I Tried 7 Frozen Lasagnas & One Delivered a Perfectly Layered Bite
Lasagna is a staple in both Italian and Italian-American cooking, and for good reason: the saucy, cheesy, pasta-based casserole is immensely satisfying when done right and is often big enough to feed a crowd. Lasagna can also change drastically based on where you're from. For instance, an American lasagna will typically replace the traditional béchamel with ricotta cheese. Wherever you get your fix, lasagna usually follows three simple steps: noodle, filling, dairy, repeat.
But, unless you have an Italian grandma—or you are an Italian grandma—a great lasagna can be hard to come by outside of a restaurant setting. That's why the freezer aisle once again comes to the rescue. With the magic of the freezer, you can have a delicious lasagna on your table in under an hour. Alternatively, you can also end up with something that resembles pig slop, which is why I've braved the grocery stores of America in search of the best frozen lasagna available.
I've rounded up seven different frozen lasagnas from Giant, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods, to figure out what you should be putting on your plate. Every product has been cooked to the suggested time on the box. Each variety will be evaluated by taste, as well as appearance and preparation method. So, it has to taste good, look good, and be easy to cook to win.
Here's how each brand compared, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the absolute best. Andiamo!
Cali'flour Keto Lasagna Hearty Vegetable
Cali'flour produces better-for-you versions of popular comfort foods that can also accommodate various dietary restrictions, such as keto, which normally eschews carb-heavy dishes like lasagna. A nine-ounce package of its keto-friendly vegetable lasagna, made with cauliflower pasta, cost $5.99 at Whole Foods.
The Prep: The instructions are simple, and you avoid the oven. Simply cut two slits in the sides of the plastic on top and microwave on high for five minutes. The issue with these instructions, however, is that it's cold when it comes out of the microwave. So, I'd recommend going up to seven minutes and thirty seconds.
The Look: I want you to close your eyes, and imagine a lasagna. Golden brown edges on the noodles, cheese on top, delicious sauce layered and practically pouring out the sides when you slide your fork down that beautiful layered slice of heaven. Now, I want you to open your eyes and look at that photograph—not appealing to say the least.
The Taste: I put this in my mouth, and immediately spit it out. To start, it was ice cold, so definitely microwave this past the recommended five minutes. The vegetables were mushy and a little bitter. The sauce was too salty, and the noodles turned to cauliflower mush. It also lacked the assembly of a true lasagna. The sauce and the veggies and the pasta were all sort of thrown in there nonchalantly. That would be fine if this were a bowl of pasta, but it's supposed to be lasagna, and neat layering is a massive part of what makes it great—every bite needs to have everything in it at once.
Cali'flour Lasagna With Meat Sauce
Cali'flour also makes a meatier version with the same cauliflower pasta noodles. The low-carb meat lasagna cost $5.99 at Whole Foods.
The Prep: Same as the previous lasagna. Just two slits down the plastic, and microwave on high for five minutes. Yes, it will still be cold, so additional cooking time is highly recommended.
The Look: I would love to say that this looks better than its veggie alternative, but it really doesn't. Nothing says "stay away" like a gray pile of mystery meat sitting on top of your plate.
The Taste: This one is not as bad as the last one. I can say that with 100% confidence. The meat, however, was dry and flavorless. This isn't lasagna. This is cauliflower noodles with unseasoned beef thrown on top. While not nearly as bad as its veggie predecessor, I would still recommend that keto-dieters look past this frozen lasagna as an option. Sacrifices have to be made for some diets, I suppose. While I'm sure the folks at Cali'flour tried their hardest to make a delicious keto-friendly lasagna, I'm sad to report that they failed.
Nature's Promise Organic Cheese Lasagna
Now that I've forever burned the bridge of a Cali'flour endorsement deal, let's move on to something edible. Nature's Promise is a store brand, available at Giant Foods and other Ahold Delhaize-owned supermarkets. The brand's 10-ounce organic cheese lasagna cost $4.79 at Giant.
The Prep: Turn your oven to 350, and pop this in for 20 minutes. No complaints about that. In fact, excluding the microwave, it's the easiest one to prepare by a mile.
The Look: The sauce looks orangish, more like a vodka sauce than traditional tomato. Also, for something advertised as cheese lasagna, it doesn't look overly cheesy from the get-go.
