Lasagna Casserole Recipe (Extra Easy Lasagna!)

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster! | natashaskitchen.com

What makes a lasagna casserole? This has all of the same elements of a classic lasagna recipe – meat sauce, cheese sauce and pasta plus more cheese of course, but the process couldn’t be easier. Everything is stirred together with penne pasta (no layering required) and it cooks fast!

GUESS WHAT?? There is no ricotta cheese in this easy lasagna recipe. It is replaced with a surprising ingredient that works really well. My sister, Sveta (who is also my stylist) came up with this recipe, filmed an irresistible pasta cheese pull on her phone and sent it my way. My first thought was “HOLD ME BACK!!”

I have a weakness for incredible cheese pulls but it wasn’t just that – the meat sauce underneath the lovely crown of cheese is equally amazing. Every bite of this Lasagna Casserole is juicy, satisfying and loaded with flavor (see next photo for proof).

We have included Amazon affiliate links to our favorite kitchen tools used in this recipe.

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster!

Lasagna Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

10 oz Ranchero Cheese (Queso Fresco), crumbled
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 egg
4 oz (1 cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt

Lasagna Pasta and Toppings:

1 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente
1/2 to 3/4 cup reserved pasta water
2 oz (1/2 cup) cheddar, shredded
2 oz (1/2 cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Lasagna Meat Sauce Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (use lean 90/10 or an 85/15 fat content)
1 medium diced onion
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
24 oz marinara sauce (homemade, or store-bought)

How to Make Easy Lasagna Casserole:

1. Bring a 5 Qt pot of water to a boil and add about 1 Tbsp salt. Add penne pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente (firm to the bite).

2. In a large, deep, oven safe pan, combine ground beef and diced onion and sauté over medium/high heat, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until meat is fully cooked and onion is soft (5 to 8 mins). Spoon out and discard any excess fat released from ground beef.

3. Stir in the seasonings: 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp pepper then pour in marinara, bring to a simmer and turn off the heat.

4. Meanwhile, place 10 oz ranchero cheese into a medium mixing bowl and crumble/ mash it up with a wooden spoon. Add remaining cheese sauce ingredients: 1 Tbsp sour cream, 1 egg, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 2 Tbsp parsley and 1 tsp garlic salt. Stir together then add it to the meat sauce and mix just until combined.

5. Stir in cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to make it juicier (I used 1/2 cup pasta water). (Transfer to 9×13 casserole dish if not using an oven-safe pan). Smooth out the top and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and center is hot and steamy.

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster!

This easy, cheesy lasagna pasta bake is such a treat! It also refrigerates and reheats really well so leftovers are niiice!

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster!

Print-Friendly Lasagna Casserole Recipe:

Lasagna Casserole Recipe

5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster! | natashaskitchen.com

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna - meat sauce, cheese sauce and penne pasta plus more cheese of course, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering required) and it bakes way faster!

Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $15-$20
Calories: 521 kcal
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

Lasagna Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • 10 oz Queso Fresco (Ranchero Cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese (1 cup shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

Lasagna Pasta and Toppings:

  • 1 lb penne pasta (reserve 1 cup pasta water)
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese (1/2 cup shredded)
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup shredded)

Lasagna Meat Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef use 90/10 or an 85/15 fat content
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 24 oz marinara sauce homemade, or store-bought

Instructions

  1. Bring a 5 Qt pot of water to boil and add 1 Tbsp salt. Add penne pasta and cook al dente according to package instructions.

  2. In a large, deep, oven-safe pan, combine beef and onion. Sauté over med/high heat, until meat is fully cooked and onion is soft (5 to 8 mins), breaking up meat with a spatula. Discard any excess fat released from beef.

  3. Stir in seasonings: 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp pepper. Add marinara and bring to simmer then remove from heat.

  4. Meanwhile, crumble up ranchero cheese in a medium bowl. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream, 1 egg, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 2 Tbsp parsley and 1 tsp garlic salt. Stir together then add it to the meat sauce and mix just until combined.

  5. Stir in cooked pasta and add reserved pasta water to taste for a juicier casserole (I used 1/2 cup pasta water).* Smooth out the top then sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake at 350˚F for 20 min to melt cheese and make the center steaming hot.

Recipe Notes

*Transfer to casserole dish if not using an oven-safe pan.

Nutrition Facts
Lasagna Casserole Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 521 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 97mg 32%
Sodium 1373mg 57%
Potassium 691mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 50g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 7g
Protein 34g 68%
Vitamin A 17.8%
Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 43.5%
Iron 18.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster!

Mmm… Cheesy saucy goodness! Are you hungry yet? 😉

P.S. If you’re a big lasagna fan, you won’t want to miss our slow cooker lasagna recipe which is perfect for Sunday lunch.

What is a lasagna casserole? This easy lasagna pasta bake has all the same elements of a classic lasagna, but the process is so easy! Everything is combined in a casserole dish (no layering) and this lasagna recipe bakes way faster! | natashaskitchen.com

natashaskitchen

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Irina
    November 14, 2018

    My family enjoyed this easy recipe, and I will, definitely, cook it again! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 14, 2018

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite! Reply

  • Nat L
    September 22, 2018

    Truly was easy to make and tastes delicious! Will be making again 🙂 Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 22, 2018

      Hi Nat! I’m so happy you enjoyed that! Thank you for the wonderful review! Reply

  • Jsssics
    August 13, 2018

    I am not the cook in the house, this recipe was easy to follow. It turned out great! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 13, 2018

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the wonderful review! Reply

  • DeAnna Kiifner
    July 21, 2018

    Love, love, love the Extra Easy lasagna recipe. Made it last nite using wide egg noodles in place of penne. It was DELISH!. Grand-daughter (10 yrs) LOVED it! Will absolutely make it again. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 21, 2018

