Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil
I adore this Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil! It is only 259 calories per serving (which is about 77 calories less than most meat lasagna recipes.) It is layered with healthy satisfying vegetables, lean ground beef and fresh basil. There’s a gluten-free variation that is arguably better than the whole-wheat version.
Table of contents
Why This Healthy Lasagna Recipe is So Good!
This lasagna is one you will want to hang on to. It is a great healthier alternative to traditional beef lasagna because it is loaded with veggies including spinach and chopped mushrooms which help extend the meat a bit, so you end up needing less meat per serving. And I added in lower-fat dairy to save calories, but it is still hearty and delicious!
It is a great recipe for entertaining and it can also be made ahead! I often will make it on the weekends and then the leftovers make great satisfying lunches.
If you love today’s healthy lasagna recipe, you’ll want to check out our Ground Turkey Lasagna, Easy Vegetable Lasagna Primavera, our cozy Butternut Squash Lasagna and this Vegetarian Mushroom Lasagna.
Let’s talk about how to make this Healthy Beef and Spinach Lasagna with Basil shall we?
- Whole-wheat lasagna noodles: For this recipe I tested it with whole-wheat lasagna, and I also tested it with gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles. Either choice worked great, and the cooking and layering technique will not change.What you will notice is that the texture of the rice lasagna is actually on the softer side, and both my husband and I actually preferred it to the wheat version.
- Lean ground beef: You only need a half pound for this recipe! I used ground grass-fed which is leaner, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and CLA. Feel free to use the type that you prefer or sub in ground turkey like I did in my Slow Cooker Bolognese or use a meatless crumble instead!
- Finely chopped mushrooms: I used 4 ounces of finely chopped mushrooms to bulk up the beef. This is a trick I also use in my Healthy Sloppy Joes. This healthy hack gives volume with very few calories. Plus mushrooms are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
- Seasoning: Fresh basil, dry Italian Seasoning blend, minced garlic, salt and pepper
- Crushed tomatoes: I like to use fire-roasted crushed tomatoes instead of jarred marinara sauce.
- Fresh baby spinach: For additional veggie servings.
- Egg: to help the ricotta set-up
- Part-skim Dairy: I use both part-skim mozzarella and part-skim ricotta cheese which helps save fat calories. I found that shredding the part-skim mozzarella by hand yielded a better texture on the top of the casserole than using pre-shredded bagged mozzarella. If using bagged pre-shredded mozzarella, don’t overbake for the best texture.
- Grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese: For great concentrated cheesy flavor
How to Make Healthy Beef Lasagna
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna, stirring occasionally until soft and pliable but not yet al dente.
To get the best texture, boil the pasta for only 5 minutes before layering it into the lasagna. This will soften it, but it will not be completely mushy by the time it is finished baking. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep it from clumping together.
Cook Beef and Mushrooms with Seasoning
Meanwhile, coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add beef, mushrooms and Italian Seasoning and set over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up beef with a wooden spoon until no-longer pink and the liquid is evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring 30 seconds.
Instead of buying jarred sauce or taking the time to make sauce from scratch, I skipped that step entirely by using a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.
Add tomatoes and salt and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, while adding baby spinach by handfuls, stirring to wilt until the whole amount is completely wilted into the beef mixture, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.
Making the beef, mushroom, tomato and spinach all one part of the mise en place really helped to make the process of assembling the lasagna a lot easier.
Make Ricotta Filling
Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add ricotta and pepper and stir until completely combined.
Layer Noodles with Sauce
Spread ½ cup tomato mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (Tip: Remove any large chunks of beef and add them back to the skillet of sauce.) Layer three lasagna noodles vertically into the baking dish; cut one more noodle as necessary and place horizontally to fill in the space at the end of the other three. Top with 1 ½ cups tomato mixture.
