Classic Spinach Lasagna
Learn how to make classic spinach lasagna with a perfect ricotta filling! Each layer is made of tender lasagne noodles, lots of fresh herbs, a blend of melty Italian cheeses, and cooked spinach for some greens. The taste is amazing, cheesy, and picky-eater approved. It’s a recipe my family loves!
Lasagna is one of my favorite foods in the world to eat! It’s something my whole family enjoys and is ALWAYS in the mood for.
This spinach lasagna is like a classic cheese lasagna but with a subtle hint of green spinach added to the ricotta filling. But, I promise, you cannot even taste the spinach! That’s how much it blends in with the dish. In fact, I taste-tested this lasagna on my 8-year-old niece and she confirmed it was delicious and she could not taste the spinach. So it’s a perfect recipe for kids and picky eaters!
I also made this lasagna for my parents when they came over for dinner; they all loved it! It has so much flavor from the rich marinara, and fresh herbs, to fresh Parmigiano Reggiano in every bite.
Lasagne is a very simple Italian dish, but the secret lies in the quality of the ingredients and ingredient ratios to perfectly balance the flavors! You’ll find all the important details below.
One of the best things about lasagna is you don’t need a ton of complicated ingredients to make it! And if you don’t have everything listed, we have some simple ingredient swaps if needed.
Besides olive oil and salt & pepper, here is the full list of ingredients needed…
- Lasagne noodles: Use boiled noodles for authentic taste and texture! But if you need to save time you can also use no-boil/oven-ready noodles as well.
- Spinach: I use fresh spinach for this recipe, but you can of course swap it for frozen spinach or even frozen kale! The spinach gets cooked and then layered into the lasagna with the ricotta cheese filling.
- Marinara/tomato sauce: using a quality marinara is key for a delicious lasagna! We like to use homemade sauce by using either our San Marzano tomato sauce or our spicy arrabbiata sauce if we want some heat. If you want to save time and skip making your own sauce, use our favorite store-bought sauce instead!
- Ricotta: This creamy Italian cheese is used as the main layering ingredient. You can also use mascarpone cheese or for more protein – cottage cheese!
- Egg: This is used to bind the ricotta filling ingredients together!
- Fresh garlic cloves: garlic is key for flavoring the ricotta filling that gets layered throughout the lasagna! Fresh garlic is best for flavor, but you can also swap it for garlic powder/granules.
- Parmesan cheese: Sprinkle fresh Parmigiano Reggiano throughout each layer for amazing flavor. This famous Italian cheese adds a delicious salty flavor you must have in a lasagna! You can of course use pre-shredded parm, but a block of fresh parmesan is better for melting and has a more authentic flavor.
- Mozzarella: this creamy Italian cheese is very mild in flavor, but it’s used in lasagna because of its creamy, melty consistency when baked!
- Fresh basil & oregano: herbs are incredibly important for making a flavorful lasagna! I recommend using a blend of basil and oregano – fresh herbs are recommended for the best taste.
How to Make Spinach Lasagna (Step-by-Step)
Prep the Pasta and Filling
Boil the lasagna noodles. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with a generous handful of salt – about 2-3 Tablespoons! Don’t worry, this is flavoring the noodles. It is very hard to over-salt pasta water! Cook the pasta as the box instructs until the texture is al dente.
Cook the spinach. While the pasta cooks, cook the spinach with 2 teaspoons of olive oil until it’s completely wilted and cooked down.
Mix the ricotta filling together. First, make sure the cooked spinach has cooled. Then add it to a medium-sized mixing bowl with the ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fresh basil & oregano, and salt & pepper. Mix together.
How to Layer Lasagna
First, spread the sauce. In a large casserole/lasagna dish, spread a generous layer of sauce that completely covers the bottom of the dish.
Layer the noodles. Then, layer the noodles. Make sure each area is completely covered. I had to cut my noodles a little shorter to fit the dish, so adjust the size of the noodles as needed!
Add the ricotta filling. Measure and spread 1/3 of the ricotta filling over the noodles.
Spread more sauce. Next, spread another thin layer of sauce over the ricotta filling layer.
Sprinkle with cheese. Then, sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheese over top. Then repeat another 2 layers so the lasagna has 3 complete layers. Finish the last layer with mozzarella and parmesan cheese!
Bake! Then bake at 375F for 20 minutes covered with foil, then 20 minutes uncovered. Slice into 9 pieces and serve!
Special Lasagna Tips
Keep the cooked pasta noodles in cold water to prevent sticking. My mom taught me this trick! If your pasta noodles are finished cooking and you’re not using them right away, drain them and place them in a dish or back in the same pot and cover them completely with cold water. This will prevent the noodles from sticking together while they’re set aside!
Use freshly shredded cheese for the best results. Freshly shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese are essential for producing a melty, cheesy lasagna, and of course, have delicious flavor! I don’t recommend using pre-shredded bagged cheese because they typically include anti-caking ingredients and lack a lot of moisture.
