How to make lasagne meat and dairy free – but still just like mama used to make!

Yes it is possible for lasagne to be even more delicious, even when meat and dairy free. Pop this vegan version in the oven and end Veganuary with a bang

vegan lasagna
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Get ready for a little mouth-watering, oh yeah, we’re talking about lasagne. And this isn’t just any ol’ lasagne, this is a meat and dairy free, vegan lasagne. 

People love different things about this classic dish, which is why it is such a crowd pleaser. After all, it is purely layer after layer of tomatoey sauce goodness teamed with herby flavours, creamy textures and a little crunch. What could you not love about it? 

As one of the most comforting dishes around, lasagne is perfect for winter and also packed with Italian flavours that are sure to have you dreaming of sunnier climates as you tuck in, and all while skipping the meat. Incredible.

We've chosen this recipe as it's great to make over the weekend for a pretty snazzy lunch that will give you leftovers too. 

You could even make it ahead of time and stick it in the oven while you get on with whatever else you like to fill your Saturday morning with.  

Anyhow, this lasagne recipe is filled with loads of tasty ingredients which make it just as, if not more flavoursome than the classic meat version, yet it’s still a simple recipe to follow and the results are oh so satisfying.

For more edible inspiration check out our food hub and just keep scrolling to reveal our lasagne recipe.

Meat and dairy free lasagne recipe

Ingredients: serves 6

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 aubergines (roughly 225g total), chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (tamari if you’re gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (thyme, oregan, basil etc.)
  • 800g passata
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 box of lasagne sheets (choose a GF version if you wish and consider stocking up on another pack in case you need more for your baking dish)

For the vegan bechamel (white sauce)

  • 500ml unsweetened plant-based milk of choice (soy, almond or oat will do the trick without interrupting the flavours)
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g plain flour (use GF if you’d like)
  • 50g vegan spread
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt & pepper

Method: 

  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 6, 200°C, or 180°C for fan ovens. Now if you feel tempted to skip this part, please don’t and check out why you should preheat your oven to start with.
  2. Cool. Now that that’s sorted, you can start by heating the olive oil in a pan and frying the aubergines over a low–medium heat. They don’t need to be completely cooked but you want them to have a little colour and caramelisation, this will take 10–15 minutes of frequent stirring and possible additions of water should there be sticking, (aubergines love to stick).
  3. You guys can multitask, so start frying the red peppers and onion in olive oil in a fairly large pan/saucepan.
  4. Add the chilli flakes if using and herbs, stir for a few minutes until the mixture has softened then add the grated carrot and continue to cook on a low heat. 
  5. Once the aubergine is done, add this to the other pan, along with the passata, sugar, balsamic.
  6. Add a little water as some will evaporate while it cooks both on the stove and then in the oven.
  7. As it simmers on, start your vegan bechamel (white sauce).
  8. Gently heat the milk in a saucepan with the bayleaf and nutmeg.
  9. As this warms, make your roux by melting the vegan spread on a low heat and then gradually adding the sifted flour. It’s vital that you keep stirring with a wooden spoon, in a figure of eight to completely combine the mixture.
  10. It will be thick, but don’t be alarmed, keep stirring and cook it for about 2 minutes, at which point you can start to add the milk in to create the more familiar looking white sauce.
  11. Cook this for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly for a lump-free mixture. A whisk can come in handy here. Add the nutritional yeast if using in the final couple of minutes, season and stir then take off the heat.
  12. Season the tomato sauce, take it off the heat.
  13. The final stage is to build your vegan lasagne. Add a healthy layer of the sauce (about a ⅓) to your baking dish, spreading for even distribution, cover with a layer of pasta sheets (which shouldn’t need pre-cooking but triple check your packet). Top this with the bechamel and repeat the process until you are out of ingredients. Judge your progress to get an idea of how many more layers you can do, and be sure to make the final layer a thick coating of the bechamel.
  14. Bake for 45–50 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. If you want to add some vegan cheese, do this in the final 10–15 minutes of cooking time so it doesn’t burn.

Pro cooking tips:

  • If you’re looking for a meatier texture then consider swapping the aubergine for the same amount in grams of tempeh, you could even do half and half. And if you’re not keen on both, mushrooms make a great alternative.
  • Need more cheese? Add a tad more of the nutritional yeast and top with more vegan cheese alternative of your choice, there are some really nice products on the shelf right now!
  • Left-overs? We doubt it, but this can work really well heated up again or even cold with the addition of a well-dressed side salad.

How long does vegan lasagne last?

Let it cool, pop it in an airtight container and then pop it in the fridge and your lasagne can keep for 3–5 days. Though, we assure you, it's really good and it will not last that long.

Can you freeze vegan lasagne? 

So if you do genuinely want leftovers then you could resist temptation by freezing a couple of portions. Do the same as above, but put it in the freezer. It can stay frozen for 2–3 months and we would recommend eating it sooner rather than later for the best result. Thaw completely ahead of reheating it in the oven or microwave until piping hot.