Low-carb, full of veggies, and made without wheat, this Zucchini Lasagna offers ALL the typical lasagna comfort with only 250 calories per serving!
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No noodles? No problem. This Zucchini Lasagna has all the flavors and comfort-food flavor and experience of classic lasagna, but without any noodles (or gluten!). It's warm, cheesy, meaty, and hearty while being full of vegetables, low in carbs, and brimming with protein.
The recipe does take around an hour to make, but it'll be worth it to see your diners so happy (kids included!). You can make the lasagna ahead of time to save time at the dinner hour or to entertain at your dinner party. Either way, this is a healthier lasagna recipe that is sure to impress every time.
Zucchini fever has hit me hard this year -- anyone else in the same boat?!
Could it be that I'm still looking for ways to creatively entertain myself while spending more time at home? Or, that I've been the grateful recipient of so many friends generously off-loading their loot with me? Maybe I'm just down a rabbit hole again, too!
And, of course, seeing that what I'm creating is resounding makes me that much more excited about creating other similar recipes for you!
And, so, one night-- as fate would have it -- a friend posted in Facebook about an amazing zucchini lasagna recipe she just made.
My eyebrows shot up, ears perked, and my mouth started watering. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables to incorporate into or serve alongside Italian dishes. How did I never hear or think of this before?!
But what's the sake of wallowing in regret when you can get cooking?! So, I immediately started experimenting with creating my own.
Working off my mom's lasagna recipe growing up, I sauteed up beef and onions, added in a bottled sauce, and doctored it up with a few of my favorite easy tricks (but, of course, you could always just use my easy homemade tomato sauce in its place, too).
Next, I got to work on my favorite layer in traditional lasagna: the ricotta layer. Luscious, creamy, fatty, and full of the salty parmesan flavor, it always shines alongside the sauce and meat.
In this recipe, however, I had a particular challenge to tackle -- expressing the water out of the zucchini so the lasagna didn't turn into a sloppy stew.
Whereas some recipes recommend salting vegetables to remove the liquid, I knew I wanted to saute them shortly as it would also help develop the vegetable's flavor and keep the zucchini from undercooking.
And what results is a surprisingly low-carb main dish, that tastes nothing like as healthy as it is. Neighbors, friends, and other taste-testers alike were shocked on how nutritious and lower-calorie the meal is.
Of course, this does nothing for my zucchini obsession. And I won't blame you if you're mad at me for re-stoking your's. But, I can't let you go in in life without knowing about this dish, as I lived so long in my life without.
So, at the end of the day, it's friends helping friends. And that, my friend, is nothing to regret. 😊
Here at Mae's Menu, we have a variety of readers: those who are more experienced in the kitchen and want to zip straight through to the recipe and those who want to learn more about the dish, potential substitutions, and more.
To skip straight to the recipe, just click "Jump to Recipe" at the top left of this post. To browse the post quickly, just click the headings in the table of contents below.
Table of contents
- This recipe is...
- Recipe ingredients:
- Ingredient substitutions
- Is this lasagna gluten-free?
- How do you slice zucchini?
- How to make this cheesy Zucchini Lasagna...
- Tips for the perfect lasagna every time:
- How do you make vegetable lasagna not watery?
- Do you need to drain the ground beef?
- Can you make this lasagna ahead of time?
- How long does this lasagna last?
- How to reheat lasagna:
- What do you serve with lasagna?
- Tools needed to make this gluten-free lasagna:
- Other Italian-inspired recipes you might like:
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This recipe is...
- Lower in calories
- Delicious year-round
- Feeds a crowd
- Perfect for entertaining
- Delicious for leftovers
Whether you're working with a fresh crop of late-summer zucchini, or grabbing some of the vegetable from your local store throughout the year, this Zucchini Lasagna satisfies almost any crowd with flavor, texture, and heartiness while being deceptively healthy!
- Zucchini -- the fresher, the better, but you can always make this lasagna year-round, too. Just choose dark green colored zucchini that have a tender and smooth skin and don't feel light or hollow
- Olive oil
- Ground beef
- Garlic powder or fresh garlic -- choose whatever is convenient to you
- Marinara sauce -- choose a bottle that has minimal added sugar as some brands can sneak it in
- Balsamic vinegar
- Frozen spinach
- Whole milk ricotta cheese -- part-skim also works, but doesn't add as much flavor
- Large eggs
- Italian seasoning blend
- Grated parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) -- go for the natural, refrigerated type. Also, grated works much better than shredded or shaved.
