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Easy Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

This zucchini lasagna recipe will become a quick favorite in your household so don't be afraid to try it for yourself and you will be surprised at how easy it is to pull together.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

This zucchini lasagna recipe will become a quick favorite in your household so don’t be afraid to try it for yourself and you will be surprised at how easy it is to pull together.

You can also make zucchini lasagna over multiple days to save you time and it will give you a chance to give your full attention to every component. There are also multiple different ways to prepare the different components, different flavors to incorporate and of course lovely additions to add so you can be sure that you won’t get tired of it.

This is an excellent recipe to try if you would like to incorporate more vegetables into your meals without leaving behind the protein so be sure to try and make zucchini lasagna for yourself.

What is zucchini lasagna?

Zucchini Lasagna is a healthy dinner idea that gets made with thinly sliced zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and it is a great way to use up any zucchini you have on hand. It is also an easy option for those who need a gluten-free or low-carb recipe.

  • For the zucchini layer: Fresh zucchini, olive oil/olive oil spray, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Beef layer: Ground beef, garlic, olive oil, and marinara sauce. You can also use a store bought marinara sauce/a sugar-free sauce.
  • Ricotta layer: Ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. It’s important to use fresh basil as the dried won’t be as good because fresh basil is far more flavorful. I also urge you to use whole-milk ricotta cheese for the best texture and flavor.
  • Mozzarella cheese layer: It’s fine to use store-bought pre-shredded mozzarella cheese and part-skim mozzarella works and is widely available, but if you can find whole-milk mozzarella cheese it works even better.
  • Bechamel sauce: This adds a lovely creamy element to your dish so be sure to take a look at the recipe here.

Zucchini lasagna recipe

  • 9×13 inch oven proof baking dish
  • Cooking time: 30-45 min
  • Prep time: 1.5-2 hours
    • 20 min = zucchini slices
    • 45 min = meat sauce
    • 10 hours = ricotta mixture
    • 15 min = final assembly

Zucchini slices

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large zucchini
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and use 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 3mm thick.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and arrange the zucchini strips in a single layer on the pan so that they are not overlapping each other.
  3. Sprinkle the slices lightly with salt and a drizzle of olive oil, then place the pans in the oven to bake for around 10 minutes. This will help to release excess moisture from the zucchini and help you lasagna to not be soggy.

Note: Some zucchini recipes will recommend that you sprinkle the zucchini slices 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. his extra step isn’t necessary when you bake the slices in the oven as it will dry out the slices too much.

Meat sauce

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small carrot, chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 15g)
  • 120ml red wine
  • 400g ground beef
  • 300g peeled tomato, cut small (canned tomatoes or fresh)
  • 300ml beef broth
  • Fresh basil, cut fine
  • Thyme, cut fine
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Prepare all the ingredients.
  2. In a pan, add a splash of olive oil and allow to heat up. Add in the finely chopped vegetables with the garlic on medium heat and start sautéing.
  3. A sediment will start to form at the bottom of the pan (take care not to burn the contents of the pan), add a 1/3 of the wine and cook it down. Continue until the wine is gone.
  4. Remove the contents of the pan and set it aside.
  5. Add in some more olive oil and add the ground beef on a medium heat. Start breaking the ground beef up to avoid lumps (do not excessively stir the beef as it is cooking, otherwise it will turn grey, rather let it gain some color whilst cooking).
  6. While the beef cooks and starts to form a sediment in the pot, add 1/4 of the beef broth and allow it to cook down.
  7. Add the vegetables back in and combine everything together.
  8. Add in the chopped tomatoes, the remaining beef broth and the herbs then allow everything to simmer on a low heat for about 10 min or until it starts to thicken. Stir in between to ensure it does not burn.
  9. Once it has started to thicken, allow it to cook together for a few minutes before removing the sauce from the heat.

Ricotta mixture

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (drained of liquids)
  • 1/4 cups parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (for dried basil use 2 Tablespoons)

Method

  1. Mix the egg and ricotta cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the other cheeses and fold through.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to taste and store in the fridge until needed.

Final assembly

Ingredients

  • Zucchini slices
  • Ricotta cheese mixture
  • Meat sauce
  • Bechamel sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Spread some of your bechamel sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Add a layer of zucchini slices, spread some of the meat sauce, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Spoon on and spread the top with some of your bechamel sauce. Repeat until you have at least 3 layers of zucchini.
  3. Poke 9-12 toothpicks over the surface of your zucchini lasagna to keep the foil from sticking to the cheese and cover the top with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  4. Remove the foil and broil for 3-4 minutes to create a golden cheesy top and rest for 15 minutes before slicing and garnish with basil or parsley, if desired, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Slice zucchini noodles: Use a mandolin slicer to get precise, thin noodle cuts with the zucchini. If you are experienced with a chef’s knife and feel comfortable, you can slice the zucchini noodles with a knife and remember to be very careful when doing this step.

