Zucchini Lasagna is a healthy dinner idea, made with thinly sliced zucchini instead of noodles! It’s a great way to use up any zucchini you have on hand, and is an easy option for those who need a gluten-free or low-carb recipe.
Why You’ll Love It
It’s delicious. Zucchini lasagna tastes a lot like regular lasagna, so you’ll still enjoy all the flavor you love, with extra veggies in each bite.
It’s flexible. You can make this with a more traditional meat sauce, using ground beef or turkey, or swap the meat for cooked lentils to make a vegetarian version. You can even use zucchini noodles in my vegan lasagna recipe, if you need a dairy-free option.
It makes great leftovers. Since this recipe makes a 9-by-13-inch pan, you may have some leftovers to enjoy during the week. They reheat well in the oven for a fast lunch or dinner!
It may be easier to digest. Using zucchini noodles instead of pasta makes this dish properly combined, for those who follow food combining guidelines.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in zucchini lasagna?
- Ricotta cheese
- Egg (optional)
- Ground beef or turkey
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Marinara sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
Just like traditional lasagna, this recipe is flexible. If you want a vegetarian meal, you can omit the meat, or swap it for chopped mushrooms, or any other vegetables you have to use up.
How to Make Zucchini Lasagna
1. Prepare the zucchini slices.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and sse a mandolin slicer or sharp knife to slice the zucchini lengthwise, into very thin slices. Using a mandolin slicer will give you the most consistent results. Aim for slices that are roughly 1/8-inch thick.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and arrange the zucchini strips in a single layer on the pan.
Sprinkle them lightly with salt, then place the pans in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. This will help to release excess moisture from the zucchini.
Note: Some recipes will recommend that you sprinkle the zucchini with salt and let it rest for 10 minutes to sweat out some of the moisture from the zucchini. After that, you’d blot it dry with a paper towel. I don’t think this extra step is necessary when you bake the slices in the oven.
2. Make the meat sauce.
Drizzle olive oil into a skillet over medium high heat, and saute the minced garlic cloves for 1 to 2 minutes, just until it smells fragrant. Add in the ground beef (or you can use ground turkey or ground chicken) and salt, and cook until the meat is browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir often, to make sure no more pink areas remain.
Drain any excess grease from the pan, then add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the pan and stir well. Set it aside.
3. Mix the ricotta.
Pour the ricotta into a medium bowl, and add in the egg, salt, and oregano. Mix well, then set it aside.
Note: The egg helps give the lasagna more structure and protein, but you can leave it out if you have an egg allergy.
Pour a 1/2 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and spread it out evenly. Add a layer of zucchini noodles on top of the sauce, just like you would lasagna noodles.
Use a spoon to drop half of the ricotta mixture as dollops onto the layer of zucchini, and gently spread it around. Then add half of the meat sauce evenly over that.
Top the meat sauce off with a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. You can also use half mozzarella and half Parmesan cheese, if you prefer.
Repeat the layers, starting with another layer of zucchini noodles, followed by the remaining ricotta and meat sauce.
Add another layer of mozzarella cheese, then add the final layer of zucchini noodles on top. You can sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, so it will become golden brown as it bakes.
Bake the lasagna at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until everything is bubbly. Don’t cover it with foil, so any excess moisture can evaporate as it bakes.
For a golden brown top, turn on the broiler for an additional 2 to 3 minutes of cook time.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing into it, for the best texture. It’s normal to see a small amount of liquid settle in the lasagna pan as you serve it, but the lasagna itself shouldn’t be too watery. Garnish with fresh basil and extra parmesan cheese, if desired.
You can store leftover lasagna in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months, but keep in mind that the zucchini will be more mushy when it thaws.
Substitutions & Common Questions
Can I assemble this ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the lasagna and store it tightly covered in the refrigerator the night before you want to bake this. Keep in mind that chilled lasagna will take longer to bake than when you make it fresh, so plan on cooking it for at least 1 hour at 350ºF, or until the center of the dish reaches 160ºF, to make sure the center is cooked though. When cooking a chilled dish like this, it’s best to use a metal pan, so you don’t have to worry about glass shattering in your oven from the drastic change in temperature.
Can I make it vegetarian? Yes! It’s easy to omit the meat in this recipe. You can replace it with 1 to 2 cans of drained and rinsed lentils, or make a veggie lasagna by adding sauteed onion or spinach to the sauce.
Can I make it with less cheese? Yes, you can use my vegan ricotta for a dairy-free option, or skip the second layer of mozzarella cheese in this lasagna, if you simply want to cut-back on the dairy.
Easy Zucchini Lasagna
- 1 ½ pounds zucchini (about 2-3 large)
- fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef (see notes)
- 1 (15 oz.) jar marinara sauce (no sugar added)
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the ends off the zucchini, then use a mandolin slicer or sharp knife to cut them into thin strips, about a 1/8-inch thick. You should get about 14-15 slices from each large zucchini; about 30 in total. (Or use 3 medium zucchini to get 30 slices.)
- Arrange the zucchini slices into a single layer on the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Place the pans in the oven to cook for 10 minutes. This will help to remove excess moisture from the zucchini, so your lasagna won't turn out too watery. When the timer goes off, set them aside to cool briefly.
- While the zucchini is in the oven, add the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the garlic for 1 minute, just until it smells fragrant. Add in the ground beef and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir, breaking up the meat as you go. Cook until the beef is browned, and no longer pink, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Drain any grease from the pan with the ground beef. Set aside a ½ cup of marinara sauce to use on the bottom of the lasagna pan, then add the rest of the sauce into the ground beef. (There should be roughly 1 ¼ cups of sauce to add in.) Set it aside until you're ready to assemble.
- Next, add the ricotta to a large mixing bowl, and add in the egg, oregano, and a ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set it aside.
- To assemble the lasagna, spread the reserved ½ cup of marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of zucchini noodles across the bottom of the pan, using about 10 slices. It's okay if they don't overlap. Add half of the ricotta mixture to the top of the zucchini noodles, and gently spread it out. Then top that with half of the meat sauce, spreading it out. Top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat the layers, starting with another layer of zucchini, followed by the rest of the ricotta, meat sauce, and another cup of mozzarella cheese. Finish the lasagna off with a final layer of zucchini noodles, and sprinkle a little more mozarella cheese on top, about a ½ cup.
- Bake the zucchini lasagna for 30 minutes at 350ºF, or until the center of the lasagna reaches 160ºF, to make sure the egg is cooked through. For a golden top, turn on the oven's broiler and let the cheese bubble for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch closely, so the top doesn't burn. Then remove the lasagna from the oven and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. It's normal for a little bit of liquid to settle at the bottom of the pan as the lasagna rests, FYI. Leftover lasagna can be stored tightly covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- This cook time assumes you will cook the ground beef during the same 10 minutes that zucchini noodles are cooking in the oven. If you don’t multitask, the timing might be slightly longer.
- For a vegetarian lasagna, replace the ground beef with 2 (15 ounce) cans of lentils that have been drained and rinsed.
- For a low-dairy option, try using vegan ricotta cheese instead. You can also use the fillings from my vegan lasagna, for a totally dairy-free recipe.
If you try this zucchini lasagna recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!