I made two very minor (I think) changes. Rather then puree the whole tomatoes, I used Mutti puree (glass bottles, so it tastes very fresh), and my family doesn’t like red pepper flakes so I put in a bit of cayenne for the heat. My besciamella was like velvet so I saw no reason to strain it and just pulled out the bay & basil. Thanks, Milk Street! Well worth tge time!

Jessica S.

This recipe is AMAZING. Best lasagna I have ever had. Really easy to follow, so delicious! Will make this for many years to come. Bonus is the leftover Ragu for another pasta night. Gets better everyday. Thank you so much milk street!!!

Michelle M.

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Anita B.

The bolognese sauce was fantastic, but the lasagna was terrible. Used the pasta noodles as suggested by the directions. The noodles turned to mush, tried it again with regular lasagna noodles that a pre boiled and it was fantastic.

Celia C.

I've used the no boil noodles for years. I never soak them. Mine were perfect.

Felix P.

Great lasagna! Now, for your next challenge...find a way to cut the cooking time by half! :-)

Karin D.

Thank you for this outstanding recipe! This was the best lasagna I’ve ever had. It was not terribly complicated to make and the simple flavors stood out in the rich sauce, contrasted with the smooth, creamy, bay-hinted bechamel. I plan to make this again and will ask my butcher to grind the meat for more ease/time savings. Excellent!!!

David G.

Wow. The first lasagna I ever had was at the Pension Elite in Rome in the mid 1960s. No lasagna I've had since has measured up. Until now. Thanks for this recipe.

David G.

Delicious! Had this with a salad for our Easter dinner. Well worth the effort.
Has anyone tried freezing the lasagna? The two of us could probably have four meals from this and it's so rich that I'd like to space them out!

Dominique B.

Lovely recipe - what's the best way to reheat?

Janine W.

This was such a great recipe! This will be my go-to lasagna recipe :)

Diane T.

I made this lasagne this weekend. It was so delicious! My mouth is literally watering right now thinking about it. This will be the only one for me from now on!

Theresa-Marie K.

Love this recipe! Planning to make this for a new mom - I want to make them a tray for 4 - what would be the cooking time for smaller tray? Many thanks

Silke L.

It was really good!! Only thing I didn’t like was the precooked lasagna noodles, it was way to soft. No bite at all!

Sarah R.

Well, I guess I found my new lasagna recipe! I always hated lasagna due to both its texture and heaviness. Eliminating the mozzarella and ricotta and replacing with a besciamella was the trick to improved texture and weight! Two things: make sure your bolognese sauce isn't watery and that your besciamella is properly thickened.

greg s.

I made this yesterday but instead of pork and short ribs I used sausage, instead of the no boil noodles I used boiled and instead of the tomato......just kidding. I followed this recipe exactly and it was fantastic. My new go to Lasagne.

David L C.

Was the nutmeg in the besciamella omitted. Love this recipe. Made a Mario Batali version many years ago. There is a luxuriousness of this classic. Just a bit time consuming

Scott W.

We mage this last night for out Christmas Eve dinner and wow - this in an incredible lasagna recipe. The ragu takes some time but it’s mostly just simmering. I only used one packet of gelatin and it does make the sauce silky smooth.
The white sauce is a DELICIOUS concoction- the essence of bay and basil leaves is quite unique.
My pan was a little smaller than the recommended size so my four layers were slightly taller than the video so I went the full hour. Do not skip the thirty minute rest time; it makes it easier to serve and it doesn’t turn into a pool of lasagna - it maintains its shape after resting.
I won’t make lasagna any other way. Next time I may add some chopped mushrooms to the white sauce.
Scott W.
Michigan

Linda O.

This was our Christmas dinner meal. I usually don’t try new recipes on special occasions, you want the meal to be delicious. This is the tastiest lasagna I have ever eaten, better than our local, landmark Italian restaurant. I made the rage two days in advance and stored in the fridge, in the Dutch oven. It is a lengthy process, but well worth the time and effort. I wonder if the lasagna can be prepared a day in advance, then baked. Also if I were to freeze, should I cook first, then freeze. I also made the German Apple Cake, another winning recipe.

