How to Make the Best Vegan Lasagna

With tofu "ricotta" and cauliflower-walnut "Italian sausage" crumbles, this vegan lasagna may fool even the most die-hard carnivores at your dinner table.

I think almost everyone grew up eating mom’s famous lasagna. In my house, it was usually a special weekend or holiday treat. The gooey cheese and hearty meat sauce was the ultimate comfort food. However, in my early twenties, I toyed with the idea of becoming a vegan so it meant seeking a new way to enjoy this childhood favorite. (Get our first-timer’s guide to going vegan here.)

Personally, veganism was a short-lived lifestyle experiment but, during this time, I learned a lot about vegan cooking and still try to incorporate plant-based recipes into my family’s weekly dinner rotation. This vegan lasagna has quickly become one of our family’s favorites. Even my husband (who’s a die-hard carnivore) loves this entirely plant-based dinner recipe.

Learn how to create a vegan meal plan that won’t leave you wanting.

How do you make lasagna without meat and cheese?

You can create the iconic flavor, smell and texture of traditional lasagna—it just takes a little creativity. Great news: if you’re a seasoned vegan cook, most of these ingredients are likely already in your pantry. If you’re a part-time vegan, not to worry, all of these ingredients can easily be found in your local grocery store. And the method isn’t unlike making a traditional meat lasagna.

Psst! Here’s why you might want to try a plant-based diet.

How to Make Vegan Ricotta Cheese

For this vegan lasagna, extra firm tofu is crumbled and blended with nutritional yeast, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and tons of dried herbs. Texturally, the crumbled tofu is almost a spot-on dupe for ricotta cheese and the nutritional yeast has a surprising cheesy flavor, similar to Parmesan. The tahini and lemon juice also do their part to give this tofu “ricotta” a nutty, tangy flavor that, when paired with the garlic, herbs and spices mimics a traditional lasagna’s ricotta cheese layer.

How to Make Vegan Italian Sausage

The other key component to this vegan lasagna is the cauliflower-walnut “sausage” crumbles. Seasoned with the same herbs and spices used to flavor classic Italian sausage, these tasty little crumbs provide a similar smell, taste and mouthfeel as ground Italian sausage. They’re made by pulsing chopped walnuts and fresh cauliflower in a food processor with the herbs, spices and a few tablespoons of crushed tomatoes to form a crumbly paste. The mixture is spread on a sheet pan and then baked in the oven until golden brown. As the water is baked out of the mixture, the paste turns into crispy crumbles that look, smell and taste a lot like Italian sausage. It’s a magical process that results in a healthy, protein- and vitamin-packed meat substitute.

Once these two pieces of the puzzle are made, all that’s left to do is assemble with a homemade vegan tomato sauce, cooked lasagna noodles, spinach, mushrooms and your favorite vegan soy-based mozzarella cheese shreds.

Ingredients for vegan lasagna photoLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

How to Make Vegan Lasagna

Ingredients

For the Tofu “Ricotta”

  • 1 pound tofu, pressed and cut in thirds
  • 3.5 tablespoons tahini
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Cauliflower-Walnut “Italian Sausage”

  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 3 cups fresh cauliflower (finely chopped, divided)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, minus 2 Tbsp
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce box of vegan-friendly lasagna noodles, make sure they’re made in an egg-free facility
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and excess water drained thoroughly
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups soy mozzarella shreds

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the tofu “ricotta”

Blend 1/3 of the tofu with tahini, garlic and olive oil until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, mash the other 2/3 block of tofu with your hands until it’s crumbly. To the crumbled tofu, add in the lemon juice, garlic, pepper, nutritional yeast, salt, basil and oregano. Continue to mush with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Next, add the blended tofu mixture to crumbled tofu mixture and stir to combine. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Avoid making these common tofu mistakes.

Step 2: Make the “sausage” crumbles

Preheat oven to 375 °F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse together cornmeal, 2 cups of cauliflower, walnuts, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, fennel seed, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of crushed tomatoes. Pulse until ingredients resemble moist, fine crumbs. Fold in remaining 1 cup of finely chopped cauliflower.

Spread cauliflower mixture in a thin layer onto the parchment-lined sheet pan and use a fork to gently break everything up and form “crumbs” that resemble ground beef.

Bake cauliflower-walnut “crumbs” for 40 minutes at 375 °F. Every 10 minutes, gently toss the crumbles with a fork to break up further and ensure even browning.

When crumbles are golden brown, remove from oven and let cool completely before transferring from pan. The crumbles will have a soft interior so allowing them to cool completely will help them hold their shape. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the marinara sauce

While the cauliflower-walnut “sausage” crumbles bake, preheat a saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, onion and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and onions begin to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add herbs, spices and tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add crushed tomatoes. Cover and raise the heat to a simmer, cook for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Editor’s Tip: You can also use store-bought sauce, if you’d like. We recommend our best-loved marinara brand, which happens to be vegan, too!

Step 4: Cook the lasagna noodles and assemble

Maintain oven temperature at 375 °F. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water, until al dente, according to package directions. Drain noodles and set aside.

Photo showing how to layer a vegan lasagna step-by-stepLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

To assemble, layer the ingredients in the following order:

Layer 1: Sauce then Noodles

Layer 2: Sauce then Cauliflower-Walnut Crumbles, Tofu and Noodles

Layer 3: Sauce then Spinach, Mushrooms, Tofu and Noodles

Layer 4: Sauce then Cauliflower-Walnut Crumbles, Tofu and Noodles

Layer 5: Sauce then Shredded Soy Mozzarella Cheese

Editor’s Tip: Feel free to add or swap in other vegetables to this vegan lasagna. Roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, kale, or red peppers are great options. You can also opt for zucchini or yellow squash cut lengthwise in place of lasagna noodles if you’re looking to limit your carbohydrates.

Photo of a pan of vegan lasagna with a slice on lasagna on a plateLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 5: Bake and Enjoy

Once assembled, bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes, and then uncover. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the “cheese” is melted and starts to bubble. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes so the lasagna sets up before slicing. Serves 6-8.

Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat leftovers, covered, in the microwave or oven at 350°F until warm.

For another vegan Italian dinner option, try this Vegan Eggplant Parmesan.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.