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Dutch Oven Lasagna

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This Dutch oven lasagna is a straightforward, one-pot meal that amps up the classic with taller layers and irresistibly crispy edges. A cast iron Dutch oven evely heats the lasagna as it cooks infusing deep, rich flavor into every layer.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Close up of the inside of a Dutch oven lasagna that has already had a portion removed.

This Dutch oven lasagna is a simple and hearty comfort food, combining the ease of one-pot cooking with the deliciousness of a classic oven lasagna recipe. It’s super simple, with fewer dishes and no complex steps.

Using a cast iron Dutch oven is slightly different from a standard casserole dish, but it’s a game-changer for achieving perfect crispy edges and a melty, cheesy center. It’s not just a different cooking vessel; It also impacts the texture of the lasagna. A Dutch oven’s ability to evenly distribute heat leads to tender, uniformly cooked layers with depth of flavor. I also love that you can build your lasagna much taller in a Dutch oven than in a standard baking dish.

This recipe is also versatile. I use no-boil noodles, but you can use homemade or pre-cooked traditional boxed noodles. Substitute my lentil Bolognese sauce for a vegetarian version without meat, or add a touch of homemade basil pesto for an extra layer of flavor. It’s simple and satisfying, and yes, you can cook it over a campfire while camping, but today, we’re sticking to the comfort of your home oven.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

✔️ Lasagna baked in a Dutch oven is taller and heartier than in traditional casserole dishes.
✔️ It’s made in one pot for minimal cleanup.
✔️ Oven-baked lasagna has more depth of flavor when cooked in a covered, evenly-heating Dutch oven.

Ingredients For Dutch Oven Lasagna

Ingredients to make this recipe.

Ingredient Notes

  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Forms the backbone of the sauce; offers a smooth texture and rich tomato flavor without having to blend or purée.
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef: Provides a rich, meaty flavor without too much fat; great for a lighter lasagna.
  • Fennel Seeds: Small, greenish-brown seeds packed with a sweet, herbal, and slightly peppery flavor. They pair wonderfully with the meats’ richness and the tomatoes’ acidity.
  • Mild Italian Sausage: Italian sausage has a slightly firmer texture than ground beef and provides a satisfying chewiness and heartiness.
  • Onion: Grating the onion melts it into the sauce, giving it a sweet and savory depth without chunky bits.

It’s important to note that when making substitutions in recipes, the texture and flavor may be slightly different. However, these substitutes are the best options for changing the original recipe.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes or simple tomato sauce can be used. If using diced tomatoes, consider blending them for a smoother texture.
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef: Ground turkey or chicken are great lean alternatives. They mimic the texture of beef while being lower in fat.
  • Fennel Seeds: Anise seeds are the closest in flavor to fennel seeds, but use them sparingly as they are stronger. Caraway seeds can also work for a similar anise-like flavor.
  • Garlic: Garlic powder or granulated garlic can be used in a pinch. Start with a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder per one fresh garlic clove.
  • Mild Italian Sausage: Chorizo or spicy pork sausage can be used.
  • Olive Oil: Canola oil or vegetable oil are good substitutes. They have a neutral flavor and high smoke point, making them suitable for sautéing.
  • Onion: Shallots or leeks finely minced can be used as substitutes. They offer a similar mild, sweet flavor.

Recipe Variations

Add any of the following ingredients for a twist on this Dutch oven lasagna recipe:

  • Artichokes: Mix in chopped canned artichoke hearts for a Mediterranean flair.
  • Béchamel Sauce: For a creamy variation, include a layer of Béchamel sauce for a cast iron Dutch oven lasagna alla Bolognese style.
  • Bell Peppers and/or Zucchini: Include sautéed bell peppers and zucchini for added vegetables and a splash of color.
  • Butternut Squash: Include thin butternut squash slices for a sweet, seasonal twist, especially in fall.
  • Capers and/or Olives: Introduce chopped olives or capers for a briny, salty element that cuts through the richness.
  • Cheeses: Experiment with various cheeses like ricotta, Gouda, or smoked mozzarella for varied flavors and textures.
  • Chilli Flakes: Add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños to the meat or sauce for some heat.
  • Fresh Or Dried Herbs: Fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or basil can be added for fresh, aromatic layers of flavor.
  • Mushrooms: Add a layer of sautéed mushrooms for a meaty texture and earthy flavor; this is great for a vegetarian option!
  • Pesto: Swirl basil or spinach arugula pesto into the cheese mixture or layer it between the noodles for a fragrant, herby twist.
  • Red Wine or Sherry: Enhance the sauce by deglazing the beef and sausage with a splash of red wine or Sherry for added depth and richness.
  • Roasted Garlic: Replace minced garlic with roasted garlic (I have a simple recipe for air fryer roasted garlic) for a deeper, sweeter flavor profile in your sauce.
  • Spinach: Stir in fresh or thawed frozen spinach to the cottage cheese mixture for a nutritious boost and a pop of color.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes for a tangy, intense tomato flavor and chewy texture.

Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.

How To Make Dutch Oven Lasagna

Process shots one through four to make this recipe.

STEP 1: Brown the ground beef and sausage in a cast iron Dutch oven. Add the grated onion and minced garlic. Cook until fragrant.

STEP 2: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

STEP 3: Make the cottage cheese layer. Whisk the egg, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cottage cheese.

STEP 4: Ladle ¾ of the sauce out of the pot and into a bowl. Add a layer of oven-ready lasagna noodles on top of the remaining sauce in the pot.

Process shots five through eight to make this recipe.

STEP 5: Top the noodles with a quarter of the meat sauce.

STEP 6: Top with half of the cottage cheese mixture.