April D.

Linda - I'm glad you enjoyed it! While the lasagna can be prepared a day ahead and then baked, our recommendation for the best results is to prepare all the ingredients and then construct just before it goes into the oven, in order to ensure that the noodles don't over-absorb liquid from the two sauces, resulting in bloated noodles and a dry-feeling lasagna.
For freezing, you'll want to freeze after constructing, but before cooking. Something to keep in mind if you are freezing the lasagna is that, though you will want to put everything together while the ragù and besciamella are warm so that they spread evenly without clumping, the lasagna should be fully cool before going into the freezer in order to reduce the risk of freezerburn. Ideally, compose the lasagna, let it cool to room temperature, then let it spend at least a few hours uncovered in the fridge, before tightly covering in aluminum foil and putting into the freezer. To reheat, first defrost the lasagna in the fridge overnight. The next day, pull the lasagna out when you start preheating your oven so it can warm up a bit. Bake as instructed above - until the edges are bubbling - but also use a thermometer to ensure the middle of the lasagna is warmed through; your thermometer should read at least 175°F.
Best,
The Milk Street Team

Jennifer B.

Agree with all of the above, this was great, time consuming but great.

Eva N W.

I had been eyeing the recipe for a long time before finally making it. I made the ragu the day before and served it with home-made tagliatelle (I was feeling ambitious this week). I made the lasagna exactly as instructed the next day (for a change, I normally measure only for baking). It surely paid off. I hadn’t made lasagna in many years, but it was so good my husband and I had trouble stopping eating. I would never think of serving lasagna to dinner guests, but I’ll make it next time I can have guests (after the pandemic), just to show how good lasagna can be.

John b.

I'll pile on because it is just so freaking good. The comments I rec'd from people who are amazing cooks solidified my feelings. I've never made a dish where someone said in astonishment, this is the best thing I've ever eaten! Take your time and do it over a couple of days and the reward will be astonishing. Oh, thoughts on making the whole lasagna and cooking the next day and can I freezing leftovers (if there ever are any) please. Cheers to Milk Street!

Paul J.

Was very excited to try this - made it per the directions - we thought it was good to very good lasagna, but not outstanding. The lasagna/sauce might have benefited from more tomato flavor. With the leftover bolognese sauce, I’m going to add another can of tomatoes to it and try that over pasta and see if that improves the sauce. And, the lack of cheese flavor made the lasagna less appealing than a more traditional lasagna. We thought this was more similar to Greek Pastitsio but not as good as traditional Greek Pastitsio especially if one uses kefalotyri cheese.

Mary Ann J.

Omg....wish I could post a picture of the beautiful layers! I will never eat old traditional lasagna again! This is heavenly!!!

Bud R.

Yes, it was delicious, but the noodles turned to mush. They clearly did not need a presoaking. Will try again.

John H.

Big hit with every one. Their first comment was lasagna without mozzarella cheese I don't know. After eating the lasagna the comments were this is the best lasagna I have ever tried.

The Horticulture C.

In the past when making lasagna, the no boil pasta yields a gluey consistence. I always therefore use regular pasta, sometimes soak firt. Please let me know others' eperiences. Thanks.

Maria A.

Dear Milk Street,
Can someone please chime in on those who've experienced 'mushy' noodles from the no boil kind? I recall having this type of lasagna from an Italian grandmother who made her own noodles and they lasagna was indeed soft but I wouldn't say it was mushy. Perhaps the milk streeters over soaked? Water was too hot? Maybe it was the brand of noodles? I'd like to make this lasagna but also avoid ending up with mush. Thanks.

Lynn C.

Hi Maria -

We have made this dish many times in the Milk Street kitchen and in our respective personal kitchens and haven't had issues with mushy noodles. Definitely over-soaking the noodles would cause them to become mushy as would using water that is too hot or using too much sauce. It's important to actually temp the water you are using and measure the sauce per layer. Additionally, as April mentions above, assembling the lasagna too far in advance may cause the noodles to absorb too much of the sauce, which could also cause them to become mushy. Hope these tips help!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Kathleen D.

