Lasagna can take soooo long to prepare and cook but no more with this Fast and Easy Gluten-Free Meat Lasagna. An easy recipe with some tips to cut down on the prep time making it a great mid-week dinner option.
Lasagna has been a favorite comfort food in our house for as long as I can remember. I will confess I really avoided making it however because it took to darn long.
Between building the sauce from scratch, boiling the noodles and the cooking time, it felt more like making a Thanksgiving dinner than something possible for a weeknight.
I have two hungry, busy kids, a hard-working husband and I’m busy too.
My kids love lasagna so much that I became determined to find a way to make it more approachable and easy to make on a regular basis.
I had a few break throughs a few years ago that have made it so simple that I really look forward to making it now.
NOTE FOR GLUTEN-EATERS: the only difference between making this gluten-free or with gluten is the lasagna noodles. If you aren’t gluten-free swap the noodles for regular lasagna noodles and make as directed!
Tip #1: Everything does not need to be from scratch.
There are great prepared sauces that can be used as a base. No matter what your preference, whether it be to use mainstream brands, gourmet options, simple flavors or more seasoned, organic or not, you can find something to fit your preferences.
Also with an eye to making things quick, the sauces are already seasoned so it removes that step of the preparation.
Buy the cheese already grated. That saves time and clean up too.
Tip #2: You don’t need to boil your noodles.
I don’t know about you but either I am the least coordinated person in the kitchen or handling boiled lasagna noodles is like trying to catch an eel barehanded. It’s crazy.
Instead of preboiling the noodles, once the lasagna is assembled, pour ¼-1/3 cup (depending on how thick the lasagna is) of boiling water just around the very edge of the lasagna by the baking dish.
I do this with a liquid measuring cup to control the placement.
Seal the lasagna with 2 pieces of heavy foil and it will turn out as beautifully as if you’d pre-boiled the noodles.
Tip #3: Use this as a base recipe and change it up to fit your mood.
This recipe is comforting and delicious but is also a great jumping off point to mix things up.
Sauté some onion and garlic before adding in the ground beef to bump up the flavor of the sauce.
Add in some Italian herbs (I’m loving the herbs in a tube you can buy in the produce section; perfect for fast cooking and no chopping).
I love to throw in some spinach to get some greens in the lasagna. I’ll add a few large handfuls of fresh spinach to the browned ground beef, sauté it down in volume and add the sauce. Or frozen, thawed spinach works too.
We love sausage and there are so many flavor options. I’ll buy a package of hot or sweet Italian sausage (pre-cooked), slice it and add it into the ground beef before adding the sauce.
It adds more flavor, texture and volume to the lasagna for only a few minutes more.
You can also replace the 4 cups of cheese with a pre-grated Italian blend available in the dairy department of your grocery store. Are you getting the idea?
I now can put this lasagna together in 10 minutes. The longest lead-time is the cooking of the beef and sauce. The hardest part for me?
Remembering the order of the layers! This can also be done with regular gluten lasagna noodles too.
This fast and easy Gluten-Free Meat Lasagna recipe employs some simple tips and tricks to make it easy to cook lasagna even when you don’t have time to toil over it in the kitchen. Fantastic comfort food as is, or great to build on with different additional ingredients!
Fast and Easy Gluten-Free Meat Lasagna Recipe
- 3 cups grated Low-Moisture Mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
- 1 24- ounce jar Pasta Sauce (Tomato and Basil, Marinara, etc.)
- 1 package Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles (separate the noodles into 3 even groups)
- 1 15- ounce Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses together in a bowl.
- In a large skillet add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ground beef and brown breaking up pieces with a spatula as it cooks.
- Add the pasta sauce to the skillet. Add ¼ cup water to the jar of the sauce, seal, shake vigorously and pour the liquid into the skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish and spread to coat the bottom.
- Layer 1: Layer 3-4 lasagna noodles (1/3 of the package) over the sauce. Spoon half of the ricotta cheese on top of the noodles and spread it evenly. Spread 1 cup sauce on top of the ricotta cheese followed by 1 ¼ cups of the cheese.
- Layer 2: Repeat the layer of 3-4 noodles (the second 1/3 of the package), the remaining half of the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of sauce and 1 ¼ cups of the mixed cheese.
- Layer 3: Remaining noodles, covered with the remaining sauce, topped with remaining cheese.
- Pour ¼ cup boiling water around the edges of the lasagna and seal with two sheets of heavy duty foil. NOTE: to keep the cheese from sticking to the foil, spray the underside (side facing the lasagna) of the bottom foil with non-stick spray before placing it on the lasagna.
- Bake for 50 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 additional minutes (1-hour total). Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
If I want to freeze this before cooking, would I add the boiling water prior to freezing or when it’s thawed and ready to go in the oven? Thank you.
Toni Dash says
I’ve actually never frozen it Megan. But the function of the boiling water at the end is to add moisture so the noodles will cook so if you freeze it, thaw it and add the boiling water and foil before you cook it.
Thank you – that’s what I’ll do!
John Sahr says
I gave up boiling the lasagna noodles years ago. Here are two approaches.
(a) use “oven-ready” noodles, and don’t worry about it.
(b) rather than going through the hassle of boiling noodles, find a big put, fill it with tap water, dump the noodels in, and then forget about them while you go about your day, skiing, partying, gardening whatever. After several hours they’ll effectively be “oven-ready” having simply soaked for a while, without you fretting over the boiling pot and worrying about sticking, etc.
Alison stern says
I made this recipe today, and it was excellent! So easy and I love the quick tips, especially not having to boil the noodles in advance!!!! This ones on my list of fast, easy, fave!
alison stern says
This recipe was so easy and delicious. I made mine with ground chicken and added in the spinach—-so good! It was moist but stuck together perfectly. Will definitely add this to my repertoire!
Great and yummy recipes!!
This was my first time making lasagna in general–let alone gluten free, it WAS amazing! Not going to lie, ate it for dinner and even for breakfast today! That good! 🙂 Thank you!
Toni Dash says
I’m so glad you loved it. Lasagna does not last long in my house either and every meal time is ripe for leftovers of it!
I made this tonight! The only thing I changed was adding an egg and some Parmesan to the ricotta. It was perfect! Adding the boiling water really was key. Even the noodles on the edges were nicely cooked! Everyone ate like it was their last meal. I’ll definitely make this again. It was so easy!!
Toni Dash says
I made this tonight too! Every time I make it I’m happy I did. I’m glad you loved it too.
Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes says
I’m all about a quick lasagna recipe!
Lori @ RecipeGirl says
My gluten-free Mom says, “Delicious!” Thank you!