Use oven-ready/no-boil pasta noodles to save time. Although I think boiled pasta noodles are best for authentic lasagna taste and texture, you can also save time by using no-boil noodles. These noodles require zero boiling in water and can be layered in the lasagna right from the box. They’ll cook and soften while the lasagna bakes! If using no-boil noodles, the noodles will need to be completely covered in sauce and cheese and tightly covered with foil so they cook properly while baking.
Fresh herbs are a must! I highly recommend using fresh basil and oregano to add vibrant flavor to the recipe! I know dried herbs are more convenient than fresh, but dried herbs will not have the authentic flavor we want.
Strain the ricotta to prevent a watery lasagna. All ricotta cheese is different, if for some reason your ricotta has a lot of liquid in it, you can strain it through a fine-mesh strainer. Having the extra liquid in the mixture can potentially make the lasagna more watery!
Recipe variations. If you’d like to add more ingredients to this lasagna, for meat you can add cooked ground beef, chicken, turkey, or Italian sausage. For more vegetables, you can add roasted peppers, carrots, cauliflower, or mushrooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make it gluten-free? You can! Use gluten-free lasagna noodles instead of regular wheat noodles.
What is the best size dish for lasagna? When making lasagna it’s important to use a dish that can fit the noodles in length and has the proper depth for layering. The ideal-sized lasagna dish is 9×13 with a 2-3 inch depth for a proper three-layer lasagna.
Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh? Yes, you can! But, you will need to remove excess liquid from the frozen spinach before mixing it in. Thaw the frozen spinach and use either a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to press or squeeze the liquids out. Then add the spinach to the ricotta filling!
Can I make it ahead of time? Yes, lasagna is great for making ahead. But, I recommend making lasagna no more than 6-8 hours before serving. You can assemble and refrigerate it until ready to bake!
How do I fix a watery lasagna? If the lasagna is baked and turns out watery, keep it uncovered and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the liquids are soaked up.
Tips for Freezing & Reheating Lasagna
Freezing lasagna (unbaked + baked) – You can freeze lasagna in two ways. Assemble it (without baking), wrap the dish several times with plastic wrap and then cover it with foil, then freeze. Or bake the lasagna and let it completely cool before freezing. This lasagna can be kept frozen for up to 1-2 months.
Reheating/cooking frozen lasagna – Let the lasagna thaw completely in your refrigerator or at room temperature. If the lasagna is not cooked, bake it as instructed in the recipe. If the lasagna is cooked and frozen, let it thaw completely and reheat it in the oven covered with foil for about 20 minutes at 375F or until it’s hot in the center and the cheese is bubbling.
What to Serve with Lasagna
Salad: Whenever we make lasagna we always serve it alongside a fresh salad such as our Tuscan artichoke salad, greek chickpea salad, or for summer time this grilled corn and tomato salad.
Bread: crusty Italian bread or sourdough is always a must for my family when it comes to lasagna! We love to dip it into the leftover sauce on our plate.
Roasted vegetables: If you’d like to add more vegetables aside from a salad, you can also serve up roasted asparagus on the side or baby broccoli.
More Lasagna Recipes To Try
If you love lasagna as I do, you might also be a fan of our vegetable lasagna, or if you love meat our sweet & spicy Italian sausage lasagna! For a gluten-free, low-carb lasagna try our eggplant lasagna or zucchini lasagna – both are so so good.
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Classic Spinach Lasagna
Learn how to make classic spinach lasagna with a perfect ricotta filling! Each layer is made of tender lasagne noodles, lots of fresh herbs, a blend of melty Italian cheeses, and cooked spinach for some greens. The taste is amazing, cheesy, and picky-eater approved. It's a recipe my family loves!
- 1 box lasagne boil noodles (see notes if using oven-ready noodles)
- 8 cups tomato sauce/marinara
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Ricotta Spinach Filling
- 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 heaping cups fresh spinach (about 1 cup of cooked spinach)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 egg
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.
Boil the noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (about 1 Tablespoon of salt in the water). Once it comes to a boil, carefully place the dry lasagna noodles into the water and cook as the packaging instructs for "al dente" in texture. When they're cooked, drain the water out. Note: If you are not using the noodles right away, place them back in the pot and cover the noodles with cold water to prevent them from sticking.
Cook the spinach: While the noodles are cooking, heat up a pan with the olive oil in it and cook the spinach in batches until it's completely wilted. Once it's cooked, remove the spinach from the heat and let it cool. Drain any extra liquid from the spinach.
Make the ricotta filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the ricotta, cooked spinach, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, fresh basil & oregano, and salt & pepper.
Layer the lasagna: in a 9×13 baking dish spread the bottom with 1 1/2 cups of sauce, then a layer of lasagna noodles (if the noodles were in cold water be sure to shake off any extra water), and 1/3 of the ricotta filling. Then top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Repeat until the ingredients are used up (it should equal three layers. Finish the final layer with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese on top.
Bake: Then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Broil for the last 30-60 seconds to brown the top. Remove the lasagna and let it cool for 8-10 minutes before slicing it into 9 pieces. Serve with fresh basil and enjoy!
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