- Part-skim shredded mozzarella -- use pre-shredded for convenience, or shred your own for a more beautiful lasagna browning (pre-shredded cheeses often have stabilizers added)
Ground meat -- ground turkey (breast and thigh) or raw Italian chicken or turkey sausage can also be used in place of the ground meat.
Spinach -- 5 ounces of diced fresh baby spinach can easily work in this recipe in place of the frozen spinach. Add it in during the last 2 minutes of the sauce's simmering time, however, so it doesn't get mushy.
Ricotta cheese -- cottage cheese can be substituted in place of the ricotta cheese, but I highly recommend the ricotta over the cottage cheese. It has a more delicate flavor and texture. Also, if you have diners who don't like cottage cheese, using it could be a turn-off.
Is this lasagna gluten-free?
Yes, this lasagna is gluten-free as long as the marinara sauce you use doesn't have any gluten ingredients in it. So, just double check your bottle's ingredient list and you'll be all set. 🙂
How do you slice zucchini?
I sliced my zucchini with a mandoline, but you can also slice them with a chef's knife.
To slice them, first cut off the stem and the base of the zucchini and then slice each zucchini into ⅛" inch thick crosswise sections.
How to make this cheesy Zucchini Lasagna...
Below is a quick overview of how we'll make this lasagna. See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete recipe and measurements.
- Saute the zucchini slices.
- Remove the zucchini from the pan and saute the ground meat, onions, and garlic.
- Add the marinara sauce, spinach, and balsamic vinegar to the ground meat and simmer the sauce until thick.
- Mix up the ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings and whisk until smooth.
- Layer the lasagna ingredients in the baking pan in the following order: half of the sauce, half of the zucchini, half the ricotta, half the cheese, and repeat.
- Bake the lasagna at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 33-35 minutes, or until the zucchini is bubbling around the outside and the cheese is golden brown.
Tips for the perfect lasagna every time:
- Preheat your oven -- you want your oven nice and hot so the lasagna cooks evenly and melts the cheesy perfectly. The best way to ensure this is with a preheated oven.
- Saute the zucchini to remove the excess moisture from it -- zucchini has a lot of extra moisture that we want to remove to keep the lasagna from getting watery. In this recipe, we will do this by sauteeing the zucchini before adding it to the lasagna. If you notice that your zucchini is releasing a lot of water while sauteing, saute the zucchini an extra minute or two, or until most of the excess water has evaporated.
- Choose a good-quality marinara sauce -- the marinara sauce is a big part of this recipe's flavor profile, so choose as quality of a sauce as you can find and afford. I love Trader Joe's "Rustico" sauce; it has great flavor at a reasonable price point.
- Buy fresh and good quality zucchini -- the zucchini are also a big star of the show here. Look for zucchini that are dark green with delicate and smooth skin and feel somewhat dense for their size.
- Let the lasagna rest before slicing it -- resting the lasagna keeps the dish from being watery and falling apart as you scoop it.
- Evenly layer the ingredients in the pan -- even layers make for balanced flavors in every bite. We'll make two layers of every ingredient, so spread half of each down in each layer you do. Also, spread the ingredients out smoothly across the pan.
- Go for grass-fed ground meat, if budget permits -- I know grass-fed meat can be expensive, but it offers better flavor and is better for you than traditional ground meat (source). Bonus: grass-fed ground meat is the most affordable out of all the cuts of the meat. I can usually find it for around $5/pound here in Colorado.
How do you make vegetable lasagna not watery?
Many vegetables-- like zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms -- that are used in vegetable lasagna often have a high water content. So, to keep vegetable lasagna from getting watery, we need to find a way to release the water from the vegetables before adding them to the lasagna.
To do this, you could sprinkle the vegetables with salt or cook the vegetables down to release the juice. In this recipe, we will saute the zucchini before layering it in the lasagna. While sauteing you will see the liquids release from the vegetables.
Another important thing to do to help keep a lasagna from getting watery is to let the lasagna rest for a bit before serving. Resting the lasagna allows the juices in the dish to redistribute and 5-10 minutes usually does the trick.
You may find that the first slice or two of lasagna you scoop out may release a little bit of juice, but it should let up after that.
Do you need to drain the ground beef?
If you're concerned about saturated fat in your meal, you can drain the ground beef before adding the sauce to simmer, but you don't need to do so.
The sauce will have more flavor if you don't drain the beef, as you risk draining the garlic as well. That extra fat does add flavor too.
If you do decide to drain your beef, you probably will need to simmer your sauce on the shorter end of the time recommended, as there will be less liquid to evaporate when thickening up the sauce.
Can you make this lasagna ahead of time?
Yes, you certainly can make lasagna ahead of time. Just cook up the zucchini and ground beef and assemble the lasagna. Cover it with aluminum foil or another air-tight cover and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours, or until baking.
How long does this lasagna last?
This lasagna theoretically lasts for up to 4-5 days covered in the refrigerator, but ours never lasts that long... and there's just two of us! 😲
How to reheat lasagna:
There are two ways you can successfully reheat this lasagna: in the microwave or oven.
In the microwave: heat the lasagna up in a microwave-safe container or on a microwave safe plate that's covered with a paper towel or splatter shield (otherwise, you'll have red splatters all over the inside of your microwave!). Then, heat up at 80% heat in 1-2 minute intervals (on the longer side of that range if you are heating up multiple servings) or until the lasagna is heated through.
In the oven: place the lasagna in an oven-safe pan or dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Heat the lasagna up in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes, depending on the portion you are reheating, or until the dish is heated through.
What do you serve with lasagna?
This lasagna is filling, but it still is lower on carbs. So, if you're hungry or looking to still get some carbs (like I often am), here are some of my favorite sides. I also share some of my favorite drinks. 😉
- Herby focaccia bread, ciabatta bread, or any other hearty crusty bread
- Blistered green beans
- A large green dinner salad
- Creamy polenta
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
Tools needed to make this gluten-free lasagna:
- Cutting board
- Chef knife (this is my go-to knife, and it costs less than $30!)
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Large non-stick skillet
- Heat-safe spatula or turner
- Mixing bowl
- Cheese grater (optional)
- 9 x 13 baking pan
Other Italian-inspired recipes you might like:
- Sausage Risotto
- Beef Ragu (Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Recipe)
- Healthy Meatballs
- Juicy Chicken Sausage Meatballs
- Instant Pot Risotto
- One-Pot Orecchiette with Sausage
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash Pasta
- Butternut Squash Farro with Crispy Breadcrumbs
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No noodles? No problem. This Zucchini Lasagna has all the flavors and comfort-food flavor and experience of classic lasagna, but without any noodles (or gluten!). It’s warm, cheesy, meaty, and hearty while being full of vegetables, low in carbs, and brimming with protein.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 small or 2 large zucchini, sliced crosswise into ⅛" pieces along the length of the zucchini
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ large onion (or 1 ¼ cups), diced into ¼" pieces
- 1 lb ground beef, 85 or 90% lean
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 ½ teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce*
- 1 ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cup frozen spinach
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 ¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9 x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Heat a 12" non-stick skillet up over medium or medium-high heat. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat up until it sputters when flicked with water.
- Add the zucchini and ¼ teaspoon salt to the skillet and saute for 6-8 minutes, flipping the zucchini every 1-2 minutes, or until the zucchini moisture has released and evaporated and the zucchini are starting to brown up. Remove the zucchini from the pan.
- Add the ground beef, garlic powder or minced garlic, and onions to the pan and cook, crumbling as you stir, for 4-5 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
- If desired, drain the beef and return it to the pan. Add the marinara sauce, balsamic vinegar, and frozen spinach to the pan. Stir well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Leaving the pan uncovered, simmer the meat sauce for 10-13 minutes, or until it is a darker red color and has thickened up. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon salt, and parmesan cheese until smooth.
- Spread half of the sauce evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer half of the zucchini evenly on top. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini and sprinkle half of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Repeat the layers one more time with the remaining ingredients.
- Bake the lasagna uncovered for 33-35 minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is nice and golden brown on top.
- Remove the lasagna from the oven and place on a wire or wooden cooling rack. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes (preferably 10) and then serve hot!
* Look for a low-sugar marinara sauce. Some brands can sneak in a lot of extra sugar.
1. Lasagna leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
2. You can make this lasagna up to one day ahead. Assemble the lasagna and cover instead of baking, store in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and then bake before serving.
3. Draining the ground beef is optional. Keeping it in the sauce will add more flavor, but draining the beef will reduce the fat in the recipe.
Serving Size1/12 of the lasagna
Amount Per Serving Calories 266Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 87mgSodium 668mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 3gSugar 5gProtein 24g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.