Lasagna al Pesto

4.98 from 94 votes

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Lasagna al Pesto (Pesto Lasagna) is a cheesy homemade Italian lasagna recipe. Made with three cheeses, pasta, and a creamy bechamel basil pesto sauce. A comfort food perfect for cold weather and winter. Vegetarian.
Side view of Lasagna al Pesto on a plate with dresh basil

Lasagna al Pesto is a creamy pesto lasagna made with three cheeses. Featuring a creamy white sauce with basil pesto. One of the best lasagna recipes!

Side view of Lasagna al Pesto on a plate with dresh basil

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Pesto lasagna, also known as “lasagna al pesto,” is a delicious Italian dish that combines the flavors of traditional lasagna with the vibrant taste of pesto sauce.

Homemade lasagna is a labor of love.

Something about this Italian comfort food is extra special.

I love a good tomato sauce, but I am also a lover of all things basil pesto. I use it in a lot of different recipes, including Pesto Caprese Penne Pasta which is one of our most popular recipes of all time!

Pesto lasagna is a flavorful twist on the classic lasagna recipe, and the aromatic basil pesto adds a unique depth of flavor to the dish.

It’s a perfect choice for those who love both Italian pasta and the fresh taste of pesto.

Ingredients

These are the ingredients you will need to make lasagna al pesto. You can find full quantities, steps, and information in the full recipe card below.

Basil Pesto – I love to make a homemade Genovese basil pesto in a food processor or blender, made with olive oil, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and pine nuts. Store-bought pesto will also work great if preferred.

Lasagna Noodles – any type of lasagne sheets will work. Fresh pasta, dried pasta, or no boil noodles will all be fine.

Ricotta Cheese – the classic lasagna cheese!

Mozzarella Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

Whole Milk – whole milk is best because it is not as thin and watery, which means more flavor and a better sauce consistency

Large Eggs

All Purpose Flour

Butter

Dried Basil

Garlic Powder

Salt

Black Pepper

Why do you put eggs in lasagna?

The egg in the ricotta cheese mixture adds moisture and also helps bind everything together – both in the cheese mixture as well as cheese to noodles.

Make sure you beat the egg well and it will disappear into the cheeses.

The Lasagna al Pesto baked in a white dish from the top

What is the correct order to layer lasagna?

There is not really one “real” way to do it, but my layering method is for good reason!

Always put sauce on the bottom so the bottom noodles do not burn and stick to the pan.

Then for layering I do noodle, ricotta mixture, other cheeses, sauce, and repeat.

It is SO difficult to try and spread out ricotta over a sauce, and the sauce gets moved in an uneven way.

And with the sauce on top of the cheese, it almost seeps in a little.

So by putting the cheese directly on top of layers of noodles, this makes it easier.

A spatula scooping a piece of the pasta out of the dish

Instruction Overview

There are several steps to making this Lasagne al Pesto, and many of them can be made in advance.

First, you need to make a basil pesto. You can also use a store bought version, but I prefer homemade because it is SO fast and easy to do.

Next, a béchamel sauce to add the homemade pesto to. Béchamel is a simple, white sauce and the perfect pairing for this lasagna. And is very common in white lasagna recipes. Make this sauce over medium heat.

Using just pesto without a sauce would make the lasagna very dry. And a lot of the best lasagnas out there have a béchamel, even if they also have a tomato sauce! This is a great way to add flavor and moisture.

Then mix the pesto into the bechamel sauce.

Make the cheese mixture by combining the ricotta with the rest of the mixture ingredients. I like to leave some mozzarella and Parmesan separate, but you could mix them all together if you want.

And of course, you need to boil lasagna noodles. Leave them very al dente and not too soft since they will cook a little more when assembled.

All of these pieces can be made in advance and ready to go! Or even assemble the entire thing and chill before baking.

Side view of a slice of Lasagna al Pesto on a white plate

To assemble, follow my preferred method of layering (see above).

Put some sauce on the bottom of the ovenproof dish to prevent the bottom noodles from burning and sticking to the bottom of the baking dish.

Then layer noodle, ricotta, cheeses, sauce, and repeat.

Putting the ricotta straight on the noodles is much easier than spreading it out over sauce!

The top of the lasagna gets the final noodle layer with the remaining pesto sauce and more cheese.

Bake in a hot oven covered in aluminum foil, removing the foil for just a little bit to get a nicely browned top.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese as desired. It is ready for your dinner table!

