Beefy Cottage Cheese and Spinach Lasagna (oven ready noodles)

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This Cottage Cheese Lasagna is a twist on a comfort food classic. With layers of noodles, rich and flavorful cottage cheese spinach filling, this lighter version of traditional lasagna has everything you'd expect from this beloved meal. The whole family is guaranteed to have dancing taste buds after the first bite. 
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Lasagna with spinach in a baking dish cut into 12 squares.

If you’re looking for the perfect meal to showcase your cooking skills, this homemade lasagna recipe will really wow ’em. With flavorful beef, a creamy filling and perfectly layered noodles, this crowd-pleaser is easy to make and ridiculously delicious. 

​The crazy part? Check out the nutrition facts! Lasagna is not usually considered a “light” dish, but this one won’t leave you feeling sluggish after. It’s high in protein, lower in calories and fat than a classic lasagna recipe but tastes just like the real deal.

For more easy lasagna recipes, check out my Lazy Lasagna and Turkey Lasagna Soup.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Only 277 calories per serving.
  • High protein.
  • Perfect meal to serve family and friends.
  • Everyone will love this one!

Cottage Cheese, we love you!

Cottage cheese is having its moment. With good reason! It’s low in carbs, fat and sugar, high protein and full of calcium. It adds creaminess to dishes without adding a ton of calories.

Add it to desserts, taco mac and cheese, dips, buffalo chicken lasagna filling or eat by the spoonful. Shine on cottage cheese, we love you.

Traditional lasagna uses ricotta cheese, which is delicious, but much more caloric than cottage cheese. Using cottage cheese gives our lasagna filling the same creamy texture, only lighter. More room for more lasagna!

You can blend the cottage cheese prior to adding to the filling, but I promise you won’t notice the small curds, so this step isn’t necessary.

Ingredients and Substitutions:

These are the main ingredients and substitutions for this cottage cheese lasagna. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients list and instructions.

Oven ready noodles, parmesan cheese, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, ground beef, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, eggs, cottage cheese, Italian seasoning,  oregano and chili powder for the lasagna.
  • Lean Ground Beef: you can use any meat your prefer for this lasagna. If using a full fat beef you will want to drain some of the excess liquid so it’s not to oily in the sauce.
  • Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles: regular lasagna noodles work great too but these really save the time with no boiling needed!
  • Marinara Sauce: use your favorite brand, I like using one with lower sugar when possible.
  • Cottage Cheese: this replaces the traditional ricotta cheese and it makes the best lasagna. You can use ricotta if you prefer.
  • Frozen Spinach: fresh works too! Either add directly to the filling raw or saute it down first.

Variations

  • Omit spinach completely!
  • Add shredded zucchini or carrots to the meat sauce. 
  • Use homemade marinara sauce.

Dietary Modifications

  • For gluten-free, use gluten-free lasagna noodles.
  • For dairy-free, use a dairy-free cottage cheese and omit the parmesan cheese. Note, this will change the taste and texture of your lasagna.
  • To lower the fat, use low fat marinara sauce.

How to make cottage cheese lasagna (a visual step-by-step guide):

Step 1: preheat oven and prepare the meat sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook until nice and browned, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Four images showing ground beef and onions browned in a pan with seasonings and marinara sauce.

Add the ground beef to the pan and break into bite-size pieces. Cook until fully cooked through, mixing often, approximately 5 minutes (image 1). Add the oregano, Italian seasoning, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper to the beef mixture (image 2). Stir to evenly coat the meat in the seasoning mixture (image 3). Add marinara sauce, combine, and simmer while you prepare the cottage cheese filling (image 4).

Step 2: make cottage cheese filling

Process images showing egg, seasonings, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and spinach mixed together for lasagna filling.

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (image 5). Mix well to combine (image 6). Add the defrosted and strained spinach to the cottage cheese mixture (image 7). Gently fold in the spinach to evenly combine with the cottage cheese mixture (image 8).

Step 3: layer your lasagna

Steps showing layering the lasagna with sauce, noodles, meat sauce, cottage cheese filling in a baking dish.

Spray the baking dish with nonstick spray. Add a dollop of the meat mixture to the bottom of the dish to lightly coat the bottom (image 9). Top with 4 noodles, the noodles are the width of the baking dish (short side) not the length (image 10). Top the noodles with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Top the cheese with half of the meat sauce and spread to evenly coat the dish with a spoon (image 11). Top the meat mixture with half of the cottage cheese filling and spread to evenly coat (image 12).

Lasagna steps repeated with noodles, meat sauce, cottage cheese filling and cheese on top.

Repeat the process once more. Add 4 lasagna noodles on top of the cottage cheese filling (image 13). Top with 1/2 cup cheese. Top the cheese with the remaining meat sauce and spread to evenly coat the dish with a spoon (image 14). Top the meat sauce with the remaining cottage cheese filling and spread to evenly coat (image 15). Top the cottage cheese mixture with one cup of shredded mozzarella (image 17).

Step 4: bake

Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, try to avoid touching the cheese on top so that it doesn’t stick to the tin foil. Bake for 50 minutes. 

Remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned and the sauce is nice and bubbly at the edges (image 17). Add fresh chopped parsley to the top of the lasagna and cut into 12 equal servings and enjoy. 

Fully baked, browned and ready to eat lasagna straight out of the oven.

Expert Tip!

Make a double batch .. you’re going to want it!

Recipe FAQs

What should you serve with your lasagna?

A side green salad, Caesar salad, and garlic bread never fails.

How do you store your leftover lasagna?

Store your leftover lasagna in an airtight container in the fridge or simply cover the dish with foil and place in the refrigerator.

How should you reheat leftover lasagna?

Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or an oven-safe dish at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through.

How do you freeze cottage cheese lasagna?

FROM THAWED: Prepare the lasagna through step 8. Wrap the unbaked lasagna tightly in plastic wrap in an oven-safe baking dish and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw completely overnight in the refrigerator, then bake for approximately 1 hour and 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until fully heated through.
FROM FROZEN: Assemble, freeze, and bake directly from frozen at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes until heated through, hot and bubbly.
You can also prepare the lasagna through step 8, cover in foil and place in the refrigerator for the following day. Reheat the same way as above as it’ll be far colder than if you prepared straight to baking.

Lasagna cut into 12 squares with 2 out and plate nearby.

If you make this recipe, please leave a rating and/or comment! Tag me on Instagram @ohsnapmacros, I love hearing from you!

Lasagna with spinach in a baking dish cut into 12 squares.

Cottage Cheese Lasagna

Danielle Lima
This Cottage Cheese Lasagna is a twist on a comfort food classic. With layers of noodles, rich and flavorful cottage cheese spinach filling, this lighter version of traditional lasagna has everything you'd expect from this beloved meal. The whole family is guaranteed to have dancing taste buds after the first bite. 
5 from 44 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 277 kcal

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Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef 96/4
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper or fresh cracked to taste
  • 32 oz. jar of marinara sauce (I use Raos)

Filling

  • 16 oz. low fat small curd cottage cheese Good Culture for best flavor
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded, 56g
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • fresh cracked pepper or pinch of black pepper
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach defrosted and strained

Lasagna

  • 8 oven ready lasagna noodles Barilla
  • 2 cups low moisture mozzarella cheese shredded, 224g

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook until nice and browned, approximately 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and break into bite size pieces. Cook until fully cooked through, mixing often, approximately 5 minutes. 
  • Add the oregano, italian seasoning, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper to the beef mixture and combine to evenly coat. 
  • Add sauce, combine and simmer while you prepare the cottage cheese filling. 
  • For the filling: combine the cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
  • Add the defrosted and strained spinach to the cottage cheese mixture and mix to combine.
  • Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Add a dollop of the meat mixture to the bottom of the dish to lightly coat the bottom. Top with 4 noodles, the noodles are the width of the baking dish (short side) not the length. 
  • Top the noodles evenly with ½ cup mozzarella cheese (56g), followed by half the meat mixture. Use a spoon or spatula to evenly spread the mixture over the noodles. Top the meat mixture with half the cottage cheese filling and spread to coat the top. Repeat with 4 noodles, ½ cup cheese, remaining meat mixture, remaining cottage cheese filling and 1 cup cheese on top.
  • Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Cover the dish with foil, try to avoid touching the cheese on top so that it doesn’t stick to the foil. Bake for 50 minutes. 
  • Remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned and the sauce is nice and bubbly at the edges. 
  • Top with freshly chopped parsley and cut into 12 equal servings and enjoy this easy lasagna recipe.

Notes

  • Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary with substitutions.
  • Defrost the spinach in the microwave and strain. I personally find it best to just squeeze the spinach with my hands to squeeze out as much water as possible. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 277kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 22gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 849mgPotassium: 183mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

52 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is our new favorite lasagna recipe! I would love to make a few of these ahead of time and freeze them (uncooked). Do you think this would work?

  2. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe! Great job!! Can I put this together in the morning and then keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to bake it for dinner? Not sure if that would mess with the oven ready noodles or not?

  3. 5 stars
    Holy crap! This is amazing! I’m bad at directions and could have done a better job portioning ingredients between layers, but this is a winner! Don’t be afraid of the cottage cheese. Thanks again for another great recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    Literally the best lasagna I have ever made! It’s just amazing that it’s also a healthier lighter option. Love this recipe so much!!! Thank you!!!!

  5. 5 stars
    So good and flavorful! Even my picky 9 year old approves-I was nervous with her because of the spinach but she liked it. I will definitely be adding this to our rotation.

  6. Can I use regular lasagna noodles instead of oven ready? Try to not buying anything more if I already have it my pantry. Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    This was so delicious and an easy lasagna recipe! I used fresh spinach and it tasted great. My whole family enjoyed it. We have loved every recipe we have made of Danielle’s!

  8. 5 stars
    Another winner. This lasagna was so good. My kids could not get enough of it. The seasonings were great. It will definitely be going in the regular rotation. I can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll be even better.

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