Low-carb, gluten-free, and full of veggies, this Zucchini Lasagna Recipe offers ALL the classic lasagna comfort with only 250 calories per serving!
This recipe was originally published on August 12, 2020. It was updated on May 17, 2021.
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. 😊
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:
This recipe is...
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!
This veggie lasagna is made for entertaining and will be warmly received at any get-together or dinner party.
- Zucchini -- the fresher, the better, but you can always make this lasagna year-round, too. Look for zucchini that are dark green with delicate and smooth skin and feel somewhat dense for their size.
- 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 as whole milk
- Large eggs
- Italian seasoning blend
- Grated parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) -- go for the natural, refrigerated type (i.e., not the green bottle). 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
- 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.
How to make this zucchini lasagna...
- 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.
Keto zucchini lasagna pro-tips:
- 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 and Thrive Market's organic pasta sauce.
- Let the lasagna rest before slicing it -- resting the lasagna keeps the dish from being watery and falling apart as you scoop it.
- Go for grass-fed ground meat, if budget permits -- I know grass-fed meat can be expensive, but it offers better flavor and has been shown to have more health benefits than traditional ground meat (source). Bonus: ground meat is typically the most affordable out of all the cuts of grass-fed beef. I can usually find it for around $5/pound here in Colorado.
Low carb lasagna FAQ's:
Since zucchini has a high water content, we need to express some of the water from it before adding it into the lasagna and baking. To do this, you can sprinkle the vegetables with salt or cook them down to release the juices. In this recipe, we will saute the zucchini for a few minutes per side before layering it into the dish. In addition to this, let the lasagna serve 5-10 minutes before serving, as it will let the juices reabsorb into the dish.
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.
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.
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.
What other veggies can you use in this lasagna recipe?
So many types of thinly sliced vegetables can work in place of the zucchini. You can substitute any of the following, sauteing them before adding to the dish, as you would the zucchini:
- Portobello mushrooms
- Sweet peppers (red, green, yellow, or orange)
- Yellow squash
And you can also use any combination of the above veggies.
Serve this low-carb lasagna with any of your favorite Italian side dishes. Steer away from carb-rich side dishes to keep your meal low carb, or serve the lasagna with them to create a balanced meal:
- Garlic bread
- Angel hair pasta
- Blistered green beans
- A large green dinner salad
- Air Fryer Zucchini
- Creamy polenta
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Keto/Low-carb: this recipe is naturally keto and low carb, as it doesn't use any ingredients that are high in carbohydrates
- Gluten-free: this lasagna will be gluten-free as long as the marinara sauce you use doesn't have any gluten ingredients in it.
How to store zucchini lasagna:
- Refrigeration: leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Freezing: remaining lasagna can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. For best results, freeze lasagna in 1 or 2 serving portions and thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating.
How to reheat recipe leftovers:
- In the microwave: heat the lasagna up in a microwave-safe container or on a microwave-safe dish that's covered with a paper towel or splatter shield at 80% heat in 1-2 minute intervals or until the lasagna is heated through.
- In the oven: place the lasagna on 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 size of the portion you are reheating, or until the lasagna is heated through.
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 low-carb Italian recipes:
- Beef Ragu (Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Recipe)
- Chicken Bolognese
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash Pasta
- Sundried Tomato Red Pesto
- Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce
Other zucchini recipes:
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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 chopped 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 to keep this recipe low carb.
1. Lasagna leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. They can be frozen in 1-2 portion sizes in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
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.