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Skillet Lasagna is a saucy, cheesy, classic meal that all good home cooks should have in their rotation. Made from scratch with a meaty sauce and layered with melted cheese, kids and adults claim this as the ultimate comfort food.
The Secret to Perfect Lasagna
Lasagna is all about the layers! In a traditional casserole dish, you’ll typically see 3 to 4 layers. When making it in a skillet the layers become a bit more rustic as it requires breaking and overlapping the lasagna noodles to fit into a round skillet. For the perfect cut, I alternate the directions of the noodles on each layer and allow the lasagna to rest for 15 minutes after being removed from the oven.
The Cheese Filling
You can use ricotta, cottage cheese, or a mixture of cream cheese with shredded cheese for the cheese layer. Each will have a slightly different texture. Traditional Italian lasagna has a bechamel or ricotta cheese layer, while many recipes from the 1950s suggest cottage cheese. For families that don’t like either, I’ve found the best substitution is a mixture of room-temperature cream cheese and shredded cheese for a soft spreadable cheese filling. Note that a cheese filling will often require the addition of egg(s) as well to act as a binder between the cheese and the noodle layer.
How to Layer a Lasagna
According to Jamie Oliver, who uses a bechamel sauce, you’ll start with a layer of red sauce on the bottom followed by a layer of noodles, then the bechamel sauce followed by noodles, and repeat. A more modern approach to the layering of lasagna starts with the red sauce, often containing meat, followed by noodles topped with a creamy cheese layer, shredded cheese topped with noodles, and repeat. Sometimes both the cheese and red sauce layers will appear together between layers of noodles. This will result in thicker layers between the noodles and sometimes does not hold its shape together as nicely once cut. However, this modern Americanized version of Italian comfort food has become a classic home staple for a reason.
Trying to get more vegetables into your meals? With lasagna, you can add chopped carrots or bell peppers to the meat sauce without anyone noticing. To create a spinach lasagna, add some caramelized onions and fresh sautéed spinach or drained frozen spinach to the cheese layer. While it will certainly not be as hidden visually, the taste is not noticeable. And of course, feel free to change up the selection of meat in the meat sauce. Use ground beef, ground pork, sausage, ground venison, or even tofu for a vegetarian option. In the version pictured below, I’m actually using ground venison. I prefer it as a much more lean protein than beef, meaning I don’t have to drain any excess grease and can do everything right in the skillet.
How to Assemble this Skillet Lasagna
Once the meat sauce is made, remove all but about a cup from the skillet. Make sure it is spread evenly on the bottom. Layer in the lasagna noodles, breaking them to fit as needed. Top with half of the cheese mixture, another layer of noodles, a layer of meat sauce, a layer of noodles, a layer of cheese, meat sauce, and topped with extra shredded cheese. Cover with tinfoil and bake. With ten minutes of cook time left remove the tin foil and return to the oven uncovered to melt.
Common Questions About Lasagna
The Perfect Make Ahead Meal
A lasagna is a wonderful option for those who like to work in batches and work ahead. You can either assemble the entire dish the night before and cover it in the refrigerator until ready to bake the next day or use a freezer-safe vessel to deep freeze for up to 3 months. I like to do this before baking so it remains as fresh as possible when I go to bake. However, you can absolutely portion out leftovers from your skillet, wrap and freeze for when comfort calls.
You can make and assemble this dish easily around a campfire. My tips would be, to make the meat sauce at home and transport it in a mason jar in your cooler along with another mason jar containing the cheese products. Then simply assemble on-site in a dutch oven and cook over a campfire using a triangle, covered for about the same amount of time. Be sure to bring an infrared thermometer with you to help keep an eye on the temperature of the dutch oven. You’ll be looking for an outside temperature of about 450F for the inside to be about 350F. In this case, I would also suggest using oven-ready lasagna noodles for best results.
What to Serve with Lasagna
Lasagna is a heavier dish and can often be served as a one-pot meal. However, if you’re looking for some side dishes that pair well, consider Caesar Salad, Homemade Garlic Knots, Skillet Garlic Bread, Garlic Focaccia Bread, Roasted Vegetables, or even a light soup.
Easy Skillet Lasagna
- 12-inch deep skillet or 5-quart dutch oven
- wooden spoon
- Cutting board
- tin foil
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion medium, diced small
- 1 green bell pepper diced small
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1-1/2 pounds ground meat beef, venison, turkey, or pork
- 26 ounces spaghetti sauce
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese whole milk
- 8 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese 2 ounces reserved for the top
- 8 ounces shredded Mozzerella cheese 2 ounces reserved for the top
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons dried Italian herbs
- 16 ounces lasagna noodles raw or oven-ready
- Preheat the oven to 350F. In the deep skillet on the stovetop, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil to saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add your choice of ground meat and cook through. Drain of excess grease if needed. Add the spaghetti sauce to the meat mixture and stir.
- Remove all but about 1 cup of the sauce mixture from the skillet and spread evenly on the bottom. Set the removed sauce to the side for assembly.
- To make the cheese mixture combine the ricotta, 6 ounces of each shredded cheese, the egg, and dried herbs. Mix well and set aside.
- Start assembling the lasagna by laying noodles on top of the sauce in the skillet in an even layer. Break noodles to fit as best as possible.
- Spread half of the cheese mixture carefully on top of the raw noodles. Lay another layer of noodles on top of the cheese mixture going in the opposite direction of the previous ones.
- Pour half of the remaining meat mixture on the raw noodles. Lay the final layer of noodles on top in the original direction. Carefully spread the remaining cheese mixture on top followed by the remaining meat mixture. Be sure that all exposed noodles are covered with the fillings.
- Top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover with tin foil completely and bake for 50 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese on top is bubbling and golden in color. Garnish with fresh parsley.