Dutch Oven Lasagna has all the flavor of your favorite lasagna but is made in your cast iron Dutch oven or camp oven over coals.
This is one of my all time favorite recipes and is a very good “starter recipe” to begin cooking with a Dutch oven and can be done in a liner or no liner.
What is Lasagna
Lasagna is one of the oldest types of pasta dishes from Italy. Lasagna is actually the singular form of the pasta, meaning one individual flat sheet of pasta. The actual dish in Italy is called lasagne. However, the English name for the dish, lasagna, has now infiltrated internationally and in many parts of Italy, you’ll see it called lasagna on the menu.
Maybe the Boy Scouts made it famous, but this camping lasagna recipe is very popular. It’s hearty and filling after a long day of outdoor activities and is ready to eat in an hour.
What’s the difference between a Dutch Oven and a camp oven?
Both cooking vessels are made out of cast iron. Some Dutch ovens are enameled both on the inside and outside and are also referred to as French ovens. Camp ovens are cast iron but have feet for sitting on the ground or nestled into a bed of coals or in a fire.
Both the non-enameled Dutch ovens and camp ovens are perfect for any outdoor cooking. However, you won’t want to use a camp oven indoors on the stove or in the oven.
How to Make Dutch Oven Lasagna
Before you begin, read through the recipe card in its entirety. I have provided directions for making this in the traditional Dutch oven or using the cast iron camp oven with coals.
The process is similar but there are some prep to make the construction a bit easier if cooking out doors.
Brown the meat, onions, and seasonings in your cast iron, draining off all the renderings.
Remove the ground beef and onions from your cast iron and put into a large oven. We’re going to construct the lasagna in the same dutch oven used to brown the meat. You can use a skillet to brown the meat, but why dirty another item.
Add the pasta sauce to your seasoned ground beef. I recommend between 22 and 24 ounces of sauce, which is your standard jarred size, but if using homemade, you’ll want to measure it out. You don’t want too much or your lasagna will be too saucy and not hold up well. Unless you’re a saucy person, then add your desired amount. Set this aside and let’s get cheesy.
Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Italian seasoning to a bowl. Remember we’ve divided our seasoning and our cheeses for various layers, so take note when adding.
Smooth the cheeses and herbs together to make the cheesy filling.
How to Construct a Lasagna
Now we’re going to begin the construction of our camp oven lasagna. Layer the bottom of the vessel with lasagna noodles, placing the whole long pieces in first then breaking other noodles to fill in the spaces.
This is the one time you don’t have to handle that box of dried noodles like it’s precious cargo because you’re going to need broken pieces.
Spread about a third of meat mixture evenly over the noodles. It’s not a work of art, but you really don’t want any holes.
Spread half of the cheese mixture over the meat sauce. Adding it by the spoonful or in dollops is easier for smoothing it out without mixing it into the meat layer.
The cheese layer has been smoothed out over the meat sauce, again, it’s not the prettiest, but we’re only after the tastiest in this Dutch oven lasagna. And if you’re making this a campfire lasagna, no one is ever after pretty, only hearty and delicious.
Layer another five or so uncooked noodles over the cheese layer, breaking some to make them fit.
From here you’ll “lather, rinse, repeat” with another third of the meat, the remaining cheese mixture, more noodles, and finally the last third of the meat.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the now fully layered lasagna.
Pour the water. It will not fully cover the lasagna but it will be visible at the surface of the cheese.
Place the lid on the Dutch oven and cover with hot coals. Cook for an hour.
Carefully remove the coals and lid; allow the lasagna to rest for at least 10 minutes off heat before serving. Garnish, serve, and enjoy.
Cast Iron Italian Recipes
Looking for other delicious Italian inspired recipes to make in your cast iron, you’ll love these:
- Mediterranean Chicken from The Complete Savorist
- Dutch Oven Pizza Pasta
- Sausage Stuffed Peppers
- Manicotti Pasta Bake
- Dutch Oven Baked Ziti
- Skillet Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Skillet Chicken Cacciatore from The Complete Savorist
Camp Oven Lasagna
- 12" camp oven OR 6 qt. Dutch Oven
- 2 lbs ground beef lean 93%
- 2 cups onion finely diced, 1 large usually
- 2½ tbsp Italian seasoning blend divided
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt to taste
- ½ black pepper to taste
- 23 oz spaghetti sauce 2 jars
- 12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 2¼ cups ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 13 lasagna noodles uncooked
- 1¼ cups hot water
- 1 tbsp fresh basil or parsley chopped (optional)
Outdoor Camp Oven
- Heat coals in a charcoal chimney.
- Once hot, place 12 coals on bottom (camp table, fire pit, etc).
- Nestle camp oven on top of the coals.
- Lasagna Construction (see below)
- Cover with the camp oven lid.
- Place heated coals over the entire lid.
- Check for doneness by using a lid lifter, if not done, cook up to an additional 15 minutes.
- When done, remove from coals and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Indoor Dutch Oven
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F
- Lasagna Construction (see below)
- Cover with the Dutch oven lid.
- Brown the ground beef, onion, 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning Blend, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Remove beef and add to large mixing bowl, discard any renderings from camp oven.
- Add the spaghetti sauce to the beef and mix well; set aside.
- In additional large bowl, add the ricotta cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 9 oz mozzarella cheese, and remaining Italian seasoning; mix well.
- Layer the camp/Dutch oven with four lasagna noodles so that they fit in the bottom; breaking as necessary to fit and fill holes.
- Spread 1/3 of meat mixture evenly over the noodles.
- Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture evenly over the meat mixture.
- Place five noodles so that they fit on top of the mixture breaking as necessary to fit and fill holes.
- Spread another 1/3 of the meat mixture evenly over the noodles.
- Spread the remaining cheese mixture evenly over the meat mixture.
- Layer the remaining noodles and place over the cheese mixture breaking as necessary to fit and fill holes.
- Spread the remaining meat mixture evenly over the noodles.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses evenly over top.
- Pour the hot water around the edges of the lasagna.
- Cook for 60 minutes.
- Check for doneness per cooking method.
- Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh basil or parsley. Serve and enjoy.
This post has been updated from its original May 16, 2017 publishing with new photography, content, and clarified recipe directions.