Is Lasagna Good for Pregnant Women? Safety + Benefits

Lasagna is a classic comfort food meal, whether it is vegetarian or meat-filled. So naturally, you may wonder if you can safely have lasagna while you are pregnant.

Overall, lasagna is safe for pregnant women as long as the meat is fully cooked and the milk and cheese are both pasteurized. However, lasagna can be high in calories and fat and, therefore, should be consumed in moderation. 

In this article, we will break down the safety of each ingredient in a typical lasagna and if lasagna is good for your health and pregnancy. Read on! 

Can I Have Lasagna When Pregnant? 

Lasagna is safe for you when pregnant as long as the meat is fully cooked and the milk and cheese are pasteurized. Let’s discuss each component of homemade (or restaurant) lasagna and how to ensure they are safe for your pregnancy.

Starting with the meat sauce, it is important that the meat is thoroughly cooked to the appropriate temperature to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

lasagna with bolognese sauce on a plate

Since meat lasagna typically has ground beef, make sure the beef is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (source: United States Food & Drug Administration [FDA]).

Check the temperature of your ground beef by inserting a clean metal stem thermometer into the beef and holding it there until the temperature stabilizes.

If you are adding chicken or turkey to your lasagna, make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Some lasagna sauces contain red wine. Since the red wine is cooked off, it is safe for pregnancy. Check out this article about eating food cooked with alcohol

If you like the taste, swapping out regular lasagna noodles for whole wheat pasta is a great way to add more fiber into your diet, which can promote healthy bowel movements, blood sugar stability, digestive health, and more (source: Mayo Clinic). 

Additionally, most lasagnas contain ricotta cheese. Many fresh ricotta cheeses are unpasteurized, which is not advisable for pregnant women to consume (source: FDA).

Pasteurization is the process of heating the milk used to make the cheese to kill off any bacteria that can cause illness, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women. Unpasteurized cheeses have an increased risk of causing listeria.  

However, since the ricotta is being cooked in the lasagna, the potentially harmful bacteria will be killed off, and it is safe. However, if you garnish the lasagna with extra ricotta, parmesan, or another type of cheese after it has already been baked in the oven, make sure that the cheese is pasteurized.

Some lasagnas have béchamel sauces that can contain milk. Make sure the milk is pasteurized as well. 

Any vegetables that are added in should be thoroughly washed under clean running water, even if they are going to be cooked. 

lasagna with tomato sauce and cheese on a plate

When eating lasagna out at a restaurant, it is a safe bet that the meat will be fully cooked, et cetera. However, only eat the lasagna if it is steaming hot. Additionally, make sure that if you take some leftovers to go that you get them into the refrigerator up to two hours after the food is served, not when you leave the restaurant (source: FDA). 

Microwavable frozen lasagna meals are safe as long as you follow the heating instructions on the packaging – again, steaming hot is a good indicator that everything is heated until safe.

Is Lasagna Good or Healthy for Pregnancy?

Lasagna can be healthy for pregnancy as long as it is consumed in moderation. However, whether it is made with meat, veggies, or a mixture of the two, the cheese, noodles, and sauce often make the dish high in calories, fat, sodium, and more.

Therefore, making your own lasagna at home is preferable because you can control how much sodium you add. You could also use low-fat cheese and whole-grain noodles to make some nutritious swaps, and make other switches like adding more veggies, not to mention controlling portion size!  

I hope this article helped discuss lasagna and how to safely and healthfully enjoy it during your pregnancy – after all, it’s a common craving!

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

Amy Kaczor, MS, RD

Amy Kaczor is a Registered Dietitian and full-time freelance writer based out of Chicago, Illinois. She is passionate about nutrition, health, and wellness, plus writing and sharing evidence-based information.

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