White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Have I mentioned I love food?

Hi. I love food. Nice to meet you.

And in my quest for food and recipes that rock my world and that demand I share them with you, I’m always trying out or creating new recipes. It’s fun. For me. But I can always tell when the fam is sick and tired of having a food-blogger for a mother-slash-wife because the disturbance in the force goes something like this: “for all that is good and righteous, please let it be taco night.”

This white chicken and spinach lasagna was at first an experiment that had my family feeling a bit uneasy and skeptical since they had recently suffered through a 2-week bout of new recipes each night, but it turned into an epic summer of eating this many, many times. I even froze a quadruple batch, packed it up and traveled across the country to serve at Brian’s family reunion. We’ve (ok, I’ve) made it for company, eaten it just the seven of us for Sunday dinners, and given it out as a freezer meal to friends. This lasagna has become one with our family.

The reason I know it’s a winner is just last week after trying the 48th version of a slow cooker chicken tandoori recipe that pretty much failed into a soupy, gloppy, curdled mess (yummy, I know), I heard: “I just wish mom would make that white lasagna stuff again, then we wouldn’t get in trouble for making gagging noises at the table.”

Yep, sure sign of a winner, winner lasagna dinner. The fact that it calls for lots of divine cheese is mitigated by the mounds of fresh spinach pressed in between each layer. It has become my latest lasagna obsession and I’m so happy to add it to my lasagna arsenal.

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

What To ServeSteamed veggie or this Zucchini Mozzarella Medley
Store-bought French Bread (or for homemade this French Bread)
Fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Creamy Swiss Cheese Chicken Bake
Two Years Ago: Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Healthy and Delicious {Refrigerator} Bran Muffins

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Keep in mind that the recipe calls for cooked chicken so plan ahead (or use this method). If you are wondering about using regular lasagna noodles (the kind that need to be boiled), you can definitely try it. I always use no-boil lasagna noodles and adapted the sauce ingredients to account for that fact so I can't guarantee how regular lasagna noodles will work. Also, don't forget to reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese for the top! Finally (I promise this is the last thing), this lasagna can be made ahead of time up to a day and refrigerated - just add about 15 minutes onto the covered baking time. It can also be frozen; bake for an hour and 15 minutes, uncover and bake 30-45 minutes until cooked through.

Ingredients

    Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Lasagna:
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups), reserve 1/4 cup for the top of the lasagna
  • 2 (9-ounces each) packages baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9X13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour and let it cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the chicken broth and milk while whisking vigorously. Continue cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes until the mixture simmers and thickens. Stir in the basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. To assemble, spread about 1 to 1 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 3 no-boil noodles on top and dollop with 1/2 of the ricotta. No need to spread the ricotta out into an even layer, although you can press it down a bit, just spoon it across. Add half of the chicken on top of the ricotta.
  5. Layer on 1/2 of the chopped spinach. It will seem like a lot but just spread it evenly - it will cook down while baking. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese (don't forget to take out 1/4 cup of the Parmesan for sprinkling across the top!).
  6. Place 3 noodles over the top, gently pressing down to compress the layers below. Spread 1/2 of the remaining sauce over the top. Repeat the layers again (remaining ricotta, chicken, spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan).
  7. Place the last 3 noodles over the top, pressing down again. Spread the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with reserved Parmesan cheese.
  8. Cover the baking dish with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/white-chicken-and-spinach-lasagna/
Recipe Source: inspired by this recipe at allrecipes (changed up the method, cut butter in half, used oven-ready noodles, altered the sauce broth/milk amounts, used fresh spinach instead of frozen, etc.)

54 Responses to White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

  1. Sheila says:

    Chicken . . . spinach . . .calcium – oh, yum! What a valuable resource you are Mel! With your mother’s heart and creative, exceptional culinary skills, you have given us a meal that is both delicious (I’m sure) and gives our little ones nutrition. Fresh spinach has been added to my grocery list. I give my family new recipes continually and these recipes are readily and eagerly accepted. (smug, smug :-) ) I do feel sorry for your little guinea pigs though. Did I mention they are almost always Mel meals?

  2. Teresa R. says:

    I have made four batches of the applesauce oat muffins since you posted the recipe! My elderly parents love them, so I gave them two dozen to freeze. I’m going to the grocery store today and I’m adding ricotta and spinach to my grocery list. This spinach sounds perfect for the weekend! Thanks for another great recipe.

  3. This looks delicious. I love that you used no-boil noodles.

  4. You’ve inspired me. Sounds fabulous! This is going on top of the “recipes to try” pile.

  5. Gail says:

    I can’t tell you how much I look forward to mornings when I check your website…I love seeing what you post…and you have a great way of making it seem very doable! This recipe looks and sounds so good but yet I probably would never have considered it elsewhere. On a side note…I’ve been trying different zucchini bread recipes this week …no big surprise…yours is our new favorite!

