How can you make lasagna for a crowd without spending hours in the kitchen? Try these easy mini lasagna cups! The recipe is easy, and it takes less than an hour to whip up a batch. This dish is perfect for potlucks or holiday dinners with family and friends. And best of all, there are no leftovers!
Lasagna: My favorite Italian dish isn’t even Italian…
You read that right! Lasagna actually came from Greece. But no matter where it came from, it’s still such an easy and delicious dish to prepare. That’s why we love it! Did you know that you can make it in less than an hour, too?
What can I say, you learn something new every day. And speaking of something new, why not try making some of this classic pasta…with a twist? If you’re a busy hands-on mom like me, you probably don’t have a lot of time in your hands to explore in the kitchen. You need an easy peasy recipeasy! Don’t worry, I got you. Check out this simple yet exciting recipe.
Let’s get cooking!
First, let’s grab all our ingredients…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Ingredients for Mini Lasagna Cups
- 12 sheets Lasagna
- 8 oz. Tomato Paste
- 8 oz. Beef, ground
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 cup Onions, chopped
- 12 pieces Mini Mozzarella balls
- 4 oz Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnishing
Here’s what you need to do to make this super easy recipe!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Can you substitute the ground beef?
Yes! You can use ground turkey, ground pork, or even a vegetarian crumble.
Can you make the mini lasagna cups vegetarian?
Yes, you can easily make this dish vegetarian by replacing the ground beef. You can also make them vegan by replacing the cheese with store bought vegan cheese. Want to make your own cheese? Check out this vegan mozzarella cheese recipe.
How can you store the mini lasagna cups?
The best way is to put them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I wouldn’t keep them for more than five days but I’m sure they’ll be gobbled up before then!
HOW TO MAKE MINI LASAGNA CUPS
1. Cook the pasta. Bring 1 gallon or 4 liters of water to a boil, and add a pinch of salt. Cook the lasagna sheets for about 10 minutes or until it’s al dente. Make sure to stir the pasta occasionally to ensure they don’t stick together.
Kitchen hack: If the sheets stick together, place them in a pot of ice-cold water once cooked. If this doesn’t work, do step 1 over.
2. Place the pasta in the cupcake mold. Once you’ve drained the cooked lasagna sheets, line them onto the cupcake mold. You can cut the sheets to fit more perfectly. Set this aside once done.
3. Prepare the bolognese sauce. Dice your garlic and onions and sautée them in a pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add your ground beef, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, add your tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste, and finish cooking for 5 more minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 350ºF or 180ºC.
5. Assemble your cups. Take your cupcake molds lined with pasta and fill each one with about 1 tablespoon of bolognese sauce. Place one mini mozzarella ball or 1 tablespoon of grated mozzarella in the middle, and then add another tablespoon of bolognese sauce. Finally, top it with grated parmesan cheese.
6. Bake the lasagna cups for 15 minutes. Once cooked, take each one out of the mold and transfer to a serving plater.
7. Garnish with parsley and extra cheese, and enjoy!
It’s a no-brainer that this recipe is the perfect dish for busy weeknights. Lasagna cups are just as delicious, but your work in preparing them will be cut down to less than an hour! No one has time these days, and we hope you’ll appreciate how easy it can be to prepare healthy meals on even the busiest of schedules with our help. Let us know if you have any questions or comments about what worked well with this recipe and why not? We’re always happy to hear from readers.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What size muffin tin works best for mini lasagna cups?
When baking up cute, single-serving lasagna bites, the muffin tin you select can make all the difference in getting beautifully shaped portions and perfectly cooked pasta with nice crispy edges. Here is what to consider when going mini:
The most readily available and versatile pick for crafting mini lasagna cups is a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cups 2 3⁄4 inches wide and 1 1⁄4 inches deep. This common size tins most ovens evenly and shapes substantial yet bite-sized pasta servings.
For heartier individual lasagna portions closer to a full meal, choose an oversized jumbo muffin tin with 6 deeper cups measuring around 3 inches wide by 2 inches deep. These produce nearly doubled helpings.
