This dairy free zucchini lasagna recipe is super fun to make, and is packed with nutrient dense vegetables, herbs, and loads of flavour!
Instead of regular wheat based lasagna noodles, this paleo lasagna uses zucchini lasagna noodles. When cut thinly with a mandolin, zucchini makes a really nice lasagna noodle alternative.
Instead of cow’s milk-based ricotta cheese, parmesan and shredded cheese like you’d normally find in a classic lasagna dish, I used Boursin dairy free garlic and herbs spread, vegan parmesan shreds, and vegan mozzarella shreds.
And lastly, instead of using only tomato sauce, I used about ⅔ puréed pumpkin and ⅓ organic pizza/pasta sauce. I like this method because it cuts down on the acidity of the tomatoes and adds a bit more flavour, texture and fiber.
Recipes substitutions and variations
Canned pumpkin substitutions: In this recipe I use a combination of canned puréed pumpkin and tomato-based sauce. If you want you can omit the canned pumpkin altogether and use only tomato-based sauce.
Tomato-based pasta/pizza sauce substitutions: If you prefer to avoid tomatoes/nightshades or high acid foods, you can omit the tomato sauce altogether and use only canned pumpkin purée. You’ll be surprised, canned pumpkin makes an excellent alternative to tomato and has a very similar consistency and flavour once you’ve added all the herbs and seasonings to your dish.
Fresh garlic substitutions: Instead of using fresh garlic cloves in the egg & cheese sauce and meat & vegetable sauce, swap it out for 1 tsp garlic powder in each.
Dried herb substitutions: If you prefer fresh herbs, feel free to use fresh oregano, basil, and parsley in this recipe. Fresh herbs always have a more aromatic and fresh flavour in recipes! Use double the amount if you are using fresh.
Ground turkey substitutions: In this recipe, I chose to use ground turkey but you can very easily swap it out for ground beef, ground chicken or ground pork. Basically, whatever type of ground meat floats your boat! If you use ground beef or pork, keep in mind they are fattier cuts of meat and this may contribute to the overall level of moisture (or “watery-ness”) of the lasagna.
Fresh green onion substitutions: Instead of fresh green onions, you can use freeze-dried green onions or chives. If you are using freeze-dried, instead of two bunches of fresh green onions, use 1 to 2 tablespoons dried.
Boursin dairy free herb and garlic spread substitutions: There are many dairy free herb and garlic spreads on the market these days. Any of them will work whether they are cashew based, coconut oil/starch based, or otherwise. Spread’em Kitchen also has some really awesome cashew based spreads.
Vegan parmesan substitutions: There are a number of brands these days that make vegan parmesan shreds. Grab whatever you can find, or alternatively you can just use additional vegan mozzarella or cheddar shreds which are more widely available in grocery stores.
Egg substitutions: To make this recipe without eggs, simply omit them from the cheese sauce layer. That layer might not firm up as well, but it won’t compromise flavour at all!
Zucchini lasagna noodle substitutions: If you’re just not feeling the zucchini lasagna noodles, swap them out for gluten-free or wheat based lasagna noodles, or any other sliced vegetable of your choice. Eggplant works really well! If you have a mandolin, you can slice all kinds of vegetables to use in your lasagna.
Dietary modifications for this recipe
Make this recipe nightshade free: Omit the tomato sauce and instead use only puréed canned pumpkin.
Make this recipe lower acid: Omit the tomato sauce and instead use only puréed canned pumpkin.
Make this recipe lower oxalate: Omit the tomato sauce and instead use only canned pumpkin purée. Instead of garlic and onion powder, use fresh onion and garlic cloves. Omit the celery and carrots from this recipe. Make sure all of your dairy free cheeses do not contain cashews, almonds or peanuts. From my experience, the coconut oil/potato starch cheeses are going to be lower in oxalates than say cashew based cheeses.
Make this recipe lower FODMAP: Omit the onion powder, fresh white onion and fresh garlic cloves. You can still use the green onions as they are lower in FODMAPS than regular onion. Reduce the amount of celery and mushrooms or omit them altogether. When choosing your dairy free cheeses for this recipe, preferably go for the ones that don’t have onion and garlic.
Make this recipe elimination diet friendly: Omit the eggs and instead of using tomato sauce, use only canned pumpkin purée.
Make this recipe vegan: Omit the ground turkey and eggs from this recipe.
How to make the cheese and egg layer mixture
- Combine 2 bunches of diced up green onion, 2 packages of herb and garlic dairy free cheese spread, 3 whole eggs and 3 cloves of garlic in your food processor.
- Blend your cheese and egg mixture thoroughly until it is smooth and the green onions have broken down.
How to slice your zucchini with a mandolin
- Wash both zucchinis and slice both the ends off.
- Using a mandolin, slice very thin zucchini slices. Be very careful once you start getting down to the bottom of it. Ideally, wear thick gloves or something to protect your fingers.
- This is what your zucchini slices will look like once you’ve cut them all.
How to layer your zucchini lasagna
- First start with a layer of your meat and vegetable sauce – roughly 1 inch thick or so.
- Next, completely cover the meat and vegetable sauce with evenly distributed zucchini slices.
- Pour in your blended cheese and egg mixture (instructions in recipe card).
- Spread out the blended cheese and egg mixture, completely covering the layer of zucchini. Be careful not to let the zucchini slices move around too much.
- Repeat a second layer of zucchini slices, making sure to cover up all of the cheese and egg layer evenly.
- Repeat a second layer of meat and vegetable sauce, again roughly 1 inch thick.
- Sprinkle in the full package of vegan parmesan cheese and spread it out into an even layer.
