Cottagecore, but make it cheese.
Bake up this recipe for lasagna with cottage cheese, a delicious and satisfying Italian dinner. It’s about time cottage cheese made a comeback! It’s creamy, nutritious, and an easy substitute for ricotta cheese.
Meet this lasagna recipe with cottage cheese.
Is there really anything better than a homemade lasagna? Yes, if that lasagna is made with cottage cheese.
This creamy, mild-tasting fresh cheese made with fermented milk not only tastes good on its own or paired with fresh fruit, it also makes a perfect substitute for ricotta cheese when making Italian casseroles like baked ziti and lasagna, such as this.
Cottage cheese has multiple health benefits as well, providing a nice serving of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and gut-healthy probiotics.
This cottage cheese lasagna recipe comes together quickly and has the absolute best flavor, thanks to a simple combination of marinara, ground beef, the cottage cheese mixture, and no-bake lasagna noodles. Bake it in less than an hour and enjoy as a weeknight dinner or special weekend company meal.
Is lasagna better with cottage cheese or ricotta?
Some things are just a matter of taste, but many people prefer cottage cheese to ricotta in lasagna recipes. Cottage cheese has a creamy and thick texture, but not as dense as ricotta. This slightly looser texture is more spreadable, and helps achieve a slightly lighter — but no less satisfying — final texture.
Ricotta cheese is a more traditional Italian ingredient, but cottage cheese is its close cousin. Both cottage cheese and ricotta are made by separating curds and whey from milk: cottage cheese by bacteria, and ricotta with the addition of an acid.
Will my cottage cheese lasagna be watery?
No. As long as you use full-fat cottage cheese or low-fat and do not use fat-free cottage cheese, the lasagna will be creamy, not watery. The use of no-bake lasagna noodles, which absorb moisture from the sauce and cheese mix, helps ensure this as well.
How to use cottage cheese in place of ricotta in lasagna
Cottage cheese can be substituted in a recipe for lasagna without ricotta cheese, and vice versa, in a 1:1 ratio. The only additional adjustment will be use of salt. Cottage cheese traditionally contains more salt than ricotta, so be sure to adjust the quantity of salt up or down depending on which you are using.
Recipe for lasagna with cottage cheese: ingredients and substitutions
First, you can (as discussed above) substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese in a 1:1 ratio, only slightly adjusting the salt. The rest of the recipe remains the same. You can also use regular, cooked lasagna noodles, but do not boil the noodles beyond al dente, as the noodles will continue to pull moisture as the lasagna bakes in the oven.
I love the addition of ground beef cooked with small-diced onion, but you can easily leave it out to make it a vegetarian supper.
For this lasagna with cottage cheese recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- No-bake lasagna noodles
- Lean ground beef (or ground turkey, but I prefer the flavor of ground beef)
- Olive oil
- Diced onion
- Cottage cheese (use full fat or low fat, but not fat free)
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese and/or pecorino-Romano cheese
- Minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
- An egg (this helps hold the cheese mixture together)
- 24 ounces of marinara or other tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper
Cottage cheese lasagna recipe: Instructions
This recipe comes together easily. To assemble and bake the cottage cheese lasagna, you’ll layer the tomato sauce (homemade marinara or a good-quality jarred sauce such as Rao’s or Carbone’s), no-bake lasagna noodles, the cooked beef and onion, and your cheese mixture in a series of three additions.
Here are more specific directions for making this recipe lasagna with cottage cheese:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onions and beef. Cook, stirring often to break up the ground beef into small pieces, until fully cooked. You could also add a clove or two of garlic if you’d like, but I skip it because it is an ingredient in the tomato sauce.
- Add the marinara sauce and stir to combine into a simple meat sauce.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, the parsley, and egg. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Grease a 9 x 13 x 2″ casserole pan (slightly smaller is fine). Spoon enough tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to lightly coat. Lay three noodles over the sauce you just spooned over the bottom of the pan. Spoon and spread a heaping tablespoon of cottage cheese mixture onto each lasagna noodle. Spoon some tomato sauce onto each cheesed-up noodle.
- Repeat twice. Top with three final noodles, give the lasagna layers a light press with your hands, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake, covered tightly in aluminum foil, for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is fully melted.
- Remove the lasagna from of the oven. Loosely tent with the reserved aluminum foil and let the cottage cheese lasagna rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before sprinkling with some grated pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and parsley. Slice the lasagna into generous squares and serve hot.
Prepping, Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Notes
This easy cottage cheese lasagna recipe can be prepared up to a day in advance, and will keep for about 2 days once baked, covered, in the refrigerator.
I love to wrap and store cooled, individual squares of baked lasagna in the freezer. Reheat frozen lasagna in the oven, covered, at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
Love this cottage cheese lasagna recipe? You’ll also like these comforting Italian recipes:
- Baked Ziti With Ricotta
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli Soup)
- Sausage and Butternut Squash Lasagna
Lasagna With Cottage Cheese
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (or lean dark meat ground turkey)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into a small dice
- 24 ounces homemade or good-quality jarred marinara (see notes, below)
- 1 15- to 16-ounce container cottage cheese, preferably full fat
- 2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a mix, plus more to serve
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley, plus more to garnish
- 1 large egg, whisked
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 15 no-bake lasagna noodles
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9" x 13" x 2" (or so) casserole pan.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and diced onions. Cook, stirring often to break up the ground beef into small pieces, until fully cooked. Add the marinara sauce and stir to combine into a simple meat sauce. Remove the meat sauce from heat.PRO TIP: Break up the ground beef a lot while cooking. You want fairly small pieces of meat so the lasagna noodles can lie relatively flat when you layer the lasagna.
- While the beef mixture is cooking: In a mixing bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese, parsley, and egg. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. PRO TIP: Cottage cheese is typically fairly well salted, so you may find that you do not need to add any additional salt, especially if the tomato sauce is also well seasoned. Ricotta, however, is often less salty than ricotta, so you may need to adjust the salt if you're swapping in one for the other.
- Spoon enough tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish to lightly coat (about 1 1/2 cups). Lay three no-bake lasagna noodles evenly over the tomato sauce. Spoon and spread a heaping tablespoon of the cottage cheese mixture onto each lasagna noodle. Spoon some tomato sauce onto each cheesed-up noodle. Repeat twice: noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, noodles, cheese tomato sauce. You now have three full layers and should have used up all the cheese mixture.
- Top with three final noodles and any remaining tomato sauce. Give the lasagna layers a light press with your hands, and sprinkle the top all over with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil is tight; you'll need the moisture to stay in the help cook the lasagna noodles.PRO TIP: I like to spoon a tablespoon or two of water directly into the bottom of the casserole to help create a steam effect to help cook the no-bake lasagna noodles without drying out the finished dish. PRO TIP: Grease the aluminum foil on one side and place it greased side down over the lasagna. This will prevent any cheese from sticking to the foil while baking.
- Bake the cottage cheese lasagna, covered tightly in aluminum foil, for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese is fully melted.
- Remove the lasagna from of the oven. Loosely tent with the reserved aluminum foil and let the lasagna rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before sprinkling with some grated pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and parsley. Slice the lasagna into generous squares and serve hot, on its own or perhaps with a nice green salad or cooked Italian vegetable like broccoli rabe.