Ina Garten Vs. Giada De Laurentiis: Who Makes The Better Lasagna?

Lasagna is hands down one of our top five comfort foods with its decadent layers of tender pasta, rich tomato sauce, and gooey cheese. However, when it comes to picking our favorite recipe between two of our most beloved celebrity chefs, it couldn't get more complicated. We tapped Giada De Laurentiis' show-stopping recipe for her Classic Italian Lasagna and then sauntered on over to Ina Garten's house for her stunning Easy Turkey Lasagna recipe. And then we immediately died of sheer overexcitement for bubbly, crusty, fresh-out-of-the-oven carbs. 

We dug in deep on the ingredient list, the prep, and of course, each chef's solid gold reputation. Hey, if you come for ma's lasagna, best not miss. Since we can't have a fantasy Giadina De LaGarten lasagna, we'll just have to make do with the lasagna matchup of our dreams. Grab the fresh-grated parmesan, we're pulling back the layers to reveal who comes out on top.

The reputation

Right out of the gate, it's easy to assume that Giada De Laurentiis makes the best lasagna. She's Italian, born in Rome where she lived for the first seven years of her life. It's like two hours away from Naples where lasagna was freakin' invented. She says Parmigiano Reggiano like a local [par-mi-JAH-no-reh-JAH-no] and she had a whole show about exploring Italy, eating all the things, and living the sweet life. Oh, excuse us, la dolce vita.

Meanwhile, we have the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Not Italian. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she spent her early years in Connecticut with her Jewish parents. Maybe she tasted matzo lasagna (with sheets of matzo instead of noodles) somewhere along the line, but fat chance she was inundated with Italian flavors like De Laurentiis was. Garten also got started in the kitchen by tackling Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was decidedly not mastering the art of Italian cooking.

On paper, this really doesn't look good for Garten but she just might have a few tricks up her sleeve! Care for a word of advice from the chefs themselves? De Laurentiis prepped lasagna fans on her show "Everyday Italian" with, "There are many different components in lasagnas, but you don't have to be afraid of it." And Garten introduced her lasagna in her series "Barefoot Contessa" by telling home cooks that it "doesn't have to be perfect." Point for Ina!

The noods

Trigger warning — this may be the one ingredient in the entire lasagna universe that cooks dread the most. The noodles. Over on team Giada De Laurentiis, the chef's recipe calls for "One pound lasagna sheets (cooked al dente)." This note assumes that we have read, watched, and retained every single one of De Laurentiis' episodes, books, and YouTube channel tips and tricks, and are now ready to execute the boiling of lasagna-ready noodles. But speaking of ready-to-go, GDL's video for the same recipe features hard, store-bought lasagna sheets that you don't even have to cook. Hello, which one is it Giada? Cook it perfectly or don't cook at all?

Ina Garten, however, has the home cook strategy on lock with a genius lasagna noodle trick. She soaks the pasta sheets in hot tap water versus accidentally boiling anything to a pulp. Just place the noodles in a big bowl, filled with the hottest tap water you can find, let the noodles hot tub it for 20 minutes, then drain, and you're ready to lasange (just saying there should be a term for "to make lasagna," and yet, there is not).

The ricotta mix

Ricotta cheese is the closest ingredient to Elmer's glue that you can find in a lasagna recipe. It usually incorporates the addition of an egg or two, which acts as a binding agent and keeps the whole structure from becoming lasagna soup. Both Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis use ricotta in their recipes, but their mixes are definitely different.

Garten's ricotta mix includes 15 ounces of ricotta, three to four ounces of goat cheese, one cup of grated parmesan, one egg, and two tablespoons of parsley, salt, and pepper. We love the addition of goat cheese to bring a soft tangy note to the party. And in the world of WWID (What Would Ina Do), crack that egg in a separate bowl just in case it's a bad egg or the shell splinters. She also suggests using flat-leaf parsley, instead of curly parsley (a.k.a. fancy '80s steakhouse garnish) because it's a little more flavorful.

On the other hand, De Laurentiis' mix includes one and 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese, three large eggs, salt, and pepper. Wait, there's no Italian (flat-leaf) parsley? Um, we thought she was Italian? Mamma mia! There are three eggs though. This ricotta mix could set the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight.

The meat

Here's where things get a little spicy. Unless you're a die-hard cheese or veggie purist, the type of meat that stars in a lasagna recipe can be just as contentious as how you like your PB&J. But, we soldier on. Because we're getting hungry, and both Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis know their way around a deliciously meaty lasagna layer.

First up, GDL nails it with ground beef chuck, simply sauteed in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and browned completely. Then, meat time is over. She adds the beef by itself, as a layer — unlike another lady who might like to throw her method into the ring.

Garten's recipe features sweet Italian turkey sausage (or both sweet and hot Italian turkey sausage, if you're going by her video demo) and to that, she adds her tomato sauce. After sauteing the sausage in olive oil with onions and garlic, she adds canned crushed tomatoes in puree, canned tomato paste, fresh basil, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper. Then, she simmers it like it's never been simmered before. Or for 20 minutes on low. And it smells like Italian granny potpourri.

The special sauce

So is Giada De Laurentiis throwing tomato sauce in the face of her Italian ancestors and skipping it completely? No way. GDL is busy going full mother sauce on her recipe with a creamy bechemel (sometimes called a white sauce, or a roux) that she then mixes with her tomato sauce. The end result is more fabulously coral-colored than a sunburn in Florida.

