Beefy Skillet Lasagna


This will meet all the comfort food cravings of the classic layered pasta dish without all the mess and fuss.

Beefy skillet lasagna in cast iron

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Lydia Purcell; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

Traditional lasagna is right up there on most folks’ lists of most-beloved pasta recipes, but let’s be honest—it’s a lot of dang work! Often you have to make a red sauce AND a white sauce AND cook noodles AND shred cheese AND strategically layer everything before banishing the whole thing to the oven for the better part of an hour to bake up into a hot, bubbly dish of lasagna perfection.

While that’s perfectly fine for a weekend, few busy, real-life cooks have the bandwidth to crank out homemade lasagna Monday through Friday. Before you give up and give in to the freezer aisle, consider this much faster and supremely easy cast-iron skillet lasagna—it delivers all the same flavor with a level of effort that’s tailored to jive with your hectic work-week schedule. Here’s what we love about this speedy skillet lasagna.

The Beautifully Basic Ingredients for Skillet Lasagna

No running to a fancy store for this recipe! From the meat to the cheeses, everything is available in most grocery stores. You don’t even have to worry about tracking down Italian sausage—this recipe smartly uses a little ground fennel seeds and crushed red pepper to transform regular ground beef into a tasty substitute. Pro Tip: Be sure to grate your own Parmesan and mozzarella for the best flavor and superior meltiness.

The No-Cook Noodles

Put away your Dutch oven and say goodbye to waiting 20 minutes for a cauldron of water to boil—this recipe calls for you to submerge the dry noodles in the marinara in the skillet, where they simmer away until tender. So instead of just being just tender and salty, the cooked noodles soak up extra flavor from the rich tomato sauce.

The Store-Bought Shortcut

There’s something truly satisfying about making your own marinara from scratch—the cozy smell of it simmering away all afternoon is like a hug from an Italian grandma. There’s a time and place for it, but not in this recipe! A quality jar of store-bought sauce will work just fine, and will save you tons of valuable time.

The One-Pot Factor

The last thing you want to do on a busy weeknight is to finish a delicious dinner then stand at the sink for 30 minutes washing two bowls, three pans, and 27 spoons, whisks, and what-such. While the spoons and what-such are still up to you, this smart recipe only requires that you dirty one cast-iron skillet, which makes your life a lot easier! 

But Before You Go…

This is not required, but if you’d like to preserve the beautiful non-stick seasoning of your skillet, consider giving it a little “spa treatment” after washing up. Feel free to dive into the full details here, but essentially you’ll want to clean and dry your skillet thoroughly, then wipe it with a thin coat of oil and pop it in a moderate oven for a little while. Acids like marinara sauce can affect the seasoning, and this quick step will help preserve your skillet’s surface for years to come.


  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

  • 1 (24-oz.) jar marinara sauce

  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces (4 to 5 cups)

  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 4 oz. shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)

  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more fresh basil for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crumbled and browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of water, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of skillet.

  2. Using tongs, stir in marinara and lasagna noodle pieces, ensuring pieces are submerged in sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until noodles are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes, uncovering during last 5 minutes of cooking. While mixture cooks, preheat oven to broil with oven rack about 10 inches from heat source.

  3. Stir together ricotta, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and basil in a medium bowl until combined; dollop over cooked noodle mixture in skillet.

  4. Broil in preheated oven until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Garnish with additional basil.

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