Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food, but that doesn't mean it can't surprise you too. While everyone's mom had their own recipe for the classic, iconic lasagna, there are also a wide variety of lasagna styles. Some are traditional Italian fare, some grew up in America, and some are a category all their own.
- Lasagna alla Norma
- Lasagna alla Molisana
- Classic American Lasagna
- Vegetarian Lasagna
- White Lasagna
- Cheese Lasagna
- Vegetable Lasagna
- Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
- Breakfast Lasagna
- Dessert Lasagna
In this article, we'll take a closer look at each of these styles of lasagna and what defines them. We'll even see some awesome recipes so you can add them to your personal lasagne repertoire.
Italy is the birthplace of lasagna, so it's no wonder that you can find a wide variety of lasagna styles there. Most Italian lasagna dishes are deeply regional, relying on ingredients that have been typical of the local cuisine for hundreds or, in some cases, even thousands of years. Let's look at some of the best.
Lasagna Bolognese hails from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, whose capital, Bologna, also gives us the name of Bolognese sauce and baloney sausage. This style of lasagna is the father of the classic Italian-American lasagna, but with some important differences.
A traditional lasagna Bolognese is made of layers of pasta, a slow-cooked Bolognese sauce (also known as ragù), béchamel sauce, and parmesan cheese. You won't find the additions, like ricotta or mushrooms, typical of American lasagna.
This recipe, from Simply Recipes, includes everything you need to make your very own lasagna Bolognese. On the other hand, this recipe from Serious Eats includes links to different ways to make your Bolognese ragù, including stovetop, oven, and pressure-cooker techniques.
In Italian, "bianca" means "white," and lasagna bianca is the traditional form of American white lasagna. There are different forms of lasagna bianca from around Italy, but what characterizes them is the use of béchamel sauce without a tomato sauce.
Recipes for lasagna bianca often feature mushrooms prominently, and this recipe from Food52 is no exception. The combination of sausage and wild porcini mushrooms makes this lasagna rich and decadent.
This recipe, from The Pasta Project, also calls for wild mushrooms but passes on the sausage. Instead, creamy burrata from Puglia in southern Italy adds extra sumptuousness to this satisfying lasagna.
Lasagna Alla Norma
Lasagna alla norma is the baked variant of the well-known pasta alla norma, from Sicily. Named after an opera from a local composer, lasagna alla norma features many of Sicily's most flavorful ingredients: tomatoes, eggplants, basil, and two types of ricotta.
This recipe, from Recipes from Italy, makes a ricotta cream by mixing fresh ricotta with a touch of the tomato sauce used throughout the dish.
On the other hand, this recipe, from The Pasta Project, keeps the layers more distinct by mixing fresh ricotta with whole milk and a bit of nutmeg for aroma.
Naples' most famous dish is, without a doubt, pizza. However, the Neopolitan love for great cuisine extends far beyond this, and nowhere is this clearer than in lasagne Napoletana.
This lasagna is typically eaten before lent, something of a Neopolitan mardi gras feast. This explains how it ended up so decadent. A meaty tomato sauce, several types of cheese, and fried meatballs all get layered up with lasagna noodles to make this culinary celebration.
This recipe, from Recipes from Italy, includes ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella for the cheese and also has layers of hard-boiled eggs in the mix.
This recipe, from Serious Eats, skips the eggs but increases the decadence by adding smoked mozzarella to the cheese mix as well as a layer of sliced sausage.
Lasagna in Brodo Alla Molisana
Hailing from the Molise region of southern Italy, this lasagna has many defining features. It traditionally features chicken or other poultry, doesn't include either a tomato or a béchamel sauce, and it's served in broth.
These characteristics make it lighter than your archetypal lasagna, but it is a flavorful and satisfying dish.
This recipe, from Nonna Box, keeps it simple with just eight ingredients. This recipe from The Pasta Project builds on the basic recipe with the inclusion of veal meatballs, which adds some more protein and hardiness to this lasagna.
When Italian immigrants came to North America, they brought with them their love and skill for cooking. Italian styles of cooking mixed with other cultures, ideas, and ingredients to create something new, and this can be seen in the Italian-American approaches to lasagna.