On the opposite end, miniature 24-cup tins with each cup 1 1⁄2 inches wide bake up truly bite-sized tapas-style lasagna snacks for parties. Although you’ll have to work with smaller noodles.
Nonstick vs Metal
Either a metal or nonstick muffin tins will suffice so long as you properly grease prior to layering uncooked noodles and runny sauce/filling. Nonstick tins simplify removal after baking but may not promote as crispy of edges as heat-conducting traditional metal.
So consider your ideal portion size and nibble numbers to select the best muffin tin for delivering personal pan baked lasagna deliciousness! Whichever you choose – prepare for requests for seconds!
- What ingredients are used to make the
meat sauce filling?
The savory, meaty sauce filling layered among noodles and ooey, gooey cheese is what makes lasagna so craveable and satisfying. For a flavorful foundation to your mini lasagna cups, here’s what the easy homemade meat sauce requires:
Ground Beef or Meat
For traditional style with rich, meaty flavor, use 1 pound ground beef or a beef/pork/veal mix if available. Make sure it’s 85% or 90% lean so excess grease doesn’t accumulate. Other options are spicy Italian sausage or ground turkey.
Onion and Garlic
For aromatic flavor, sauté one small diced yellow or white onion along with 2-4 minced garlic cloves as the sauce anchor base before adding meat. Let them soften without browning.
The bulk for hearty meat sauce comes from a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Opt for Italian seasoned style. The moisture creates abundant, vibrant sauce. Diced tomatoes also work.
Add a couple tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste for extra rich color, fruitiness and the right clingy texture to cling to pasta instead of getting watery.
Spices and Herbs
To elevate flavor, add 1-2 teaspoons of Italian herb blend, basil, parsley, fennel or red pepper flakes. Allow chosen spices opportunity to bloom before finishing sauce.
Simmer and season this easy meaty base loaded with tomatoes and flavor enhancing aromatics. In just 30 minutes, the filling for luscious little lasagna cups comes together for memorable Italian comfort!
What types of cheese should be used for easy mini lasagnas?
Two essential cheeses make lasagna a cheesy, gooey favorite that keeps you coming back for more. Selecting the right melty varieties ensures every soft, wavy noodle and meaty bite gets blanketed in creamy, stringy goodness. Here’s how to cheese your mini lasagna cups:
Part of lasagna’s signature mouthfeel and tang comes from creamy, milky ricotta. Whole milk ricotta provides lush richness but part-skim works too. Use 15 ounces or 2 cups for 12 mini lasagnas. This gets dolloped in small spoonfuls over meat sauce and noodles layers.
For indulgent stretch with the perfect melt factor, shred at least 8-12 ounces mozzarella. Whole milk mozzarella melts best. The long melted strands glue the entire dish together for that satisfying pull apart cheese experience with each bite.
For next level cheesy decadence, consider a shredded cheese combo incorporating mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, Monterey Jack or Italian cheese blend into the layering. Just ensure a portion includes melty mozzarella.
Finally, pass freshly shredded parmesan for sprinkling over assembled yet unbaked mini lasagnas before baking or offer it tableside. This adds a sharp, salty accent and pretty toasted spots.
With ricotta creaminess plus gooey melted mozzarella at the foundation, everyone will request seconds and thirds of these easy yet showstopping single serving lasagnas!
Do you need to parboil or cook the lasagna noodles first?
Pre-boiling or pre-cooking lasagna noodles before assembling and baking mini lasagna cups is absolutely optional. The great benefit of custom layered individual portions is they require less prep and the smaller pastas sheets bake up nice and tender thanks to ample moisture inside each muffin cavity.
The keys to skipping the parboil step is using high quality noodles that are thin, pliable and require less time to soften plus making sure to underfill muffin cups just slightly. This allows room for pasta to swell and cook through. The surrounding ricotta, sauce and cheese mixture supplies sufficient moisture.
If concerned about dryness or making ahead a large batch, quickly blanching noodles for 1 minute does ensure they won’t overbake when reheated later. Just don’t leave them sitting out long before mixing together cups to retain moisture.
