My go-to dinner for feeding the family, Pesto Bolognese Lasagna. Slow cooked Italian style Bolognese sauce with a mix of beef, peppers, sweet tomatoes, and herbs. All layered with basil pesto ricotta, provolone cheese, and no-boil lasagna noodles. This is the classic lasagna updated with an easier method and so much more flavor. Serve this topped with a generous amount of parmesan cheese for a comforting lasagna that everyone will love. This is a great make ahead dinner to serve to family or use for your next holiday dinner party.

overhead photo of Pesto Bolognese Lasagna with cut pieces

We’re officially just one week from Christmas Eve, and two weeks from New Year’s Eve. I’m hoping that soon everyone will be settling into a much slower holiday mode, and preparing to spend some time with family and friends over the next couple of weeks.

For me, I have a few more busy days ahead. But I’m really looking forward to at least a couple of days off. I’ll be spending time with my parents, siblings, and cousins who will all be with us this Christmas. And little miss Asher and I have a Christmas afternoon planned later this week. It’s truly my favorite time of year. I love that no matter how busy or crazy things are with work and life, everything slows for a couple of days, the snow falls (hopefully), and we all just take a minute to breath.

bolognese sauce

All of my siblings are already here except Brendan and Lyndsie, but the rest of the family arrives this Friday. Before the chaos that comes with eighteen people arrives, I’m attempting to get ahead by prepping a few dinners. It’s much easier said than done, but as said, lasagna are my go-to when it comes to feeding the masses.

I make one white lasagna, and one or two more classic lasagna. Last week I shared my favorite white pesto lasagna. This week it’s time for the more classic, Bolognese style, lasagna.

overhead close up photo of Pesto Bolognese Lasagna

This is without a doubt everyone’s favorite dish. The boys of the house look forward to this lasagna ever single year. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love it. Unless you are vegetarian in which case you should definitely check out my white lasagna.

The secret is all in the sauce. A slow cooked Bolognese sauce is what makes for the best, classic lasagna. I like to make mine with a mix of vegetables, spicy Italian sausage, lean ground beef, sweet tomatoes, and milk (for richness). It’s basically my slow cooker Bolognese pasta, but instead of serving over pasta, we’re layering it into a lasagna.

You can cook the sauce in as little as thirty minutes. But I will not lie, it’s so much better if you can simmer the sauce over a low heat for a couple of hours. Even better? Simmer the sauce all day and then let chill overnight in the fridge. The added sitting time really allows for the flavors to mend and become mouth wateringly delicious. Obviously do what you have time for, either way this will be delicious. But if you can plan ahead, I would recommend doing so. Just make the sauce a day or two ahead of assembling the lasagna.

overhead photo of Pesto Bolognese Lasagna

When you have the sauce all ready to go, it’s time to assemble.

The second secret to my lasagna is all in the cheese. Instead of just using ricotta, which in my opinion can sometimes be on the bland side if not seasoned properly, I like to mix a little basil pesto into the ricotta for extra flavor. You all know how much I love pesto. So I always have either some homemade or store-bought on hand to create quick dinners. It’s my go-to pantry ingredient that adds so much flavor.

I swirled a good amount of pesto into the ricotta. Then I layered with the Bolognese sauce, provolone cheese, and no-boil lasagna noodles.

If you wanted to add even another layer of flavor, a lot of times I’ll top my lasagna with pepperoni. I highly recommend this if you’re feeding a crowd that loves pizza. The pepperoni are always a hit.

Pesto Bolognese Lasagna pieces out of pan

I like to serve my lasagna with a wintry salad, the family’s favorite bread, and my spicy pomegranate mule for the ultimate welcoming holiday dinner.

What’s great about serving up a dish like lasagna is that I can make them completely ahead of time and have them baking when everyone shows up for dinner.

The best part though?

The smell, oh my goodness, it’s good. And trust me, this lasagna tastes just as good too.

overhead photo of Pesto Bolognese Lasagna with slices cut

If you make this lasagna, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Pesto Bolognese Lasagna | halfbakedharvest.com #pasta #Italian #lasagna #cheese #holidayrecipes
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4.32 from 119 votes
The Recipe

Pesto Bolognese Lasagna.

Slow cooked Italian style Bolognese sauce with a mix of beef, peppers, sweet tomatoes, and herbs is layered with basil pesto ricotta, provolone cheese, and no-boil lasagna noodles. This is the classic lasagna updated with an easier method and so much more flavor.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 0 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn
  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
  • grated parmesan and fresh basil, for serving

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until the onion is fragrant and beginning to caramelize. Add the bell pepper, garlic, sausage, and beef, brown all over, breaking up the meat as you go, about 10 minutes.

    2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, bay leaves, milk, and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook over medium for 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Or cook, covered, for up to 3 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally. The longer you can cook, the more flavorful. Remove the bay leaves and discard. 

    4. In a medium bowl combine the ricotta and pesto.

    5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Spread 1/4 of the Bolognese sauce onto the bottom of the dish. Top with 3-4 lasagna sheets. Spread with 1/2 the ricotta cheese mixture, another 1/4 of the Bolognese sauce, and half of the provolone. Place another 3-4 lasagna noodles on top. Then top with the remaining ricotta cheese mixture, another 1/4 of the Bolognese sauce, and the remaining provolone. Add the remaining lasagna noodles and pour the remaining Bolognese sauce over top. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the top has bubbled up and browned a bit. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

horizontal photo of Pesto Bolognese Lasagna