STEP 7: Add a third of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat the layers one more time, then finish with noodles, sauce, and grated cheese.

STEP 8: Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Broil for four to five minutes until the cheese bubbles and browns, then cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving with more Parmesan.

Expert Tips

1. Using a wooden spoon will make breaking the ground beef and sausage easier as it cooks.
2. Don’t skip grating the onion. Grated onion turns into a pulp, allowing it to distribute more evenly throughout the dish.
3. And please don’t skip the fennel seeds! Fennel seeds are a staple in Italian sausage and many traditional Italian dishes. Other common spices cannot easily replicate their distinct taste.

Recipe Notes

  • Do not disturb the ground beef and Italian sausage when browning. Leaving the meat untouched until it’s almost cooked through will add a beautiful flavor note of caramelization.
  • If you use no-boil, oven-ready noodles, ensure they are completely covered in the sauce (even a little bit helps) to cook through and become tender.
  • Pre-grated mozzarella often has anticaking agents that can affect melting. For best results, use freshly grated mozzarella.
  • Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes after baking. This helps it set, making it easier to cut and serve.
  • Watch closely to prevent burning when broiling the lasagna to brown the cheese at the end.

Storage

  • Cooling Before Storage: Allow the lasagna to cool to room temperature before storing. This prevents condensation inside the storage container, which can make the lasagna soggy.
  • Refrigerator Storage: Place the lasagna in the refrigerator in an airtight container or cover the Dutch oven with the lid. It will keep well for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer Storage:
    • Whole Lasagna: For freezing, either keep the entire lasagna in the Dutch oven (if it’s freezer-safe) and cover it tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil or transfer it to a freezer-safe container. This easy Dutch oven lasagna can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
    • Portions: You can also freeze individual portions for convenient single servings. Wrap each portion tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.
  • Thawing and Reheating:
    • Refrigerator Thawing: Thaw frozen lasagna in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you plan to eat it. This ensures even and safe thawing.
    • Oven Reheating: Reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C). If the lasagna is still a bit frozen, it might take longer. Cover with foil to prevent it from drying out.
    • Microwave Reheating: Use the microwave for a quicker option or individual portions. Cover the lasagna with a microwave-safe lid or wrap to keep moisture in. Use the reheat setting or 50% power to avoid overheating.
A slice of Dutch oven lasagna on a plate sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Did you make this Dutch oven lasagna? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!

Printable Recipe Card

Close up of the inside of a Dutch oven lasagna that has already had a portion removed.

Dutch Oven Lasagna

Author: Kelly Neil
This Dutch oven lasagna is a straightforward, one-pot meal that amps up the classic with taller layers and irresistibly crispy edges. A cast iron Dutch oven evely heats the lasagna as it cooks infusing deep, rich flavor into every layer.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Pasta & Risotto
Cuisine European / Canadian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 506 kcal

Special Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
  • Sharp knife
  • Cheese grater
  • Cast iron Dutch oven or any other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid that can be used on both the stovetop and in the oven
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk or fork
  • Ladle or other large spoon
Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams.

Ingredients
 
 

  • 12 oven-ready lasagna noodles, also called no-boil noodles

For The Tomato Meat Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces extra lean ground beef
  • 12 ounces mild Italian sausage, uncooked, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For The Cottage Cheese Layers

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cottage cheese, full fat

For The Cheese Layers

  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). If you haven't already done so, grate the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the cheese.

Make The Tomato Meat Sauce

  • Place a 5 or 6-quart (4.73 L or 5.68 L) cast iron Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground beef and sausage in a single layer to brown without stirring. Once the meats are almost cooked, stir and break them into smaller pieces.
  • Add the grated onion and minced garlic (3 cloves) to the meats. Cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make The Cheese Layers

  • While the sauce simmers, make the cottage cheese layer. Whisk the egg, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cottage cheese.
  • In another bowl, mix the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Assemble The Lasagna

  • To assemble the lasagna, ladle ¾ of the sauce out of the Dutch oven and into a bowl. Add a layer of noodles to the base layer of sauce left in the pot. Top the noodles with another quarter of the sauce, half of the cottage cheese mixture, and a third of the mozzarella mixture. Repeat with a layer of noodles, a quarter of the sauce, the remaining half of cottage cheese, and a third of the mozzarella mixture. Finish with a layer of noodles, the last of the sauce, and the last of the mozzarella mixture.
  • Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. Remove the lid, set the oven to broil, and continue to bake the lasagna until the cheese bubbles and browns, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes before serving with more Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes

    • Do not disturb the ground beef and Italian sausage when browning. Leaving the meat untouched until it’s almost cooked through will add a beautiful flavor note of caramelization.
    • Ensure the no-boil noodles are covered in sauce (even a little bit helps) so they cook through and become tender.
    • Pre-grated mozzarella often has anticaking agents that can affect melting. For best results, use freshly grated mozzarella.
    • Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes after baking. This helps it set, making it easier to cut and serve. Watch closely to prevent burning when broiling the lasagna to brown the cheese at the end.
    • Storage: Place the lasagna in the refrigerator in an airtight container or cover the Dutch oven with the lid. It will keep well for up to 4 days. For freezing, either keep the entire lasagna in the Dutch oven (if it’s freezer-safe) and cover it tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil or transfer it to a freezer-safe container. The lasagna can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
    • Oven Reheating: Reheat the lasagna in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) or microwave at half power until heated through. If the lasagna is still a bit frozen, it might take longer.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1servingCalories: 506kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 35gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1106mgPotassium: 456mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 376IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 313mgIron: 2mg
    Did you make this recipe?Let me know on Instagram @kellyneildotcom or tag #kellyneil!

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