A piece of the pasta on a white plate with the dish behind it

Do you cover lasagna when you bake it?

Yes, you should, at least for half of the baking time. Without being covered, the moisture evaporates, making the lasagna dryer. This can also lead to a top that is overly crunchy.

Leave the cover on until 30 minutes are left in cooking time and then remove it. This way, the top can still brown.

If it is done cooking but the top is not as dark as you want it, flip your oven to broil and in just a few second you will see your cheese starting to turn a golden brown.

FAQs

How many layers should lasagna have?

Most chefs say lasagna should have at least three layers. Make it as tall as you want, if your baking dish can accommodate, but know it will also increase your cooking time.

What is the correct order to layer lasagna?

Always put sauce on the bottom so the bottom noodles do not burn and stick to the pan.
Then for layering do noodle, ricotta mixture, other cheeses, sauce, and repeat.
Cheese directly on top of noodles makes it easier to spread without it sliding around on a sauce.

Why do you put eggs in lasagna?

The egg in the ricotta cheese mixture adds moisture and also helps bind everything together – both in the cheese mixture as well as cheese to noodles.

Do you cover lasagna when you bake it?

Yes, you should, at least for half of the baking time. Without being covered, the moisture evaporates, making the lasagna dryer. This can also lead to a top that is overly crunchy.

A slice of Lasagna al Pesto on a white plate with fresh basil
Pin image of Lasagna al Pesto from the side on a plate with title at top

More Pesto Recipes

Side view of Lasagna al Pesto on a plate with dresh basil

Lasagna al Pesto Recipe

Lasagna al Pesto (Pesto Lasagna) is a cheesy homemade Italian lasagna recipe. Made with three cheeses, pasta, and a creamy bechamel basil pesto sauce. A comfort food perfect for cold weather and winter. Vegetarian.
4.98 from 94 votes
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 756kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Bechamel Pesto Sauce

Cheese Mixture

Lasagna

Instructions

Prepare the Noodles

  • Cook the noodles in a large pot of water as per package direction. When al dente (still firm but not crunchy and not too soft), drain and toss with a little olive oil to help prevent sticking. Set aside.

Make the Pesto Béchamel Sauce

  • Make your basil pesto, if not done already.
  • In a medium or large pot (same pot of the noodles is great), melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and stir to combine. Cook 30-60 seconds.
  • Whisk in the milk, salt, and black pepper. Cook on a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce slightly thickens, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the pesto and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Prepare Cheese Mixture

  • In a medium bowl, combine all of the cheese mixture ingredients. Season to taste with salt, basil, and pepper.

Assembly

  • When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Spread ½ cup of the pesto sauce across the bottom of a 9 by 9 baking dish.
  • Cut the lasagna noodles in half to turn each one into shorter strips. Lay three strips across the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping.
  • Dollop 1 cup of the cheese mixture over the noodles and gently spread across the noodles.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the cheese mixture, followed by 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan.
  • Scoop and gently spread ½ cup of the pesto sauce across the cheeses.
  • Repeat another layer of noodles, cheese mixture, mozzarella, Parmesan, and pesto sauce. You should be out of the ricotta cheese mixture at this time.
  • Prepare the top layer by laying out the third layer of noodles. Top with the remaining pesto sauce.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and 2 Tablespoons of Parmesan.
  • Cover with tin foil or a lid and bake for approximately 50 minutes. The edges of the dish should be bubbling and the top cheese melted. Remove the lid/foil and finish baking 10-15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. (Want a darker top? Remove the cover earlier or turn on the broiler for a few minutes).
  • Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

Use any sized baking dish, but something smaller like an 8×8 or 9×9 square dish is best to get the tall layers.
This recipe is decently cheesy! If you want to go light on the cheese, cut cheese portions in half.
Nov 2023 – This recipe was edited to reduce the bechamel by half as some commenters have found it to be too saucy. It now will be a stiffer, dryer lasagna. If you want it saucy, increase the amount of bechamel you make and use.
Some people also find that this works better for them in a 9×13 dish instead of 9×9 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1503mg | Potassium: 310mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2299IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 718mg | Iron: 2mg
By on September 29th, 2021

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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35 thoughts on “Lasagna al Pesto”

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was great! I subbed roasted spaghetti squash for the noodles and mix the squash with the ricotta filling. I also added spicy Italian chicken sausage cooked with minced celery carrots and onion. I subbed 2 cups of the milk with 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt too (trying to be macro-conscious) Everything came out delicious, my man and my parents both loved it, and they’re not big fans of my veg substitutions usually ha ha I already sent the recipe to my girlfriends too 10/10

    Reply
    • Hi! You can freeze before baking and then bake when ready to serve (it might take around 2 hours or so). Baking it in advance, you will still need to at least heat it through so it might end up overbaked and dry.

      Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Wow, this was delicious! I used a jar of pesto and a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, I put the chicken on top of the pesto sauce layer. We had dinner for ten and everyone enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing the great recipe.

    Reply
  3. 4 stars
    The sauce was watery. I followed the recipe exactly. So I had to add another roux which added more fat (not wanted). Even after second roux it was watery so I added more pesto which didn’t help. Please inform me how to get the sauce thicker without adding another roux. The end product was really good. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Jessi,
      Glad to hear you liked it and so sorry yours was watery! A few things come to mind:
      1) What type of milk did you use? Skim and 2% are actually watered down milk, so the water content is higher to make it thinner. It works best to use whole milk or something on the non-thin end of the scale.
      2) If using a thinner milk or if the sauce is overall thin, you can cook it longer before layering to thicken it up.
      3) What did you use for your roux? You can always make a roux with flour or cornstarch mixed with the sauce itself to avoid adding more fats. And cornstarch has no gluten. Just mix the 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (or even 2 Tablespoons flour) with some of the hot milk to make your roux so that there is no need to add more fat. Do this in a small bowl and then mix in. The sauce will thicken when it is added and heated.
      4) If it is already in the oven and looks to watery, you can cook it longer uncovered to evaporate liquid, or even use a turkey baster to suck out some of the watery parts. Or even tilt it when out of the oven to drain some out.

      It is all a little bit of an art and depends on a lot of factors, but hopefully this covers a few options for you. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  4. I plan on making this for the vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving. It looks amazing. Everyone will have some . I am having 12 adults so the 9×9 will be too small. You mentioned you can double it. But going from 9×9 to 9×13 with 6 cups of milk etc seems like it might be too much for a 9×13 pan. Please advise. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • How wonderful! Yes I agree I think in a 9×13 a double would be too much. But you could fill a 9×13 and then a smaller dish with the excess (like a pie dish or bread loaf pan even). Or two 9×9. Up to you based on what you have and what will work for the holiday!

      If you just want to fill the 9×13 and that is it, I would do 1.5x the recipe. Hover over the “6 servings” at the top of the recipe and a slider will pop up. Just change it to 9 to give you 1.5 times all the ingredients! And just round as needed for it to work. I just looked at 1.5x (9 servings) and the only weird calculation is 1.5 large eggs. You could just use 2 and you will be fine!

      Reply
  5. This looks amazing! Will most definitely try it out Why do you cook the noodles beforehand? On my regular meat lasagne I don’t.

    Reply
    • Hi! I cook the noodles before because they are not the no-boil noodles. And the noodles take much longer in the oven if you want them to absorb liquid to cook. I have never tried it with the noodles being raw, but since it works for you, you could always try your method with this recipe and see how it goes!

      Reply
  6. 5 stars
    This definitely gives the classic lasagna a run for its money! Love all the savory deliciousness from the pesto! Also pretty easy to make, I don’t have much experience in the kitchen and it came out great

    Reply
  7. 4 stars
    Made last night for dinner in an 8×8. It overflowed my pan and that was with over 1 cup of bechamel pesto sauce not used. Next time I plan to cut the milk down to 3 cups, use a few more noodles and a 9×13 pan. I would prefer short lasagna to an overflowed pan and dirty oven. But the flavor is delicious and my family, kids included, loved it.

    Reply
  8. 5 stars
    This lasagne was fantastic! I made mine in a dish that gave me six servings, once cooked and cooled, I froze the other portions by wrapping in tinfoil then cling wrap and put into ziplock freezer bags. Have eaten a few portions from frozen and were just as tasty as when originally made. I heated mine in the microwave once defrosted. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
  9. 5 stars
    INCREDIBLE!!!…Gorgeous luscious cheesy saucy beautiful lasagna!!…Im going to add a small amount of shredded chicken to it!…Thank you!

    Reply

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