You’ll be AMAZED at how well this dairy-free lasagna turns out! Thanks to magic cashew sauce, this lasagna is just as creamy and comforting as the classic version you grew up with!

This is a dairy-free, but NOT vegan lasagna recipe! It has a rich and flavorful meat sauce layered with the creamy dairy-free white sauce. It also like to make it with gluten-free noodles!

An overhead view of dairy-free lasagna in a baking dish

Like this long-time reader and family favorite recipe for You also might like this long-time favorite recipe for dairy-free baked ziti, you’ll have to taste to believe how amazing this dairy-free lasagna is!

This lasagna features an amazing dairy-free white sauce that sets up perfectly when baked for that cheesy layer.

Believe it or not, cashew milk and eggs make the perfect, creamy, “cheesy” alternative to ricotta cheese. It’s SO much better than any vegan cheese, vegan ricotta, or other store-bought, dairy-free cheese I’ve tried.

It will look watery and thin, but trust the process. You’ll be amazed at how it turns out!

You can also use gluten-free noodles to keep this lasagna both gluten-free and dairy-free!

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For more dairy-free favorites, try this dairy-free coconut cream pie, dairy-free potato soup, dairy free artichoke dip, dairy-free chicken and rice casserole and dairy-free beef stroganoff.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Dairy-free, creamy sauce
  • Classic comfort food
  • Serves a crowd
  • Easy meal to take to a friend

Ingredients for Dairy-Free Lasagna

For the Meat Sauce

Ingredients for dairy-free lasagna on a counter top
  • Water: You may need to add a little extra water to your sauce as it simmers, to prevent scorching.
  • Tomato sauce and diced tomatoes: Tomato sauce is the base of your dairy-free lasagna, while diced tomatoes add texture and additional flavor.
  • Olive oil: Use olive oil to brown the onion for the sauce.
  • Onion: I like to use yellow onion for this recipe, but you can also use white onion, if you prefer.
  • Ground beef: I like to use 20/80 ground beef, but if you want a leaner cut, that works too! You could also use Italian sausage for this recipe, if you’d like.
  • Lasagna sheets: I love Cappellos lasagna sheets. If you don’t need to eat gluten-free I recommend fresh lasagna sheets. You can also use dry gluten free lasagna noodles. Just make sure to boil noodles before layering!
  • Garlic and spices: Italian seasoning, dried basil, and bay leaves all add depth of flavor to the sauce.

For the Dairy-Free Cream Sauce

Ingredients for dairy-free cheese sauce on a countertop
  • Water: Soak the cashews in water to make a more creamy texture for the sauce.
  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice adds a bit of tang to make this a “cheesy” tasting sauce.
  • Raw cashews: It’s important to use raw, unsalted cashews for this recipe. Roasted cashews are not as creamy!
  • Eggs: Eggs add a creamy texture and rich flavor to the cheese sauce.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds fat and flavor to this unique sauce.
  • Salt: Sea salt enhances the flavor of everything in this dairy-free sauce.

How to Make this Recipe

Make the Meat Sauce

Onions sauteeing in a pot, and meat browning in a pot
  • In a heavy-bottomed, large pot, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and saute 2-3 minutes. Add in the ground beef. Break the meat apart as it browns. Once meat has browned completely, pour off any excess fat/grease. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Tomatoes and seasoning added to the pot of meat, and the pot of meat and sauce after simmering for 1-2 hours
  • Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, dried basil, sugar, Italian Seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook the sauce for at least 45 minutes and preferably 1-2 hours, or until very thick. Stir often and know you may have to add a little extra water as it reduces down to prevent scorching.

Make the Dairy-Free Cream Sauce

Cashews soaking in a bowl of water, and cashews blended up in a blender
  • Place the raw cashews in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with cold water and microwave for 3 minutes. Let sit for 2 minutes. (This will soften the cashews so they blend up nice and smooth.)
  • Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup of fresh water along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until completely smooth. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. (The sauce will look very liquidy and runny but will set up in the oven.)

Assemble the Dairy-Free Lasagna

Noodles layered over sauce in a baking dish, and sauce layered on top of the noodles
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer the rest of the lasagna as follows:
    • ⅓ of the noodles
    • ⅓ of the meat sauce
    • ⅓ of the creamy sauce (pour it over)
    • ⅓ of the noodles
    • ⅓ of the meat sauce
    • ⅓ of the creamy sauce
    • ⅓ of the noodles
    • ⅓ of the meat sauce
    • ⅓ of the creamy sauce (swirl it around for the top layer)
Cheese layered on top of noodles and sauce in a baking dish, and more cheese and sauce layered on top
  • Bake the dairy-free lasagna for 40 minutes until the creamy sauce is set. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Slice and enjoy!
  • Leftovers reheat great the next day! 

Storage/Freeze Instructions

STORAGE: Store leftover dairy-free lasagna in an airtight container (or cover in plastic wrap) for up to five days. This is a great meal to reheat in the microwave and enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day!

