Spicy Kale Lasagna

This homemade kale lasagna uses no-boil noodles to cut down on prep time, and cottage cheese for a twist on the classic ricotta filling.

Spicy kale lasagna

Lasagna is one of those rare dishes that has it all. It’s comforting, but at the same time elegant. It’s substantial, yet also fairly economical. It can involve meat or easily stand on its own without. Basically, it’s the perfect versatile entrée to serve for guests or enjoy on a cozy night in (thank you, Italy!). It seems that many families have their own favorite recipe for this dish. For whatever reason it wasn’t a staple in my household, so Alex and I had to forge our way into new territory on this one. Three pans and a lot of research later, we’ve finally emerged with a recipe that we enjoy. This spicy kale lasagna takes a little over an hour to make, but it’s well worth the effort.

Eat plant based? Go to Favorite Vegan Lasagna.

You can use either curly kale or Tuscan kale in this lasagna.

What makes it the best kale lasagna?

If you’re hesitant to add kale to your lasagna, we urge you to try this recipe! The kale is boiled first and then doused in cold water to prevent it from cooking further. Since kale is a fairly tough leafy green, boiling it first ensures that no chewy bits make their way into your lasagna. After you’ve boiled the kale, make sure to wring out all the water so your lasagna isn’t too wet.

The earthy flavor of the kale is complemented by the spicy red pepper flakes, creamy cottage cheese, and gooey mozzarella, making this dish hard to resist. You’ll also make your own tomato sauce using crushed tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Of course, if all of this still hasn’t convinced you to make this spicy kale lasagna, feel free to use spinach or another leafy green instead!

Lasagna noodles

Important: use no boil noodles!

To cut down on the prep time for this kale lasagna, use no-boil noodles instead of regular noodles. They’re a little strange to use at first, but once you’ve tasted the final dish you’ll be amazed you’ve never tried no-boil noodles before! The noodles are specially formulated to re-hydrate while they’re baked in the tomato sauce. Because of that: do not use standard lasagna noodles for this recipe! You’ll risk ending up with a watery pan.

How to serve kale lasagna

You’re welcome to sneak some extra veggies into this spicy kale lasagna, but I really don’t think anything extra is needed here. The combination of cheese, kale, and tomatoes is simple but satisfying, and the layers of noodles will certainly fill you up.

What’s the best side to serve with lasagna? We think it’s a simplest old standard: a green salad! And don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of wine! Here are a few easy salads we’d recommend:

This spicy kale lasagna recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten free, use gluten free noodles.

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Sides to go with lasagna

Spicy Kale Lasagna

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (19 votes, average: 4.21 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


This homemade kale lasagna uses no-boil noodles to cut down on prep time, and cottage cheese for a twist on the classic ricotta filling.



  • 1 1/4 pounds kale (around 3 bunches)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (with herbs if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles (or noodles cooked according to the package instructions)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the kale: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Roughly chop the kale. Boil the kale leaves for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Using a towel, wring out as much water as possible from the kale. Chop it and season with kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Make the tomato sauce: Meanwhile, mince the garlic. In a cold saucepan, combine garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes (or less depending on your spice tolerance), and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to medium high heat, stirring as the mixture heats up. Saute for about 30 seconds, then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  4. Make the filling: Strain out all liquid from the cottage cheese (squeeze it in a strainer). Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
  5. Assemble the lasagna: Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles, then half of the cheese mixture, half of the kale, and half of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the remaining cheese, and the remaining kale. Top with the remaining noodles, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Adapted from Vegetarian Times

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: kale lasagna, vegetarian, easy, no boil

Looking for more vegetarian Italian recipes?

Outside of this spicy kale lasagna, here are a few of our favorite Italian recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I love the idea of doing a spicy version of the leafy green. I’ve done variations on vegetable lasagna with both red sauces and bechamel/white sauces. Usually my vegetable filling is just a combination of whatever leafy green vegetable plus whatever other vegetables I may have on hand. I recommend slicing up some mushrooms or bell peppers and sauteing them together, then mixing with cheese mixture (I usually use ricotta, parmesean mixed with one egg and salt and pepper). My layers are sauce, cheese/vegetable mix, noodle, sauce, etc.

    • Reply
      February 10, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Sounds excellent! We were going for a “simple-ish” recipe so did not add extra veggies, but we’ll definitely try that as a future variation!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Lasagna is on my short list, and this looks great! Fantastic photo.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    This sounds great! Definitely a new spin on lasagna that I’m hoping to try soon!

  • Reply
    Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul
    February 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Sounds and looks delicious. I realized that I don’t eat enough pasta!
    I’m going to try this asap!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    yummy way to include kale looks delicious

  • Reply
    Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit
    February 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I think you did a great job making it healthier! It looks absolutely delicious. I love that you tried it with kale. I’ll have to give that a go too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Wonderful recipe. A healthy alternative to a traditional favorite too.