So freaking good. Was a huge hit. Like everyone has said light, but rich. So delicious. Thanks Milk Street!!!!!

Patricia P.

As chef in Milano, I was shocked at the nontraditional ingredients and methods in this recipe, when considering what the traditional Lasagne all bolognese is. 1. No way is dry sheets of pasta is better than fresh. 2. The ragù, using cubes of meat rather than ground meat is more like ragù napolitano, not bolognese. Never seen a ragù bolognese with bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and gelatin. 3. Besciamella in Italia is butter, flour, milk, salt, and nutmeg (optional I use it). Hey, don't take my word for it, check out cookbooks written and published in Italy, such as La Cucina Italiana, il Cucchiaio d'argento, Le Ricette Regionali Italiane, Cucina Regionale Italiana by Ada Boni also books published in the USA by Marcella Hazan. I was surprised because Milk Steet usually prints excellent and authentic recipes.

Bill M.

I follwed the directions to a T, and even after the 30-minute rest, it had the texture of soup. Not merely watery. Soupy.

Lynn C.

Hi Bill -

Did you make sure to measure the amount of bolognese and béchamel? The bolognese recipe actually makes 8 cups, not 6, so you should have had 2 cups leftover (to be used for another day). It's also important to measure the béchamel after you make it since it's possible that yours didn't reduce as much as ours. Lastly, it's critical to dry off the lasagna noodles before adding it to the dish and to uncover the lasagna as it cools. Skipping either of these steps would add additional moisture to the lasagna.

Hope that helps!
The Milk Street Team

Bill M.

Thanks, but no, it didn’t help. I measured both the bolognese and bechamel and had two cups of bolognese and a generous cup of bechamel leftover. I dried the noodles and uncovered the lasagna during cooling. Moreover, I simmered the sauce an extra half hour, not by design.

Lynn C.

Hi Bill -

The entire amount of béchamel (3 cups) should be used in the lasagna recipe so you shouldn't have had any leftover. We wonder if it wasn't reduced enough so it was too watery. Otherwise, we aren't sure may have gone wrong.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Lynn C.

Hi Bill -

The entire amount of béchamel (3 cups) should be used in the lasagna recipe so you shouldn't have had any leftover. We wonder if it wasn't reduced enough so it was too watery. Otherwise, we aren't sure may have gone wrong.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Diana L.

I made this lasagna so many times now. I dont add any liquids except for wine. It comes out without any water or soupy. The first time I made it, it was all runny.


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Lasagna Bolognese

Get Ready to Cook

8-10

Servings

1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use the noodles without first soaking them. Unsoaked noodles absorb moisture from both the ragù and besciamella, leaving the lasagna too dry. But don’t soak them for longer than 10 minutes.

Ingredients
Step 1 of 3

Soak Noodles

12
no-boil 6½-by-3½-inch lasagna noodles
1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.


Place the noodles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then add hot water (about 140°F) to cover, along with the oil and 1½ teaspoons salt; swish the noodles around to dissolve the salt.


Let stand for 10 minutes, moving the noodles around halfway through to ensure they do not stick together.

Step 2 of 3

Assemble Lasagna

6
cups ragù Bolognese, warmed
3
cups Parmesan besciamella, warmed

Remove the noodles from the water and arrange in a single layer on a kitchen towel; pat dry with paper towels. Wipe out the baking dish.


Distribute 2 cups ragù evenly in the baking dish, then place 3 noodles in a single layer on top. Spread ¼ cup besciamella onto each noodle, all the way to the edges.


Pour 1 cup ragù on top and spread evenly. Repeat the layering 3 more times, using the remaining noodles, besciamella and ragù, then cover the baking dish tightly with foil.

Step 3 of 3

Bake and Serve

Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bake until the edges of the lasagna are bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack, uncover and cool for about 30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

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