Super meaty sauce, layers of noodles, and lots of cheese, this easy venison lasagna recipe is an italian classic made with deer meat. Follow along for step by step instructions on how to make this baked pasta dish from scratch.
I have shared before my recipe for easy venison ragu, and this venison lasagna recipe takes that simple meat sauce and turns it into a rich layered pasta dish!
When my husband came back from hunting with a nice sized deer, I was very grateful that his dad processed it for us and turned a good portion into ground venison. Ground venison is SO easy to sub in for ground beef and the flavor is awesome.
Ground venison meat can be used as a replacement for ground beef in whatever your favorite lasagna recipe is, but I made a couple of adjustments here that really compliment the flavor of venison.
- Caramelizing the tomato paste. This takes a bit of time, but wow is it worth it! Caramelizing the tomato paste brings out a richness and sweetness that really works with the venison meat. Those few extra minutes of cooking really make a difference.
- Adding red wine vinegar. Adding vinegar to your venison is a great way to offset some of the gaminess you may taste. While wild game has a unique taste that many people enjoy, it's nice to have it as a subtle flavor rather than overly strong. Adding acids like vinegar or citrus is a great way to do that. Another option would be to use red or white wine.
Do you need to cook the lasagna noodles first?
A bonus that makes this lasagna recipe easier? There is technically no need to boil the noodles first! By adding a layer of plain water to the baking dish before adding anything else, and then covering the pasta dish with foil for the majority of the cooking process, the noodles have enough liquid to cook in! They remain al dente and slightly firm but hold up well to all of the tasty layers.
If you want your lasagna to cook faster and have softer noodles in your finished dish, you can definitely par boil the noodles first. I wouldn't fully cook them though, as they may end up to mushy after baking in the oven.
Ingredients for venison lasagna
Venison Meat Sauce
- ground venison meat
- tomato paste
- crushed tomatoes
- red wine vinegar
- chicken stock
- italian seasoning
- olive oil
Additional Lasagna ingredients
- lasagna noodles
- ricotta cheese
- grated parmesan cheese
- italian seasoning
How to make easy venison lasagna
Begin by preparing your venison ragu sauce. For FULL INSTRUCTIONS on how to make venison ragu, check out this post.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl combine ricotta, garlic, parmesan, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.
Pour ½ cup of water into your 9x13 baking dish.
Add layer of noodles in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.
Next, add ⅓ of the tomato sauce and spread evenly.
Carefully dollop ⅓ ricotta mixture and spread carefully to in a layer. Don't worry if the cheese mixture doesn't completely cover the sauce just do the best you can.
Next, sprinkle ⅓ of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up.
Top with remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Cover dish with tin foil and bake covered for 40 minutes if noodles are par boiled and 50 minutes if they are not. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
Once removed from the oven, allow to sit and cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
When spreading the tomato sauce mixture, make sure that you go all the way to the edges of the pan. This will help avoid the dry edges that you can sometimes get when making lasagna.
This is especially important if you plan to not boil your noodles ahead of time! No one wants uncooked hard pasta bites!
What to Serve with Deer Meat Lasagna
Just as with regular lasagna, venison lasagna goes great with some classic italian sides like a fresh salad with italian dressing or balsamic dressing.
Add garlic bread or garlic breadsticks for a full italian feast!
We like to have additional marinara sauce on the side with our lasagna because we are saucy people. We also love it with a dash or two of tabasco hot sauce, but that's completely personal preference.
Can you freeze lasagna?
You bet you can!
I would definitely parboil the lasagna noodles first if you plan on freezing a pan. The amount of time it will take for such a dense pasta dish to go from frozen to fully cooked is long as is, you are don't want to risk burning the cheese or drying out the lasagna.
Can I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta in lasagna?
Yes, you can. This is actually how my mom made it for us growing up! While cottage cheese isn't traditionally italian, it works well as a ricotta substitute if you prefer the taste or it is easier for you to find at the store.
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftover lasagna covered in the fridge. The noodles will soak up some of the sauce as it sits, so leftovers won't be as moist but they will still be absolutely delicious! Some even prefer the taste of lasagna on day two or three as it has been given time for all of the flavors to combine.
An easy venison lasagna recipe made with ground deer meat in a rich tomato sauce, layers of ricotta cheese, and noodles, all baked to perfection.
- 1 lb. ground venison meat
- 1 5 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp. italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ lb. lasagna noodles
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp. italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Begin by preparing your venison ragu sauce. For FULL INSTRUCTIONS on how to make venison ragu, check out this post.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl combine ricotta, garlic, parmesan, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.
- Pour ½ cup of water into your 9x13 baking dish.
- Add layer of noodles in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.
- Next add ⅓ of the tomato sauce and spread evenly.
- Carefully dollop ⅓ ricotta mixture and spread carefully to in a layer. Don't' worry if the cheese mixture doesn't completely cover the sauce just do the best you can.
- Next, sprinkle ½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up.
- Top with remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Cover dish with tin foil and bake covered for 40 minutes if noodles are par boiled and 50 minutes if they are not. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
- Once removed from the oven, allow to sit and cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 645Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1707mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 51g