Use your favorite marinara (homemade or store-bought): For this recipe, you can use the recipe provided that gets combined with the meat or this recipe for a homemade marinara sauce. You can also use your favorite store-bought marinara!

Tips for fresh flavor: Fresh herbs make all the difference! Layering lasagna with chopped fresh basil and even fresh oregano will give it a wonderful flavor and remember that dried herbs do not give as much flavor as fresh herbs.

Don’t love ricotta? Ricotta can be a bit heavy so you can remove the ricotta filling from this recipe and layer it with parmesan, mozzarella, marinara, and lots of fresh basil. It will taste just as delicious and it is a little less heavy as well.

Add protein – if you’d like to add a different protein to this dish, you can use cooked ground chicken, turkey, or ground beef. For a vegetarian option, you can use cooked lentils. Layer the protein of choice in with each layer and bake with the dish!

How to make zucchini lasagna less watery

Zucchini is 95% water so that means that when you cook it, it will naturally become watery but if you’re looking to have a little less juice in your lasagna be sure to follow these tips:

  • Slice your zucchini into thinner slices: Thinner slices mean fewer zucchini, thus less water.
  • Salt your zucchini slices: Salt helps to draw the water out of the zucchini and once salted, let them sit for around 15 minutes before blotting dry and removing some of that salt with a paper towel.
  • Grill to reduce the moisture: Grill the zucchini slices in a pan for 1 to 2 minutes on each side to reduce the moisture.

Storage tips

  • To store for the week: Once your zucchini lasagna has cooled, place it in an airtight container and it will keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Freeze for later: Pre-slice your zucchini lasagna before storing individual portions in a freezer-safe container and it will keep for up to 3 months.

What to Serve with Zucchini Lasagna

This zucchini lasagna works great with a light side dish to compliment the hearty layers, and you can also include a side that soaks up those saucy, cheesy layers. These are some ides for side dishes for lasagna:

  • Caesar Salad
  • Garden Salad
  • Caprese Salad
  • Panzanella Salad
  • Garlic Bread
  • Focaccia Bread

Make-Ahead

If you’re layering the zucchini lasagna ahead of time, layer and cover, then refrigerate or freeze it before cooking so that you can just pop it in the oven when you’re ready to bake but keep in mind to ensure that you allow your zucchini lasagna to come to room temperature first.

  • To Refrigerate: cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days in the fridge
  • Freezing: cover leftovers with foil and freeze for up to 3 months or freeze individual slices
  • To Reheat: The best way to reheat is in the oven. Thaw in the fridge if you have time, then cook covered in the oven at 350 degrees until warm, which may take anywhere from 15-40 minutes depending on how much lasagna you’re reheating and if it’s frozen. Remember to ensure that the lasagna has reached room temperature.

Variations

You can make this zucchini lasagna with ground lamb, chicken, or turkey and although it doesn’t taste the same as beef, but these options make for interesting variations. I especially like the turkey one, as long as you use ground turkey thighs and not breast, which is too lean.

You can substitute well-softened cream cheese for the ricotta and Provolone is a good substitute for mozzarella. You can also use a shredded cheese bag that is labeled as “Italian cheese mix.”

You can also sometimes sprinkle the finished dish with a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan for added flavor.

This zucchini lasagna recipe is a wonderful recipe to use for some more vegetables in your diet so don’t wait too long and give it a try! Be sure to also take a look at this vegan lasagna recipe if you want to try even more exciting variations to the traditional lasagna.

This vegan lasagna recipe will also give people with dietary needs a chance to enjoy the delicacies of the Italian lasagna for themselves without needing to worry!

Zucchini Lasagna Recipe Feature Image - 1390x600

Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

Zucchini Lasagna is a healthy dinner idea that gets made with thinly sliced zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and it is a great way to use up any zucchini you have on hand. It is also an easy option for those who need a gluten-free or low-carb recipe.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Primo
Cuisine Italian
Servings 9 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 large zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 1 celery stalk chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 1 small onion chopped fine (about 54g)
  • 6 cloves garlic minced (about 15g)
  • 120 ml red wine
  • 400 g ground beef
  • 300 g peeled tomato cut small (canned tomatoes or fresh)
  • 300 ml beef broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil cut fine
  • thyme cut fine
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1.5 cups ricotta cheese drained
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg

Instructions
 

Zucchini slices

  • Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and use 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 3mm thick. 
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and arrange the zucchini strips in a single layer on the pan so that they are not overlapping each other.
  • Sprinkle the slices lightly with salt and a drizzle of olive oil, then place the pans in the oven to bake for around 10 minutes. This will help to release excess moisture from the zucchini and help you lasagna to not be soggy.

