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This cheesy, saucy Zucchini Lasagna with Noodles is so easy to make and layered with amazing flavor. A simple combination of a quick homemade marinara, pasta, summer squash, and cheese create a fantastic, satisfying meal that I guarantee won’t be watery.
Lasagna doesn’t have to be the traditional, heavy layers of meat and cheese. It’s actually just a technique that can apply to all sorts of ingredients, vegetables included.
My zucchini lasagna with noodles is a lighter but truly satisfying alternative to traditional recipes. It’s cheesy, perfectly layered, and has never once come out watery! It’s the kind of recipe where you look forward to the leftovers.
Not only is it insanely good, but it’s also so easy to make from scratch! I’ve included step by step instructions for building it, and even some suggestions on how to take my version and make it your own.
Ingredients & Substitutions
What I love about this recipe is that it’s just four simple components. There’s the tomato sauce, zucchini noodles, pasta noodles, and cheese. It sounds too good to be true, but this combination delivers HUGE flavor, I promise.
- Marinara sauce – you can use your favorite recipe of course, but I make it with a simple combination of canned tomatoes, spices, salt, and dried herbs. Either crushed or pureed tomatoes are my preference and recommendation.
- Pasta – There are lots of options here. Many zucchini lasagna recipes call for no pasta, but here’s why I include it – water absorption and flavor. The noodles absorb all the moisture released from the squash and turns a could be watery mess into a cheesy zucchini lasagna that holds together beautifully.
- Zucchini – You want to cut these thin, lengthwise, but not so thin they’re see-through. I like a nice ⅛” thickness.
- Mozzarella cheese – I only use one cheese, and mozzarella that I shred myself. It melts perfectly, it’s creamy, and doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors. I’m usually a big fan of fresh mozzarella, but be careful because they contain a lot of moisture and can make things too watery.
Go for the smaller zucchini – the larger the squash, the more water they contain. Nice small to medium ones will produce a lot less water in your lasagna.
Types of Pasta You Can Use
I prefer and recommend a nice homemade pasta if possible. I use my semolina pasta dough, which has a beautiful chew and sturdiness to it. But I totally understand if you’re not up to making pasta!
You can use traditional lasagna noodles, but only par-cook them. Pull them from the water 2 minutes before they’re done. That way they can still absorb all that zucchini liquid without getting gummy.
Another great option are no-cook noodles. That’s my choice when I don’t have time for fresh pasta. They’re literally built to take in the liquid from cooking.
Layers Designed to Prevent Watery Lasagna
Now I want to share with you how to build your zucchini lasagna with noodles so it holds together. Follow this pattern to have a well-structured and tasty veggie lasagna.
- Sauce + Cheese
It may seem odd to have pasta following pasta with only sauce between, but I promise it’s there for a reason. One of the biggest complaints about zucchini lasagna is that all the liquid creates a watery bottom in your casserole dish. I’ve constructed it in a way that uses it so you have a beautiful layered casserole at the end.
This really is super simple to make, but here are a few tips that you can use to make sure yours is perfect every time.
How to Cut the zucchini for lasagna – I use a mandoline set to a thin setting. My slices are about ⅛” thick. It helps make them uniform and it’s easy. You can definitely use a knife! If you’re not comfortable with a knife, then use a vegetable peeler. The slices will be much thinner, so stack a few together to make the proper thickness.
Make the Sauce Second – I always just toss together the quick marinara. You can use any recipe you like, or even a Bolognese or spaghetti sauce. But I’ve shared in the recipe card how to make a super simple tomato sauce that uses canned tomatoes so you can make a homemade zucchini lasagna with noodles anytime you like.
Use and 8×8 pan – The recipe is written for a square 8×8 pan. You can use a 9×13 if you double the recipe.
How to prevent watery zucchini lasagna
First, cut the squash before you do anything else. Just being sliced in the open air will dry them out some. Second, follow my layering instructions to make sure there’s enough pasta to absorb the excess water.
Second, bake uncovered. It allows moisture to evaporate, but also the cheese on top to be all browned, bubbly, and gooey by the end.
Finally, let it REST! A piping hot zucchini lasagna fresh from the oven is going to be more liquid just from heat. Let it sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving. I promise, it’ll still be plenty hot when you eat.
Yes! I love making it as a freezer meal. Assemble the lasagna to the point of being ready to bake, then cover and freeze. When ready to cook, place frozen lasagna in a preheated 350°F oven and bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and finish baking for another 25-30 minutes.
Absolutely. The cheesy, veggie layers with pasta are hearty enough to be filling but you can add meat as desired. Either brown ground beef or turkey and add it in with the sauce layers, or use your favorite Bolognese. I’ve used my homemade spaghetti sauce with great success!
Yes, feel free to add other veggies like spinach, mushrooms, or carrots. I prefer to sauté the spinach or mushrooms before adding them in. Carrots do well when shredded so they’ll be nice and tender at the end.
This particular recipe is designed to use noodles to absorb the excess moisture released from zucchini during cooking. If you choose to forgo it, you’ll need to account for that liquid in another way.
Layer the squash slices on a paper towel after slicing and lightly salt. Leave them for 30 minutes then rinse and press between a few layers of fresh paper towels. That should help.
Nope, you can use a vegetable peeler or a good old-fashioned knife. You’re aiming for ⅛” thickness, so if you use a peeler, you may have to stack a few slices to achieve that.
Yes! You can use any type of summer squash or even use thin slices of eggplant and it’ll work just fine.
Sure, I’ve been short on mozzarella once or twice and added parmesan to the top layer with great results. Mascarpone is nice, and if you like ricotta that can be good too, just make sure to drain it well. I personally would mix mozzarella and creamier cheeses in each layer, rather than replace all of it.
I’m serious when I say this is the best, most perfectly structured, cheesy, zucchini lasagna with noodles. It’s a lighter version of traditional lasagna, made from scratch in less than an hour, and a fantastic, comforting dinner. It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes I’ve created for the blog, so I really hope you enjoy it too. Let me know how it goes, and as always, Happy Eating!
The BEST Zucchini Lasagna with Noodles
- 9 x 9 casserole dish
- 2 zucchini small/medium (large ones contain too much water)
- 12 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 pasta sheets*
- Slice the zucchini in to 1/8 inch thick slices and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the marinara by combining the crushed tomatoes with the garlic, onion, oregano, basil, and salt in a pan.
- Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and taste, adjusting as needed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- While the sauce is simmering, roll out pasta if needed and shred the mozzarella.
- Start layering the lasagna in an 9×9 pan. Spread 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom.
- Place two pasta sheets, trimmed to fit, on top. Add 1/3 of the mozzarella and a single layer of zucchini on top. Add another 2 pasta sheets on top.
- Repeat the layers – sauce, pasta, cheese, zucchini, pasta
- Add sauce on top of that, then the final layer of pasta sheets. Top with the final portion of sauce and cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until the top if bubbly and browned.
- Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes after baking before serving.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.