Craving something sweet and spicy? Are you in the mood for Italian food? Well, satisfy both of those desires with this scrumptious sweet and spicy chicken lasagna recipe.
Lasagna is an Italian classic. But restaurant lasagna can cost $8 or $10 or even more for just one tiny portion. Making lasagna at home is a great alternative for a delicious meal on a budget. For under $20, you can feed an entire family with leftovers for the next day.
And you aren't going to find lasagna like this at a restaurant. The combination of the sweet and spicy chicken compliment each other perfectly making this a one of a kind Italian treat.
Plus, chicken can be a healthier alternative to red meat, especially with the veggies added to the lasagna.
Lasagna is delicious and easier to make than you may think.There is no need to slave away with this. You can make each of the ingredients from scratch, but store bought sauce and noodles is perfectly fine with this recipe.
Note: Each step of the recipe is broken down for easy understanding with pictures to guide you, so you won't miss a beat. Perfect for even first time lasagna makers. Don't forget to keep scrolling for side dish ideas and recipe alterations and suggestions.
The prep work is the most intensive part. Once that it done, you just stick it in the oven and then gobble it down. So turn on the oven and let's spice up dinner tonight...
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 45 min
8 large servings (or 16 small servings)
- 1 (16-ounce) box lasagna noodles
- 1 pound chicken breast, boneless
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Italian cheese mix)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 red or green bell pepper
- 1/4 onion
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- hot sauce
- oil (I used olive oil)
- ricotta or cottage cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup corn (optional)
Step 1: Prepare the Noodles
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in a pinch of salt, 1 spoonful of oil (olive oil preferably), and 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine. These are just to flavor the noodles and to keep them from sticking. Leave out the salt and/or butter if you are on a more restrictive diet.
- When the water is boiling, place the noodles in the water. Try to spread them out in the pot so they will boil more evenly.
- Carefully stir the noodles occasionally trying not to break or tear the noodles. Let the noodles boil for 10 minutes or until they are tender.
- Drain the noodles.
- Run cold water over the noodles and allow them to cool.
Note: I don't suggest using no-boil noodles. They are convenient, but they run the risk of turning out too crunchy. But if you do decide to use them, make sure to add lots of extra sauce so they will absorb plenty of moisture as they cook.
Step 2: Prepare the Chicken
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the pieces of chicken in an oiled pan.
- Lightly sprinkle the cinnamon and cayenne pepper over the chicken. Add a few drops of hot sauce on each piece. A potent habanero type of hot sauce is recommended.
- Bake the chicken for about 25-30 minutes then remove it from the oven.
- Let the chicken cool for about 15 minutes or until it has cooled enough to handle. Shred the chicken into small pieces.
- Put the shredded chicken pieces into an oiled frying pan. Sprinkle it again with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and a bit more hot sauce.
- Fry the chicken on medium-high for about 5-10 minutes in order to lock in the flavor of the seasoning.
Step 3: Prep the Veggies, Sauce, and Pan
- Dice the peppers and onions. Sauté them in an oiled pan for about 10 minutes or until they are tender. If you are adding vegetables (e.g., corn), cook them as well.
- If you are making your own sauce, fix it as well. Here's a quick and easy homemade sauce recipe. If you are using a canned sauce (Prego Three Cheese Sauce is suggested), there is no need to heat it ahead of time.
- You will need a 13x9 inch pan that is at least a couple of inches deep. Oil the pan well to keep the lasagna from sticking.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Step 4: Assemble the Lasagna
Pro Layering Tip: If you don't like crispy edges, coat the pan well with oil. Then remember the key to tender edges is sauce. Add plenty of sauce around the edges as you layer the lasagna. You can add a layer of sauce on the bottom before you add the noodles as well.
This is a suggested layering guideline perfected with lots of practice. Feel free to add whatever you want on each layer, though. You are the one eating it!
- Place a layer of noodles in the bottom of the well-oiled pan. Make sure the noodles are covering the bottom, which will be about 4 or 5 noodles wide.
