I used to be skeptical of vegan lasagna—could it really be that good? This recipe is proof that yes, it really can. This vegan lasagna tastes as good as it looks.
My husband, who has a major weakness for creamy pastas, also found the concept of a cheese-less lasagna questionable. I figured this recipe would convince him, so I brought some home and put it in the fridge. I soon found the man in the kitchen, going back for seconds. Then thirds.
If you’ve been paying very close attention to my recipe substitution notes over the years, you may have tried this technique already. It’s based on the vegan variation of the cheesy roasted eggplant lasagna in my cookbook, Love Real Food (page 163). I shared the concept in my classic vegetarian lasagna recipe, too.
Today, I wanted to show you the results with photographic proof. If you’re in the mood for a dairy-free alternative to traditional cheesy lasagna, this recipe is for you.
How to Make the Best Vegan Lasagna
You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s why this recipe works:
1) Cashew cream in lieu of dairy
We’re replacing traditional mozzarella and ricotta with cashew-based sour cream. It’s easy to whip up in a blender. I’m still amazed by how well this “sour cream” concoction replaces all kinds of creamy, dairy-based cheeses and sauces. Some other recipes suggest blended tofu for this component, but cashew cream tastes much, much better.
One caveat—if you don’t have a heavy-duty blender, you’ll need to soak your cashews for a few hours before blending. If you’re blessed with a Vitamix (affiliate link) or similarly powerful blender, you don’t need to bother with the soaking step.
2) Vegetables for flavor and nutrition
We’re also building flavor by sautéing lots of vegetables and spinach. I used onion, carrots and mushrooms, but feel free to use whichever vegetables you have on hand (zucchini, bell pepper, or even butternut squash would work). Mushrooms are particularly good because they offer some umami depth to this meatless lasagna.
3) Garnish with more cashew cream, vegan Parmesan and fresh basil
We’ll layer up and bake this lasagna just like a regular lasagna. Once it’s out of the oven, we’ll drizzle a little leftover cashew cream on top. The cashew cream on the inside condenses as it bakes, so this adds a nice touch of irresistible creaminess.
Lastly, we’ll sprinkle on some vegan Parmesan, which is made with hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, and garlic and onion powder. It’s the perfect salty flavor booster. Add some fresh basil leaves if you have them!
Best Vegan LasagnaCourse: MainCuisine: Italian
Who knew vegan lasagna could be so delicious? This dairy-free lasagna recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients and tastes amazing. It’s the best! Recipe yields 8 servings.
- Cashew cream
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours if you do not have a high-powered blender
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-to-large yellow onion, chopped
2 large or 3 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 to 6 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you soaked your cashews, drain and rinse them until the water runs clear.
- In a blender, combine the cashews, water, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and mustard. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. If you’re having trouble blending the mixture, slowly blend in up to ½ cup additional water, using only as much as necessary. Set aside.
- Then, we’ll prepare the vegetables: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the onion, carrots, mushrooms, salt and several twists of black pepper. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until most of the moisture is gone and the vegetables are tender and turning golden on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add another splash of olive oil if necessary to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add a few large handfuls of spinach to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread ¾ cup tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread 1 cup of the cashew cream evenly over the noodles. Top with half of the veggies. Top with ¾ cup tomato sauce.
- Top with 3 more noodles, followed by another 1 cup cashew cream (save the leftover cream). Then add the remaining veggies.
- Top with 3 more noodles, then spread ¾ cup tomato sauce over the top to evenly cover the noodles.
- Wrap a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil around the top of the lasagna, making sure it’s taut so it doesn’t touch the top. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until it’s steaming and lightly bubbling at the corners.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Drizzle leftover cashew cream on top (if it’s too thick to drizzle, thin it out with a small amount of water first). Sprinkle vegan Parmesan and fresh basil on top, if using, then slice and serve.
- *HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE NOTE: You’ll need to double my marinara recipe to yield enough for this recipe, and then you’ll have extra. If you don’t think you’ll use it up within a few days, you can freeze it for later.
- **LASAGNA NOODLE RECOMMENDATIONS: I like to use DeLallo’s Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (affiliate link) and Whole Foods’ 365 No-Boil Lasagna Noodles. See below for gluten-free suggestions.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Substitute gluten-free lasagna noodles. Choose no-boil (oven ready) noodles if possible; if not, cook them according to package directions. (Fair warning, I tried using DeBoles brand of no-bake lasagna noodles and they weren’t quite done cooking in the time specified here. Reheated leftovers were ok, though.)
- CHANGE IT UP: Feel free to play around with the vegetables here. You’ll want to use about 3 cups chopped veggies total (excluding the onion). Butternut squash might be nice, or try one zucchini and one red bell pepper in place of the mushrooms.
- STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 4 days. Gently reheat individual servings in the microwave or oven as needed. Or, freeze it for later—it’s generally easier to reheat single servings than to defrost a big block of lasagna!