Lasagna al Pesto is a creamy pesto lasagna made with three cheeses. Featuring a creamy white sauce with basil pesto.
Lasagna al Pesto
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!
What is the correct order to layer lasagna?
I do not know if there is 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.
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.
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.
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 pesto to. Béchamel is a simple, white sauce and the perfect pairing for this lasagna. 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!
Then mix the pesto into the bechamel.
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 cook your 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.
To assemble, follow my preferred method of layering (see above).
Put some sauce on the bottom of the dish to prevent the bottom noodles from burning and sticking.
Then layer noodle, ricotta, cheeses, sauce, and repeat.
Putting the ricotta straight on the noodles is much easier than spreading it out over sauce!
Top off the final noodle layer with the remaining sauce and more cheese.
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.
- Baking dish (9×9 inches)
Bechamel Pesto Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups basil pesto
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- ½ Tablespoon dried basil or 2 Tablespoons fresh, chopped
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 5 lasagna noodles (approximately 1/3 box)
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 6 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
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.
- 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 1 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, approximately 1.5 cups (unless you want to save some for serving).
- 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.
27 thoughts on “Lasagna al Pesto”
I adore pesto, so I am definitely going to have to give this recipe a soon. 🙂 Looks amazing!
This definitely gives the classic lasagna a run for its money! Love all the savory deliciousness from the pesto!
Holy Moly this looks so good! This is like my dream dish on a plate! I hope mine turns out as amazing as your photos look!
This was incredibly easy, cheesy and delicious. I can’t wait to make it again!
WE just loved this recipe and will make it again soon and it was fabulous!
This was my vegetarian daughter’s Easter dinner! I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious! Thanks!
What a wonderful idea! So glad you all liked it!
So creamy and mouth-watering! Thanks a lot for this lasagna al pesto, very easy to make. Loved it!
Tasted good. I used 9 noodles instead of 5.
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
Should I bake before freezing for a weekend retreat?
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.
This lasagna looks delicious! You had me at creamy white sauce! What a great idea to change up the usual lasagna recipe.
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.
How wonderful! So glad it was a hit with everyone, and the chicken addition sounds amazing!
This is delish! Only thing is you’ll need more than 5 noodles. I used 10. Also double your sauce. You’ll be glad you did.
Off the charts! The entire family gobbled it up and went back for seconds. Made exactly as directed. Absolutely delish!!!!!
That makes me so happy! Love that everyone enjoyed it!
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!
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!
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!!
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!
Thank you Kim!! The lasagna was amazing and everyone just loved it!! So happy I found it and thanks so much for responding to my question.
You are so very welcome! I am SO glad that it was a hit! 🙂
This looks amazing! Will most definitely try it out Why do you cook the noodles beforehand? On my regular meat lasagne I don’t.
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!
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