- Add a layer of sauce and then sprinkle on some veggies and the shredded cheese. Add another layer of noodles.
- The next layer will be just cheese. If you are using cottage cheese/ricotta cheese, add a thin layer now. If you are just using shredded cheese, sprinkle a layer thick enough to cover the noodles underneath. Add another layer of noodles.
- Add a thin coating of sauce onto the noodles. Then add most of the shredded chicken spreading it evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken layer making sure it is spread evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle some of the shredded cheese on top of that. Then add another layer of noodles.
- Coat the noodles with sauce. Add the rest of the chicken, veggies and sprinkle cheese on top of it. No brown sugar with this layer.
- Add another layer of noodles to the top. Lightly coat it with sauce to prevent the noodles from becoming too dry. Then cover the top with the Parmesan and more of the shredded cheese.
Step 5: Bake and Enjoy!
- Make sure the oven is heated to 350ºF. Put the pan into the oven on the middle rack.
- Allow it to cook for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown.
- For crispier noodles and darker cheese leave the lasagna uncovered. If you want a "wetter" and "juicier" lasagna, cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 30 or so minutes. Then uncover it for the last 15 to let the cheese melt. If you are worried about it bubbling over, you can place the lasagna dish on a flat pan in the oven.
- Check to make sure the middle of the lasagna is cooked well. When the cheese is browned and the middle is done, remove it from the oven and allow the lasagna to cool. 10-15 minutes will do. Waiting for the lasagna to cool and set will make it easier and less messy to cut. The pieces will stay together better. Plus, you won't burn your tongue.
- Serve the lasagna and enjoy your marvelous culinary creation. Don't forget to make sounds like "mmmm" and to rub your tummy.
Baking times and temperature will vary by oven. There isn't a hard and fast temperature and time rule for lasagna. Go with 350°F the first time you make it in your oven and start checking the lasagna after 30 minutes. Some ovens cook differently. You can bump it up to 375°F or 400°F if your oven seems to cook slower than most. We actually cook our lasagna at 450°F to get it the way we like it.
How Yummy Is It?
What to Serve With the Lasagna
Since the lasagna is mainly pasta and is a very heavy dish, serve light fruits and vegetables as sides for a well-balanced meal. Steamed vegetables are a good choice. So is salad with lots of fixings. Caesar or Italian salads would compliment the lasagna well.
If you want to stick with the Italian theme, there are Italian dessert suggestions to the right. Just about any dessert will go with lasagna, though. You could make cake, cookies, or brownies. For a healthier option, you could even serve fresh fruit. It is sweet and nutritious and is a simple option after the effort of making homemade lasagna.
Side Dish Suggestions
- fruit salad
Ways to Switch Up the Lasagna Recipe
- Add a layer of bacon to the top of the lasagna. It adds extra flavor and crispiness. Check out the picture above.
- You can use ground chicken instead of going through the process of shredding chicken breasts. Just add the spices in as you fry the chicken. Drain it and then add it to the lasagna just like the shredded version. That is a simpler and quicker way of cooking it.
- You could also use ground beef, ground turkey, or even spicy sausage if you prefer.
- Make lasagna roll-ups. They are great for company and are a bit of a twist (literally) to traditional lasagna.
- Try wheat noodles or gluten-free noodles for a healthier alternative to regular pasta.
- Leave out the hot sauce if you don't like spicy foods. It will have a sweet and savory flavor.
- Make your own sauce from scratch for a less-processed dish. Homemade sauce is easy to make. Really all you need is tomato sauce and seasoning.
- Add other veggies into the lasagna. Mushrooms will complement the recipe well, but feel free to add your favorites.
- Take out any of the veggies you don't like. No recipe is set in stone. If you don't like or can't have it, toss it out.
Pro Lasagna-Making Tip
You can do the prep ahead of time (like the day before) if you are having company. Just cover the lasagna and stick it in the fridge. Then pop it in the oven about an hour before it is time to eat. That way there is no prep mess and hassle right before company arrives. This also allows the sauce and flavors to seep together. I think lasagna always tastes better the next day because it has time to "set" properly.