This lasagna with cottage cheese is a lighter twist on the classic recipe without sacrificing any flavor! Hearty, creamy, and cheesy, this comes together in no time!
We come from a family of lasagna eaters.
It’s pretty much a weekly staple in our household and we don’t discriminate- we like all forms of it. Whether that be a low carb version, one made with seafood or zucchini, or one made with eggplant. When we want to lighten things up, we love to make a cottage cheese lasagna.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- A lighter lasagna. Ricotta is higher in calories than cottage cheese. Using cottage cheese instead of ricotta makes lasagna lighter without sacrificing its flavor.
- A perfect make-ahead meal. You can make cottage cheese lasagna up to 5 days in advance. Lasagna also freezes well. A frozen lasagna comes in handy whenever you don’t have time to make dinner or have unexpected guests.
- A crowd-pleaser. Lasagna is a comfort food everyone loves and this cottage cheese version won’t be an exception.
- Easily made gluten-free. Use gluten-free noodles to make this dish suitable for celiacs.
What I love about this recipe is just how similar it tastes to a classic Italian lasagna. Ricotta and cottage cheese are so similar, no one will be able to tell the difference!
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients that you’ll likely already have on hand. While you can use a store-bought or pre-made meat sauce, making your own is so much more delicious. Here is what you’ll need:
For the sauce:
- Ground beef. I prefer to use only ground beef for this recipe. You can replace some of the ground beef with ground pork.
- Tomato sauce. Use a can of good-quality tomato sauce. As tomato sauce is often flavored with onion, garlic, celery, and various herbs and seasonings, it provides a rich tomato base for the lasagna sauce.
- Crushed tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes are quite watery. You won’t need to add more water to the sauce when boiling it.
- Tomato paste. A small amount of tomato paste added to the sauce enriches the tomato flavors in it.
- Bell pepper. Chopped.
- Onion and garlic. To provide a rich flavor base for the sauce.
- Vinegar. Use red or white wine vinegar to balance out the acidity and tartness of the tomatoes.
- Italian seasoning. This is a combination of aromatic herbs and garlic powder. It gives earthy notes to the sauce.
- Herbs. I use dried oregano and chopped fresh parsley for this recipe.
- Sugar. You may need to add a small amount of sugar to the sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Salt. To taste.
To assemble the lasagna:
- Lasagna noodles. You will need 9 no-bake lasagna noodles to assemble this lasagna in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
- Cottage cheese. Use whole milk cottage cheese for the best flavor and texture.
- Mozzarella cheese. Grated mozzarella cheese melts perfectly layered between the sauce and the lasagna noodles.
- Parmesan cheese. To finish off the lasagna with a bold cheesy flavor.
- Basil and parsley. To sprinkle on the lasagna before serving.
How to make lasagna with cottage cheese
Lasagna always looks as if it takes a lot of effort to make. In reality, you only need to make the beef sauce and take a few minutes to assemble the lasagna. Here’s how you make this dish:
Step 1- Cook the sauce
Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, bell peppers, and minced garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant. Add the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the meat and cook it until it’s no longer pink.
Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add in the vinegar, Italian seasoning, dried oregano, and chopped fresh parsley. Season with salt and sugar to taste and allow the sauce to come to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens.
Step 2- Assemble the lasagna
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Start assembling the lasagna by adding a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of the dish.
Next, add a layer of lasagna noodles followed by 1/3 of the cottage cheese, and 1/3 of the grated mozzarella cheese, followed by more meat sauce.
Repeat the process until the lasagna noodles and the sauce are used up. Top with the remaining cheese along with grated parmesan cheese.
Step 3- Bake
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley and serve.
Which cottage cheese is best?
Not all cottage cheese is created equal. Besides the nutritional profile (fat-free, low cat, and whole milk), cottage cheese also comes in large curd, small curd, and smooth.
To replicate the same texture and flavor of ricotta cheese, always choose whole milk cottage cheese and either small curd or smooth. If your cottage cheese is large curd, simply blend it until smooth before adding it to the lasagna.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Use marinara sauce for the meat filling to save time. The flavor of marinara sauce is already well-developed and you won’t need to cook the beef sauce for long.
- Don’t use pre-shredded cheese. Freshly grated cheese melts better and tastes better too. Pre-shredded cheese contains starch and other unwanted additives.