Meat sauce

  • In a pan, add a splash of olive oil and allow to heat up. Add in the finely chopped vegetables with the garlic on medium heat and start sautéing.
  • A sediment will start to form at the bottom of the pan (take care not to burn the contents of the pan), add a 1/3 of the wine and cook it down. Continue until the wine is gone.
  • Remove the contents of the pan and set it aside.
  • Add in some more olive oil and add the ground beef on a medium heat. Start breaking the ground beef up to avoid lumps (do not excessively stir the beef as it is cooking, otherwise it will turn grey, rather let it gain some color whilst cooking).
  • While the beef cooks and starts to form a sediment in the pot, add 1/4 of the beef broth and allow it to cook down.
  • Add the vegetables back in and combine everything together.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes, the remaining beef broth and the herbs then allow everything to simmer on a low heat for about 10 min or until it starts to thicken. Stir in between to ensure it does not burn.
  • Once it has started to thicken, allow it to cook together for a few minutes before removing the sauce from the heat.

Ricotta mixture

  • Mix the egg and ricotta cheese until smooth.
  • Add the other cheeses and fold through.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to taste and store in the fridge until needed.

Final assembly

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Spread some of your bechamel sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Add a layer of zucchini slices, spread some of the meat sauce, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Spoon on and spread the top with some of your bechamel sauce. Repeat until you have at least 3 layers of zucchini.
  • Poke 9-12 toothpicks over the surface of your zucchini lasagna to keep the foil from sticking to the cheese and cover the top with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and broil for 3-4 minutes to create a golden cheesy top and rest for 15 minutes before slicing and garnish with basil or parsley, if desired, and serve.

Notes

Slice zucchini noodles: Use a mandolin slicer to get precise, thin noodle cuts with the zucchini. If you are experienced with a chef’s knife and feel comfortable, you can slice the zucchini noodles with a knife and remember to be very careful when doing this step. 
Use your favorite marinara (homemade or store-bought): For this recipe, you can use the recipe provided that gets combined with the meat or this recipe for a homemade marinara sauce. You can also use your favorite store-bought marinara!
Tips for fresh flavor: Fresh herbs make all the difference! Layering lasagna with chopped fresh basil and even fresh oregano will give it a wonderful flavor and remember that dried herbs do not give as much flavor as fresh herbs.
Don’t love ricotta? Ricotta can be a bit heavy so you can remove the ricotta filling from this recipe and layer it with parmesan, mozzarella, marinara, and lots of fresh basil. It will taste just as delicious and it is a little less heavy as well.
Add protein – if you’d like to add a different protein to this dish, you can use cooked ground chicken, turkey, or ground beef. For a vegetarian option, you can use cooked lentils. Layer the protein of choice in with each layer and bake with the dish!
Keyword Lasagna, Zucchini Lasagna

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the food images displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. They do not represent the actual dishes or presentations you might achieve when following our recipes. While we strive to inspire your culinary journey, the appearance of your dishes may vary.

Frequent Asked Questions

It is important not to overload your vegetable lasagna and having a proper amount of vegetables will help the lasagna to maintain its shape. It will also help to keep everything moist, but not watery. As you are creating the layers, don’t worry if it looks more sparse than you’d think.

Finish off your lasagna either with a layer of tomato-based sauce or with your white sauce and then grate over plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano. A common extra topping is torn mozzarella, which makes a lovely, melted cheesy layer on top and even a little crispy if you finish it off under the broiler.

Zucchini lasagna is a modern twist on regular lasagna and it’s made with layers of baked zucchini instead of lasagna noodles and between each layer of your zucchini lasagna are all the classics of regular lasagna that we know and love it, a cheesy ricotta filling, fresh basil & oregano, and rich marinara!

The proper number depends more on your pan size because you don’t want your lasagna to look flat or shallow in a large pan, and in this case, its best to prepare to come closer to five layers rather than three.

Cut off one end of the zucchini, then drag it across the mandolin. Using a mandolin will ensure the slices coins are the same size but be careful not to cut your fingers!

If uncovered, the prolonged exposure to heat will quickly dry out your lasagna, no matter how much sauce you’ve added so make sure to always add a layer of tin foil over your baking dish, which will trap the moisture inside while still allowing the dish to cook properly.

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