For most basic 12 cup pans and family meals, simply layering uncooked noodles works wonderfully without the extra step. The custom fitted muffin tin gives each component room for all the delicious flavors and components to mingle into pasta perfection in 30-35 minutes stress-free!
How do you prevent the pasta sheets from sticking together?
Preventing delicate lasagna noodles from clinging together or tearing while working with them can be tricky when assembling creamy mini lasagna bites. Here are pro tips:
– Handle noodles gently and limit flipping over piles
– Refrigerate briefly wrapped in wax/parchment paper
– Freeze 10 minutes on a sheet pan lined with wax paper
– Lay out what you’ll immediately need on parchment
– Separate and loosen noodles as you grab them
– Set down gently without allowing sheets to overlap
– Work swiftly with well-floured hands
– Moisten edges slightly to adhere if needed
– Use kitchen shears or a knife to trim ragged ends
The chilled temperature helps noodles maintain structure better briefly while handling and the freezer method firms them up even more temporarily. Just avoid ice crystals forming.
Additionally, working cleanly, carefully and methodically prevents frustrating sticking or cracks. Don’t overlayer cold brittle noodles. Finally, once nestled and enclosed inside cups, they’ll steam back to perfect al dente pasta. Follow these tricks for frustration-free lasagna noodle assembly. Soon you’ll have beautiful mini lasagna cups ready for baking to melty perfection.
How long do you bake mini lasagna cups?
Baking individual sized lasagna cups requires less time than a large casserole, but the exact duration depends on a few factors for guaranteed hot, melty results:
For a standard 12-cup muffin tin, bake mini lasagnas around 20-25 minutes. Larger jumbo tins may need 25-35 minutes with deeper cups.
Overstuffing cups with excess cheese or thicker sauce means extra bake time for centers to finish cooking through nearer 30 minutes.
If you want more browned, crispy edges on the pasta, bake for the full 25 minutes. For just melted and hot, start checking for doneness at 20 minutes when a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.
As a general guide for classic mini lasagna cups, allow the first 15-20 minutes for bubbling melty perfection plus up to 5 extra minutes for caramelized edges. Just keep an eye to not over bake or you’ll dry out the delicate noodles. When the cups hold their shape and cheese is stretchy when poked, your individual masterpieces are ready for serving!
What temperature do you bake individual mini lasagnas at?
Finding just the right oven temp for individual lasagna cups yields tender pasta and bubbling, browned cheese for supreme comfort food bliss. Most mini lasagna recipes call for baking at 375°F but adjust between 350°-400°F based on preferences:
The lowest temperature still adequately heats the petite cups for melty cheese and cooked noodles without overdrying at the 20-25 minute mark. Pasta stays extra tender.
This strikes an ideal balance between gently cooking the interior ingredients while producing appetizing crispy edges as cheese begins browning by 25 minutes.
For extra crispy, crackling edges on the pasta and deeply caramelized cheese topping, crank heat to 400°F. But monitor closely and bake for just 20-22 minutes so the internals don’t overcook.
Consider your perfect texture – al dente noodles with gooey cheese or fork-tender pasta beneath browned bubbly cheese. Then set your oven between 350°-400°F accordingly. At these high heat ranges, your mini lasagna will impress despite the petite oven-to-table timeframe!
Do you need to grease or spray the muffin tins?
Preparing mini lasagna cups calls for layering wet, saucy fillings and noodles into muffin tins, making it tempting to skip greasing the tins first. However, a light coating or spray inside every cup is recommended for perfect, hastle-free results:
Greasing tins allows the cooked pastas and cheese topping to easily release after baking without sticking disastrously to pan sides.
A sheer coating of oil helps the delicate lasagna edges achieve crispy, browned texture from direct contact with the hot metal.
The slight oil barrier keeps bubbling tomato sauce or melted cheese from creeping up pan sides, containing the yummy goods inside each cavity.
Improves Bottom Texture
Minimizes the bottom layer of pasta or crust becoming unappetizingly gummy or soggy.
While many quality nonstick muffin tins today don’t require much greasing, taking 10 seconds to quickly mist the cups guarantees tidy, intact lasagna removal with crispy sides and prevents red sauce staining the pan forever. The difference is night and day!