Add Ricotta and Mozzarella Cheese
Dot with half of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with 3 ½ more noodles, 1 ½ cups tomato mixture. Dot with the remaining half of the ricotta mixture and top with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles. Spread the remaining tomato mixture (about 1 cup) evenly over the top. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake The Lasagna
Bake until the lasagna is steaming hot all the way through, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until the mozzarella on top is just melted but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Let lasagna cool 10 to 15 minutes before sprinkling with additional basil and slicing it into 12 servings.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes, it be assembled up to one day in advance. Cover with foil and set in the refrigerator. Proceed with step 6 adding an extra 15 minutes of cook time before removing foil.
Yes you can freeze it after you assemble it and then bake it straight out of the freezer. (Make sure your baking dish is freezer to oven safe!) Bake at 350 degrees, covered with foil, until hot all the way through. The best way to tell if it is cooked though is to use an instant-read digital thermometer to ensure it is at least 165 degrees in the center. Then remove the aluminum foil and top with cheese. Bake again to melt the cheese on top.
Yes you can. I like to freeze individual portions in resealable containers for easy lunches! Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat until steaming hot.
Reheat leftover lasagna by placing a single serving on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with parchment or a paper towel and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. Let sit for 1 minute before serving. Alternatively, reheat one or more servings of lasagna in a baking dish covered with foil in the oven set at 350 degrees. Heat until at least 165 degreed F when tested with a thermometer.
Variations To Try
Lasagnas are great for improvising! Here are some ways that you can adapt this recipe
- Use finely diced zucchini instead of mushrooms
- Use hot Italian turkey sausage or ground turkey instead of the beef
- Use another green instead of spinach, such as Swiss Chard or Kale
- Make this lasagna vegan by subbing in plant-based ricotta like Kite Hill or make your own vegan ricotta, skip the egg and use your favorite vegan cheese instead!
What To Serve with Lasagna
- Or my Overnight Kale Caesar would be a delicious accompaniment.
- Or a simple garden salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette would be good too.
- We love our green beans around here. Our Simple Skillet Green Beans are a tried and true favorite.
- We love it with garlic bread, crusty bread or soft homemade whole-wheat bread.
More Recipes You’ll Love:
- If you love this Healthy Beef Lasagna, you may want to check out my Stuffed Shells with Spinach recipe, which is also a great make-ahead casserole.
- Or my Oven Baked Meatballs with Parmesan are also decidedly cheesy and saucy and will hit that comfort food spot!
- This Spinach Stuffed Chicken is another great meal starring this favorite green!
- If you love spinach, try my Spinach Salad with Bacon and Eggs.
- Our Healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan is another Italian classic made more healthy in just 30 mins!
Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!
Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
This Healthy Beef Lasagna with Spinach and Basil is only 259 calories per serving which is about 77 calories less than most lasagnas! It’s layered with healthy satisfying vegetables, lean grass fed beef and fresh basil making it the perfect kid-friendly dinner. And there is a gluten free version!
- 12 whole-wheat or gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles (8-oz)
- ½ pound lean ground beef, preferably grass fed
- 4 ounces finely chopped mushrooms
- 1 ½ teaspoon dry Italian Seasoning blend
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish if desired
- 1 large egg
- 1 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, preferably part skim (2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna, stirring occasionally until soft and pliable but not yet al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add beef, mushrooms and Italian Seasoning and set over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up beef with a wooden spoon until no-longer pink and the liquid is evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, while adding baby spinach by handfuls, stirring to wilt until the whole amount is completely wilted into the beef mixture, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.
- Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add ricotta and pepper and stir until completely combined.
- Spread ½ cup tomato mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (Tip: Remove any large chunks of beef and add them back to the skillet of sauce.) Layer three lasagna noodles vertically into the baking dish; cut one more noodle as necessary and place horizontally to fill in the space at the end of the other three. Top with 1 ½ cups tomato mixture. Dot with half of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with 3 ½ more noodles, 1 ½ cups tomato mixture. Dot with the remaining half of the ricotta mixture and top with ¾ cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles. Spread the remaining tomato mixture (about 1 cup) evenly over the top. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake until the lasagna is steaming hot all the way through, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until the mozzarella on top is just melted but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- Let lasagna cool 10 to 15 minutes before sprinkling with additional basil and slicing it into 12 servings.
