In this delicious zucchini lasagna, zucchini slices replace the noodles. This low carb, keto and gluten-free dish has all the wonderful flavors of lasagna, minus the extra carbs!
It’s not one of my easiest recipes. It requires several steps. But the final result is so good, so flavorful, that I think it’s well worth it.
Does it taste like regular lasagna?
Not exactly. And the texture is different too. But it’s an excellent low carb substitute. Zucchini slices don’t work as well as starchy noodles in terms of keeping the lasagna’s shape, so this dish is flimsier than the traditional noodle-based one.
But in terms of flavor, it’s another major victory to keto and low carb cooking, and another proof that the starches in many recipes merely absorb other flavors.
This dish tastes amazing. So good in fact that I don’t plan on making it too often, since I found myself having THREE, yes three big slices instead of the one I was planning to have. Yes, it is that good!
By the way, another really good low carb lasagna is this low carb spinach lasagna. And it’s easier to make, too.
The ingredients you’ll need
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this tasty zucchini lasagna. The exact amounts are listed in the recipe card below.
For the zucchini layer: Fresh zucchinis, olive oil spray, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Beef layer: Ground beef, garlic, olive oil, and marinara sauce.
Ricotta layer: Ricotta cheese, eggs, and fresh basil.
Mozzarella layer: Shredded mozzarella cheese.
How to make zucchini lasagna
The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Grill the zucchini. You start by slicing the zucchinis lengthwise, seasoning and grilling them.
Cook the beef with garlic, spices and marinara sauce.
Mix the ricotta cheese with eggs and basil.
Assemble the dish by layering the grilled zucchini slices, the beef, the ricotta, and shredded mozzarella.
Bake until hot and bubbly.
Why do you grill the zucchini slices?
Zucchini is very watery, so do go through the extra step of grilling the slices before assembling the dish. Grilling will help dry them off and remove some of the water. Otherwise, they will release their water into the lasagna as it bakes.
Grilling works best to remove the water. But as an alternative to grilling, you can bake the zucchini slices in a 500F oven until golden, about 5 minutes on each side:
Or, if using a broiler-safe baking sheet and unbleached parchment paper marked as broiler-safe, you can broil them 6 inches from the heating element (not directly below), 3-4 minutes per side. Remember to set the oven to 350F when you’re done.
But please keep in mind that grilling is by far the best way to remove water content and prevent a watery lasagna.
If you’d like, you can grill the zucchini slices the day before. Refrigerate them (place them on paper towels to absorb even more moisture), then assemble and bake the lasagna the next day.
I learned this trick from Pinterest user Margaret – thank you, Margaret, for the great tip!
What sauce to use in zucchini lasagna?
Needless to say, the flavor of your lasagna will greatly depend on the marinara sauce you use. I always use sugar-free pasta sauce, and my favorite is Rao’s. It has a clean list of ingredients and the spicy Arrabbiata sauce is wonderful.
Rao’s used to only be available at Whole Foods, but lately I’ve been seeing it in my supermarket too. Of course, just like everything else on earth, it’s also available on Amazon.
How to serve it?
This lasagna is a complete meal. So you don’t really need a side dish to go with it. But I sometimes add a green vegetable, such as steamed broccoli.
Reviews of this recipe
Pinterest reviewers seem to enjoy this recipe very much. Their pictures are gorgeous! And I love their interesting suggestions and substitutions. Here are a few of them:
- Add Mexican blend shredded cheese
- Use ground turkey instead of beef
- Use Italian sausage
- Another reviewer used ground pork
What about leftovers?
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power. You can also freeze the leftovers.
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- 5 medium zucchinis (2 lb. total weight)
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/3 cup marinara sauce, divided
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed (1 oz)
- 8 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grill the zucchini slices:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat your grill to medium. Slice the zucchinis lengthwise, into 1/4-inch-thick strips, getting 6 slices out of each zucchini.
- Spray the zucchini slices with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Grill the zucchini slices, in batches, 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and firm – not browned and crisp. Spread them on clean kitchen towels to soak up more moisture.
Cook the beef and prepare the ricotta layer:
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the meat, the minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until the meat is browned, 5-7 minutes. Drain into a colander, then return the meat to the pot and mix in 1 cup of the marinara sauce.
- In another bowl, with a fork, mix together the ricotta, eggs, basil, and the remaining kosher salt and black pepper.
Assemble the lasagna:
- Spread the remaining 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Top the marinara sauce with a layer of zucchini, then a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of the meat mixture, and a third of the mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat, arranging the zucchini slices in the opposite direction: zucchini, 1/3 ricotta, 1/3 meat mixture, 1/3 mozzarella.
- Repeat one last time, adding one extra layer of zucchini: zucchini, ricotta, meat mixture, more zucchini, and mozzarella.
Bake the lasagna:
- Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is golden, about 30 minutes. You can finish by broiling for 1-2 minutes on high to brown the cheese, if you wish and if your dish is broiler-safe.