- Repeat a 3rd layer of zucchini slices, evenly distributed.
- Sprinkle vegan mozzarella shreds evenly on top of the zucchini.
- Bake your lasagna covered at 350 Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, and then raise your oven temperature to 400 Fahrenheit and continue baking uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
Pro tips for this recipe:
Cool this zucchini lasagna before cutting into it
If you want really nicely shaped and clean-cut pieces of lasagna to serve to your family or guests, cool this lasagna completely in the fridge before cutting into it for the first time. This will ensure that it completely stays intact and that you can see the various layers of the lasagna on the sides. Once you cut your pieces cleanly, put them on a microwavable plate and reheat in the microwave and serve.
Invest in a mandolin for cutting your zucchini
The trick to making the best zucchini lasagna noodles is using a mandolin. Mandolins allow you to get a super thin, consistent slice. The thinner the zucchini is, the less watery the dish will be overall.
How do you keep zucchini lasagna from being watery?
If your dish is packed with a lot of vegetables, it’s easy to go in the direction of being too watery because of their natural water content. If you find your meat and vegetable sauce is too watery after cooking it, feel free to drain off some of the liquid before adding it to your roasting pan. Another way to avoid a watery lasagna is making sure that your zucchini lasagna noodles are super thin.
How do you get moisture out of zucchini slices?
Salt your zucchini slices to draw out the liquid and then blot them with a dry paper towel before using them in your dish. It is also helpful to cut your zucchini slices as thinly as possible. The thicker they are, the more moisture they hold.
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If you liked my dairy free lasagna recipe, you might also like my paleo spaghetti recipe which also uses pumpkin instead of tomato sauce.
Dairy free zucchini lasagna recipe
- Large pot
- Stove top or induction burner
- Wooden spoon
- Roasting pan with lid
- Food processor
- Cutting board
- Large knife
Meat and vegetable sauce
- 1 small can puréed pumpkin 398 mL – 14 oz
- 1/2 small can tomato or pizza/pasta sauce roughly 200 mL
- 3 celery sticks
- 3 small carrots
- 1/2 lb mushrooms
- 1/2 white onion
- 2 fresh garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp freeze dried oregano
- 1/2 tbsp freeze-dried basil
- 1 tbsp freeze-dried parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 lb ground turkey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Cheese and egg layer
- 2 bunches of fresh green onion
- 2 packages of dairy free garlic and herb cheese spread I recommend Boursin or Spread’em
- 3 eggs
- 3 fresh garlic cloves
Zucchini lasagna noodles layer
- 2 zucchinis
Top cheese layers
- 1/2 package of vegan mozzarella shreds
- 1 package of vegan parmesan shreds
- Preheat your oven up to 350 Fahrenheit.
- Lightly chop up the celery, carrots, and 2 garlic cloves in preparation for the meat and vegetable sauce. Put them into your food processor and blend until everything is diced up really fine. This way you won't end up with large chunks of carrot or celery in your meat and vegetable sauce and you won't even know its there! Set aside for now.
- Dice up the white onion and mushrooms and set aside in a bowl.
- In a large pot on low to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add your diced up white onion and fry, stirring often until the onions are starting to caramelize and brown up.
- Next add your carrot, celery and garlic mixture from your food processor. Keep cooking on low until the carrot and celery mixture starts to soften up.
- Add your diced up mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for another few minutes until the mushrooms start cooking down.
- Add the ground turkey to the vegetable mixture and keep cooking, stirring often until the ground meat is mostly cooked.
- Add your seasonings including salt, basil, parsley, oregano, and onion powder. Stir everything together thoroughly.
- Add your pumpkin purée and tomato/pasta sauce to the meat and vegetable mixture and stir everything up until it's well mixed together. Continue simmering on low for an extra 10 or 15 minutes to let everything cook down and for all the flavours to mingle together.
- While the meat and vegetable sauce is simmering, you can make the cheese and egg layer. In your food processor, blend together 2 bunches of green onion (just the green parts), 2 packages of dairy free herb and garlic cheese spread, 3 eggs and 3 cloves of garlic. Set aside for now.
- While the meat and vegetable sauce is simmering you can also start preparing the zucchini noodles with your mandolin. Cut off both ends of your zucchinis with a knife and very carefully slice thin, round layers of zucchini with your mandolin. If you want you can also slice your zucchinis lengthwise to get a more classic lasagna noodle cut. If you do not have a mandolin, you can still cut the zucchini with a knife into thin pieces. Be very careful while using the mandolin and make sure your fingers are protected.
- Once your meat and vegetable sauce is done, you are ready to start layering your lasagna in your roasting pan.
- Add a 1 inch thick layer to the bottom of your roasting pan (or roughly ⅓ of the meat and vegetable sauce).
- Next, add a layer of thinly sliced zucchini on top of the meat and vegetable sauce. Distribute the zucchini slices evenly, making sure to cover the bottom layer (see photos and video above in blog post for layering examples).
- Top the zucchini layer with your blended cheese and egg mixture, making sure to evenly distribute it all the way to the edges of the roasting pan.
- Add a second layer of zucchini slices.
- Add a second layer of meat and vegetable sauce.
- Sprinkle on 1 package of vegan parmesan shreds and spread them around evenly.
- Add a third layer of zucchini slices.
- Add 1/2 package of vegan mozzarella shreds and spread them around evenly, being careful not to move any of the zucchini slices.
- Bake your lasagna at 350 Fahrenheit covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the oven up to 400 Fahrenheit and bake, uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
Tara Klippert is a Registered Health and Nutrition Counselor and holds a diploma in Holistic Nutrition and Health Coaching. She shares her gluten free, dairy free & allergy friendly recipes.