To Make Ahead: Can be prepared through step 5 up to 1 day in advance. Proceed with step 6 adding an extra 15 minutes of cook time before removing foil.
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Entree
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/12 lasagna
- Calories: 259
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 369 mg
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 24 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 18 g
Keywords: healthy lasagna,beef lasagna,beef and spinach lasagna,healthy beef lasagna with spinach
I will admit I changed some things to this recipe, so I can’t totally rate the printed version. I have 4 teenagers who are not watching their calories. I doubled the sauce because I like sauce, but my kids don’t love ricotta, so I kept that as the same amount (16oz). I used regular lasagna noodles (also nearly doubled the noodles until my glass dish was filled to the rim). I added diced zucchini to the mushrooms and beef for more vegetables. I would make this again and might add more garlic.
I love making hearty comfort food as guilt-free as possible. This recipe does exactly that. I make this all the time and it’s a big hit amoung friends and family alike! Thanks Katie
Thank you so much Candice. I appreciate the rating and review!
Does this freeze well?
Yes! You can bake it and freeze it or build it and then freeze it before baking! Either works well.
I made this last weekend…this is the most delicious lasagna I have ever had. I typically dread making lasagna because it always seems like so much work but this was actually very easy. I substituted the crushed tomatoes with homemade marinara sauce. I added it right in with the cooked beef and mushrooms so everything was laid in one swoop on top of the noodles and the ricotta cheese.
My whole family loved it so much…they are already begging for more! This one is a keeper!
That’s music to my ears! Thanks for coming back to review!
I used 93% lean and whole milk ricotta. I ran out of mozzarella because I added another layer but it was delicious. I made for national Lasagna day and no one noticed the mushrooms. Thanks ❤
I love to hear that! Thanks so much!
Definitely didn’t serve 12 maybe because I had to convert in to English measurements.
I would use less ricotta and more mozzarella next time. It had some good flavours although I might also add an onion.
I did however enjoy it even with mushrooms that I don’t eat as they were cut up so small.
Hi Kirsty. So nice of you to come back and let me know how it went. Yes an onion would work well. I’d just add it in with the mushrooms. When I make it I cut it into three by four so that makes twelve portions. You could definitely make the portions larger! We usually have this with salad to make it a meal. So glad you enjoyed the recipe overall and I appreciate the honest feedback.
I LOVE this recipe. I don’t eat beef though and have found that ground lamb works great! It’s a perfect substitute. I make it regularly and my kids love it.
That’s awesome! Thank you Carrie!
Could use 2-3 more tomato sauce. Also a bit lacking in flavor but still pretty good.
Hi Jamie. Thanks so much for your feedback! I’m not sure what you mean about the tomatoes. Did you use a 28 ounce can of tomatoes? Also as far as the flavor, I am wondering if perhaps you used 1 teaspoon of kosher salt instead of 1 teaspoon of table salt. Let me know.
What type of mushrooms did you use? Not a fan of them, but willing to give it a go like you did for your daughter.
You can use either crimini or white domestic. Make sure to chop them finely so they have the texture of the crumbled browned beef.
I used whole grain pasta and ground turkey. It’s in there oven now and smells amazing!
Hi Erin. So glad to know about the turkey substitution. That’s great you’re happy with the result.
I made this recipe and doubled it in order to freeze one for later in the season….. Unfortunately, we ate BOTH within just a few days, i.e. sharing with our parents and reheating for lunches, etc. It was THAT delicious!
I am so happy you had this “problem”! Lol! That is music to my ears. Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and let me know. That is so helpful.