Does traditional lasagna have ricotta? (how to make)

In this article, we will answer the question “Does traditional lasagna have ricotta?” and discuss the ingredients in the lasagna, the benefits and drawbacks of adding ricotta to lasagna and how to prepare lasagna with ricotta cheese.

Does traditional lasagna have ricotta?

Yes, traditional Italian lasagna has ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese is technically not considered a cheese, but a “cheese by-product”, as it is made mostly from cheese-whey. Therefore, it is preferred as an ingredient in cooked dishes, such as lasagna and ravioli (1).

It is also often used added with sugar to prepare desserts, including cannoli and cassata cake. Ricotta has a mild flavour and soft texture and therefore is often used as a topping or filling to pasta dishes (1, 2).

What are the ingredients in the traditional Lasagna?

The ingredients in the traditional Italian lasagna are lasagna noodles, minced beef, garlic, onions, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil, parsley, ricotta cheese, mozzarella and parmesan cheese (3).

Lasagna pasta contains wheat flour and eggs and the tomato sauce can be made with ready-to-cook tomato sauces, fresh tomatoes or tomato puree.

Many variations are possible to the traditional Italian lasagna and may include other types of seasonings, such as butter and garlic powder, in addition to tuna fish in the place of minced beef (4).

What are the benefits of adding ricotta to lasagna?

The benefits of adding ricotta to the lasagna are the soft texture and mild flavour of the ricotta, in addition to its nutrients. Ricotta cheese is made with cheese whey and milk and therefore is a source of important milk proteins and fatty acids (1, 2).

Milk whey proteins are easily digested and absorbed by the human body and have improved biological properties. Whey proteins contribute to muscle building and protein synthesis in the body.

The so-called branched chained fatty acids, found in ricotta cheese, help to regulate the immune system and gut health (5).

The bioactive peptides resulting from the digestion of the ricotta cheese have antimicrobial and hypocholesterolemic activities. They are reported to help in the body weight management.

The fatty acids in ricotta cheese are in the majority saturated fatty acids, however, ricotta cheese also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Ricotta cheese is a source of calcium and phosphorus.

What are the drawbacks of adding ricotta cheese to lasagna?

The drawbacks of adding ricotta cheese to the lasagna are related to the short shelf life of ricotta cheese and the risks of microbial contamination of including this cheese in the lasagna.

Ricotta cheese is susceptible to contamination by innumeral pathogenic microorganisms, due to its properties. Ricotta cheese is a high-moisture food product with a relatively high pH value, which favours microbial growth (2).

Common microorganisms that cause spoilage of ricotta cheese and reduce its shelf life are yeasts, moulds, psychrotrophic bacteria, mesophylic bacteria, coliforms and Staphylococcus aureus

Due to its properties, the shelf life of ricotta cheese is low and can affect the shelf life of lasagna (1, 2, 5).

Other FAQs about Lasagna that you may be interested in.

Can you overcook a lasagna?

How should you reheat lasagna?

Can you freeze lasagna?

How to prepare a lasagna with ricotta cheese? 

To make a lasagna with ricotta cheese, you will need:

  • 8 oz lasagna noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound of minced beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chopped onion
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 3 to 4 fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, oregano, parsley as wished
  • 1 pound of ricotta cheese
  • 0.5 pound sliced mozzarella
  • a handful of grated parmesan cheese

And follow the instructions (3):

Cook in a pan minced beef with olive oil, chopped onions and garlic cloves till the meat is brown. Add cut fresh or canned tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are soft.

Add canned tomato sauce or tomato puree and spices, such as salt, pepper, oregano and parsley and boil to achieve a thick consistency.

Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water till they soften. Drain and rinse the noodles in cool water.

Fill a rectangular casserole alternating the layers of cooked lasagna noodles, sliced mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, and tomato-minced beef sauce till the casserole is completed.

Top with grated parmesan cheese and bake at 375 °F (190 °C) for 20 to 30 minutes or till the browning of the parmesan cheese.


In this article, we answered the question “Does traditional lasagna have ricotta cheese?” and discussed the ingredients in lasagna, the benefits and drawbacks of adding ricotta to the lasagna and how to make a lasagna with ricotta cheese.

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