Lasagna made with Cottage Cheese
Lasagna with Cottage Cheese has been an affordable and delicious favorite of Midwestern families for generations. Layers of rich meat sauce, pasta, creamy filling and cheese make this the best meal!
This Lasagna Recipe with Cottage Cheese has been in my family for generations!
Today, I’m sharing my family’s recipe for lasagna with cottage cheese. My mom got the recipe from her mom, and she often made this for Christmas day when I was a kid (and sometimes my birthday, too!).
First things first, let’s get this out of the way: Is this lasagna recipe with cottage cheese authentically Italian? No. Is it delicious? Absolutely.
YES, as the name makes crystal clear, this is lasagna without ricotta, and it uses cottage cheese instead. Yes, I know that ricotta is more traditional in authentic Italian food.
But hey, this recipe is from the Midwest (ope!), where cottage cheese is readily available, affordable, and delicious, and I am here. for. it.
Why you will love this Lasagna with Cottage Cheese
- One of the very best freezer meals ever. Bake, cool, then cut into pieces and freeze for several future meals.
- Won’t empty your wallet. Putting together a big pan of lasagna can be a pricy proposition, but using cottage cheese and deli mozzarella slices instead of expensive ricotta and fresh mozzarella helps keep costs down.
- Customize to your liking by using a combo of beef and sausage, all one or the other, or another meat like ground turkey.
Cottage Cheese Lasagna ingredients
- meat – you’ll need 1-1/2 pounds total meat for the sauce. My mom likes a combination of ground beef and mild Italian sausage. My dad and I like a combo of ground beef and spicy Italian sausage. You could also do all beef, no sausage, but I believe the sausage adds an essential depth of flavor to this dish.
- onion – adds aromatic depth of flavor to the meat sauce.
- garlic – adds to the savory flavor of the sauce.
- tomato sauce – plain canned tomato sauce is the base of the sauce.
- tomato paste – thickens the sauce and adds an intense tomato flavor that is a signature of this lasagna.
- dried oregano – adds an herbal note to the sauce. You can also subtitute twice the amount of fresh oregano if you have it on hand.
- kosher salt – needed to season the sauce, the cheese filling, and the cooking water for the pasta.
- cottage cheese – the main component of the cheese sauce. Full fat, small curd is best.
- eggs – act as the binding agent for the cheese filling.
- Parmesan cheese – adds a salty and nutty flavor to the cheese filling.
- dried parsley – adds an herbaceous touch to the cheese filling.
- black pepper – adds a subtle heat to the cheese filling.
- lasagna noodles – we use traditional (you have to boil them first) lasagna noodles. I know that they make those no-boil noodles now, but we’ve never tried this recipe with those (because boiling the noodles can happen while you’re cooking the meat sauce, anyway, so it doesn’t take any extra time). However, Cook’s Illustrated has a guide to the best no-boil lasagna noodles and how to use them, if you’d like to try it.
- mozzarella cheese – you can use shredded mozzarella, but we’ve found that this lasagna without ricotta is easiest to assemble if you use mozzarella slices. Not the fresh, creamy mozzarella that is usually sold in a ball, but low-moisture, part-skim slices. Think cheese slices that you would put on a sandwich, probably found at or near the deli counter.
How to make Lasagna with Cottage Cheese
- Prepare the meat sauce and cheese filling.
- Cook the lasagna noodles and unwrap the mozzarella cheese slices so they’re easy to grab when you need them.
- Spray a lasagna pan with nonstick spray.
- Place 1/4 of the cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish in basically a single layer. It’s fine if they overlap a smidge, and it’s also fine to tear them into shorter pieces to really fit them into the corners.
- Dollop 1/4 of the cottage cheese mixture all over the noodles, and then use a spoon or spatula to spread this evenly. It’s important to go all the way out to the edges and get into the corners, so that the outside pieces are just as yummy as the center pieces.
- Arrange 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese slices evenly over the cottage cheese mixture. You can rip the cheese slices into halves or thirds to make them easier to arrange.
- Dollop 1/4 of the meat sauce over the mozzarella, and again use a spoon or spatula to evenly spread all the way out to each edge.
- Repeat steps 4 – 7 three more times, which will use up your remaining ingredients.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until edges are bubbly.
Lasagna Cottage Cheese Recipe Home Chef Tips
- This lasagna can be assembled, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days before baking. Bring to room temperature on the counter 1 hour before baking.
- We do NOT cover our lasagna with foil while baking. Honestly, I love when the corners and edges get some crispy bits. However, if your lasagna starts to get too brown for your liking while it is baking, feel free to loosely tent it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
- If you’re new to putting cottage cheese in lasagna, feel free to use half ricotta and half cottage cheese, if you prefer. Stir them together before assembling the lasagna.
How to serve Cottage Cheese Lasagna
It’s optional but highly encouraged to garnish each piece of lasagna with an extra sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, and some chopped fresh parsley for color.
We typically serve lasagna with a fresh salad and some garlic bread.
Lasagna Recipe (Cottage Cheese) storage
To store any leftovers, cool to room temperature and then transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Also, this lasagna freezes well! What I usually do is prepare and bake the full lasagna as written below, and then refrigerate the whole thing (or the leftovers after I’ve served it for dinner once) in the pan overnight.
Trust me, it’s MUCH easier to portion and wrap the pieces when the cottage cheese lasagna is chilled than when it is warm.
The next day, I remove the chilled pieces of lasagna with cottage cheese from the pan and wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then foil. I freeze the wrapped pieces in freezer bags.
To reheat, I unwrap as many pieces as I need and place them in a small casserole dish with a little bit of water in the bottom. I cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees F until heated through.
Lasagna made with Cottage Cheese FAQs
Yes! That’s what I’m doing in this recipe for cottage cheese lasagna, and the finished product is amazing. I recommend using small curd cottage cheese (instead of large curd) when putting cottage cheese in lasagna, so that the curds disappear into the cheese mixture more easily and mimic the smoothness of ricotta a little more closely.
People use cottage cheese instead of ricotta in lasagna for a variety of reasons, and some of it comes down to personal preference, but availability and affordability are two major considerations. Cottage cheese is more readily available in many regions, and it’s often more budget-friendly than ricotta.
This comes down to preference, but personally, I think it needs to have at least 3 layers to really get that feel of digging in to a tall piece of pasta-y, cheesy goodness.
I generally do 4 layers in this lasagna recipe with cottage cheese, because that’s how it works out for 1 box of noodles to layer into my 10×16-inch pan.
The choice between cottage cheese and ricotta in lasagna comes down to personal taste. Some people prefer the creaminess of ricotta while others enjoy the unique texture and milder taste of cottage cheese in lasagna with cottage cheese.
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For the Meat Sauce:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed if necessary
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Cheese Filling:
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups small curd cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 box (16 ounces) lasagna noodles (traditional, NOT no-boil)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese slices
For Garnish (optional):
- Additional grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped fresh basil leaves
- Make the Meat Sauce: In large high-sided skillet, cook beef, sausage, garlic and onion over medium-high heat 10 to 12 minutes or until meat is cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon and stirring occasionally. Remove and discard any excess fat in pan.
- Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano and salt; heat to simmering over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, make the Cheese Filling: Place eggs in large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper; stir until well combined.
- Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 10 x 16-inch lasagna pan or large baking dish with nonstick spray. Arrange 1/4 of noodles in bottom of dish. Spread noodles with 1/4 of Cheese Filling. Arrange 1/4 of mozzarella cheese slices over Cheese Filling (you can rip the cheese slices into halves or thirds to arrange them easier). Spread 1/4 of Meat Sauce over mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers 3 more times.
- Transfer to oven and bake 45 to 60 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Let rest 15 minutes before serving topped with additional Parmesan cheese and basil, if desired.
Home Chef Tips:
- This lasagna can be assembled, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days before baking. Bring to room temperature 1 hour before baking.
- This lasagna freezes well! What I usually do is prepare and bake the full lasagna, and then refrigerate the leftovers in the pan overnight. The next day, I remove the chilled pieces of lasagna from the pan and wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then foil. I freeze the pieces in freezer bags. To reheat, I unwrap as many pieces as I need and place them in a small casserole dish with a little bit of water in the bottom. I cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees F until they are heated through.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 1328mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 35g