Classic American Lasagna
This is the type of lasagna that most Americans picture when they hear that word, the kind you'd expect to find in a Norman Rockwell painting. Largely based on the traditional lasagna Bolognese, with its meaty, slowly simmered tomato sauce.
The classic American lasagna is different in many ways from lasagna Bolognese, especially when it comes to the composition of its white layers. Most recipes for this type of lasagna completely forego béchamel, building their white layers from generous portions and different varieties of cheese instead.
This recipe, from Spend with Pennies, uses mozzarella and ricotta along with the Bolognese parmesan. Some recipes take it even further, such as this recipe from Taste of Home. Along with mozzarella and ricotta, you'll find cottage cheese and provolone in this Italian-American classic.
While there are a variety of vegetarian lasagnas, the most common are those that seek to emulate the classic meat sauce with the inclusion of flavorful, chunky vegetables.
This recipe from Cookie and Kate has a veritable garden's worth of healthy, tasty vegetables in it, including carrots, bell peppers, and spinach. To get up the savory, umami factor, this recipe from Simply Recipes calls for a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms.
What the classic American lasagna is to lasagna Bolognese, white lasagna is to lasagna bianca. White lasagna typically includes more cheese, both in variety and quantity, than lasagna bianca.
Some, such as this recipe from Taste of Home, even forego the béchamel sauce. It features layers of Italian sausage cooked with veggies and cream cheese alternating with multiple layers of cheese, including cheddar, mozzarella, cottage cheese, and gouda.
This recipe from Le Creme de la Crumb keeps the béchamel but augments it with cream cheese and parmesan. It then layers the béchamel with chicken, spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella.
Cheese lasagna is a simplified form of classic American lasagna. Instead of a meat sauce, a simple tomato sauce is used and layered with cheese, usually ricotta and mozzarella.
Most versions of cheese lasagna are meat-free and cheeses made with animal-free rennet can be used for strict vegetarians.
This recipe, from Love from the Oven, is a typical recipe. It's simple, easy to make at home, and satisfying.
This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine, also keeps it simple, but does add the zest of a lemon for a little extra flavor.
While vegetable lasagna can be used to refer to any lasagna that features vegetables prominently, in this case we mean those recipes that replace the noodles with vegetables.
This greatly reduces the carbohydrate load of your lasagna, making these recipes ideal for those on low-carb diets.
This recipe, from The Mediterranean Dish, uses thin slices of eggplant instead of the lasagna noodles to make a classic cheese lasagna. It's also a vegetarian recipe, so long as you use cheese made with animal-free rennet for strict vegetarians.
This recipe, from Downshiftology, uses zucchini in place of noodles and foregoes the vegetarian route. The meaty sauce makes this a keto-friendly variation of the classic American lasagna.
Other Types of Lasagna
These styles of lasagna hit the spot, but don't fall under either the Italian or the Italian-American category.
Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
Pastitsio is sometimes called "Greek lasagna," and it's easy to see why. Pasta, meat sauce, béchamel, and cheese are layered and baked to make a hearty, comforting dish.
However, instead of lasagna sheets, pastitsio uses noodles that are long, thick, and hollow. The noodles are cooked and tossed with feta before being added to the dish.
One other notable difference is that you don't alternate layers for pastitsio. Instead, you have a base of noodles, then a layer of meat sauce, and a final, top layer of béchamel.
See the Recipe Tin Eats recipe in the video below!
Breakfast lasagna refers to a casserole with breakfast meats and loads of cheese layered with noodles like a lasagna.
This recipe from Leite's Culinaria is known to be Garth Brooks' favorite, loaded with bacon, sausage, cheddar, and Gruyère. This recipe from Julie's Eats and Treats goes for precooked ham instead of sausage.
Far from traditional, dessert lasagna gets its name from its beautiful layers.
This recipe from Natasha's Kitchen is a typical dessert lasagna. It has an oreo crust with layers of cheesecake, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream.
There are even dessert lasagnas designed for girl scout cookie fanatics. This recipe from Delish takes the flavors from the popular Somoa cookies and layers them to make this dessert lasagna.
Knowing about the different styles of lasagna can help you broaden your repertoire or even find a new favorite. We've covered a lot of the best and most popular here to get you on your way to lasagna heaven.
To learn more about making the perfect lasagna, be sure to check out our articles: