Thin strips of zucchini replace pasta in this fresh and flavorful Zucchini Lasagna. This low-carb, keto-friendly lasagna is noodle-free but loaded with all the great flavor of classic lasagna.
Substituting squash for pasta is a delicious way to create gluten-free Italian comfort food like this lasagna and our Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi.
There is no sacrificing flavor when it comes to lasagna. It just doesn’t cut it if any of the vital components are missing. A meaty sauce with great Italian flavor and layers of creamy, cheesiness are required.
But, I’m here to tell you that you can ditch the carb-y pasta and replace it with thin slices of zucchini for a lasagna that is seriously worth writing home about. It is right up there with my Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats as one of the most delicious things I’ve ever done with squash!
Zucchini Lasagna is a budget-friendly, kid-friendly, super satisfying meal my entire family loves.
There are some tips and tricks to creating the perfect Zucchini Lasagna and breaking it all down, step-by-step. Jump to the section you need or scroll through the post for the full photo tutorial.
Table of contents
- Tips for the Best Zucchini Lasagna
- Ingredients for Zucchini Lasagna
- How to Thinly Slice Zucchini
- How Do You Get Moisture Out of Zucchini Lasagna?
- How to Make Zucchini Lasagna
- Storing Leftovers
- More Zucchini Recipes You’ll Love
Tips for the Best Zucchini Lasagna
All of these tips are explained in detail in this post but here’s a quick overview for creating a perfect Zucchini Lasagna.
- Thin zucchini strips – Slice your zucchini 1/8-inch thick to best replicate lasagna noodles.
- Sweat and deyhdrate -To remove as much moisture as possible, take the time to salt the zucchini strips and then broil them briefly in the oven before layering.
- Meaty sauce – A thick sauce creates a satisfying dish but also helps prevent the lasagna from being watery.
- Use fresh cheese – Bagged, pre-shredded cheese contains additives to prevent it from clumping but they also prevent it from melting well. Use freshly shredded cheese for the best result.
Ingredients for Zucchini Lasagna
- Zucchini – You’ll need a little over 2 pounds, which is about 4 zucchini.
- Fine ground sea salt – For salting the zucchini. You’ll find more details on this below.
- Olive oil
- Diced yellow onion
- Sausage – I like to use turkey Italian sausage for a lighter meat sauce. I’ve also used plant based ground sausage (like Impossible brand) for a vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna and it was fabulous.
- Marinara sauce – Check your store shelves for a reduced sodium marinara sauce.
- Cheese – Part-skim ricotta, shredded Parmesan cheese, and shredded part-skim mozzarella. I highly recommend purchasing blocks of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and shredding it yourself instead of purchasing bagged, shredded cheese. Substitute the Parmesan with a vegetarian, plant-based hard cheese for a vegetarian lasagna.
- Fresh basil
How to Thinly Slice Zucchini
There’s more than one way to slice a zucchini! Don’t own a mandolin? You can still make Zucchini Lasagna.
- Mandolin – Using a mandolin is the quickest, easiest way to thinly slice zucchini. Set your mandolin for ⅛-inch slices and it is easy as can be to create perfect zucchini strips. If using a mandolin gives you the willies, pick up a pair of cut resistant gloves.
- Knife – I have done this task using a chef’s knife many a time. Some of the slices may end up being slightly thicker than ⅛-inch but it will work just fine as long as you follow the steps below to sweat and dehydrate the zucchini. If using a knife, I suggest purchasing an extra zucchini in case some of the slices come out wonky.
How Do You Get Moisture Out of Zucchini Lasagna?
Zucchini has a very high water content so I recommend prepping your zucchini strips with these methods for the best result.
How to Sweat Zucchini
Lay your zucchini slices over a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt. Allow the zucchini to rest for about 10 minutes. The salt will draw out the excess water and you’ll see beads of moisture on the surface. Blot the strips dry with paper towels to remove the moisture and excess salt before layering.
