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This Roman Lasagna recipe is from my Italian culinary school. It’s a labor of love, but so worth it and perfect for a Sunday dinner or special occasion. 

roman lasagna

History Of Lasagna:

The roots of lasagna can be found in the Roman Empire, where a dish known as “lasanum” was enjoyed by the elite.

This early version of lasagna was made by layering pasta with various ingredients, including meats, sauces, and cheese.

While the lasagna we know today has evolved, the foundational concept of layering remains a testament to the culinary ingenuity of ancient Rome.

roman lasagna

Lasagna Layers:

The heart of any lasagna lies in its layers, and Roman lasagna is no exception. The layers are not just a structural element; they are a canvas for a symphony of flavors that meld together to create a harmonious and satisfying dish.

Pasta Perfection: The choice of pasta is crucial in Roman lasagna. Unlike the Northern Italian preference for flat sheets, Roman lasagna often features a type of pasta known as “lagane.”

Lagane is a wide, flat pasta that can absorb sauces and flavors, creating a perfect foundation for the layers above. Do not use no cook noodles! The texture is much different than boiling them yourself. 

layering pasta

Bolognese: Central to Roman lasagna is the rich and savory bolognese meat sauce. This slow-cooked meat sauce, typically made with a combination of beef, pork, and sometimes lamb, imparts a depth of flavor that sets Roman lasagna apart.

The meaty goodness infuses each layer, creating a decadent experience with every bite. Remember this bolognese takes minimum of 4 hours to make and can be made days in advanced so make sure you start this recipe early in the morning if you are making the lasagna to serve that day. 

laying bolognese

Béchamel Bliss: In addition to the meaty ragù, Roman lasagna often features a velvety béchamel sauce.

This white sauce, made with butter, flour, and milk, adds a creamy texture and a delicate flavor that complements the robustness of the ragù.

The interplay between the red and white sauces creates a symphony of tastes that dance on the palate.

Cheese Complement: Cheese is the final touch that crowns each layer of Roman lasagna. Parmesan and pecorino Romano, two iconic Italian cheeses, bring their distinctive sharpness and saltiness to the dish.

The cheeses not only enhance the flavors but also contribute to the golden-brown crust that forms on the top layer during baking.

We use a five Italian cheese blend for this recipe. 

Ingredients For Roman Lasagna:

Simple Tomato Sauce: 

Garlic: Use a fresh garlic clove. No need to mince as you will be blending the sauce together at the end. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use a high quality olive oil.

Italian Style Whole San Marzano Tomatoes: Make sure to use San Marzano Tomatoes. I love the Cento brand.

Fresh Basil: Fresh basil is a must. You really can’t substitute dried basil for this sauce. 

San Marzano Tomato Sauce

For the Bolognese:

Butter: I like to use Kerrygold butter. 

Onion: You can use white or yellow onion. 

Ground Beef: Use lean ground beef. 

Mild Italian Pork Sausage: I like to grab the mild Italian sausage, but you can also use a hot Italian sausage. 

Red Wine: Use a good quality red wine that you would drink. I prefer a Chianti or Cabernet for a richer flavor. 

Carrot: Make sure to shred your carrots on the fine side of the grater. This will help the carrot to dissolve into the sauce. 

Bay Leaves: Use dried bay leaves. 

Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is preferred. 

Brown Sugar: Adds a little sweetness to balance out the acidity in the tomatoes. You can also use granulated sugar. 

Red Pepper Flakes: This is optional if you like a little bit of heat to your sauce. 

Heavy Cream: Cream balances out the acidity in the sauce and creates a beautiful color. 

bolognese sauce

For the Bechamel:

Butter: I like to use Kerrygold butter. 

Garlic: You can use frozen minced garlic or fresh minced garlic. 

All Purpose Flour: This is used to thicken to béchamel. 

Milk: You can use 1% to full fat milk. I wouldn’t use a non-dairy milk substitute. 

