Melissa jo's lasagna meat sauce

Melissa Jo’s Lasagna Meat Sauce

Melissa Jo’s Lasagna Meat Sauce

This is how I was taught to make lasagna from my Grandma Jo. We make the sauce with meat and layer it into our lasagna instead of layering meat separately. I have included how we layer and make our ricotta mixture into this blog for easy access. Usually for holidays we start with an Italian first course. And on Christmas it’s lasagna! Then we transition into a more traditional meal with prime rib, potatoes, and vegetables! But, guess what? This is our favorite and there’s never even a slice left. All the other courses are great, but no comparison! I hope you love my recipe! Here’s my family lasagna recipe!

Melissa jo's lasagna meat sauce


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  • Here’s my video tutorial on how to layer and make the ricotta mixture.

  • Add about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce to the ricotta mixture. Keep adding until the mixture becomes pink.

  • Boil the lasagna 1 minute before it reaches aldente according to the back of the package of lasagna you are using.

  • The longer you the simmer the sauce the better it will be. 2 hours is the bare minimum of simmering time.

  • Add water and seasoning to the pot as it simmers. YOU MUST TASTE and layer seasoning as you go.

  • VERY IMPORTANT: Let the lasagna rest at least 30 minutes before serving so it sets up!


Rome, Italy

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Melissa Jo's Family Lasagna Recipe

Melissa Jo’s Lasagna Meat Sauce Recipe


  • 2 lbs. ground meat (ground chuck or ground round, the fattier the better)

  • 3- 4 tbsp. of olive oil

  • 8- 10 cloves of garlic minced

  • seasoning: you must add in layers starting in the beginning & continuously taste and add to your liking. Start with:

    • 1 tsp of crushed red pepper

    • 2 tsp. of cracked black pepper and salt

    • 2 tbsp. of garlic powder

    • 2 tbsp. of Italian Seasoning

  • 8 oz. of cabernet or Pino noir (use a brand you would also drink)

  • 28 oz. can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes

  • 2 (28 oz. cans) of crushed San Marzano tomatoes

  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste

  • water: fill the 6 oz. tomato paste can 3 times and add

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp. of sugar

  • 1 slice of Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1-2 oz. chunk)

  • 2 oz. or PLENTY of fresh basil (about two large handfuls)

How To:

  1. In a large sauce pot or dutch oven brown the ground meat on a medium heat with olive oil, fresh garlic, and all of the seasonings. This will only take about 5-10 minutes. Only drain the fat if it’s very excessive. I usually leave the fat created from the meat in the pot for flavor.

  2. Once the meat is no longer pink raise the heat to about medium high & deglaze the pan with the red wine. Allow the alcohol to burn out for about 5 minutes.

  3. Hand crush the can of whole peeled tomatoes and add to the pot of sauce. Bring the pot up to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes.

  4. Then, add both cans of crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste, fill the tomato paste with water 3 times and add into the pot, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp. of sugar, and the hunk of fresh Pecorino Romano. Bring the pot to a boil again.

  5. Once the pot comes to a boil, lower to a simmer and after 30 minutes taste for seasoning. Add more of the above listed seasoning as needed.

  6. Simmer on low for at least 2-3 hours with the lid covered halfway. Then, add water as needed throughout the cooking process.

  7. At the end of the cooking time, add the fresh basil. Simmer for another 5 minutes with the basil in the pot.

  8. You can serve immediately or freeze! If you are making the lasagna let the tomato sauce cool for about 15 minutes before layering.

  9. ENJOY!