White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

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Oh my goodness, this is one knock-your-socks-off dinner!  It’s my White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef and it’s creamy, rich, hearty, and mouthwatering delicious.  You get layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef mixed with herbs, seasonings, and creamy cheese, plus a silky white sauce in every layer.  This is one of my absolute favorite new dinners!  

It’s not only a favorite because it’s yummy, but also because it’s easy!  You can make this entire lasagna ahead and reheat it or even freeze it.  If you like dinners that you can freeze, you will love these Five 5-Ingredient Freezable Dinners – with Grocery List!

Piece of White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top on a plate with parsley.  It's a make-ahead family dinner!  It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

The Amazing Zucchini! 

Zucchini is one of my all time favorite veggies!  First, zucchini has great health benefits!  It’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A.  Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants that are linked to benefits for your eyes, skin, and heart.

Second, zucchini is so versatile with a mild fresh flavor that goes with just about anything.  The texture mimics noodles, so you can spiralize it into zoodles or slice it long and wide like in this recipe for lasagna!  You can hollow it out for stuffed Zucchini Boats, add it to Stir Fries, or add it as filler to meatballs.  So many options!  Here are my favorites…

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For the beef filling you need either a large frying pan/skillet or a wide-bottom pot, such as dutch oven.

You also need a casserole dish that’s approximately 10×10 or similar.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR WHITE LASAGNA RECIPE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

You can prepare the zucchini, beef filling, and white sauce ahead and store in the fridge.

Prepare the zucchini by cutting it into long strips from stem to stem that are about 1/4 inch thick. They will resemble the size of lasagna noodles. You should get 4 long strips per zucchini.

Hand holding slice of zucchini on a cutting board for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and measure out the fennel seed, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then add all to the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Preheat a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat and add in a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add the ground beef mixture and break it up. Let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through until it gets browned.

Ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Stir in the cream cheese until melted and combined. Turn off the heat and stir in half (4oz) of the mozzarella. Set aside off the heat until ready to the assemble.

Cheese added to ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Make the White Sauce. First, warm the milk slightly in the microwave or in a pot. Preheat a separate medium sauce pot on medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully combined into a smooth thick mixture. Slowly whisk in the broth. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.

Whisk mixing white sauce roux in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Whisk mixing white sauce in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Can I use Ground Chicken instead?

Yes!  Absolutely, ground chicken or ground turkey will both work great in this recipe.  The beef will render more fat and therefore, more moisture.  So you may need to add a splash of milk to the ground chicken when you mix in the cheese to help it mix in.

ASSEMBLE & COOK YOUR WHITE LASAGNA RECIPE

Before you start to assemble, make sure that your lasagna noodles are ready. If they are no-boil noodles, you are set. Otherwise, you need to par-cook them in boiling water for just a few minutes so they are pliable.

Layer 1 – Start by spooning a thin layer of the white sauce onto the bottom, just so the pasta sheets don’t stick to the bottom. Then add the first layer of lasagna noodles. Layer white sauce over the noodles and then top with HALF of the beef mixture. Next, top with a layer of HALF of the Zucchini strips (usually 4 strips), and then more white sauce.

Ladle pouring white sauce over lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Layers 2 – Repeat – Add a layer of noodles, white sauce, the remaining half of the beef mixture, and the final layer of zucchini strips and more white sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley on top.

Ladle pouring white sauce over lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Shredded cheese and parsley on top of assembled White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Cover your lasagna with aluminum foil and then bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, I turn the broiler on to get a nice browned top. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top in casserole dish! It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

How do I freeze this and reheat it?

You can freeze your fully assembled lasagna either cooked or uncooked.  If you freeze it uncooked, you will want to thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours before baking it.  If it is fully thawed through to the center, simply bake according to the instructions.  If you freeze it fully cooked, you should still thaw it in the fridge 24 hours ahead, but you could bake it in the oven at 350 F degrees for an hour from frozen state.  Just test the center to see if it is warmed through in the center.  If not, bake for another 10-15 and check again.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Piece of White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top on a plate with parsley. It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

This White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef is a delicious make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, rich, hearty, and mouthwatering delicious.  You get layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef mixed with herbs, seasonings, and creamy cheese, plus a silky white sauce in every layer. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword family dinner, lasagna, pasta, zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

Ground Beef Mixture

  • 1 lb 90% Lean Ground Beef no antibiotics
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 3 teaspoons Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 ounces Cream cheese
  • 8 ounces Shredded Mozzarella (divided for beef and topping)

White Sauce

  • 2 cups 1% milk skim, 2% or whole will work
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Other Lasagna

  • 8-10 Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 Large Zucchini

Instructions

Prep-Ahead Steps

  1. Prepare the zucchini by cutting it into long strips from stem to stem that are about 1/4 inch thick. They will resemble the size of lasagna noodles. You should get 4 long strips per zucchini.