Cinnamon: Use ground cinnamon or nutmeg. This adds a delicious subtle flavor. 

bechamel sauce

For the Lasagna:

Lasagna Pasta: Make sure you use regular lasagna pasta sheets. This is NOT where you want to use the no boil lasagna sheets. The texture just doesn’t turn out the same.

Italian cheese blend: You can use any Italian cheese blend you like. 

Fresh basil: I love the freshness that basil adds as a garnish. 

How To Make Roman Style Lasagna:

Refer to the recipe card below for the full recipe.

This recipe takes a little bit of time so I love making this for a special occasion or for a make one freeze one recipe. The labor of love will be well worth it!

You will first start by making the homemade bolognese. This sauce takes a minimum of four hours so plan accordingly.

When the bolognese is done you can start on the homemade béchamel sauce. When the béchamel sauce is done bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Drop the lasagna noodles into the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Grease two 9×12 baking dishes and start assembling the lasagna by ladeling some bolognese sauce on the bottom followed by a layer of noodles, béchamel, cheese and more noodles.

Repeat the layers. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Slice and serve with your favorite side dish.

What To Serve With Lasagna:

Lasagna goes well with so many things. I like to keep it simple with any of the following side dishes. 

Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks

Famous Pretzel Dinner Roll Recipe

Focaccia Bread Recipe

Heirloom Tomato Salad With Burrata and Pancetta

My Favorite Mediterranean Salad

Italian Antipasto Salad

Roman Lasagna Recipe:

roman lasagna
Yield: makes 2 large lasagnas

Roman Lasagna Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

The best authenic Roman style lasagna.


Simple Tomato Sauce:

  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 (28 ounce) cans Italian Style Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 8 large leaves fresh basil.

For the Bolognese:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 pounds mild Italian pork sausage, raw, removed from casing
  • 1 bottle good quality red wine (cabernet or chianti work well)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • (optional) 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the Bechamel:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 cups milk
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Lasagna:

  • 1 pound lasagna pasta
  • 1 pound Italian cheese, shredded
  • Fresh basil, torn


    1. Add 8 cloves roughly chopped garlic and olive oil to a large Dutch oven.
      Cook on medium low heat for 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
    2. Add the cans of tomatoes and stir.
    3. Add the basil. Simmer on low for 30 minutes uncovered.
    4. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or pan heated over medium heat melt the butter.
    5. Add the finely chopped onion. Saute for 10 minutes or until soft and caramelized.
    6. Remove the onion from the pan into a bowl. Set aside.
    7. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan. Turn onto medium high heat.
    8. Break up the meat as it cooks into small pieces.
    9. Once the meat is almost fully cooked add the wine.
    10. Add the sauteed onion along with the carrots into the meat mixture.
    11. Blend the simple tomato sauce with an immersion blender until smooth.
    12. Add the meat mixture into the tomato sauce (make sure your Dutch oven is large enough). You can also use an extra large pot.
    13. Add 3 bay leaves and stir to combine. Simmer on low uncovered for a minimum of 4 hours. Preferably 8 hours if you can.
    14. After the sauce has cooked, skim off the top layer of grease with a ladle. Add the salt.
    15. Add brown sugar and cream and stir to combine. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Let aside.
    16. Make the bechamel by melting the butter in a saucpan over medium heat.
    17. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then add the flour and whisk to combine.
    18. When the flour is abosrbed and forms crumbles. Add the milk and whisk continuously.
    19. Add a pinch of cinnamon and salt and stir until thickened. Set the bechamel sauce aside.
    20. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the lasagna pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss in some olive oil to prevent sticking.
    21. Grease 2 9x12 baking pans. Place about 1/2 cup bolognese sauce on the bottom of the pans. Layer an even layer of lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan. Then add a even layer of bechamel, a sprinkling of Itlaian cheese, lasagna sheets and bolognese sauce.
    22. Repeat the layers until all the pasta is done. You will have leftover sauce and you can freeze for another use. Store one of the lasagnas in the freezer if desired.
    23. To cook the lasagna preheat the oven to 375 F and cook in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
    24. Once the lasagna is done let sit for 10 minutes and then serve.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 486Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 820mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 27g

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