spatula holding serving of lasagna

Lazy Lasagna for a Crowd

Make lazy lasagna for a crowd of 20, 50, or 100 people with this simplified lasagna recipe. This “lazy lasagna” uses fresh ravioli, sausage, two cheeses, and fresh herbs for the easiest lasagna of your life. No need to boil water and precook pasta. No need to assemble difficult layers. These affordable, easy ingredients combined with my tips and shortcuts will let you make this delicious dish in huge quantities with no stress and get all the rave reviews.

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spatula holding serving of lasagna

What is lazy lasagna

“Lazy” lasagna is simply a casserole of marinara and cheese layered with ravioli reminiscent of lasagna. The cheese filling in the ravioli takes the place of the ricotta layer typically found in American lasagna.

Why make lazy lasagna for a crowd

My recipe uses fresh ravioli which does not need to be cooking beforehand. So, no bringing large pots of water to a boil and no having to drain large quantities of water with pasta. With assembly physically easier, faster, and safer, this recipe is particularly well-suited for large scale preparation, especially for events and functions where volunteers (especially youth volunteers) are involved.

All of the required ingredients are readily available, and generally affordable, at any mainstream grocery store in the US. This is always a factor in planning any quantity cooking where bulk ingredients are needed.

And most importantly, lazy lasagna is delicious! Perfect for a crowd of people with diverse food preferences. Easier to prepare than a church spaghetti dinner, and the leftovers will keep better (or be frozen) for later. This is an important consideration if, like my church, you donate prepared food leftovers to a shelter or charity.

prepared lasagna in aluminum pan

The ingredients

About the ravioli

Fresh ravioli is available in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. I prefer spinach and cheese ravioli for the flavor but also because it is available in handy 20 ounce “family-sized” bags.

Frozen ravioli can be used; however, frozen ravioli does require boiling first before assembling this lasagna for two reasons: 1) the pasta layer of freezer ravioli is thicker and does not cook through well while baking unless cooked prior, and 2) frozen pasta will give off water while baking and make the casserole watery.

If your budget does not allow for fresh ravioli, then by all means use frozen which tends to cost less. If fact, my grocery store often has BOGO deals on frozen ravioli for even more savings and if I have a large church dinner planned, I will take advantage of that deal most definitely. Just remember to account for having to cook freezer ravioli first is all.

About the sausage

I like the combination of Italian and sweet sausage for lasagna, but there is plenty of room for flexibility depending on the crowd you are feeding and your budget. Maybe you have a younger crowd that would appreciate hot Italian sausage instead of sweet for example. Or maybe you need a vegetarian option and so you can use veggie sausage crumbles for a meat-free lasagna even.

Or maybe you are limited to what your store carries, just get what is available and drive on. For example, both Walmart and Kroger carry bulk Italian and bulk sweet sausages. On the other hand, my Publix carries bulk Italian but only has sweet Italian sausage in casings. If I only had access to the Publix, I would get bulk Italian and links of sweet. No worries, just be sure to remove the casings before cooking.

Note that you will have to drain the fat from the sausage once cooked. If you have a large, metal strainer to drain into a pot or bowl stably, then do that. Otherwise, you can angle the pan and spoon off the fat with a large metal spoon into a metal bowl to dispose of the oil properly. The fat does not have to be completely gone, just try to get most of it and that is fine.

About the marinara

I talked above with the ravioli and sausage that there is flexibility in those ingredients to allow for availability and budget, but I have stronger feelings about the marinara sauce since its flavor is so key to this recipe: Use Good Marinara.

I either make my own homemade marinara sauce (which is very easy) or I buy Roa’s brand (Amazon affiliate link in the recipe card). Here is a review of store-bought sauces that I pretty much agree with, but it is easy to look online (and you will find Roa’s wins every time honestly).

About the herbs

Whenever I cook, and especially when I cook in quantity, I always finish with a bit of fresh herb. That extra touch makes every difference in the appeal of serving a very large pan of food – and especially so for lazy lasagna where it is otherwise just a plain cheese layer on top.

The herbs that are best are Italian (also known as flat-leaf) parsley, basil leaves, and oregano leaves. Use fresh for each, if available. Fresh oregano is to-die-for delicious, so use it if available. If not available, semi-dried parsley and basil are just as good (find chilled in the produce section).