What's GDL's béchamel all about? Butter, flour, milk, salt, pepper, and possibly a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. Holla on that nutty, warm, spicy flavor! But also who has whole nutmeg seeds lying around? Are you Betty Crocker — ready to grate spices at the drop of a hat? Even if you skip the nutmeg, the whole bechamel situation screams bougie from a mile away.

GDL adds her tomato sauce — made of onions, garlic, celery, carrots, canned crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, butter, salt, and pepper — to the bechamel. We see you, bay leaves and butter. This is one layer you will definitely want to highlight for your guests. Especially if they're your kids. They come for the lasagna, but they briefly look up from their phones for the pink bechamel.

The layers

No matter whether Ina Garten or Giada De Laurentiis comes out on top, we all know what's at the bottom of the dish. And that's a thin layer of sauce. You could build a thousand layers on top of that, but that primo sauce layer keeps your noodles comfy and cozy and lets them release from the pan once everything is baked. Now that we know what elements each chef incorporates into her recipe, let's get the final word on the order of the layers.

Garten serves up a layer of her tomato and sausage sauce, then cooked pasta noodles, and fresh mozzarella combined with her ricotta layer. Then it's rinse and repeat with tomato sauce, pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce, and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan on top. That's seven levels, not including the dusting of parm.

GDL has perfected her system, starting with that pink béchamel sauce. She then adds a few pasta sheets, her ricotta mix, and a layer of thawed and drained frozen spinach. Next, it's pasta sheets, the beef layer in the middle of the stack, mozzarella, bechamel, pasta sheets, bechamel, mozzarella, parmesan, and finally butter! Well-placed cubes of butter help add a toasty, golden color to the top of the lasagna bake. And in no world would we ever ask for less buttery goodness. Assuming that mozzarella and bechamel are one layer, her version clocks in at eight levels — before the final parm and butter finish.

The time

Ina Garten's recipes are known for being extremely friendly to the amateur home cook who wants to impress without getting a degree from Le Cordon Bleu. And her Easy Turkey Lasagna recipe lets you know exactly what you're getting into. Minus the time spent possibly shopping for ingredients, you'll be hustling for roughly one hour and 20 minutes in the kitchen — 50 minutes for prep and 30 minutes to bake.

Giada De Laurentiis, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, approaches things a little differently for her Classic Italian Lasagna. First, she only gives us 10 minutes to prep everything. Chop like you've never chopped before! We've got to heat a pan and brown the meat, grab a pot and cook the bechamel, blaze through the entire tomato sauce, mix the sauces together, and drain the spinach, all in 10 minutes. And does this include layering the lasagna? Is this a competition show? Do we win a million bucks if we do this that fast? 

For the record, the bake is also much longer than Garten's, at 65 minutes. We're just gonna call this one and say we need a lot more time to prep our dish. If we assume Garten's 50 minutes of prep is doable, that makes GDL's kitchen clock add up to one hour and 55 minutes. At least.

The reviews

This may be the toughest part of the contest. Is there a lasagna we don't like? And what kind of person would say no to a slice of Ina Garten's Easy Turkey Lasagna or leftovers of Giada De Laurentiis' Classic Italian Lasagna? So, we turned to the best person we knew for help — everyone on the internet.

Garten's recipe appears on Food Network's site, decorated with 604 reviews and an average five-star rating. Her video for the same recipe also saw more than 90,000 views on Food Network's YouTube channel. Reviews include, "Wow, just wow! One of the best things I have ever made. Recipe is perfection. Thank you Ina!" And a fan on YouTube shared, "This is the best lasagna I've ever had. So delicious and easy to make...This is now the only lasagna I will ever make. Thank you Ina."

GDL features her recipe on her Giadzy site, where it's garnered just a handful of reviews, but an average five-star rating. Her video for the same dish, featured on Food Network's YouTube channel boasts a whopping 640,000 views. "WONDERFUL...This is now my best Lasagna recipe. It's more cheezy less tomatoey," wrote one reviewer. And a YouTuber commented, "For years I always made my lasagna with ricotta, but my wife didn't like ricotta so I omit it from my recipe and use the bechamel...It's a total game changer and I will always make it this way. It's very tasty!" Well, that didn't help at all. They both sound delicious!

The winner

It's a real struggle to pick the best of two world-class lasagna recipes, from two of the most beloved chefs on the planet. And while it was almost too close to call, this one's gotta go to Ina Garten! Easy Turkey Lasagna — it's what's for dinner!

While there's a part of us that would love to brag about how we "only lasange avec bechamel" while wearing oversized sunglasses and staring off into the horizon, the reality is that we can't speak French, and this is an Italian dish, and Garten totally gets it. We're not messing around with a freakin' bechamel sauce — lasagna is already complicated enough.

She also gets points for easier prep, simpler layering, and a much shorter cook time. Plus, all that flavor from the turkey sausage knocks this one out of the park. While we'd love to play around with ready-made lasagna sheets, if we're cooking for a crowd and we need to be absolutely sure jaws will drop and everyone will be asking for the recipe — we're going all in on Garten's Easy Turkey Lasagna. Till' death do us part.