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A cross-section of the world's best lasagna shows layers of pasta, bechamel sauce and bolognese ragu.
Layers of Bolognese Ragu, thin noodles, and bechamel sauce dusted with cheese make this the world’s best lasagna.


Saveur published this definitive cookbook in 2001. We still use it for all things Italian.

A symbol of Italian cuisine, this layering of an intensely flavored meaty Bolognese sauce with a silky-rich bechamel sauce, and a restrained sprinkling of cheese has made it our best lasagna recipe for years. It bears very little resemblance to the chunky, oozy dish with thick, curly noodles most Americans know as lasagne. We don’t often go out on a limb but when we revisited this particular recipe, both our guests and ourselves have consistently agreed: This is the world’s best lasagna. We believe that this is the ideal dish to serve at any important dinner from now until New Year’s Eve.


Margharita and Valeria Simili. The fraternal twin sisters taught well into their 90s. Margharita died in 2019, Valeria in 2022.

Twin sisters from Bologna, Margherita and Valeria Simili are among my greatest teachers of Italian cuisine. They first appeared in our lives in Saveur Magazine’s superb “Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian” (2001) which ought to be in the kitchen of every Italian food lover.  You can order it here: https://amzn.to/3Sx7GKt. The Simili Sisters were practically born making pasta. “Discovered” by Marcella Hazan, then established as the authority on Italian Cooking, the sisters opened their own cooking school. One of their prime lessons was in the making of lasagna. We learned their techniques and then cheekily applied them to our stellar recipe for Bolognese and fresh, store-bought lasagna noodles. All hail the Similis who taught well into their 90s.


Our Best Lasagna recipe has roots going back to the Roman Empire.

The exact origins of lasagna are hard to pinpoint but it is widely accepted that the dish has ancient roots in Italy. Layering pasta, sauce and cheese goes back to the Romans. When pasta became more widely used in Italy, more layered pasta dishes appeared including lasagna. Tomatoes, a key ingredient in modern lasagna were introduced in Europe in the 16th century but it took time for their acceptance. The first written recipes for lasagna appeared in the 18th century and lasagna became popular not just in Italy but in many parts of Europe. Different regions developed their own variations. The one we use here has its roots in Emilia-Romagna hence the bechamel  or ‘beschiamella’ sauce. As Italians migrated to the new world, they brought with them their lasagna recipe. Now lasagna is as recognizably Italian as spaghetti itself.

World's Best Lasagna is made with the world's best bolognese ragu.
World’s Best Ragu Bolognese makes World’s Best Lasagna


Chewing The Fat has no fewer than 6 recipes for Lasagna (see the links to all of them below today’s recipes. Our lasagnas are made with Smoked Salmon, Mushrooms, Turkey, and Lamb, There’s a Vegetarian version and the original Lasagna Verde recipe from the Similis. Today’s however tops the charts. Likely because we cannot get enough of this sensation ragu. It’s our absolute favorite and by all means, make it whenever a recipe calls for ragu to top everything from spaghetti to ziti. The secret: It is in the variety of meats we used—Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Pancetta, and Chicken Livers. Yes, Chicken livers. We think that the last ingredient ought to be called the secret ingredient and revealed to absolutely no one. Generally, chicken liver is greeted with a cringe. Here it adds immeasurably to the richness of this sensational ragu without being able to truly taste it. Here’s the recipe.

World's Best Lasagna

November 15, 2023
: 8 to 12
: 30 min
: 4 hr
: For all its ingredients and complexity this is not a difficult dish--especially if you use a food processor for the vegetables, Chicken Livers and Pancetta and use fresh Lasagne Noodles like Rana

A truly sensational Bolognese Ragu, layers and layers of fresh pasta, bechamel sauce with just a dusting of cheese makes this the world's best lasagna.


  • For the Ragù Bolognese:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 ounces of pancetta
  • 8 ounces chicken livers, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 2 large onions, peeled, and finely chopped in a food processor
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, and finely chopped in a food processor
  • 3 large ribs celery finely chopped in a food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced, or grated on a microplane grater
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Large pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian plum tomatoes, preferably D.O.P. San Marzano +
  • 1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (white works fine as well)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken or veal stock (or 2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced basil or parsley (or a mix of both)
  • For the Besciamelia Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced, or grated on a microplane grater
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 oz. low-moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Lasagna
  • 2 pkg of Fresh Lasagna sheets such as Rana Brand
  • To spread between pasta layers: 6 oz finely grated Reggio Parmigiano Cheese
  • Step 1 For the Ragù Bolognese: Heat butter and olive oil in large Dutch Oven over high heat, stirring occasionally, until butter has stopped foaming. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and chicken livers, and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer meat to a strainer set in a large bowl, allow to drain, then transfer drained liquid back to Dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes, and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 2 Return meat to the pan, add tomatoes, wine, milk, stock, and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly below the level of the meat, about 2 quarts of sauce total (you may need to add excess stock while cooking if your burner is cooking it too hot). A layer of fat may form on top during cooking but do not skim it off. After cooking, remove bay leaves, add fish sauce and heavy cream, and simmer until fat is emulsified about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in parsley and basil. Bolognese will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge and will improve with time. Reheat until warm before using in lasagna.
  • Step 3 Make the Besciamella: Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming subsides, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Add flour and stir with a whisk until light blond and a slightly nutty aroma develops about 1 minute. Add garlic, and stir to combine. Whisking constantly, add milk in a steady stream until fully incorporated. Bring to a simmer (mixture should thicken). Remove heat, add mozzarella and nutmeg, and whisk until fully melted. Whisking constantly, return to a simmer, remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Step 4 Adjust oven racks to lower middle and lowest positions and preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Step 5 To Assemble: Add 1/6th of meat ragù (about 1 1/3 cups) to the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle with 1/2 cup besciamella. Place 3 sheets of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce (noodles will not quite touch each other. This is okay). Top with 1/6 of meat sauce, 1/2 cup besciamella, 1/3 cup parmesan, and another layer of pasta. Continue until you have 6 layers of pasta, ragu, and cheese. Cover the top layer with the remaining 1/6 of meat sauce, remaining besciamella (about 1 cup), and remaining 2/3 cup parmesan. The baking dish should be very full at this point.
  • Step 6 Place foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on lower rack to catch drips, then place lasagna on upper rack and bake until edges are starting to crisp, and the top is a bubbly, golden brown, about 45 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs, and serve.


Meaty Mushroom Lasagna adapted from Giada di Laurentiis

Vegetarian Lasagna adapted from Saveur’s “New Comfort Food”

Harissa-Lamb Skillet Lasagna from Mad Genius, Justin Chapple, in Food and Wine Magazine

Smoked Salmon Lasagna from Michaela Kitchin

Lazy Man’s Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese



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