  6. Anne Schofield says:

    “Just the seven of us…” Ha! We are soon to be “just seven” also. I need an alternative to my once or twice a year bolognese lasagne that is divine but takes 3 hrs to make and is crazy fattening! I think a white lasagna sounds perfect, and I have been wanting to make fresh ricotta for a while, but needed a worthwhile recipe to use it in. So thanks! And “winner, winner, lasagne dinner” can be chanted by all as they eat it. I love it.

  7. This is definitely going to my “to make” box. I just need to look for a no-boil noodles.

  8. Beth W. says:

    I am laughing so hard. I am a freezer cook for other families. I am constantly trying out new recipes and usually they don’t get to eat it. I hear “Is that for us?” It is always fun when it is a positive “is that for us?” and I get to say “YES!”

    So glad to know you freeze this. I will be doing so shortly…x 10 :-) Thanks again.

  9. Amanda_AB says:

    Just to clarify, that’s 2 bags of FRESH spinach? Also, does the moisture that comes out of the spinach cause any problems? or does the recipe account for that extra moisture?

    • Mel says:

      Amanda_AB – yes, 2 bags of fresh spinach. It seems like a lot but it cooks down and if you let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes after baking, it will set up just fine. You can always decrease the amount of spinach, too, but we like it loaded up.

  10. jackie Brown says:

    Mel, I’m totally pinning this and perhaps trying next week. I’ve got Kale on hand and may just have to put on thy parent’s side of the entree. Thank you for sharing and I love that it does not call for jar white sauce and you share how to make your own! YAY!

  11. Tahnycooks says:

    My family would gobble this up in 3 seconds flat!! I love all your post lately!

  12. Krysta says:

    I’ve been making this recipe for years. It is divine. I do the same think with the fresh spinach rat her than frozen. It’s one of my go to “special dinners” for company or the missionaries. So glad to see it on your blog! I might have to try your alterations the next time I make it. Yum!

  13. Christine says:

    This is going on the “to make” list right now. Of course it won’t get made till we’re out of the 90′s but something to look forward to! Looks sooo delicious! Love that you don’t use a jarred sauce.

  14. d says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and we loved it. Thanks for posting!

  15. This looks so good! I use regular lasagna noodles whenever I make lasagna, but I never boil them first and it still comes out the same as the no-boil noodles (I also recently read something about soaking pasta before cooking it to decrease cooking times). I also spread the ricotta on the noodle before I put it in the dish. It’s a lot quicker!

  16. Tracey says:

    Looks yummy, as always, but just to clarify, the sauce only goes on the top and bottom of the lasagna? Not in any of the other layers?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Tracey – nope, there are three layers of sauce (I double checked the instructions and in step #6, it indicates to add that middle layer of sauce).

  17. Jessica says:

    Omg!! Just made this for my family and in-laws, it was soooo good! Your recipes are ones I never have hesitations on serving to company without a “trial run”. This is def a keeper!! Again!! :)

  18. Jennifer says:

    Made this last night and it was very good! Will definitely make again! I only used 1 bag of spinach and it still turned out great. I used a 9×13 pyrex baking dish, and could not have fit another whole bag of spinach in there — it was full to the top, even with me pushing it down.

  19. Kim in MD says:

    That is one delicious lasagna, Mel! My family will love this!

  20. Laura says:

    Your site has become my go-to for pretty much anything and everything food-wise! Making this tonight – made the amazing “refried” beans this weekend, and have become a bread baker thanks to you. I love the precision and clarity of each recipe. Thanks!

  21. Jenna says:

    This is in the oven now. I can’t wait! I have never made white sauce before and this came out delicious! One question, Im cleaning up and realized I had my parsley on the counter untouched and I can’t find where in the recipe I was supposed to add it. Am I missing it? I love your recipes. I made the applesauce oat muffins the other day and now my daughter keeps begging me to make more :)

  22. Rebecca says:

    How did you fit 18oz of chopped spinach into a 9×13 pan?!

    • Mel says:

      Rebecca and Ali – I’ve made this dozens of times and have been able to fit the chopped spinach in the pan – it is VERY full – sometimes even rising a bit over the top of the pan but it bakes down a lot (as you can see from the picture). However, someone else commented that they only used 9 ounces of spinach and so if you don’t want to risk the piled high lasagna, you can use less spinach. I never buy chopped, frozen spinach because I never plan ahead to defrost it and I like the taste of fresh much better but sure, that could always be an option, too.