If fresh herbs are not available, a light sprinkling of dried herbs is fine. Dried herbs are significantly more potent than fresh, so use ~ 1 Tbsp each parsley and basil, and 2 tsp oregano if dried.

collage of 4 photos showing lazy lasagna layers: sauce and ravioli; sausage; cheese; more cheese

What to serve with lazy lasagna

What I also love about this dish is that the sides are just as easy. After all, it’s lasagna! (sort-of).

So, using my Essential Formula from my 12 Essential Tips to Cook for a Crowd, this meal is completed as follows:

  • Main dish: Lazy Lasagna
  • Side dish 1, usually a vegetable:
    Yes a veg! A roasted or steamed vegetable medley is perfect with lasagna. Or for a younger crowd, simple buttered peas is always nice.
  • Side dish 2, usually a starch:
    Scratch this! No second side is needed since our main has both meat and pasta.
  • Salad:
    Yes a salad. My suggestion is a Caesar salad with romaine, quality dressing, croutons, and shaved parmesan.
  • Bread or roll:
    Yes and how about garlic bread?
  • Dessert: Of course!
spatula holding serving of lasagna

Last Tips

Using disposable aluminum hotel pans helps tremendously with cleanup since lasagna bits tend to stick and scorch around the edges.

Be sure to add the fresh herbs on top close to serving to keep their color vibrant.

FAQs

Can lazy lasagna be made in advance?

Yes. Just like traditional lasagna, ravioli lasagna can be either assembled in advance and cooked before serving, or it can be assembled and cooked, then reheated for serving. As the casserole will be cold either way, I recommend letting it sit out a while prior to cooking/reheating.

Can lazy lasagna be cooked in smaller pans?

Yes. The recipe for 20 can be split into two 13×9-inch bake dishes for example. Adjust cooking time accordingly, as smaller pans will cook faster.

Can lazy lasagna be frozen?

Yes. However, if freezing, I recommend using smaller pans.

How long will leftovers keep?

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

prepared lasagna topped with herbs
spatula holding serving of lasagna

Lazy Lasagna for a Crowd

Make lazy lasagna for a crowd of 20, 50, or 100 people with this simplified lasagna recipe. This “lazy lasagna” uses fresh ravioli, sausage, two cheeses, and fresh herbs for the easiest, stress-free lasagna of your life.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian-inspired
Keyword: lazy lasagna, ravioli lasagna
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Calories: 504kcal
Author: Erica
Servings: 20

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage see Notes
  • 1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage see Notes
  • 80 oz fresh spinach and cheese ravioli 4 x 20 oz family-sized bags
  • 128 oz marinara sauce 4 x 32 oz jars
  • 6 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 32 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs such as Italian (flat-leaf parsley, basil, and oregano)
  • cooking spray

Instructions

Cook the sausage.

  • Cook the sausage until browned, crumbled, and cooked completely. Drain fat. Work in batches as your pan size allows if scaling up for greater quantities.

Assemble the lazy lasagna.

  • Spray a disposable aluminum hotel pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • Layer 32 oz marinara (one jar), 20 oz fresh ravioli (1 bag), ~1/3 of the cooked sausage, 8 oz mozzarella, and ~1/4 of the parmesan (just eyeball it). Repeat twice, layering marinara, ravioli, sausage, and both cheeses.
    Note that all of the sausage is used in these 3 layers.
  • Layer the last jar of marinara, bag of ravioli, 8 ounces mozzarella, and remaining parmesan.

Bake and serve.

  • Bake lasagna at 350℉ for 1 hour covered with foil. Remove foil and cook another hour until golden on top, bubbly throughout, and the ravioli at the center are tender (inserting a fork will tell you that).
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle herbs over top of lasagna. Use a spatula or large serving spoon to serve.

Notes

For the sausage, if bulk sausage is not available use sausage in casings instead; however, remove the casings prior to cooking.
If using frozen ravioli, cook the ravioli in boiling water according to package directions and drain. Then proceed with the recipe as written.

Nutrition

Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 1577mg | Potassium: 706mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g

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