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Grilled ribbons of zucchini stand in for lasagna noodles in this Italian comfort food entree. With layers of ricotta and marinara-coated ground beef, you won’t even realize this is a low-carb casserole.

A slice of zucchini lasagna on a white plate.

I adore Italian-American restaurant fare. (Case in point: I have a complete Italian Feast menu with inspiration from antipasto to tiramisu so we can all enjoy our own red plaid tablecloth bistro-inspired feast right at home!)

One of my favorite comfort food entrees at an Italian restaurant: lasagna. My Best Make Ahead Lasagna and Vegetable Lasagna earn rave reviews from my dinner guests and readers alike, and I adore the luscious layered concept so much, I’ve even created a Chocolate Lasagna so we can savor it for dessert.

And now, I’ve perfected a just-happens-to-be-low-carb lasagna recipe that swaps thin slices of zucchini for the regular noodles. Fluffy ricotta cheese and marinara-coated ground beef pretty much guarantee no one will be missing a thing.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for zucchini lasagna.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Ground meat: Start with 2 pounds of ground beef, 2 pounds of ground Italian sausage, or 1 pound of each.
  • Sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of sugar in your meat sauce, please leave it out. In my family, people add ¼ cup or even up to ½ cup.
  • Italian seasoning: It’s easy to make your own homemade Italian seasoning with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
  • Fennel seeds: The seeds make the Italian sausage flavors pop. If you love the taste of a sweet tomato sauce, use just ground beef (no sausage), at least ¼ cup sugar, and omit the fennel seeds.
  • Grilled zucchini: Grilling the zucchini helps remove water from the slices, ensuring you do not have a wet or soupy lasagna. You could also use a mix of zucchini and yellow squash or all yellow squash if you prefer; they perform and taste similarly in this homemade lasagna recipe.
  • Ricotta cheese: Buy a container at the store, or make your own ricotta if you have time; you need just 4 ingredients (milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt).

Step-by-step instructions

To make the sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add beef (or sausage) and onion, and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Meat and onion being cooked in a silver stockpot.
  1. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer uncovered until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like 1 ½ teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts of sauce.
Sauce for zucchini lasagna in a silver stockpot.

To grill the zucchini:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place grilling pan into oven. Oil a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, add zucchini slices, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Toss to combine.
Zucchini strips in a clear bowl.
  1. Remove preheated grill pan from oven, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and heat over high heat. Working in batches, grill zucchini until grill marks are on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and grill until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from pan and place on paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
Grilled zucchini slices on a wooden cutting board.

For the ricotta filling:

  1. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and salt. Chill until sauce and zucchini are finished.
Cheese mixture for zucchini lasagna in a clear bowl.

To assemble and bake the lasagna:

  1. In the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch dish, spread 2 cups meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of zucchini over the meat sauce. Spread with heaping 2/3 cups ricotta mixture. Top with about 1 ½ cups mozzarella. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
A baking dish of Zucchini Lasagna before fully assembled.
  1. Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of zucchini, ricotta mixture (2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 ½ cups) and Parmesean (⅓ cup). Repeat layers one more time, for a total of three layers.
A baking dish of Zucchini Lasagna before being baked.
  1. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bubbling hot, and cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
Someone holding a baking dish of zucchini lasagna.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Zucchini Lasagna is made in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, enough for 12 generous slices.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Make this recipe up to 3 days before you need it and keep it in the refrigerator. Reheat until heated through in a 375-degree oven until heated through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on a digital thermometer.
  • Perk things up with pesto: Zucchini season delightfully overlaps with basil season. So if you have a jar of pesto in the pantry, or homemade pesto in the refrigerator, I fully support adding a surprise layer inside this Zucchini Lasagna for extra summer flavor.
A slice of zucchini lasagna on a white plate.

Recipe FAQs

Can I skip all the cans of tomatoes and just use store-bought sauce?

You sure can. You’ll need 2 quarts (64 ounces) of sauce for one pan of lasagna. You might want to add a little extra water if the sauce is on the thick side. This lasagna recipe uses a fairly wet sauce so the zucchini noodles can soften in the liquid.

Can I bake Zucchini Lasgana in a disposable aluminum pan?

For a potluck-friendly (or busy weeknight) option, assemble Zucchini Lasagna in a recyclable 9- by 13-inch aluminum pan. It works well!

Italian Feast

Introducing: My favorite Italian feast! Featuring spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, Caesar salad, bruschetta, an antipasto platter, and pizzelle, this menu will have your grandma pronouncing it “Eye-talian” in no time. I know mine always…

View Recipe

Sides to try with Zucchini Lasagna

A slice of zucchini lasagna on a white plate.

Zucchini Lasagna

Grilled ribbons of zucchini stand in for lasagna noodles in this Italian comfort food entree. With layers of ricotta and marinara-coated ground beef, you won't even realize this is a low-carb casserole.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Servings 12 servings (1 slice each)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Calories 510

Ingredients 

For the sauce:

  • 2 pounds ground beef (see note 1)
  • 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes undrained
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste (see note 2)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (see note 4)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the zucchini:

  • 2 pounds zucchini ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch slices (see note 5)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for oiling dish

For the ricotta filling:

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese (see note 6)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For assembly:

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • fresh parsley minced, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place grilling pan into oven. Oil a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

To make the sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add beef (or sausage) and onion, and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Simmer uncovered until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like 1 ½ teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper). You should have about 2 quarts of sauce.

To make the zucchini:

  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add zucchini slices, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Toss to combine.
  • Remove preheated grill pan from oven, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and heat over high heat. Working in batches, grill zucchini until grill marks are on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and grill until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from pan and place on paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

To make the ricotta filling:

  • In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and salt. Chill until sauce and zucchini are finished.

To assemble and bake the lasagna:

  • In the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch dish, spread 2 cups meat sauce. Arrange a single layer of zucchini over the meat sauce. Spread with heaping 2/3 cups ricotta mixture. Top with about 1 ½ cups mozzarella. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Spoon 2 cups meat sauce over the cheese. Make another layer of zucchini, ricotta mixture (2/3 cup), mozzarella (1 ½ cups) and Parmesean (⅓ cup). Repeat layers one more time, for a total of three layers.
  • Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bubbling hot, and cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ground meat: You can do 2 pounds of ground beef, 2 pounds of ground Italian sausage, or 1 pound of each.
  2. Sugar: Even a tablespoon is too much for some people. If you don’t like the sound of sugar in your meat sauce, please leave it out. In my family, people add ¼ cup or even up to ½ cup.
  3. Italian seasoning: It’s easy to make your own homemade Italian seasoning with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
  4. Fennel seeds: The seeds make the Italian sausage flavors pop. If you love the taste of a sweet tomato sauce, use just ground beef (no sausage), at least ¼ cup sugar, and omit the fennel seeds.
  5. Grilled Zucchini: grilling zucchini helps remove water from the slices, ensuring you do not have a wet or soupy lasagna.
  6. Ricotta cheeseMake your own ricotta with just 4 ingredients: Milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt.
  7. Yield: This Zucchini Lasagna is made in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, enough for 12 generous slices.
  8. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  9. Make ahead: Make this recipe up to 3 days before you need it and keep it in the refrigerator. Reheat until heated through in a 375-degree oven until heated through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on a digital thermometer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 510kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 33gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 967mgPotassium: 964mgFiber: 4gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1208IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 435mgIron: 4mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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