The humble lasagne is one of the most popular dishes available across the globe. With it’s combination of meat, vegetables, cheese and sauce, it’s hard to resist a classic lasagne recipe when one becomes available. We’ve scoured the internet and read through countless reviews to reveal the best traditional lasagne recipe available, and brought this delicious dish here, for you to try out at home. While there are many variants on what to include and what makes for the best lasagne for your family, we decided on this classic, beef lasagne recipe that comes straight from one of the UK’s most beloved TV chefs- Mary Berry.
Who is Mary Berry – and why is her classic lasagne recipe the best?
You might know Mary Berry from the increasingly popular TV show The Great British Bake-Off. Despite leaving her role as one of the main judges in 2016, the public fell in love with her soft-spoken voice and keen ability to encourage contestants with gentle criticism- and a cheeky wink. That said, her TV presentation skills only came into play for this show much later in her career.
She trained in domestic science at school, later moving on to Bath College of Domestic Science, and began working long, hard hours across the Bath region, before convincing her manager to pay for training at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris. She was keen on training and bettering herself, yet remains humble about her abilities, stating in an interview with The Telegraph “I’m just there to teach” and simply wanting “everyone to have a go”.
This has led to her creating multiple cook books, all of which have been well-received, due to their easy-to-follow and delicious recipes. Naturally, due to the popularity of the classic lasagne, Mary Berry decided to write up her long-time favourite for multiple outlets, meaning this is one of the most popular recipes available, to date. Her practical, homely and tantalisingly tasty meat lasagne recipe has been tried by hundreds, if not thousands, all with positive reviews.
Classic Lasagna Recipe
For the ragu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 900g/2lb beef mince
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 4 sticks celery, diced (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 level tbsp plain flour
- 150ml/¼ pint beef stock
- 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (optional) or 1 tsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme
- 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
For the white sauce
- 50g/2oz butter
- 50g/2oz plain flour
- 750ml/1¼ pints hot milk
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 50g/2oz Parmesan, finely grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
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For the lasagne
- 12 sheets lasagne
- 75g/3oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1. Before you begin, if you have pre-softened your lasagne sheets, you’ll need to pre-heat your oven to 325F/Gas 3. In order to pre-soften your sheets, you’ll simply need to place your sheets into hot water for around ten minutes, or until the sheets are malleable but not breakable or tear-able.
2. Beginning with the Ragu:
- Start by heating up a large frying pan until hot enough to add the oil- being able to easily manoeuvre the oil around the pan.
- Cook the mince until thoroughly and evenly brown.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a warmed plate, in order to keep the meat hot.
- Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until softened.
- Then return the browned meat to the pan
- Stir in the flour until evenly coating all of the ingredients used, thus far.
- Add the beef stock and bring to the boil.
- Add the redcurrant jelly (or sugar), tomato purée and thyme, then stir well, until the ingredients are all evenly spread across the Ragu.
- You’ll now need to stir in the canned tomatoes, which will likely thicken your sauce.
- Bring to the boil again, cover and simmer in the oven for 1-½ hours, or until the beef is tender.
3. For the white sauce:
- Melt the butter in a saucepan but do not allow the butter to boil, as this will impair the flavor.
- Next, add the flour and cook over heat for around one minute, again allowing the sauce to simmer but not boil.
- Gently, gradually whisk in the hot milk, whisking until thickened- at this point you’ll start to see the actual resemblance to white sauce!
- Finally, pop in the Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese, seasoning well with salt and pepper to your own, personal taste.
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4. For the lasagne:
- Take a shallow, ovenproof dish that has the capacity of roughly 2.3 litres or 4 pints.
- Take one-third of the meat sauce and place this across the bottom of the dish, spreading evenly.
- Spoon one third of the white sauce on top, again, allowing the sauce to spread evenly on top of the Ragu.
- Above this, you’ll need to arrange one layer of lasagne sheets. Using rectangular lasagne sheets will naturally suit this best, to avoid overlapping, however if your sheets are a little large, do break these up to match the correct size and shape of your dish.
- If you would like to add more salt and pepper, now is the time to season your layers.
- Pour another half of the remaining meat sauce on top and then half of the white sauce (working out as another third of the total Ragu and white sauce made).
- Put another layer of lasagne sheets on top of this
- Repeat the same layering with the remaining ingredients- placing the meat sauce, the white sauce and the lasagne sheets in this order
- On top of your final layer, sprinkle a good helping of cheddar cheese across your dish.
5. If you haven’t pre-softened your sheets, you’ll now need to leave your lasagne for six hours before cooking so that the pasta can start to soften.
6. Preheat the oven temperature to 400F/Gas 6 for the traditional method, without the soft sheets of lasagne.
7. Simply place the lasagne in the oven until golden brown on top and bubbling around the edges- which usually takes around 45 minutes. If you aren’t sure about the completion, give your recipe a gentle poke through various parts of the dish. If you come up with resistance, it is likely that your pasta sheets are still a little tough, so give your dish a few more minutes.