The Taste: Here's the thing. I eat meat, and I love meat. So I'm biased here. Any beefy option is going to beat out the lack thereof. But if you don't eat meat, and you want an easy meal in the oven that will be perfectly alright, this is it. The cheese was creamy and tasty. The pasta was a little overcooked, but the main knock here is the sauce and assembly. This is just two wide noodles with sauce on top and cheese stuffed in the middle. That's not lasagna. That's a massive open ravioli. The sauce was rich and creamy, but that's not what you want in a dish that already has dairy as its primary feature. It's not a bad bite, but it isn't a harmonious one either.
Michael Angelo's Lasagna With Meat Sauce
Michael Angelo's aims to offer more authentic Italian-style frozen foods, with recipes "handed down" from a legit Sicilian grandma, according to its website. An 11-ounce single serving of lasagna with meat sauce cost $5.29 at Giant.
The Prep: The recommended cook time of 45 minutes on 350 really takes this one a little over the edge. The pasta got hard and crispy. Lowering the cook time to your own taste will make this experience much better.
The Look: Not great. You can see the hard noodles on the side—it looks electrocuted, or air-fried—and not every ingredient is evenly dispersed.
The Taste: This tasted fantastic, but everything else dragged it down. The sauce is smooth, and the meat is well seasoned. The ricotta also provided a creamy texture that the rest didn't quite deliver on after the freezing process. While the taste is lovely, the overcooking makes it looks more suspicious than inviting, and doesn't let you fully appreciate the meal. Lower the time or the temp in the oven, and you've got a good product.
Rao's Meat Lasagna
Rao's Specialty Foods offers take-home versions of the Italian classics served at one of New York City's most exclusive restaurants. (Its jarred marinara sauce is a supermarket sensation.) The nine-ounce frozen meat lasagna retails for $8.99 at Whole Foods, but as luck would have it, I already had one of these freezer.
The Prep: The cook time of 40 minutes is optimal here. The noodles were a little overdone, but overall the entrée turned out nicely with a smooth and lovely texture.
The Look: This didn't meet the mold of the traditional frozen lasagna presentation, but it was great nonetheless. The meat up top burst out the sides, while that little pocket of cheese in the middle enticed me to dig in.
The Taste: Inoffensive. I didn't find myself wowed by anything, but I found nothing to complain about, either. The cheese wasn't the best, but it was nice. The meat was seasoned, but could have been better, and the sauce was acidic and lacked sweetness, which is what I prefer personally. You will have nothing to complain about, but maybe not much to write home about, either.
Stouffer's Lasagna With Meat & Sauce
Stouffer's was the first company to come out with frozen lasagna, so the brand had a lot of time to get it right. A large 19-ounce size meat lasagna cost $5.99 at Giant.
The Prep: This was easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350 and cook for 48 minutes. It takes a while, but all you need is patience. The cook time is perfect, just wait a few minutes for it to cool and it will be the perfect temperature for you to dig in.
The Look: This is exactly what a frozen lasagna should look like. There's beautifully melted cheese on top, and it just begs you to dig in.
The Taste: It tasted warm. Does that make sense? When you search for Stouffer's lasagna online, the first thing that comes up is the phrase "A taste of comfort," and the slogan just fits. If you want a lazy Sunday dinner, when it's raining and all you want to do is watch Netflix, pop this in the oven. It's not the best thing you'll ever taste, but it's exactly as advertised. Comforting. Even so, there's still one brand that's even better than this one.
Trader Giotto's Family Style Lasagna
Trader Joe's has a proven knack for putting out frozen foods that shoppers love, and its store-brand "Trader Giotto's" family-style meat lasagna is no exception. The substantially sized 32-ounce package costs $5.99.
The Prep: This was the largest lasagna I purchased, leading it to the longest cook time. Typically, I'd deduct points for an hour in the oven at 350 degrees, but it was such a wonderful conclusion to this mixed bag of a taste test that the time commitment is getting overlooked.
The Look: The top is perfectly golden brown, and it holds its composure when you actually go in for a slice. It just looks like what you want a lasagna to look like.
The Taste: The cheese is a little heavy handed, but other than that, it's perfect. Also, who's complaining about extra cheese? Not me. The sauce is delightfully acidic, and unlike the others, it comes across like a real ragù—that is, meat and sauce cooked together as their own layer. The rest seem to have sauce and meat separately. Here, you have something more akin to a traditional lasagna. It makes for a much more complete flavor profile. The long oven time does overcook the noodles a little bit, but nobody's asking for al dente from the freezer. The important part is that the pasta retains its integrity, and gives you that beautiful layered bite that everyone craves from lasagna.
When it comes to frozen lasagna at least, I'll say this for Trader Giotto's: Bravo!