TO FREEZE: I like to portion this lasagna into individual portions to freeze it. I freeze it in airtight plastic containers. Microwave a frozen slice on the defrost setting of the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then additional time as needed.

A slice of dairy-free lasagna on a plate with a fork

FAQs

What can I use instead of cheese in lasagna?

My dairy-free cheese sauce is the perfect alternative to cheese in lasagna. It’s made from eggs and cashews, and results in a creamy, “cheesy” texture you’ll love.

What does the egg do in lasagna?

Egg is typically added to ricotta as a binder. (It keeps the cheese from oozing out of the noodles.) However, in this recipe, I use egg to create a dairy-free “cheese” sauce.

Does all lasagna have bechamel sauce?

No, not all lasagna has bechamel sauce — but many authentic Italian recipes do! If you’re making an American-style lasagna, it’s probably made with ricotta instead of bechamel.

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • I prefer to make this recipe with fresh lasagna sheets. For a gluten-free lasagna, I love Cappellos lasagna sheets. You can also use dry lasagna noodles that have been boiled. Just boil lasagna noodles according to the package directions before assembling the lasagna, and make sure to undercook them slightly.
  • It’s very important to use raw, unsalted cashew for the creamy cashew cheese sauce. Roasted, salted cashews will not work, since they don’t blend up nice and creamy.
  • If you want to cut down on prep time, you could use store-bought marinara sauce or another pasta sauce for this gluten free lasagna recipe.
  • Once the lasagna has cooled down, free to add fresh basil to the top for some extra color and flavor.
A close-up of dairy-free lasagna in a baking dish

More Recipes You Might Like

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you try this dairy-free lasagna, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you!

A close-up of dairy-free lasagna in a baking dish
5 from 2 votes

Dairy-Free Lasagna (with Meat Sauce!)

Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Assemble Time 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings 12 servings
You'll be AMAZED at how well this dairy-free lasagna turns out! Thanks to magic cashew sauce, this lasagna is just as creamy and comforting as the classic version you grew up with!
This is a dairy-free, but NOT vegan lasagna recipe! It has a rich and flavorful meat sauce layered with the creamy dairy-free white sauce. It also like to make it with gluten-free noodles!

Ingredients

For the Lasagna:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles I prefer fresh lasagna sheets for this recipe – see note

For the Creamy Sauce:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs

Instructions 

Make the Meat Sauce:

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onion and saute 2-3 minutes. Add in the ground beef. Break the meat apart as it browns. Once meat has browned completely, pour off any excess fat/grease.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, dried basil, sugar, Italian Seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook the sauce for at least 45 minutes and preferably 1-2 hours or until very thick. Stir often and know you may have to add a little extra water as it reduces down to prevent scorching.

Make the Creamy Sauce:

  • Place the raw cashews in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and microwave for 3 minutes. Let sit for 2 minutes. (This will soften the cashews so they blend up nice and smooth.)
  • Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup of fresh water along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until completely smooth. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. (The sauce will look very liquidy and runny but will set up in the oven.)

Assemble the Dairy-Free Lasagna:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer the rest of the lasagna as follows:
  • – ⅓ of the noodles
    – ⅓ of the meat sauce
    – ⅓ of the creamy sauce (pour it over)
    – ⅓ of the noodles
    – ⅓ of the meat sauce
    – ⅓ of the creamy sauce
    – ⅓ of the noodles
    – ⅓ of the meat sauce
    – ⅓ of the creamy sauce (swirl it around for the top layer)
  • Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes (uncovered) until the creamy sauce is set.
  • Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Slice and enjoy!
  • Leftovers reheat great the next day!

Notes

RECIPE NOTES
  • I prefer to make this recipe with fresh lasagna sheets. For a gluten-free lasagna, I love Cappellos lasagna sheets. You can also use dry lasagna noodles that have been boiled. Just boil lasagna noodles according to the package directions before assembling the lasagna, and make sure to undercook them slightly.
  • It’s very important to use raw, unsalted cashew for the creamy cashew cheese sauce. Roasted, salted cashews will not work, since they don’t blend up nice and creamy.
STORAGE: Store leftover dairy-free lasagna in an airtight container (or cover in plastic wrap) for up to five days. This is a great meal to reheat in the microwave and enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day!
TO FREEZE: I like to portion this lasagna into individual portions to freeze it. I freeze it in airtight plastic containers. Microwave a frozen slice on the defrost setting of the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then additional time as needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 91mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used hot Italian sausage rather than ground beef and it adds great flavor. I loved the blend with the other spices.

    I didn’t make any other substitutions. This was my first time cooking with cashews and I am amazed at how well this worked.

    1. I’m so glad it turned out well for you! Hot Italian sausage sounds like a delicious addition. It’s amazing how well the cashew sauce turns out like real ricotta!

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