Can you freeze and reheat baked mini lasagna cups?
One of the many advantages of preparing individual mini lasagna bites is that they happen to freeze and reheat wonderfully with a little prep:
Allow lasagna cups to cool completely after baking then nestle cups in a freezer-safe container sealed tightly. Freeze for 1-3 months.
To serve, thaw overnight in fridge OR microwave single servings 60-90 seconds until hot and melty.
For best texture and appearance, reheat frozen cups still in muffin tin foil-covered at 350°F for 15-18 minutes until bubbly.
A bit of extra sauce or an extra cheese layer insulates ingredients from drying out. Let stand 5 minutes before attempting removal after reheating.
Freezing in handy individual portions makes pulling together quick pasta meals a cinch. With grab-and-go lasagna cups ready for reheating anytime, delicious homemade Italian comfort is never more than minutes away even on your busiest nights!
Can you substitute cottage cheese for ricotta in them?
You can absolutely substitute cottage cheese for ricotta when making easy mini lasagna cups! Here is how:
Choose small or large curd cottage cheese with at least 4% milkfat for richness closer to part skim ricotta. Low fat has less moisture.
Drain excess liquid from the cottage cheese so lasagna doesn’t get watery. Press between paper towels to soak up whey.
Stir in a pinch of Italian seasoning, nutmeg, lemon zest or herbs into drained cottage to brighten up milder flavor.
Puree small curd in a mini prep processor if texture seems too chunky. Blending makes it spreadable for layered baking.
Use equal measured amounts – so for 12 mini lasagnas needing 2 cups ricotta, swap in 2 cups of drained, seasoned cottage cheese!
With a bit of tweaking cottage cheese makes for a fine ricotta substitute in recipes needing part-skim milk moisture. Now you can make speedy single serving baked pastas even with limited ingredients! Both ricotta and cottage lend comforting creaminess.
Is there an easy way to remove the cups from the tin after baking?
Getting your cute baked mini lasagna cups out of the muffin tin in one piece can get tricky once the cheese cools and sticks. Here are simple tips for flawless removal:
Grease Wells First
Be sure to spray or grease cups before baking so cooled cheese loosens up easier.
Run an offset spatula or table knife around the inside to separate stuck edges immediately after baking.
Invert Over Sheet Pan
Place a rimmed baking sheet over muffin tin then carefully invert so cups release onto it. Gravity helps.
If a few cups refuse to dislodge, gently knock the back of muffin pan firmly against counter or shake and jiggle the stubborn cups out.
Return to Warm Oven
For super stubborn tins, place back in oven at 200°F for 2-3 minutes to re-melt cheese. Slide out effortlessly onto rack after!
With a few simple release tricks, extracting perfect mini lasagna bites needn’t require digging out half the noodle contents with crusty cheese hopelessly cemented to the cups! Follow these pro tips for easy enjoyment.
Would it work to use jarred pasta sauce instead of homemade?
You can absolutely make tasty mini lasagna cups using convenient jarred pasta sauce in place of slower homemade sauce. Quality pre-made sauce works splendidly – here’s how:
Scan for varieties containing tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, olive oil over sneaky sugars or excessive seasoning. Pick chunky garden vegetable style for texture.
Stir in a teaspoon of Italian herb blend, a squeeze of tomato paste and a splash of red wine vinegar to ratchet up flavors. Simmer 10 minutes.
Reduce If Thin
Does the sauce seem thin? Simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until thickened up to properly cling to noodles.
Sauté mushrooms, peppers or ground meat to mix into plain tomato jars creating a heartier, chunkier meat sauce if desired.
Even high quality brands like Rao’s benefit from personal tweaks augmenting flavor. With a few minor additions, jarred sauce makes an excellent base for fuss-free mini lasagna builds requiring zero leftover jars cluttering shelves!
Do the lasagna noodles need to hang over the cups when layering?
When assembling cute individual lasagna bites, you want tender pasta and delicious fillings encased in each muffin cup without making a mess. So should the uncooked noodle sheets overhang the cups? Generally no:
Trim To Fit
Trim dry lasagna noodles with kitchen shears to fit just inside each greased cup, pressing gently into corners. No excess hanging over the rim needed.