    Hand holding slice of zucchini on a cutting board for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  2. Mince the garlic, chop the parsley, and measure out the fennel seed, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then add all to the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

  3. Preheat a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat and add in a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add the ground beef mixture and break it up. Let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through until it gets browned.

    Ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  4. Stir in the cream cheese until melted and combined. Turn off the heat and stir in half (4oz) of the mozzarella. Set aside off the heat until ready to the assemble.

    Cheese added to ground beef and herbs cooking in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  5. Make the White Sauce. First, warm the milk slightly in the microwave or in a pot. Preheat a separate medium sauce pot on medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until fully combined into a smooth thick mixture. Slowly whisk in the broth. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.

    Whisk mixing white sauce in a pot for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef

Assemble the Lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.

  2. Before you start to assemble, make sure that your lasagna noodles are ready. If they are no-boil noodles, you are set. Otherwise, you need to par-cook them in boiling water for just a few minutes so they are pliable.

  3. Layer 1 – Start by spooning a thin layer of the white sauce onto the bottom, just so the pasta sheets don’t stick to the bottom.  Then add the first layer of lasagna noodles. Layer white sauce over the noodles and then top with HALF of the beef mixture. Next, top with a layer of HALF of the Zucchini strips (usually 4 strips), and then more white sauce.

    Ladle pouring white sauce over zucchini slices on top of beef and lasagna noodles in dish for White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  4. Layers 2 – Repeat – Add a layer of noodles, white sauce, the remaining half of the beef mixture, and the final layer of zucchini strips and more white sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley on top.

    Shredded cheese and parsley on top of assembled White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef
  5. Cover your lasagna with aluminum foil and then bake on the center rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, I turn the broiler on to get a nice browned top. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

    White Lasagna Recipe with Zucchini and Ground Beef with browned melted cheese on top in casserole dish! It's a make-ahead family dinner! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious with layers of noodles, zucchini, ground beef, creamy cheese, and a silky white sauce. 

Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef

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Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef on a plate with fork cutting into one and pan in background.  They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Flavorful, succulent, moist, salty, garlic-y, and healthy.  Is there anything better in a meatball? Get ready to have your world rocked!  These are my Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef.  From this point on, you will never want to eat a meatball without zucchini again!  No, really.  

These incredible meatballs are loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  Because the garlic and onion are both minced, they really infuse every morsel of meat with big flavor.  The zucchini brings so much more to this flavor party!  It brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

These meatballs are super easy to make ahead and freeze for busy weeknights.  Want more freezer tips for making busy family dinners easier?  Click here to get my printable cheat sheet with 10 Freezer Hacks to make easy dinners!

What Makes These Healthy Meatballs?

First, I want to acknowledge that “healthy” means something different to everyone.  Always consult your doctor for any dietary changes and regarding your own health.  That said, healthy for me and for my family means a balanced diet with real food, high in vitamins and nutrients.  I also try to keep calories in check with lean meats.  

First, these Healthy Meatballs use lean ground beef without antibiotics.  I used 90% lean (only 10% fat) ground beef.  You will pay more per pound for really lean beef, but it’s worth it in my opinion.  

Second, adding zucchini into these meatballs acts as a healthy filler – more veg, less beef needed per meatball.  Zucchini has great health benefits!  It’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A.  Zucchini is also rich in antioxidants that are linked to benefits for your eyes, skin, and heart.  

Overall, you get about 24 meatballs with 6 meatballs at 282 calories, 4 meatballs only has 188 calories.

Meatballs for Days!

These Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini are so versatile!  You can add them to a variety of dishes with potentially just a few other ingredients to change the flavor profile.  Here are some of my favorite meatball recipes where you could swap in these Healthy Meatballs!

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For this recipe, you need a food processor for the onions, garlic, and zucchini. I used my go-to mini food processor.

If you are making the meatballs in the oven to add to another recipe, you need a large skillet/frying pan for searing the meatballs on all sides. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning.  Then you need a large sheet pan (I use a 17×11) to finish baking the meatballs in the oven.

If you are going to make these meatballs and finish them in a sauce (tomato or cream or other sauce) you will want a dutch oven or skillet that is large enough to hold the meatballs and the sauce.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR HEALTHY MEATBALLS

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

To make the meatball prep as easy and painless as possible, you can chop finely all of the ingredients right in a food processor! 

Peel the onion, cut off the stems, cut it into quarters and put into the food processor. Pulse and then blend until chopped up into small rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Minced onion in food processor for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut into thick slices. Add all pieces to the food processor and blend until complete chopped up into small rice to pea-size pieces. Transfer the zucchini to a clean dish towel or thick paper towel and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Then add the zucchini to the bowl with the onion.

Minced zucchini in food processor for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Hand squeezing liquid out of towel with zucchini for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

To the onion and the zucchini, add the minced garlic and egg. Mix everything together and then add in the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix the beef together with everything making sure that it is evenly mixed through.