      That’s so great DeAnna! I’m so happy the family enjoyed that together! Reply

  • natalie
    July 17, 2018

    I have made this recipe so many times and my kids eat it up! love it! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 17, 2018

      Thank you for sharing that with us! Reply

  • mary Bayer
    April 30, 2018

    Can I make this without the meat? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 30, 2018

      Hi Mary, I think that could work with diced and cooked zucchini or mushrooms or eggplant or any combination of these. If you experiment, please let me know how it goes! 🙂 Reply

  • Natalie
    April 4, 2018

    Can i make the casserole ahead of time and bake later in time for dinner? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 4, 2018

      Hi Natalie, I think that would work to make it ahead of time, cover and refrigerate then bake before dinner. It may need a few minutes more in the oven if you are starting with a chilled casserole. I hope you love it! Reply

  • Ksusha.A
    March 30, 2018

    I was worried the cheese mixture would be too much but it blended in well.
    I added water to leftovers When warming it up since it was a little dry. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 30, 2018

      I’m glad you enjoy the recipe! Thanks for sharing your helpful review with other readers! Reply

  • Wendy Morgan
    March 16, 2018

    Absolutely and I mean absolutely delicious! Made this tonight and looking forward to leftovers! I love your recipes to the max Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 17, 2018

      I’m so glad you love the recipe Wendy! Thanks so much for following and sharing your excellent review! Reply

  • Elena
    March 13, 2018

    This lasagna casserole is amazing – so full of flavor (queso adds a lovely twist) and so easy and quick to make! We loved your slow cooker recipe, too – but this one is definitely our new favorite. We tried it with both regular and rustic cut marinara, and both turned out great.
    Thank you from our family! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 13, 2018

      My pleasure Elena! I’m happy to hear your family enjoys the recipe as much as mine does! Thanks for following and sharing your excellent review! Reply

  • Zara
    March 12, 2018

    Hi Natasha! Can u really taste the cheese in the lasagna, my kids won’t eat lasagna with ricotta cheese, I want to try this, but wondering if this cheese will give strong taste to this dish. Thankyou ! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 12, 2018

      Hi Zara, the cheese is very mild in flavor and is not overpowering in this dish. You can reduce the mozzarella if they don’t like cheese but the cheese is not overwhelming in this recipe 🙂 Reply

  • Amanda
    March 7, 2018

    Made this for our life group from church and it was a huge hit! Perfect just the way it is. I’m so happy you have an instant pot – means I can look forward to more IP recipes in the future 😉 Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 7, 2018

      I’m glad to hear the recipe is such a success! Thanks for sharing and DO expect more IP recipes! 🙂 Reply

  • Inna
    March 6, 2018

    Great recipe, thank you!
    My picky 10 year old son who won’t eat lasagna went for seconds with this one and my husband and toddler loved it as well. Will definitely be making it again. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 7, 2018

      My pleasure Inna! I’m happy to hear the recipe is “picky eater” approved! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review! Reply

  • Vivian Hill
    March 6, 2018

    What can you use insead of queso fresco cheese ??
    Thanks, Vivian Hill Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 6, 2018

      Hi Vivian, you could try ricotta but I would use less ricotta since it makes the sauce more loose and creamy. I have tested with both and we love the queso fresco more because it is more distinctive in the casserole without completely blending into the marinara. Reply

  • UltimatelySocial
    March 6, 2018

    Everything looks good, especially the eggplant lasagna and the BBQ meat loaf. I definitely want to try these. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 6, 2018

      I hope you do! 🙂 Reply

  • Kseniya
    March 5, 2018

    Pasta with ground meat is the only thing my toddler would eat. Thank you for this recipe! It turned out great!! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 5, 2018

      My pleasure! I’m glad to hear your whole family enjoys the recipe. Thanks for sharing your excellent review! Reply

  • Sheila Perl
    March 3, 2018

    Does anyone in Ontario , Canada know what the equivalent cheese would be to the Ranchero Queso? I have never seen it here! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 3, 2018

      It is also called “Queso Fresco” and is located in the Mexican cheese section in our local grocery stores. Hope that helps! Reply

  • Natalie
    March 3, 2018

    That cheese sounds interesting. Will try!! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 3, 2018

      This recipe is so easy AND delicious, I hope you try it Natalie! Reply

  • LYDIA NEDELCO
    March 2, 2018

    Can I use ricotta cheese instead of ranchero cheese? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 2, 2018

      Hi Lydia, I think it works a little better with ranchero since ricotta cheese has more liquid and it blends into the marinara making it more of a creamy sauce. It could work and I have tested a similar casserole with ricotta but I prefer the ranchero for the casserole lasagna. I do love ricotta in the regular lasagna since it is in layers and doesn’t blend as much into the marinara sauce. Reply

    • PATRICIA GARCIA
      March 4, 2018

      it should probably work if you drained the ricotta for an hour or two. Reply

  • Mariya
    March 2, 2018

    Thank you for the recipe Natasha, I made this for lunch today and it’s SO GOOD!! And when kids ask for seconds….and thirds, nothing feels better! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 2, 2018

      My pleasure Mariya! I’m glad to hear the recipe is such a hit. Thanks for sharing your excellent review! Reply

  • Tammy
    March 2, 2018

    This looks delicious! Is the ranchero cheese a strong flavor? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 2, 2018

      Hi Tammy, it is very very mild similar to ricotta but not wet like ricotta. The moisture level is closer to feta cheese but the flavor is closer to a cross between ricotta and fresh mozarella. Reply

  • Terri
    March 1, 2018

    Can this recipe be frozen? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 1, 2018

      Hi Terri, I haven’t tried freezing it but in general lasagna does freeze well so I think that should work fine with this recipe. Reply

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