Control Fill Level
Spoon enough ricotta, sauce and shredded cheese to fill each cup nearly to the brim…but not overflowing. Lasagna cups should appear heaping before baking only.
Allow For Pasta Expansion
Even snug-fitting sheets will expand and slip down cup sides, absorbed into the saucy filling thanks to steam and moisture released while baking.
Prevent Bubbling Over
Overhanging noodles increase chances for tomato sauce or cheese bubbles to make a break for it! Containing ingredients means no post-bake scrubbing.
Get your flatware ready to dive into cute popped-out mini lasagna cups! Trimmed to fit noodles steam perfect al dente inside each cozy muffin cavity. Now that’s amore!
Can you make ahead a big batch of mini lasagna cups?
Craving lasagna but lacking time for assembly? Fortunately, easy mini lasagna cups happen to be a perfect make-ahead meal option needing just quick reheating later on:
Prep Ingredients Ahead
Shred cheese, cook meat for filling, boil noodles, whip up sauce etc 1-2 days prior. Store components separately.
For ultimate texture and appearance, always bake open cups from room temp ingredients when ready to eat within 2 days.
Freeze Baked Cups
Once pasta cups cool after baking, nestle tightly in a freezer container up to 2 months then reheat gently still frozen.
Even unfilled raw pasta cups can be partially baked 5 minutes to set shape better, then cooled and frozen before final reheating and filling.
With handy muffin trays assembling personalized pasta bites in a snap, prep components as you can then mix and match for fresh baked or freezer stash meals ready when hunger hits!
What sides go well with individual mini lasagna bites?
Mini baked lasagna cups make a fun, portioned main course but certain sides paired alongside take the meal to next level status. Consider these delicious accompaniments:
– Fresh green salad – Balance flavor and textures with crisp lettuce or spinach drenched in Italian dressing.
– Garlic bread – Warm, buttered garlic bread slices are the perfect way to soak up any lasagna drippings.
– Steamed broccoli florets – Nutritious broccoli smothered in melted cheese nicely lightens all the heavy carbs and meat.
– Meatballs – For extra protein and old world flair, serve homemade beef or turkey mini meatballs.
– Italian roasted vegetables – Earthy, sweet oven-roasted veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, peppers add brightness.
– Tiramisu – Finish your Italian style meal on a sweet note with creamy coffee and chocolate layered cake.
Don’t overload mini lasagna cups solo on a plate. Pick one or two complimenting sides to play up flavors and textures for a complete, balanced bite that feels special. Soon these single servings become a whole elegant dining affair!
DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE HERE:
Easy Mini Lasagna Cups
- Cupcake Molds
- 12 sheets Lasagna
- 8 oz. Tomato Paste
- 8 oz. Beef, ground
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 cup Onions, chopped
- 12 pieces Mini Mozzarella balls
- 4 oz Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Oil
- Cook the pasta. Bring 1 gallon or 4 liters of water to a boil, and add a pinch of salt. Cook the lasagna sheets for about 10 minutes or until it’s al dente. Make sure to stir the pasta occasionally to ensure they don’t stick together.Kitchen hack: If the sheets stick together, place them in a pot of ice-cold water once cooked. If this doesn’t work, do step 1 over.
- Place the pasta in the cupcake mold. Once you’ve drained the cooked lasagna sheets, line them onto the cupcake mold. You can cut the sheets to fit more perfectly. Set this aside once done.
- Prepare the bolognese sauce. Dice your garlic and onions and sautée them in a pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add your ground beef, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, add your tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste, and finish cooking for 5 more minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF or 180ºC.
- Assemble your cups. Take your cupcake molds lined with pasta and fill each one with about 1 tablespoon of bolognese sauce. Place one mini mozzarella ball or 1 tablespoon of grated mozzarella in the middle, and then add another tablespoon of bolognese sauce. Finally, top it with grated parmesan cheese.
- Bake the lasagna cups for 15 minutes. Once cooked, take each one out of the mold and transfer to a serving plater.
- Garnish with parsley and extra cheese, and enjoy!