This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy.

Vegetarian lasagna

When it comes to lasagna recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta, aka vegetarian lasagne! We’ve been honing meatless lasagna recipes for years. This one is the culmination of all of our research: and dang, is it good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece! At least, who we’ve met. Here are all our secrets.

Ingredients in vegetarian lasagna

Did I mention that we love easy recipes: or at least, recipes that are pretty simple to put together? The spinach ricotta filling in this vegetarian lasagna recipe is elegantly simple, with no need to chop a long list of ingredients. We’ve also got lots of time saving ideas for those evenings where you don’t have time to make your own marinara. Here’s what you need for this vegetarian lasagna:

  • Tomato sauce: homemade or purchased (see section below)
  • Lasagna noodles (dried or fresh)
  • Baby spinach (or frozen)
  • Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lemon zest
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
Vegetarian lasagna recipe

Make homemade tomato sauce, or find your favorite brand

This vegetarian lasagna recipe features our favorite homemade tomato sauce for lasagna: made with garlic, tomatoes and our secret ingredient: dried tarragon. Here are a few notes about each type of sauce:

  • Make the homemade sauce for great flavor. When you have time, a homemade tomato sauce is where it’s at! This sauce is full of big flavor and takes only a few minutes of hands on time: it can simmer while you prep the other ingredients. Dried tarragon adds big Italian flavor: but if you can’t find it, you can use oregano as a substitute.
  • Or, go easy with purchased marinara! There are lots of nights where we want a shortcut. These days there are many high quality marinara brands on the market: look for organic if you can! Grab enough for 4 cups of sauce.
Easy marinara sauce

Substitute frozen spinach for fresh

Here’s another way you can customize this vegetarian lasagne recipe to your tastes: you can use fresh or frozen spinach! Here are the benefits of both:

  • Fresh spinach is tasty and often on hand. We often have a big box of baby greens in our refrigerator, so we love using fresh spinach here. It takes just a few minutes to wilt down on the stovetop.
  • Frozen spinach offers maximum flexibility! Frozen spinach is easy to stock in your freezer for whenever you have a lasagna craving (or spinach artichoke dip!). Make sure defrost and squeeze out all the water before you use it.

The best vegetarian lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese

Why make a vegetarian lasagna recipe with ricotta? Ricotta cheese is a creamy Italian cheese with a mild flavor. It’s most famously used in lasagna recipes to make that beautifully creamy, cheesy layer. We love it in this lasagna with ricotta because it has the best classic flavor.

  • What are other ways to use ricotta? Smear it on toast, swirl it into pasta, dollop it into scrambled eggs or even spread it onto a pizza. Want ideas? Go to these Genius Ricotta Recipes.
  • What are some substitutes for ricotta in lasagna? Don’t have ricotta, or don’t want to use it? You can also use the same amount of cottage cheese (if you can, food process it first) or creme fraiche as a substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
Lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese

Other filling variations!

Want to change up this lasagna recipe with ricotta? Here are some additional filling ideas that would go well with spinach and ricotta:

  • Spinach mushroom lasagna: Make the spinach and mushroom filling from Vegan Lasagna and substitute it for the spinach (with or without the cashews).
  • Kale lasagna: Make the spicy kale filling instead of spinach from Spicy Kale Lasagna.
  • Chard lasagna: Chop 2 bunches rainbow chard and wilt it down following the instructions in the recipe.

Make ahead and storage info

How to store vegetarian lasagna? Can you make it ahead? Here are a few pointers for this recipe:

  • Make ahead ideas: As noted above, you can use purchased marinara to make this recipe a little quicker. You can also cook the spinach in advance (or use frozen spinach). Mix up the cheese filling and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  • Or make ahead the entire pan: Make the vegetarian lasagna prior to baking, then refrigerate overnight. Increase the bake time as needed to cook until it’s warmed through and the cheese has melted.
  • Storage info: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Or freeze them: it’s easiest to cut it into single servings and freeze each in separate containers. To reheat, defrost the vegetarian lasagna the refrigerator, then place in a baking dish, cover with foil and reheat at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until warmed through.
Lasagna with ricotta

Sides to serve with vegetarian lasagna

The great thing about a vegetarian lasagna recipe? You can use the long bake time to prep some tasty side dishes! It makes a fabulous warming winter meal, fall dinner, or filling meal for a crowd. Here are a few sides that pair well with lasagna:

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free lasagna noodles.

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Vegetarian lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna with Ricotta


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 9 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This vegetarian lasagna recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The easy spinach and ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy.


Ingredients

Scale

For the tomato sauce (or substitute 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce)

  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, fire roasted if possible
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or oregano)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)

For the lasagna

  • 10 to 12 lasagna noodles (8 ounces, gluten-free as necessary)*
  • 5 ounces baby spinach** (or 8 cups chopped spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 16 ounce (2 cups) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Boil the noodles*: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the noodles until just before al dente, according to the package instructions, stirring often. Drain the noodles, then drizzle a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil. Lay the noodles flat onto the sheet, then turn them over so they become coated with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Prepare the tomato sauce (or skip with purchased marinara): Mince the garlic. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring frequently. Once the garlic is fragrant after about 1 or 2 minutes, turn down the heat and carefully add the tomatoes (avoid any momentary spitting), tomato sauce, basil, tarragon or oregano, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Remove ¼ cup of the sauce and stir it with the cornstarch, then add it back to the pan (this helps to thicken the sauce). Simmer on low heat while making the remainder of the recipe, at least 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Wilt the spinach: In a large skillet, mound the greens and ¼ cup water in the skillet and cook, stirring often, until completely wilted and reduced, about 3 minutes (the greens significantly reduce when cooking; if necessary, sauté in batches.) Sprinkle with 2 pinches of kosher salt and stir, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled, use your hands to squeeze out all excess liquid and discard. Roughly chop the spinach.
  5. Prepare the cheese filling: Destem the thyme, then roughly chop the leaves. Add 1 ½ tablespoons thyme to a medium bowl and reserve about ½ tablespoon for topping the lasagna. To the bowl, add the lemon zest, nutmeg, ricotta cheese, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Layer the lasagna: In a 9” x 13” baking dish, spread ½ cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then top with 1 layer of noodles, half of the cheese mixture (in dollops then spread it out), half of the greens, and about 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat again: 1 layer of noodles (you may need to cut a noodle in half for the side, depending on your pan), the remaining cheese mixture, the remaining greens, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Finally, top with noodles (again, you may need to cut a noodle in half for the top layer), then the remaining 1 ½ cups of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the entire top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, and ½ tablespoon thyme.
  7. Bake the lasagna: Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving (this allows the lasagna to set). Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days and reheated in a 375°F oven.

Notes

*If you use fresh lasagna noodles, they don’t need to be boiled. 

**You can also substitute ¾ cup frozen spinach. Defrost it and squeeze of excess liquid: you can skip the cooking step. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired

Keywords: Vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian lasagna recipe, vegetarian lasagne recipe, lasagna recipe ricotta, lasagna recipe with ricotta cheese, lasagna with ricotta, lasagna with ricotta cheese

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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2 Comments

    1. You can ! Make the vegetarian lasagna prior to baking, then refrigerate overnight. Increase the bake time as needed to cook until it’s warmed through and the cheese has melted.