    I’d love for your to submit them to Vegolicious, a vegetarian food photo gallery where readers can browse beautiful photos to discover new recipes and wonderful blogs. If you would like to share this recipe with our readers please submit http://www.vegolicious.com/submit a photo along with a link to this post.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 3:13 am

    This whole dish sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Love it! We’ve not made it to the Winter Farmer’s Market yet this year. Last year we were there every other weekend… Hope you two were warm and safe during the ice storm. I was amazed at how clear the roads were today.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Great use of kale! It’s a funky vegetable to cook, it’s so easy to get sick of it especially when your farmer sends it every.single.week. in your CSA. I’m totally snagging this recipe to get through the rest of kale season.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Mmmmm, this looks so good! I’ve used spinach in lasagna lots of times, but never kale – which is funny because I love kale! Definitely will have to give this a try!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 2:45 am

    I love kale, and I love lasagna, I think I will try it, your photos are compelling!

  • Reply
    Big Ed
    February 6, 2011 at 7:38 am

    You know Kale is on sale at Pogue’s Run Grocer, at 10th & Rural?

  • Reply
    February 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Usually I use ricotta for lasagna, but tonight I made it with cottage cheese and though it was delicious, it was a little bit too watery. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to drain the water off first. Next time I’ll try it your way. And I’m always looking for a way to use kale. Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

      We had the same problem with being too watery the first time we tried with cottage cheese as well! The next time we made sure to drain the whey, as well as squeeze out the kale as much as possible. You can also try to bake it a bit longer to remove more moisture. Let me know how it goes if you end up trying it!

  • Reply
    February 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thanks, everyone! I’m glad to hear so many of you are kale fans too!

  • Reply
    May 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi! If I decide to sub spinach for the kale, do I need to precook the spinach? Or just add it raw? Thanks :)

    • Reply
      May 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Yes, most recipes I’ve seen for spinach lasagna call for precooking the spinach. Make sure to squeeze it dry too to remove the extra moisture!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This is the best lasagne I’ve ever had(or maybe just beaten by my local italian restaurants ancient recipe – but hey, real italian food cooked by italians is the best..)
    I used spinach since it’s not kale-season in Denmark yet. I also used chilli and ground pepper instead of the pepperflakes, and it worked just fine. I forgot to buy cottage cheese, and used creme fraice instead and added nutmeg to it, which tasted brilliant!
    I served it with smoked salmon for my veggie-skeptical parents who loved the recipe!
    I’m definetly making this when I remember to get the right ingredients and when kale hit’s my grocery store(cause damnit – we danes can grow kale like no one else!) Having leftovers for lunch!

    • Reply
      August 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Haha, that’s wonderful! I think you’ve made enough substitutions to call it your own recipe, so I don’t think we can take any credit (except maybe for the inspiration)! I love the idea of craime fraiche as a cheese substitute — we aren’t big ricotta fans, hence the cottage cheese. We may have to try your version! (PS Did you put the smoked salmon in the lasagna too, or just on the side?)

      • Reply
        August 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

        I used the smoked salmon as a side dish along with the salad. But you could probably use it in the lasagne – but then it would be a different flavor, i guess)
        Thanks alot for the amazing recipe! And I’m glad you want to try my version ;)

  • Reply
    k @ that pink house
    October 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Made this and posted about it. It is wonderful!! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      October 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Awesome! Glad that you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    This is going to be our Christmas dinner this year, along with some olives from Goose the Market. Thanks, Sonja and Alex. -Brittany

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Oh, that sounds wonderful! Let us know how it turns out! (Just a tip – we found it works best with no boil noodles, and then letting it sit for a bit after baking to make sure there is no extra moisture.)

  • Reply
    April 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Great recipe! I just tried it out this weekend and absolutely love the flavours and the little kick the lasagne gets with the pepper flakes. Recommendable recipe and worth making many more times… Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Reply
      April 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      You are so welcome! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I’ve prepared the filling tonight (I added the kale to the cheese mix for an easier assembly tomorrow). It tastes wonderful. I have a question on the Parmesan cheese amount. It calls for 3/4 cup. It didn’t say divide, so that is the amount I put in the filling (the Mozzerella didn’t state to divide, but I had read the instructions first and caught that). The final step says to sprinkle the remaining 1 cup Mozzerella and another 1/4 cup Parmesan on top. My question is then, should it be a total of 1 cup Parmesan, or 3/4 cup, divided. I realize this is an old thread, but I hope to get the answer. I don’t want to over Parm my lasagna ;) tomorrow if I should just omit the additional 1/4 cup to the top. This is looking to be a wonderful dish so far! Thanks

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      December 7, 2019 at 9:37 pm

      Great question! I’ve updated the recipe to address what you noted — divided for both Parmesan & mozzarella. It should be 3/4 cup total Parmesan, so I’ve fixed to state 1/2 cup in the filling. However, over-Parming your lasagna would be a good thing! :) It will taste great. I’d still top with the 1/4 cup Parmesan — it will taste even better. Hope you enjoy!!!!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    I absolutely loved the outcome. This was fresh and healthy tasting. I liked how it came out crunchy on the top and so did everyone else. I accidentally left it in a little longer and the cheese was browned on top. Yum! The only thing I changed was cutting the red pepper to half and I used a full three bunches of curly kale, and I removed the big ribs of the kale first. I’ll be making this again for Christmas. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      December 11, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this, Suzanne! It would be absolutely perfect for Christmas. What a great idea! Thanks for making it!

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