Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food. This spinach and beef lasagna recipe with delicious layers of meat, homemade bechamel sauce, spinach, and browned bubbling cheese on top. This beef and spinach lasagna recipe is perfect for feeding a family or bringing to a potluck!
There are so many different ways to make lasagna and to fill each layer. I wanted to go for something simple, but delivered on flavor. Beef lasagna is my favorite and I decided to throw some spinach in there so we had some greens. I sautéd fresh spinach with minced garlic, transferred to a small bowl, and mixed in freshly chopped basil.
Now for the meat. When I first made this recipe I used ground sirloin because I like how it’s lean, but it didn’t really pan out well in the dish. I feel that you need some fat to help bring out the flavor in the beef, so I recommend using ground chuck.
I crisped up some delicious pancetta for a different texture element and extra flavor. You can do just ground beef if you don’t want to incorporate pork into the recipe.
For the sauce, I started off with some aromatics. Onion, garlic, and thyme. Note the picture above where I removed the meat, but didn’t fully clean out the dutch oven so the beef bits could help flavor the sauce.
I added fire roasted crushed tomatoes, some herbs/spices, then passed the immersion blender through to get a smoother consistency.
Next up is the bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a white sauce made with butter, flour, and milk. It’s traditionally french, but can be added to other sauces as a base for other sauces. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. When it’s fully melted, whisk in the flour until it makes this beautiful smooth roux above.
Then I slowly whisk in the milk. You’re going to allow the sauce to thicken, stirring every so often so it doesn’t burn. You’ll know it’s ready with the wooden spoon test. Dip a wooden spoon in the sauce and run your finger down the back of the spoon, if it stays separated then it is ready and thick enough (careful it can be a bit hot).
Add the bechamel to the tomato sauce and stir it in until its fully combined. You’ll be left with a beautiful pinkish sauce that is going to be the “glue” between all these wonderful layers!
Now comes the fun part, the layering! In a baking dish spread an evenly thick layer of your sauce on the bottom.
Then lay down your lasagna sheets.
Next you’ll carefully spread your ricotta cheese & egg mixture. I used a spatula to spread it evenly over the pasta sheets.
Next lay down half of the spinach/basil mixture over the top of the ricotta. Followed by another sheet of pasta.
Then lay down your cooked beef and sprinkle half the mozzarella on top. You’re going to add more of your tomato bechamel sauce on top of this.
After the bechamel, add another sheet of pasta, then the ricotta, and the last of the spinach mixture. Finally add one more sheet of pasta, more sauce, then we are going to top it with mozzarella and fresh parmesan.
Before putting your spinach and beef lasagna in the oven, I like to add a few tiny pieces of softened butter so that we get that golden brown top. Cover with foil, and into the oven! If your lasagna dish is full to the brim (which it should be), you can put foil on a baking sheet and then put the baking dish on top of that to guard from spills.
After baking for 35 minutes, I removed the foil from the top and low broiled the spinach and beef lasagna for about 10 minutes/until the top was beautifully brown and bubbly.
I actually took this photo of the spinach and beef lasagna the following day as leftovers because you could see the well defined layers better. Each layer lending it’s own special flavor to the whole dish.
This spinach and beef lasagna is the perfect family meal to enjoy together and create memories at the dinner table. I hope you enjoy!
Looking for other pasta dishes?
- Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Creamy Pesto Pasta
- French Onion Pasta Bake
- Meatball Pasta Bake
- Penne Alla Vodka
Made this recipe and loved it? Leave a star rating below!
Spinach and Beef Lasagna
- 1 pound no-boil lasagna sheets
- 1 ½ pounds ground chuck
- 4 ounces pancetta diced
- 28 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 5 tablespoons olive oil divided in the instructions
- 16 ounces skim ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 10 ounces fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ½ yellow onion chopped (⅓ cup)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme removed from stem
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup fresh basil roughly chopped + more for garnish
- 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan reggiano cheese
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup flour
- 3 cups whole milk room temp
- Pinch grated or ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a dutch oven or large skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of minced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant then add in chopped spinach. Sauté until spinach begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Remove with a spoon and set aside in a bowl.
- In the same dutch oven, turn heat up to medium/high, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the diced pancetta. Cook until it begins to crisp up about 4 minutes. Add in the ground beef, 1 tsp of kosher salt, ½ tsp of black pepper and cook until beef is browned and cooked through. Reserve 2 tbsp of the juice, drain the beef and set aside in a bowl. Mix in the ½ cup of basil into the spinach mixture.
- In the same dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chopped onions. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the rest of the minced garlic, 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, and sauté for a minute. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp oregano. Mix all together, lower the heat and cover, to allow the flavors to meld while you make the bechamel sauce.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 5 tbsp of butter. Once fully melted, slowly whisk in the flour constantly stirring so no lumps remain. Slowly add the milk while whisking continuously and grate some fresh nutmeg into the sauce. Allow the sauce to thicken for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn. Taking a wooden spoon dip it in the sauce, run your finger on the spoon (careful it’s hot) and if the sauce doesn’t run together, then it’s ready.