Ingredients in bowl for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Meatball ingredients mixed in bowl for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Divide the mixture in half in the bowl, so that you can make sure to get 12 meatballs from each half, for a total of 24. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon or small ice cream scoop of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. Do this for the rest of the meat mixture. Either cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or move on to cooking.

Raw meatballs on pan for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Can I make these gluten free?

To make these meatballs gluten free, you can either replace the breadcrumbs with a gluten free prepared breadcrumbs or make your own.  I love to buy gluten free bread and toast it in the oven at a low temperature, such as 250 F until it’s fully dried out.  Then pulse in the food processor to turn into breadcrumbs.

You can also replace the breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese.

Can I freeze the Meatballs Raw?

Yes, these freeze incredibly well!  Place the raw meatballs on a sheet pan and then directly into the freezer to flash freeze.  Once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a storage bag.  They will keep in the freezer for 4-5 months.  Then bake them in the oven 400 F degrees directly from the freezer for 30 minutes.

COOK YOUR HEALTHY MEATBALLS

Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven (if you are going to add tomato sauce). Add a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around. Add the meatballs (don’t overcrowd) and cook on each side until browned (a minute or so for each side).

Meatballs cooking in pot for Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Once all sides are browned, transfer to a sheet pan to finish in the oven or transfer to a plate if you will be making sauce in the same pan.

Finish Cooking in the Oven

To finish cooking your meatballs in the oven, you will place them on a sheet pan.  This method is great for dinners where you are adding meatballs to a sandwich, a salad, or just eating them with a dipping sauce.  To a 400 F degree oven, finish cooking the meatballs for 10 minutes or until cooked through to the center.

Finish Cooking in a Sauce

If you are going to make a sauce, using the meatball pan and finishing the meatballs in the sauce is the way to get the most flavor!  After removing the meatballs to the plate, use the same pan to add your onions, garlic, or any other ingredients to the pan and then the liquids.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the wonderful brown meatball bits.  Once your sauce is assembled and ready to simmer, add the meatballs back and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  It may take about 10 minutes for them to cook through, but you can remove one to test it.

What to eat on the Side!

Well, if your making a sauce, then pasta, rice, quinoa, or bread for dipping are all good options.  Here is my Easy Luscious Creamy Tomato Sauce Recipe.  Or just get your favorite jarred Marinara sauce from the store!  When the meatballs simmer in the sauce it deepens the flavor to make it taste more homemade.

Other options for sides….Try my Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash for a healthy side!  Or my Mushroom Quinoa Risotto!  Or how about this Green Rice!

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef on a plate with fork cutting into one and pan in background. They're loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  The zucchini brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.
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Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini and Lean Beef

Flavorful, succulent, moist, salty, garlic-y, and healthy.  Is there anything better in a meatball? These Incredible Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini & Lean Beef are loaded with flavor from the garlic, minced onion, salt, and pepper.  Because the garlic and onion are both minced, they really infuse every morsel of meat with big flavor.  The zucchini brings so much more to this flavor party!  It brings moisture, texture, and bulks up the meatballs with healthiness.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword ground beef, healthy dinner, Meatballs, zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 282 kcal
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground beef 90% lean
  • 1 Zucchini medium
  • 1 Onion small
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg, large
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Optional: Easy Luscious Creamy Tomato Sauce Recipe (see recipe for ingredients & details)

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Peel the onion, cut off the stems, cut it into quarters and put into the food processor. Pulse and then blend until chopped up into small rice-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut into thick slices. Add all pieces to the food processor and blend until complete chopped up into small rice to pea-size pieces. Transfer the zucchini to a clean dish towel or thick paper towel and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Then add the zucchini to the bowl with the onion.

  3. To the onion and the zucchini, add the minced garlic and egg. Mix everything together and then add in the ground beef, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix the beef together with everything making sure that it is evenly mixed through.

  4. Divide the mixture in half in the bowl, so that you can make sure to get 12 meatballs from each half, for a total of 24. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon or small ice cream scoop of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. Do this for the rest of the meat mixture. Either cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or move on to cooking.

Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven (if you are going to add tomato sauce). Add a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around. Add the meatballs (don't overcrowd) and cook on each side until browned (a minute or so for each side). Once all sides are browned, transfer to a sheet pan to finish in the oven or transfer to a plate if you will be making sauce in the same pan.

  2. OVEN: If you're finishing in the oven, preheat the oven 400 F degrees. Place the meatballs on a sheet pan.  Bake in the oven on center rack for 10 minutes or until cooked through to the center.

  3. IN SAUCE: Cook your sauce in the same pan or pot used to cook the meatballs. Once your sauce is assembled and ready to simmer, add the meatballs back and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  It may take about 10 minutes for them to cook through, but you can remove one to test it.

Recipe Notes

Serving Size = 6 meatballs (assumes 24 meatballs in this recipe)