This hearty Mexican lasagna has beef, pork and authentic spices. Make this recipe for delicious lasagna casserole; a crowd pleasing dinner!
Casseroles are one of my favorite things to make and freeze for quick meals during the holidays. When we’re busy, it can be hard to find time to prepare multi-step recipes, and casseroles are a freezer friendly solution.
Thankfully, there are plenty of Mexican dinner recipes that freeze well. Although technically not casseroles, meals like green chicken enchiladas and beefy taco pie are perfect examples.
A meal can be pulled from the freezer and served up in about 30 minutes.
One of my absolute favorite, freezer friendly meals to make is a lasagna casserole. For a nice change of pace, step away from the classic bechamel lasagna and go south of the border!
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word lasagna, I expect to see curly, long noodles, so using tortillas was out of the question. I think if you want tortillas, you should make tacos or burritos.
All those layers of delicious pasta, refried beans, corn, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses meld together to create one amazing lasagna casserole for dinner.
The tender, al dente noodles are covered with sauce and a double meat combination of ground beef and pork. I call it Mexican bolognese, seasoned with garlic, cumin and homemade chili seasoning.
This recipe makes enough for about ten people, so it’s a good one to feed a crowd, or make it in two 9×9″ pans and freeze for later mid-week dinners when time is tight.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Ground meat– To make the casserole extra hearty, I use both ground pork and lean ground beef. An 80/20 blend helps to keep the calories down, and it also ensures that you don’t end up with greasy lasagna.
- Salsa– Using salsa instead of tomato sauce gives this casserole a nice authentic Mexican flavor. Feel free to use your favorite brand, or make my recipe for fire roasted salsa.
If you want a bit more kick in your Mexican lasagna, you could use roasted salsa verde instead.
- Cheese – I don’t like a cheese-heavy lasagna casserole; the meat adds plenty of heartiness.
This isn’t to say that there’s no cheese, because there is definitely plenty of shredded cheddar and pepper jack!
If you’d like to use more cheese, the salty flavor of Mexican Cojita is a great option. Because Cojita cheese is aged and crumbly, it doesn’t melt well. So, I often use it as a garnish over the top.
- Mexican oregano– Whenever I cook anything with South American or Tex Mex flavors, I prefer using Mexican oregano. Unlike traditional Mediterranean oregano, the Mexican variety has slight notes of licorice.
If you can’t find it in the ethnic food aisle, local Mexican grocers carry it, or you can use regular oregano.
Video: making Mexican lasagna
As with any lasagna recipe, there’s a bit of assembly required. Trust me though; it’s worth taking the time to make it!
To see the process of making this dish from start to finish, watch the video located in the recipe card, down below.
Assembling the lasagna casserole
- Soak the lasagna noodles. Just a brief soak in warm water helps ensure that you don’t end up with any raw pasta in the center of the Mexican lasagna. I let the pasta soak while I make the sauce.
No big pot of boiling, salted water, draining and laying out of the noodles. Nope, not in this recipe. You can place the pasta sheets in a 13×9″ casserole dish and pour the hot water over them. Keep it simple!
After 30 minutes, drain the water off, remove the noodles and set them aside. Then spray the casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. When the sauce is finished cooking, you’re good to start assembling!
- Brown the ground beef and pork and combine it with the salsa. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
👨🍳 Pro Tip
For a smoother sauce, pulse the meat and salsa mixture a few times in a food processor.
- Assemble the lasagna casserole in layers.
There are 3 layers total, plus extra shredded cheese over the top. When you’ve completed the steps as described below, repeat them two more times.
– Spread a layer of sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish and cover it with noodles.
– Spread a layer of refried beans over the pasta. I use a silicone mixing spatula to prevent the beans from sticking.
– Sprinkle corn over the beans.
– Add a layer of noodles and top with both cheeses.
Bake and freeze options
After assembly, you can bake the lasagna casserole right away, or refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking. You can freeze it baked or unbaked for up to 3 months.
👨🍳 Pro Tip to save freezer space
If you plan to freeze the Mexican lasagna, use a generous amount of non-stick cooking spray in the casserole dish. After it’s frozen solid, invert the casserole dish onto a double-thickness sheet of aluminum foil.
Wrap the lasagna in the foil and label it before putting it back into the freezer.
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Jan. 15, 2018, was last updated with new content on Nov. 13, 2021.
Mexican Lasagna Casserole + Video
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb lean ground beef (See Note 1)
- 1 cup beef stock
- 4 cups salsa (See Note 2)
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano or original oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 pound lasagna noodles
- 30 oz refried beans (Two 15 oz cans)
- 15 oz corn canned or thawed from frozen
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 lb pepper jack cheese (deli slices)
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese
- 1/2 cup queso fresco
- In a large pot over medium heat, add ground pork and beef. Break up the meat with a spoon and cook until meat is well browned, Stir in beef broth, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Add the salsa, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 1 hour adding more beef broth if it gets too thick.
- Meanwhile, place lasagna noodles into the bottom of your baking pan. Pour hot water over the noodles, making sure the lasagna noodles are completely covered with water. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain and discard water.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a deep 9×13″ baking pan.
- Layer 1: Spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 4-6 noodles on top (enough to cover meat sauce). Spread with half of the refried beans. Top with half of corn.
- Layer 2: Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over corn. Place 4-6 noodles on top (enough to cover meat sauce), then sprinkle with half cheddar and pepper jack cheese.
- Repeat Layer 1 and 2. To finish, place a final layer of lasagna noodles, topped with another 1 cup of meat sauce to cover the pasta. Top with remaining cheese.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake additional 20 minutes for cheese to brown.
- Remove from oven, allow to rest 5 minutes and crumble queso fresco or cotija cheese and chopped cilantro on top (optional). Serve hot.
- I use 80/20 ground beef, but you can go leaner if you prefer.
- I use Pace Picante Salsa (Medium)
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.