- Take your time to divide the beef sauce and the grated cheese into even portions. Spread the sauce and the cheese evenly on the lasagna noodles so that each bite is full of flavor.
- While this recipe calls for only three layers of noodles, you can make 6 layers to make the lasagna more filling and feed more people. Simply double this recipe and you are good to go.
The beauty of this lasagna is just how easy it is to customize to change up ingredients or the flavor profile. Here are some suggestions:
- Use lean ground turkey. While traditional lasagna is made with ground beef, using ground turkey instead is a great way to make lasagna that is lower in saturated fat and higher in protein.
- Add baby spinach to the sauce. Spinach pairs beautifully with all lasagna ingredients and add pops of green to the beef sauce.
- Roast the bell peppers. Adding roasted peppers to the beef sauce will give it a hint of smokiness.
- Spice up the beef sauce. Add red pepper flakes to the sauce to make it mildly spicy. You can also use a spicy pork sausage along with ground beef to make the sauce moderately hot.
To store: Whether you have cooked it or not, cottage cheese lasagna will last up to 5 days in the fridge. Cover the lasagna with tin foil or food wrap before refrigerating it. You can also refrigerate leftover lasagna in an airtight container.
To reheat: The best way to reheat leftover lasagna is in the oven. Transfer the leftover lasagna to a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350F degrees for around 10 minutes or until the lasagna is heated through and the cheese on top is bubbly.
What to serve with cottage cheese lasagna
Because this is such a hearty and filling dish, we love to pair this lasagna with vegetables. Try some of these simple air fryer ones:
Frequently asked questions
While cottage cheese is not as creamy as ricotta, using it instead of ricotta is a great way to reduce the calories of lasagna. Cottage cheese contains fewer calories than ricotta but has a very similar flavor.
This recipe is gluten-free so long as you use gluten-free lasagna noodles. Check the label on the cottage cheese too. Some brands add wheat starch to cottage cheese to improve its consistency.
Yes, you can freeze lasagna made with cottage cheese. Assemble the lasagna, cover it with foil or food wrap and freeze it for up to 3 months.
When it’s time to bake the lasagna, remove it from the freezer and bake it covered until it defrosts and cooks. Remove the foil cover and bake the lasagna until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
Lasagna With Cottage Cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1/2 large bell pepper chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 28 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 14 ounces canned tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lb lasagna noodles
- 24 ounces cottage cheese
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
- 4 ounces parmesan cheese freshly grated
- In a non-stick pan, add the olive oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic, and cook until fragrant. Once cooked, add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it apart. Cook until no longer pink.
- Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes, along with the remaining meat sauce ingredients, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low and let everything simmer for 5 minutes, or until it has thickened.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or pan.
- To assemble the lasagna, add a thin layer of the meat sauce to the bottom. Next, add a layer of lasagna noodles, followed by 1/3 of the cottage cheese, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, followed by more meat sauce. Repeat this process until all the lasagna noodles are used up. Top with the remaining cheeses, along with the Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake the lasagna for 25 minutes, before removing the foil for another 15 minutes. Let the lasagna cook in the pan for 10 minutes, before slicing and serving.
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I am lactose intolerant, what can I substitute or how can I make a cottage cheese that is dairy free ?
Use lactose free cottage cheese, it’s readily available.
Well now…how did you get into my 60 year old recipe box??? That sounds like my recipe and yes, I always used cottage cheese! The major difference was 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 Italian sausage and homemade tomato sauce. Yes, cottage cheese tastes just fine! Thank you for the work you do providing good recipes. I use several of them…and collect quite a few that I haven’t used…yet! I don’t cook much just for myself anymore, but I sure like reading recipes and thinking…”oh, that would be good”, or “yes, that is easy”! 🙂
I’m Italian and switched to cottage cheese years ago. Ricotta has a tendency to get grainy. I do add lots of seasoning and an egg or two to the cheese and run my stick blender through it to smooth it out. Try it – I think you’ll like it.
as an Italian your recipe is fab!
nice ingredient swap and yes, don’t notice much of a difference in flavor with cottage cheese, so thank you!
Memories! My grandma used to make her lasagna with cottage cheese. I can’t wait to try this one. Your recipes are always so good. Thank You!
Absolutely yummy!!! Simple & one of the best lasagna recipes I’ve ever eaten!