How to Dehydrate Zucchini
This is an optional step that can be done after sweating the zucchini that is very effective at preventing a watery result. Transfer the slices to a clean, bare baking sheet, set the oven to Broil with the rack one position above center. Place the zucchini to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes without flipping. You don’t want to brown them, just dry them out a bit. Broil them in batches, as needed.
How to Make Zucchini Lasagna
This is a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Please refer to the recipe card at the end of this post for detailed instructions and amounts.
Make the Filling
- Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until the onion has softened. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through.
- Measure out and reserve ¾ cup of the marinara and pour the remainder into the skillet with the sausage mixture.
- Stir to combine well then remove the skillet from the heat.
- Next, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, egg, and basil in a medium bowl.
Assemble and Bake the Zucchini Lasagna
- Pour just enough meat sauce into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish to lightly coat the bottom.
- Place a single layer of zucchini strips over the top.
- Spoon half of the remaining meat sauce over the zucchini.
- Top it with small dollops of half of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle mozzarella over the top. Repeat these layers one more time. Zucchini, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella.
- Top the lasagna with a final layer of zucchini slices.
- Spread the reserved ¾ cup marinara over the zucchini.
- Finally, top the lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Spray the underside of a sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and place it, coated side down, over the dish before baking. This will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil when it is removed after baking.
Let it Rest
If you try to slice into any lasagna straight from the oven, it will be too soft to slice well. Instead, let the lasagna rest and set up for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
This is a recipe that fares exceptionally well after refrigerating. The Zucchini Lasagna will firmly set up as it chills and slice very cleanly. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, and use within 3 to 4 days.
Reheat gently in the microwave, just until warmed through or cover and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes.
More Zucchini Recipes You’ll Love
- Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles
- Chicken Zucchini Casserole
- Ground Pork Stir Fry with Zucchini and Mushrooms
- Very Veggie Chili
- Loaded Taco Skillet
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
- 4 zucchini, even-sized, about 2.5+ pounds total weight
- Fine ground sea salt, as needed to salt the zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 pound lean ground turkey Italian sausage, or plant based ground sausage (like Impossible brand) for vegetarian
- 24 ounces marinara sauce (no sugar added for Keto), divided
- 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, or a vegetarian, plant-based hard cheese, divided
- 2 ¼ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup sliced fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
Prep the Zucchini
- Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the zucchini into ⅛-inch thick slices (you'll need at least 24 slices for 8 per layer) and place them on a double layer of paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of each piece of zucchini lightly with salt and set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, blot the zucchini well with paper towels to remove the accumulated moisture. Transfer the zucchini to two bare, large rimmed baking sheets.
- With an oven rack one position above center, set the oven to BROIL. Transfer the zucchini to the oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to dry it out a bit (no need to flip), watching closely so it doesn't burn. Remove it from the oven and set it aside. Broil in batches, if needed.
- Move the oven rack to the center position and set the oven to 375 degrees F.
Make the Meat Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it down with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through.
- Measure out and reserve ¾ cup of the marinara and pour the remainder into the skillet with the sausage mixture. Stir to combine well then remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
Prepare the Ricotta Mixture
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, ½ cup parmesan, egg, and basil.
Assemble the Zucchini Lasagna
- Spread just enough of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish to lightly coat the bottom..
- Add a single layer of zucchini strips (across the 9-inch side of the pan) on top of the sauce. They can be touching but should not overlap. (I fit 8 slices).
- Spoon half of the remaining meat sauce over the zucchini and top it with small dollops of half of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle ¾ cup of the mozzarella over the top.
- Repeat these layers one more time. Zucchini, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella.
- Top the lasagna with a final layer of zucchini strips and pour the reserved ¾ cup marinara over the top, spreading it out in a layer. Top with the remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan.
Bake and Serve
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Broil for a couple of minutes to get a slightly golden top, if desired.
- Let the lasagna rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with basil, if desired, and serve.
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