This show-stopping Lasagna with Bechamel is layered with a slow-simmered meat sauce and homemade bechamel sauce. It’s a creamy, close-to-authentic Italian lasagna you’ll never forget!
Making homemade Lasagna with Bechamel is the best way to enjoy almost-authentic Italian cooking from the comfort of your own kitchen.
It’s an incredibly creamy lasagna that’s layered with homemade ragu meat sauce, creamy bechamel sauce, noodles, and parmesan cheese. The result is a show-stopping creamy and saucy pasta dinner you can serve for all kinds of special occasions.
What is bechamel?
Bechamel sauce (white sauce) is just one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine. A mother sauce is considered a building block of the dish in which it’s used, and is made using a liquid, a thickener, and flavoring agents.
Bechamel is an incredibly creamy and rich mother sauce made from milk, nutmeg, salt, and a thickening roux (butter and flour). It’s quite simple to make but has a divine, irresistible flavor.
The uses for bechamel go way beyond lasagna. It’s the backbone to moussaka recipes and authentic Italian lasagna (like this recipe!) but can also be used in macaroni and cheese, croque monsieurs, tuna casserole, baked pasta recipes, and much more.
This lasagna goes a step above the typical easy lasagna recipe. To make the best homemade ragu sauce and bechamel sauce, I recommend using high-quality ingredients and little to no substitutions. This is what you need:
For the ragu meat sauce
- Yellow onion
- San Marzano tomatoes – These are my go-to canned tomatoes, especially for homemade tomato sauces!
- Ground beef – Use lean ground beef to keep the amount of grease in the ragu relatively low.
- Ground pork – Two kinds of ground meat in ragu sauce is best.
- Whole milk
- Dry white wine – Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, or Chenin Blanc are all great options.
- Tomato paste – This gives the sauce a well-rounded and concentrated tomato flavor.
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
For the bechamel sauce
- Unsalted butter
- Flour – All purpose flour is best.
- Whole milk – Try not to substitute this for a low-fat alternative, otherwise, your bechamel won’t be as rich and creamy.
- Kosher salt
- Nutmeg – Try to grate fresh nutmeg yourself for the very best, most pronounced flavors.
For the lasagna
- Lasagna noodles – I used no-boil lasagna noodles because they’re quick, easy, and convenient. Soaking them in hot water also makes them more pliable and easy to work with, just as I’ve done in my easy Tortellini Lasagna recipe.
- Parmesan cheese – Or use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
How to make lasagna with bechamel sauce
First, make the meat sauce by sauteeing the pureed onion, carrot, and celery in a large pot with butter. Cook until softened, then add the beef and pork to the pot. Pour in the milk.
Cook until most of the liquid in the pot has evaporated, continuing to break the meat apart. Now add the wine and cook for a while longer, until it’s evaporated.
Now stir in the tomato paste, followed by the pureed San Marzano tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer and thicken, then set it aside to cool.
Next, move on to the bechamel sauce. While you wait for the meat sauce to finish, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and let it cook for 1 minute.
Add the milk and whisk constantly while you turn up the heat and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and nutmeg, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let the creamy sauce simmer, stirring every so often, until it thickens. Set it aside to cool once it has thickened.
Soak the noodles in hot water and set them aside to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Once that’s done, you can start assembling the lasagna:
- Spread some of the meat sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Add a layer of noodles.
- Top with meat sauce.
- Add a layer of bechamel sauce.
- Finish with a thin layer of parmesan on top.
Repeat steps 2 through 5 three more times. To finish, add the remaining noodles on top and cover them completely with the remaining bechamel and parmesan.
Cover the baking dish with a sheet of lightly greased foil, then bake until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil, then bake until the top is browned.
Let the bechamel lasagna rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
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Both the meat sauce and bechamel can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge, then reheat gently on the stove until warm.
The assembled lasagna is best when it’s baked right after assembly. But if you’re low on time, assemble as normal, cover the lasagna, and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 day. The leftover baked lasagna can be covered and stored in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
Once assembled, cover the baking dish with plastic and freeze. Defrost it overnight before baking as normal. The baked lasagna will freeze well for up to 3 months.
No, the two are quite different. Bechamel is a simple cream sauce made only from butter, flour, milk, and salt (plus some seasonings if you want, like nutmeg or lemon). Alfredo is also a creamy pasta sauce but seasoned heavily with garlic, parsley, parmesan, and heavy cream.
Wine pairings for lasagna
Because this bechamel lasagna is extra creamy, I recommend pairing it with wine that will complement and breakthrough its richness, such as:
- A light-bodied Sangiovese complements the rich tomato meat sauce beautifully.
- Chardonnay and light red wine, like Pinot Noir, are two of my go-to’s when pairing wine with creamy pasta.
- Or stick with a simple Chianti or young Barbera.
- MORE → The 7 Best Wines to Pair with Pasta
More Italian recipes
Did you try this lasagna recipe with bechamel sauce?
If you loved this lasagna with white sauce I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Lasagna with Bechamel Recipe
- ½ medium yellow onion (rough chopped)
- 1 medium carrot (peeled and rough chopped)
- 1 stalk celery (rough chopped)
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 ounces lean ground beef
- 12 ounces ground pork
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Puree the onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor, until finely chopped.
- Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, until just softened, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse out the food processor bowl and add the tomatoes. Pulse, until finely diced. Set aside.
- Add the beef & pork to the carrot mixture and break the meat apart for a couple minutes.
- Add the milk and bring to a simmer, cook and continue to break apart the meat as it cooks. Cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, 20-30 minutes.
- Add the wine and cook 20-30 minutes longer, until evaporated.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then, add in the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
- Simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Set aside and let cool slightly, about 30 minutes.
- While the meat sauce is cooking, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and cook, whisking, until combined, about 1 minute.
- Add the milk, whisking constantly.
- Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, as you continue to whisk.
- Add the salt and nutmeg and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
- Set aside and let cool slightly, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.
- Soak the noodles in hot tap water for about 5 minutes, tossing with your hands occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Remove the noodles from the water and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- Spray a 9×13” baking dish with cooking spray.
- Add 1 cup of the meat sauce to the baking dish and spread to coat.
- Place three noodles in a single layer on top.
- Add about 1 ¼ cups more meat sauce evenly over the noodles.
- Add ⅓ cup bechamel over the meat sauce.
- Sprinkle ⅓ cup parmesan over the bechamel.
- Repeat this process 3 more times, then place the final 3 noodles on top and cover completely with the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle on the remaining parmesan.
- Spray a large sheet of tin foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover the lasagna.
- Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 450-degrees. Continue baking the lasagna, uncovered, until the top is browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then slice and serve.