This recipe for rich, creamy vegan lentil lasagne is the ULTIMATE comfort food. Made using all regular ingredients that you know (no fake meat here!), and a ‘cheesy’ vegan béchamel, this is the hearty lasagne you expect but without the meat and dairy. Next time you’re craving lasagne, give this version a try, I know you’ll love it as much as I do.
As part of developing a new recipe, I do a lot of research online and what I found while researching this recipe was that so many variations for vegan lasagne exist. Some would add a tonne of vegetables to the ‘meat sauce’ component, and some would simply use a meat alternative. And then the majority of them would have you make your own vegan cheeses like ricotta or mozzarella for the layering component (seriously props to whoever has time for this, it’s not me).
But what I found was that none of the ones I could find seemed to be a hearty, creamy, comforting lasagne that I know and love, but just happens to not contain meat or dairy.
So that’s what I truly believe this version is. It’s really not traditional, but it does lean towards the more traditional methods of using a rich tomato sauce and a creamy, thick béchamel. I do change mine up a bit, and actually add nutritional yeast to the béchamel making it a creamy, cheesy sauce and therefore eliminating extra cheese needing to be added (as many vegan cheeses will have an artificial flavour and as I mentioned, I’m not the kind of person who is going to go to the effort of making a lasagne and also my own cheese..).
My ‘meat’ sauce is also really simple, using ingredients that you know (that’s right, no fake meat here), but still having that rich, hearty feeling that doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating a ‘healthy’ lasagne with a tonne of vegetables! This is comfort food after all.
To achieve this is pretty simple, we stick to brown lentils and mushrooms. And let me tell you that my husband who was very skeptical about a vegan lasagne went back for seconds. The highest of compliments!
When I want to eat lasagne I want rich, creamy, comfort food. I want bold flavours and I don’t want to be worrying about calories. This is that lasagne, it just happens to be vegan. And by default, it actually is a little bit on the lower fat end of the scales thanks to the lack of animal products so yes, let’s count that as a win as well.
One of the other reasons that I love this particular recipe is that it doesn’t make a giant lasagne. There are two people in my household and while I love leftovers and stocking the freezer, sometimes it’s just too much to have a giant dish to deal with. This size still gives us a few meals but not enough for me to get sick of it.
It’s also really easy to work with these quantities and I love that I can just use my standard baking dish and not need something that I probably wouldn’t really use for anything else.
If you’re looking for some vegan comfort food to indulge in, or just looking for a meatless Monday recipe that still feels rich and hearty, this is the recipe for you.
Don’t be put off by the length of this ingredient list. As you can see I struggled to fit it all in the above picture so I’ve not labelled it like I normally would it as I feel that would just be too chaotic. But these ingredients should all feel really familiar and most will be pantry staples, and more importantly, all can be found easily at your local grocery store.
I’m not going to go through every ingredient here as that would take all day, instead here are the key ingredients for this recipe.
- Swiss brown mushrooms – one half of what makes our tomato sauce rich and flavourful. You can use any mushrooms here but I find the swiss browns have more of an earthy flavour that really give the sauce that ‘meaty’ taste and texture.
- Brown lentils – just the ones from the can, the brown lentils will hold their shape while cooking again helping to give the sauce texture and earthy flavour.
- Lasagne sheets – I use the dried ones as they are more cost effective and I can keep them in the cupboard, and have also used the gluten free ones with excellent results. You don’t need to pre-cook them, just layer them in and they’ll cook perfectly while baking. You can also use fresh lasagne sheets if you want as well.
- Vegan butter and flour – this makes your roux, or the base of the béchamel sauce. I always use Nuttelex Buttery for the butter substitute as it’s the best that I’ve found for texture and flavour.
- Oat milk – this is going to form the basis for our cheesy béchamel sauce. I love using oat milk as it’s super creamy and gives the sauce a velvety texture without adding any taste (like soy). Just be sure to balance out the flavour with salt as oat milk can taste quite sweet.
- Nutritional yeast – a must have pantry staple for anyone vegan or dairy-free as it adds a delicious cheesy flavour. It is essential for the rich, cheesy favour in this lasagne.
- Nutmeg – it’s not really an Italian béchamel without nutmeg. For the best flavour, please buy whole nutmeg and grate it directly into the sauce using a microplane. Yes ground nutmeg is fine, but freshly grated will change your life – it’s so good.
- Vegan cheese – now I don’t always love processed vegan cheeses as I find they have a bit of an artificial taste, but I do like just a little bit sprinkled over the top of this lasagne before baking. Just remember not all vegan cheese are made equal so get one you know and love. You can also simply choose to leave this off and the lasagne will still be delicious.
