Giada's Lasagna With A Twist Recipe

Homemade lasagna is a special occasion dish for sure. As a matter of fact, many Italian-American families turn to lasagna as a Thanksgiving centerpiece, upstaging the classic turkey. But when you're making Giada De Laurentiis' recipe, lasagna turns dinner any night of the week into a special occasion.

Giada's classic lasagna features three kinds of cheese and a rich, homemade béchamel. And to really gild the lily, she tops the casserole off with cubed butter before baking. It's creamy, it's decadent, and it's so utterly delicious.

"This is definitely a special-occasion meal due to the richness," says private practice registered dietician and recipe developer Kristen Carli of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness. "It is involved and it is very indulgent."

To make the original slightly simpler to master at home, Carli makes a few tweaks to Giada's recipe. But never fear! The resulting dish is just as scrumptious as Giada's.

What did we change?

Carli opted for two changes to Giada's original recipe, one of which reduces the prep time quite a bit.

"Her recipe is pretty involved," says Carli. "I wanted to remove at least one of the many steps by using a store-bought red sauce instead of also making your own."

She also adds one extra ingredient to Giada's original: mild Italian sausage, which introduces an herbal fennel aroma that, Carli says, helps "brighten up the richness" of Giada's recipe. Luckily, this ingredient addition doesn't further complicate your job: It merely joins the beef from Giada's original.

Gather the ingredients to prepare Giada's lasagna with a twist

Like all lasagnas, Giada's is made of multiple components layered together, and then baked. The first of these is a homemade béchamel, which you'll make with butter, flour, whole milk, and a pinch of nutmeg. Carli's choice of using store-bought tomato sauce to flavor the white sauce base means that all you need to do is choose your favorite brand. Carli opts for a classic, simple marinara.

You'll also need ground beef and the aforementioned sausage — equal weights of each — for the meat layer.

For the rich ricotta layer, you'll simply combine ricotta cheese and eggs. You'll also need lasagna noodles, frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry), and two types of shredded cheese: mozzarella and Parmesan. Be sure to have salt and pepper on hand, too, and you are ready to get cooking.

Make the béchamel sauce

Before you begin preparing the layers for this lasagna, don't forget to preheat the oven to 375 F. While the oven heats up, start making the béchamel

A béchamel is a white sauce made by thickening milk with butter and flour. Start by melting 5 of the 7 tablespoons of butter called for in this recipe in a large pot. (Save the rest for dotting the top of the lasagna later.) Once the butter has completely melted, whisk in the flour until smooth. Next, add the milk, whisking all the while. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Season the béchamel sauce

As is, this béchamel is rich and creamy, if a little bit bland. We'll soon fix that!

Remove it from the heat, and stir in the nutmeg and the jarred marinara, so you're left with a luscious pink sauce. If you prefer, you can opt for homemade tomato sauce, as Giada does, or a different tomato sauce, like spicy arrabbiata, to keep things interesting.

Once combined, set the now-pink sauce aside to cool. We'll get back to it later when we're assembling the lasagna.

Prepare the meat and ricotta layers

Next, it's time to cook the meat. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, and then add the sausage and beef. Use a wooden spoon to break it up, and cook it until it's no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat (This lasagna is rich, but we don't want it to be greasy!) and set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring until well combined.

Now is also a good time to cook the lasagna noodles! Cook the noodles in salted boiling water until just al dente, then set aside.

Assemble Giada's lasagna with a twist

Assemble the lasagna in a 9x13-inch baking dish, beginning with ⅓ of the pink béchamel sauce. Add a layer of cooked pasta on top, arranging the noodles side by side, and then top with all of the ricotta mixture, followed by all of the thawed, squeezed spinach. Top with a second layer of pasta, followed by all of the ground meat.

Atop the meat, sprinkle ½ of the mozzarella cheese, followed by another ⅓ of the béchamel. Finish things off with the last layer of pasta and the remaining béchamel, followed by the remaining mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese

The last little touch? The remaining butter! Cut it into ¼-inch cubes, and arrange evenly on top of the lasagna.

Bake your lasagna

Now, it's finally time to bake! But first, a precautionary measure: Lining a large baking sheet with foil. This will ensure that if anything bubbles up out of the pan during its 45-minute bake, it won't stick to the bottom of your oven. Then, simply place the lasagna dish on top of the prepared sheet pan, cover with even more foil, and bake for half an hour, to start.

When nice and bubbly, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, so that it's lovely and browned on top. We know it's almost too good to resist, but be sure to let it sit out of the oven for a bit before serving. This will help it hold its shape better when you slice and serve.

Giada's Lasagna With A Twist Recipe
5 from 34 ratings
Giada's lasagna with a twist is decadent, creamy, and utterly delicious. This recipe turns any night of the week into a truly special dinner.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 ½ pounds ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lasagna sheets, cooked
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Make the béchamel sauce by melting 5 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, add the flour and milk. Whisk until smooth and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the tomato sauce and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Set aside, and allow to cool completely.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, then add the sausage and beef. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink. Drain, and set aside. Allow to cool completely.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, and mix until well combined. Set aside.
  6. Spread ⅓ of the béchamel in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Arrange the pasta sheets side by side on top. Evenly spread a layer of all of the ricotta mixture, and then a layer of all of the spinach. Arrange another layer of pasta, and spread all of the ground meat on top.
  7. Sprinkle ½ of the mozzarella cheese on top of the meat, followed by another ⅓ of the béchamel sauce. Arrange the final layer of pasta, and top with remaining béchamel, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. Cut the remaining butter into ¼-inch cubes, and top the lasagna with them.
  8. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the lasagna dish on top, cover with more foil, and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes.
Calories per Serving 1,563
Total Fat 100.1 g
Saturated Fat 51.6 g
Trans Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 366.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 88.0 g
Dietary Fiber 6.0 g
Total Sugars 16.0 g
Sodium 1,862.8 mg
Protein 77.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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