Is there anything more comforting than a big slice of lasagna? In this short rib lasagna, we take an Italian lasagna recipe to new levels of comfort.
I should confess that prior to 2021, I had never attempted making lasagna at home. We eat it once a year at my husband’s family’s house and that was always enough for me. When I had a slice in Italy, I knew I wanted to attempt my own at home.
I finally decide to attempt lasagna and I was faced with questions! Béchamel or no béchamel? Dry noodles or fresh? What kind of tomato sauce to make?
Ultimately, for my first lasagna, I wanted to go all-in on comfort. I opted for a ridiculously delicious short rib ragu, ricotta, and béchamel sauce.
If you’re wondering whether to try lasagna with béchamel, I highly recommend it. It adds just the right amount of creaminess to the finished lasagna and it’s traditional in both northern and southern Italian lasagna recipes.
In my version, I use both béchamel and ricotta in the pursuit of the most comforting slice of lasagna ever.
The short rib ragu can be started a day or two in advance. In fact, I recommend starting this earlier to not only reduce your work on lasagna day but because the sauce gets better the longer it sits.
I started my ragu on a Thursday night for lasagna on Saturday and it was simply divine.
What kind of meat should you use in the ragu?
The ragu is made with a few varieties of meat, including:
- Ground beef
- Hot Italian sausage
- Short ribs
You can use any variety of meat you like and you can replace as needed to fit your preferences.
Looking for more comfort food recipes? Check my archives!
If you made this recipe, please rate it and comment below! You can also follow me and share your creations by tagging me! I’d love to feature your #triedandtruerecipes creation on my feed.
Short Rib Lasagna
- Large pot
- Large saucepan
- 9×13 Baking Dish
- Hand mixer or whisk
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 1½ pounds boneless short ribs
- 1 pound loose hot Italian sausage
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil if needed
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 carrots peeled and small-diced
- 2 ribs celery trimmed and small-diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 28- ounce can whole-peeled tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional
- Salt pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
- 1 stick of butter
- ½ cup flour
- 4 cups while milk
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt to taste
- 16 ounces ricotta
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup parsley minced
- 20 basil leaves minced
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- ½ cup grated mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 12- ounces fresh lasagna sheets you will need approximately 7 lasagna noodles in total
- ½ cup grated mozzarella
- Basil leaves optional, for serving
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cook the pancetta:
- Place the diced pancetta in a large pot. Turn the heat to medium. Stir occasionally for 4–5 minutes until the fat renders and the pancetta browns. Remove from the pot and transfer to a large bowl.
Brown the short ribs:
- Pat the short ribs dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Place the short ribs in the pancetta fat and cook over medium-high heat for 3–5 minutes per side until browned all over. Transfer to the bowl with the pancetta.
- Add the sausage and beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the bowl of pancetta and short ribs.
Cook the aromatics:
- If needed, add another teaspoon or two of oil and turn the heat to medium-high.
- Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook for 5–7 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Brown the tomato paste:
- Melt the butter into the onions. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, mashing it into the aromatics, for 2 minutes until it begins to deepen in color. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Pour in the red wine and turn the heat to high. Whisk the wine into the paste and continue until the wine begins to boil. Boil for 5 minutes until it just begins to reduce.
Simmer the ragù:
- Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in all of the meat from the bowl. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Add the bay leaves.
- Reduce heat to low. Cover and transfer to the oven for 3½ hours or until the short ribs can be shredded easily with a fork. Check the short ribs occasionally to ensure they are not sticking to the pot and add more liquid as needed.
Shred the short ribs:
- Remove the ragu from the oven and carefully remove the top. Shred the beef and mash any remaining whole-peeled tomatoes. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the ragu low-boil uncovered, for 15–20 minutes. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add beef stock in ¼ cup increments. Taste and season the sauce.
Prepare the ricotta mixture:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the ricotta mixture in a bowl. Use a whisk or a hand-mixer and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the béchamel sauce:
- Warm the milk in a microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup for 1–3 minutes. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once bubbly, add the flour and stir into the butter for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the milk in 1 cup increments and whisk after each addition. Continue adding the milk until it has all been incorporated. Continue cooking for 5–10 minutes until the béchamel is thickened. Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Keep warm.
Assemble the lasagna:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add ⅓ cup of the béchamel and use a rubber spatula to smooth it into an even layer.
- Play 2 lasagna sheets over the béchamel, avoiding overlap if possible. Use kitchen shears to trim the lasagna if they are too long.
- Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture on top of the lasagna noodles and use the rubber spatula to smooth it out. Pour a few ladles of the ragu on top of the ricotta. Finish with ½ of the béchamel sauce.
- Place two more lasagna sheets on top. Add the remaining ricotta mixture and a few more ladles of the ragu. Add the remaining béchamel sauce on top.
- Place the final two lasagna noodles on top. Add a few ladles of the ragu on top and smooth it out. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake the lasagna:
- Cover the lasagna with foil. Transfer to the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. You can also broil the lasagna for 2–3 minutes if you like extra browning on the cheese.
- Allow the lasagna to cool for 10–15 minutes. Slice into portions and garnish with basil leaves, if you like. Enjoy!
Can this be made ahead ( without cooking), and put in freezer for later baking? Thank you.
I am not seeing where it says to put the ragu in the oven, but the instructions say to remove the ragu from the oven. Can you clarify?
That was a typo! The ragu should go in the oven in the previous step, not simmer on the stovetop. Thank you for catching!
If I assembled the lasagna and kept it in the refrigerator for a few days before baking, how many days would it hold ok?
I would do no more than 36–48 hours. You can assemble and freeze it for longer if you want to make it more than 2 days in advance. Just note that if you decide to freeze it, you’ll need about 90 mins in the oven for unthawed and about 60 mins in the oven if you’re able to thaw it after freezing!
I’d like the same reply/answer please. How many days can it hold in the fridge before baking and/or can it be frozen before baking?
Here’s my response! I would do no more than 36–48 hours. You can assemble and freeze it for longer if you want to make it more than 2 days in advance. Just note that if you decide to freeze it, you’ll need about 90 mins in the oven for unthawed and about 60 mins in the oven if you’re able to thaw it after freezing!
Thank you, Kylie!
Should the lasagna also bake at 350 F?
Yes! Since I made mine all in one sitting, I didn’t add that note to the recipe. I’ll add it in now 🙂
This recipe looks great! Is it possible to use ‘oven-ready’ store-bought lasagna noodles versus ‘fresh’ ? Just don’t want to misunderstand. Thanks!
This recipe doesn’t work. I followed all steps and ingredients as described and there is an unctuous flavor that I just can’t get past. I will also note that the short ribs, pancetta, beef, and pork made this pretty expensive for me, and it was not worth the time or money spent. I would caution folks away from this recipe.
Ah! I’m so sorry to hear it didn’t work out. I hadn’t gotten that kind of feedback on this recipe from others, but will definitely revisit it to see if some tweaks need to be made. So sorry again it was a disappointment!