Ok so there are a few steps involved in making lasagne but I’ve tried to take a bunch of process photos so you know exactly what’s involved. If you’ve never made lasagna before then make sure to read through these steps fully before you begin. For more detailed instructions, make sure to read the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
We start by making the sauce. You want to select a medium/large frying pan with tallish sides so that there is enough space to hold all the liquid.
Chop your onions, garlic and mushrooms to prep and then heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the mushrooms and continue cooking until they have reduced and are looking nice and brown.
Add the tomato paste and spices before adding in the can of tomatoes, vegetable stock and lentils. From here, you just want to mix through and then simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes until the liquid has cooked down and the sauce is nice and thick.
Next is the béchamel sauce. This one can take some practice but all you really need is a bit of elbow grease.
Béchamel is one of the ‘mother sauces’ of French cooking and I’m sure any traditional French chef would cringe at my version however the principles remain the same.
We start by making a roux of butter and flour and adding milk. Only in our case our butter and milk are not dairy based!
The milk is whisked slowly into the roux to create a thick and creamy sauce. Flavour is added through salt and nutmeg and in our case, I’m going a bit rouge and adding in a bunch of nutritional yeast to make it a ‘cheesy’ béchamel. The reason for this is that I don’t want to add a separate layer of cheese so this is where my lasagne gets all it’s cheesy, creamy flavour and texture from.
Now it’s time for layering. You need at least 3 layers for a lasagne but how many exactly will depend on the size of your baking dish, for mine being 23cm (9inch) square three is pretty standard.
Always start with a layer of the tomato sauce (this prevents anything sticking to the base of the dish), followed by a layer of the béchamel then the pasta sheets. Repeat until you have used up all of the tomato sauce. The final layer should just be pasta followed by the béchamel and then topped with grated vegan cheese if you want to use it.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Top with fresh basil and let cool slightly before cutting into it. Letting it cool for a few minutes just lets things settle and firm up a bit so it’s not a sloppy mess when you’re trying to serve.
Yes! I love lasagne as a great option to make in advance. I like to fully cook the lasagne and then just cover with aluminium foil and place back in a low oven to reheat when ready to serve.
Yes! Lasagne is one of my favourite things to keep in the freezer for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. Freeze in individual portions and defrost in the fridge overnight or in the sink and then reheat either in the microwave or oven.
More vegan pasta recipes:
Vegan Mac and Cheese
One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni
Kale and Walnut Pesto Pasta
Vegan Lentil Lasagne
For the lentil tomato sauce:
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200 grams swiss brown mushrooms
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 x 400 gram can diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
- 1 x 420 gram can brown lentils rinsed and drained
For the vegan béchamel sauce:
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 ½ – 2 cups oat milk
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 9 – 12 lasagne sheets approx. depending on size of the sheets and size of the dish you’re using
- ½ cup vegan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Start by making the lentil tomato sauce. Finely dice the onion and garlic and heat the olive oil in a large frying pan with deepish sides. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft. Dice the mushrooms and add them to the saucepan with the onions. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms have reduced in size and are soft and brown.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, and dried herbs to the pan and mix through. Cook for a couple of minutes until the tomato paste has slightly darkened in colour.
- Add the diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and lentils to the pan and mix through until combined. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is really thick.
- While the sauce is simmering, make the béchamel. Start by making the roux by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Add in the flour and whisk until a paste forms.
- Add in a little of the milk and whisk through. Slowly add a little more milk, mixing through until it thickens. Continue this process until the sauce is nice and thick but drizzles off the whisk.
- Add the nutritional yeast, salt and nutmeg and whisk through until the nutritional yeast is completely combined. You may need to add a splash more milk if the sauce gets too thick. Taste and adjust salt and nutmeg to taste. Place a lid on the saucepan until ready to use as the sauce will form a skin on top if exposed to the air for too long.
- Assemble the lasagne. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place enough of the tomato lentil sauce to cover the base of an oven proof dish. The one I use is 23x23cm (9inx9in). Drizzle over about ⅔ cup of the vegan béchamel over the top evenly. Finally, place a layer of the lasagne sheets over the top. You may need to cut some to fit depending on the size. Repeat this process 2 more times or until all of the lentil sauce has been used. The final layer should be a layer of lasagne sheets followed by a layer of the vegan béchamel (no lentil sauce). Top the lasagne with vegan cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let cool slightly and garnish with chopped fresh basil, before cutting into squares and serving.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.
Does this recipe require canned lentils, or could dry lentils work? If so, how would that change the recipe?
I used dry green lentils. I just cooked them separately and added them in.