  23. Ali says:

    I just assembled this and I COULD NOT fit 18 oz. of chopped fresh baby spinach into my 9×13″ Corningware pan. It was coming up over the top (yes I pressed it down) and I hadn’t even done the last noodles/sauce/cheese layer yet! If we like this after it bakes I think next time I will sautee the spinach a little to make it more manageable to fit into the pan. I noticed that the original recipe you posted did call for 2-10 oz containers of spinach but it was FROZEN so that would significantly cut down on the volume. Maybe I will try that next time instead of sauteeing!

  24. Ali says:

    thanks for the reply! Do you mind if I ask how deep your 9×13″ pan is (or what brand it is)? My Corningware pan is deeper than my Pyrex glass dishes so I used it (and still couldn’t fit it all in) but wondering if maybe whatever dish you’re using is deeper than mine possibly?! I have made TONS of your recipes and all of them are great so I’m sure this one will be too once it’s baked – it’s just bugging me that I can’t figure out if I did something wrong or what! That stuff was not all going in no matter how I squished it!

    • Mel says:

      Ali – I’ve used my 9X13-inch Pyrex dish and also a deep, disposable lasagna pan. I don’t think you did anything wrong. I’m trying to think what the difference would be and maybe it’s how I’m measuring the spinach. I use a large plastic tub of fresh spinach – are you using two 9 ounce bags? Maybe the best thing would be to include the spinach in cup amounts to avoid confusion.

  25. Ali says:

    I bought 2 tubs of Dole fresh spinach, each 10 oz. I even pulled out my digital baby scale and weighed out 2 oz. of spinach to put aside so I would know exactly how much to include in the lasagna (and ended up putting more back into the fridge with that 2 oz. when I couldn’t squish any more into the pan). Maybe if you included a picture of your finished lasagna before baking to show just how full it is? Or a pic of how finely (or roughly) you chop your spinach? Oh well – I’m sure it will turn out great either way and we’ll just have a baby spinach and raspberry salad with dinner tomorrow night! :)

  26. Ali says:

    One more comment and I promise I’ll stop clogging up your comments section! ;) Just wanted to say that this was delicious!! It didn’t shrink down as much as I thought it would, not complaining, it was just THICK! I think next time I will divide the sauce in thirds because, for how much sauce I had left after it reduced, 1.5 cups in the bottom didn’t leave enough for the top layer to get the noodles on top as soft as I would have liked. They were edible- just very al dente! :) Overall, GREAT recipe! Hubs and pre-schooler approved! ;) Thanks again for another winner!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Ali – I think I might be confused a little – the instructions already divide the sauce into thirds (1 to 1 1/2 cups on the bottom), half of the remaining sauce in the middle and the other half of the sauce on top. Anyway, it probably doesn’t matter – thanks for sticking with the recipe and modifying it to work for you!

  27. Ali says:

    Yeah, that was confusing the way I wrote it. Sorry. I meant to say that maybe I reduced the sauce a bit too much because when I was layering it, the 1.5 cups of sauce on the bottom was more than 1/3 of the sauce, probably more like 1/2 of the total sauce (I missed the “1-1.5″ in the directions – in my rush to finish layering it before the baby woke up from his nap my brain just saw “1.5″) . So next time instead of measuring out 1.5 cups I’ll just divide in 1/3s evenly and not reduce quite so much. I was having to spread my sauce very thinly on the top layer since I didn’t have much left. Either way, it was tasty!! :)

  28. Jill F says:

    I admit I have made a slew of yummies from your website, and even though all have been stellar I had to post a comment after making this. I made this for a “family dinner” night with my husband, my sister in law, and my sister-in-law’s boyfriend. Both guys swore that this was hands-down the best white lasagna (or any lasagna for that matter) that they had ever had — even better than both of their mother’s “secret recipes” or from an authentic Italian restaurant. I made this exactly as stated and yes although there is a ton of spinach, it totally cooked down. Oh, and I just have to say that sauce is ah-may-zing!!! I am already attempting to think of ways I can use it for other dishes. Thanks for making me look like a cooking rockstar!

  29. Julie says:

    I made this for dinner today and it is so delicious! However, I used a standard Pyrex 9×13 and realized pretty quickly that this was going to overflow, so when I put it in the oven, I set it on a big cookie sheet. It only cooked over a little, but next time I will use my 10 x 14 Pyrex dish. I used a big tub of Costco spinach and cooked it in 2 batches on a plate for 45 seconds in the microwave before spreading it on the lasgana. This worked very well. Mel, I follow a lot of cooking blogs, but yours in the only from which one I seem to actually use recipes. Thank you so much for brightening our mealtime!

  30. Jennifer says:

    My dear husband made this. It is incredible. Felt like I was sitting in a Piazza in Florence again.

  31. Heather says:

    Made this last night. It is definitely going into the rotation. Thanks for another great recipe!

  32. Dawn says:

    This is going to be dinner one night this week thanks to a big bunch of CSA spinach. Looks so yummy! We are a small family and I’d love to split this into two 8×8 pans. We’d bake one now and then freeze the other for later. Do you think that would work? Or am I better off making a 9×13 and freezing half after it’s baked? Thanks for your outstanding recipes! I’m making your loaded baked potato soup tonight since it’s chilly and rainy here.

  33. Diane R says:

    You could spread chicken mix with just a touch of the white sauce on one noodle and then roll up. Keep doing that and then freeze individually. You can top each noodle with a little white sauce and then freeze. If you need to feed one or 100 then you can pull out the rolled up lasagne noodle, put in pan as needed and bake.

  34. Chelai says:

    I had all the ingredients, or so I thought. I didn’t have enough lasagna noodles and was running late for dinner so I decided to make the chicken and spinach sauce over spaghetti. I used everything except the lasagna noodles and ricotta. It was really good and light, too! I’ll try the lasagna version soon but this was a delicious last minute change.

  35. Laurie says:

    Awesome recipe. I have been the “coordinator” of a book club for TEN years. That means every month we meet right here at my house. I create a different menu every month and my OLD friends show up and eat….they also chip in on the cost of the meal. We might even get around to a book discussion if we have time. Anyway, they all belonged to the clean plate club last night. I even left out the chicken in one quadrant for my vegetarian friend! I used a 10″ x 14″ pan, and my oven took 15 minutes longer to cook.
    Today, I am filing away, using Ziplist, your Thanksgiving ideas. Keep those great recipes heading my way. Thanks so much.

  36. Loni H says:

    Mel! I just unknowingly served this to your nephew here in Tucson! Small Mormon world :)

  37. Michelle Waddell says:

    I just made ten of these for a meal share with some work girls. I’m so excited to make mine- the sauce is amazing! I hope everyone loves it!

  38. Tracey says:

    Just made this for dinner and it was a success! It took me FOREVER to make, for some reason, and then I didn’t portion out quite enough sauce for the top, so I was worried. BUT, it worked out! The top noodles were cooked! I only used one 10 oz. bag of spinach, cause there was no way that 2 were fitting in my pan, but it was still delicious. :)

  39. Faith says:

    Just made this tonight for dinner! Did not disappoint! So good and creamy. I used roasted garlic in the sauce about 5 cloves and it added such a wonderful garlic flavor! First thing I made from your vlog and it won’t be my last!!

  40. SM says:

    This was absolutely soooooo delicious!! Yummy yummy yummy!

    I hate to criticize, but I do have one little qualm. While I totally agree that fresh spinach is much yummier and has a better texture, I don’t think it works here… Sorry! For one thing, like many others, I had difficulty getting it to fit in the pan. I had a 1 lb box of spinach, which is 2 oz less than what is called for, and despite all my mashing, I could not make it fit. I got all of it but maybe the last 2 oz or so, and it was towering over the edges of the pan. This created an issue for the sauce on the top layer. It wanted to drip over the sides because of it. Also, while the taste was PHENOMENAL, spinach cooked from its raw state creates water. So water was pooling in the pan after we took slices out, and in the containers where we stored the leftovers in the fridge. Anyway, both of these issues would have been alleviated by using frozen spinach. Or by wilting the fresh spinach in a pan and then draining off the excess water, but that would have dirtied another dish! Anyway, still loved it, but that’s my input!

  41. Kira says:

    I was able to cram everything you called for into a 9 x 13 pan. I chopped my spinach fairly well. it was very full, but no spilling over or anything during cooking. Just came out of the oven and looks and smells delicious. Can’t wait to eat. My noodles must have been a little smaller than yours, because I was able to use four across and even a half a noodle along the bottom of my 9×13 pan -so used about 15 noodles. Another keeper for sure.

  42. Kira says:

    Now that I have eaten some-I had to comment again and say MAKE THIS!!! The best white sauce lasagna I’ve ever had!

  43. […] WHITE CHICKEN SPINACH LASAGNA (slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) […]

  44. […]                                                          //Photo from original recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Café// […]

  45. Lorene says:

    I tried this recipe for the first time last night and optimistically made two batches it — one to eat right away and one for the freezer. My family loved it so much that I planned to make two more for the freezer today, but I do believe I’ll be trying your Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas instead. Again, doubled! :-)

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