- Going back to the red sauce, using an immersion blender, smooth out the sauce. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Add in the bechamel sauce and stir to combine, it should now be a pink color. Turn heat off.
- In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs and then add the ricotta cheese and mix until combined, set aside
- In a rectangular baking dish, spoon a thick even layer of the tomato bechamel sauce onto the bottom of the dish (⅓ of the sauce). Then add a layer of lasagna sheets side by side. Using a spatula smooth half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, followed by half of the spinach mixture. Add another layer of pasta, followed by the beef, and then ½ of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon another layer (⅓) of the tomato bechamel sauce, followed by another layer of pasta sheets. Smooth the rest of the ricotta over the pasta sheets and add the rest of the spinach over that. Add the final layer of pasta sheets, followed by the tomato bechamel, the rest of the mozzarella, and freshly grate parmesan over the top. I like to take a few pieces of butter and disperse them over the top so it gives you that golden brown top.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven. If your lasagna is full to the brim, you can grab a baking sheet, cover with foil, and place the dish on top of that for any spillover. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil and low broil for 10 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with a spatula.
- Prep time is 10 minutes for chopping ingredients + 15 minutes for assembling lasagna after cooking components. Cook time is 25 minutes for spinach, beef, sauce; then 35-45 minutes for baking lasagna in the oven.
- If you cannot find no boil lasagna sheets, you can cook lasagna sheets al dente and use those.
- Ensure the foil isn’t wrapped too tightly on the baking dish or the cheese will get stuck to it.
Turned put absolutely gorgeous. Good recipe thank you very much.
I have made a slight change though: I have mixed the beef with the sauce in the end plus used some Italian Spice Mix for both the sauce and the beef.
My lasagna recipe has always been a hit with my family. It’s very close to this recipe, but I love the addition of the Bechamel sauce. I didn’t mix it in with the tomato sauce, but rather I added it as a separate layer after the spinach layer. It was delicious. I have found with no boil lasagna that if you assemble the dish and leave it sit for a while before cooking it you are assured that the noodles will get cooked.
I skipped the bechamel, used ground merguez meat instead of beef, and combined the spinach mixture with the ricotta. This was seriously delicious. Will definitely become a staple!
The flavor was very good… though the noodles did not cook through in 35 minutes… so they were hard.. there were many many steps and I don’t know whether it was to make this recipe seem more sophisticated or just dirty dishes… honestly, the only nuance from other lasagne recipes is that this adds the bechamel to the red sauce… every other step.. (adding oregano later, reserving 2T of beef fat (that was never used) etc. were more conversation fodder for the guests when explaining the dish later, than necessary to the resulting flavor profile. In the end, I’ll keep the addition of béchamel to the sauce, and basil to the spinach and leverage it in other lasagne recipes.. it will save work and still give great results.
Hi Mark, ensure you are using “no boil” lasagna noodles. Regular lasagna noodles will not cook through in the allotted time. Lasagna is definitely a labor of love to make, but worth it in the end! The 2 Tbsp of reserved beef fat was to remain with the beef and discard the rest, I can see how that’s confusing in the directions and will update that to reflect.
This recipe is quite the recipe. I reciped this recipe so recipe that the recipe reciped. tres bien
It’s worth the labor of love! Glad you enjoyed it!
This was such a delight, I would highly recommend this to all my brothers and sisters if I had any. One thing that made it 100 times better was the addition of mango juice to the sauce. Excellent.
Great Recipe ! Had a dinner party and tried this Lasgna after looking at several recipes. It was a hit ! The tastes are complex and flavorful. I think next time I might double the sauce recipe and reserve half to serve on the side for dipping or ladle over the top. It was wonderful as is but I do like my Lasgna dripping in sauce.
Gary, I’m so glad you and your guests loved the lasagna! Great idea with the extra sauce on the side.
This was DELICIOUS!! I skipped the spinach because I didn’t have any, and doubled the ricotta (because why not!?), and it was a huge hit! Will definitely keep making this one!
I’m so glad you loved it Libbi! I’m all for double the ricotta, so good!
I loved the sauce, the spinach and the addition of pancetta with the beef. However my noodles went to mush. Prep was at least an hour, instead of the 25 minutes in the recipe. I’m going to try the sauce and meat with regular pasta instead.
Hi Lisa, so glad you loved the sauce and meat mixture! I’m sorry for the confusion on the prep and cook time. I set aside 25 minutes for prep for: dicing pancetta, chopping spinach/onions, mincing garlic, and then the actual layering of the lasagna. The 70 minutes cook time was a total time for making the spinach, beef, and sauce (these 3 took me 25 minutes), then the final 35-45 minutes for baking the assembled lasagna in the oven. I am going to see if I can divide up the times in the summary to make it more clear. For the pasta, did you use no boil lasagna sheets? I am trying to figure out why they came out so mushy.
Absolutely loved this recipe! It sauce had a nice kick to it, and was super tasty! Will definitely be making this one again!
I’m so glad you loved it!