Keef Cooks logo
British food-lover Keef shows you how to cook amazing food with easy to follow recipes and videos. So stop wasting your time and money on takeaways or supermarket ready meals, and Get Cooking!

Lasagna British Style

Introduction & method

Italians and Americans both have quite different ideas of what lasagna is, but this is what Brits think it is. The name, by the  way - 'lasagna' is a single sheet of the flat pasta. 'Lasagne' is the plural. But we tend to call it lasagna anyway because the English language doesn't like pronouncing unaccented e's at the end of words.

Lasagna British Style Recipe

Lasagna has four main components - a meat and tomato sauce (British Bolognese Sauce), a white sauce with a bit of cheese in it, based on a classic béchamel sauce, layers of pasta sheets, and a molten cheese topping.

To make the Bolognese sauce

Peel and dice the onion, top, tail and grate the carrot, and finely dice the celery. In a large frying pan or cast-iron casserole, gently sweat the veggies in oil over medium heat. Cut the bacon into small squares. After about 10 minutes, add the minced meat and the bacon to the pan. Turn up the heat a bit and get the meats browned all over. Add the wine and boil rapidly, then add the stock, tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs and salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to simmer. 

Now for a really deep tasting sauce, you need to cook it for 3 hours. You can do this in the casserole on the lowest possible heat on your stovetop or in the oven. Or you could do it in a slow cooker for about 6 hours. Keep the lid off so the liquid level can reduce and concentrate the flavour. Now and again, check that the sauce isn't getting too dry - add more stock or water if it is.

When cooked, taste the sauce and add salt if necessary. If the sauce is too runny (it should be moist but not sitting in liquid), turn the heat on full and reduce the excess liquid. You can use this sauce straight away, but it does improve if you leave it overnight.

To make the béchamel / cheese sauce

While the meat sauce is cooking, infuse the milk with onion. This step is optional but I do like the oniony flavour. Cut the onion into quarters, put them in a jug with the milk and microwave it for 2 minutes. Let it stand until needed. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and sift in the flour a bit at a time. Keep stirring until the flour is all absorbed (this is called a roux). Strain the infused milk into the roux. Discard the onion. Stir the milk into the roux and cook for a few minutes until it thickens. Add the mustard, stir well, and then add half of the cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted, then remove the sauce from the heat.

Assemble the Lasagna

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven or air fryer, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 5.
You'll need an ovenproof casserole dish or similar. I prefer my layers of pasta to fit snugly up to the sides of the dish, and this involves a bit of cutting to shape. You can't cut dried pasta without it shattering, so I soak the sheets in boiling water for five minutes to make them pliable.

You'll need enough sheets of pasta to create 3 layers in your dish. If your pasta is pre-cooked, you can use it after soaking and cutting. For uncooked dried pasta, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Butter the insides and bottom of your dish. Spread a thin layer of the bolognese sauce on the bottom. Cover this with a layer of pasta sheets, cutting them as necessary to fit the dish, and trying not to overlap the sheets. Spread another layer of bolognese sauce, and then a layer of the white sauce. Cover this with a second layer of pasta, and cover that with the remaining bolognese sauce. Add the final layer of pasta, the remainder of the white sauce, and sprinkle the second half of the cheese evenly on top.

Bake it

Bake the lasagna for about 30 minutes, until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.

Serve it

You need to let the lasagna rest for 20-30 minutes after baking to allow the sauces to firm up a little. Otherwise you end up with a mess of sauces, cheese and pasta dribbled all over your plate. Serve with a crisp green salad and any kind of wine you fancy.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Lasagna British Style on YouTube.

Related recipes from Keef Cooks

Ingredients & Info

 500 grams minced beef
 400 grams peeled plum tomatoes
 1 tbsp tomato purée
 1 medium onion
 1 medium carrot
 1 stick celery
 250 ml beef stock
 250 ml red wine
 1 tsp ground black pepper
 1 tsp dried basil
 1 tsp dried oregano
 500 ml milk
 1 medium onion
 1 tbsp unsalted butter
 1 tbsp plain white flour
 200 grams cheese, grated
 2 bay leaves


Vegetable oil for sautéeing. Enough dried lasagna sheets to create 3 layers in your baking dish. The cheese can be whatever you like, but preferably a flavoursome melty cheese. I use mature cheddar.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 
Prep time: 15 minutes.
cooling time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 3 hours.
Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes.