The “Secret” to No-Boil Lasagna Noodles

posted by Andrea | 11/16/2016
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no-boil lasagna

Our family loves pasta — specifically lasagna — and I love that when I make lasagna, we have enough for another full meal of leftovers later in the week.

The one and only thing I do NOT like about lasagna is boiling the noodles. For starters, we really don’t have a pan large enough to fit the noodles, and they sometimes break as I try to gently ease them into the boiling water.

Also, if I don’t stir the noodles, they stick together and get clumpy, but if I do stir them, they rip or tear. And even if I don’t rip or tear them during the boiling process, I’m almost guaranteed to rip or tear them when I’m trying to pull them out of the pot.

Boiling the noodles is definitely my least favorite part of making lasagna.

I used to buy the no-boil noodles… until I realized I was paying more for a smaller package, AND that the instructions were exactly the same except the no-boil noodles required double the sauce.

This got my frugal brain churning, and a couple years ago I decided to see if making lasagna with regular noodles and doubling the sauce would give me the same results as using the more expensive no-boil noodles and doubling the sauce.

To my surprise, it seemed to work pretty well! 

Then I did a little bit of research, and I realized that the only difference between regular lasagna noodles and no-boil lasagna noodles is that no-boil lasagna noodles are pre-boiled for a bit before drying — otherwise, they are exactly the same.

After tweaking my favorite lasagna recipes a few different times, I landed on a method that seems to work extremely well for me… it easily cuts 15 minutes (and lots of frustration) off my lasagna prep time!

The “secret” to not boiling your lasagna noodles:

Simply double the sauce and add one cup of water (either mixed in with your sauce or just dumped over the lasagna before you put the final layer of cheese on top).

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel that not boiling the noodles first leaves more of a “starchy” taste to the meal — but no one in our household seems to mind.

That said, if I was making this for company or to bring to someone else, I would probably boil the noodles first.

A Few of My Favorite Lasagna Recipes:

Have you ever tried this method for DIY no-boil noodles?

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31 comments

  1. Liz

    11/16/2016

    You’ve posted about this before, but I must say – this is the one time australia’s food wins over america: we only have “instant” lasagna sheets at the local supermarkets – at least I’ve never seen lasagna sheets that need pre-boiling. I just plop the sheets uncooked into the lasagna and chuck it in the oven for 30mins and it comes out perfect everytime 🙂

    I recently saw that you can get canned breadcrumbs? Wouldn’t they be soggy?

    I find it really interesting to hear about differences in the daily stuff between different countries – I hope you find this interesting rather than me rubbing in the fact our lasagna sheets are easier re cooking 🙂

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    I also live in Australia and that is what I use too when making lasagne. I have never had to pre boil them first.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well, I’m sure there are other Australian foods that are MUCh better than American foods, but the lasagna sheets do sound nice!!

    Also, yes the bread crumbs come in a “can” but it’s more like a bit “canister”. There is no liquid — just dry bread crumbs in a large cardboard cylinder. Our oats come in the same type of canister 🙂

    [Reply]

    Liz Reply:

    Right – I was imagining like canned peaches in syrup 🙂

    I think we have food that comes in canisters, but not breadcrumbs.

    [Reply]

  2. Karlyn Nance

    11/16/2016

    After trying your Lasagna Pasta Bake recipe, I will probably never again use Lasagna noodles. It is wonderful! I use the spiral noodles, and they are SO much easier to work with, and the dish is just as tasty as with Lasagna noodles!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know you like that recipe as much as we do!

    [Reply]

  3. Allison

    11/16/2016

    Have you ever tried using egg roll wrappers instead of lasagna noodles? Delicious and cooks in half the time. The leftovers are even better to me because they are softer and seem like a big pile of meat, sauce and cheese. Sometimes I use the wonton wrappers and make mini lasagna in ramekins, they make a great side dish for chicken parmesan.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    never… but that sounds amazing. I will definitely need to give this a try (assuming I can easily find egg roll wrappers!)

    [Reply]

  4. Rachel

    11/16/2016

    Do you ever have leftovers? When I tried this method of not boiling the noodles – it tasted ok the day I baked it -but the next day it was practically inedible to me. The noodles were all pasty and did not taste good. I don’t know if I did something wrong? If it depends on the brand of noodle you use? But I decided I would try boiling them the next time. Someone mentioned that it may have been the result of the starch. Just curious if anyone else had the same issue?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, we always have lasagna leftovers and they seem to be fine for me.
    I will say that I am very “not picky” about leftovers and pretty much eat anything 🙂 Also, sometimes I do add a little extra sauce to the leftovers.
    And it very well could depend on the brand of noodles. I usually use Meijer brand or the Muelers brand

    [Reply]

  5. Fern

    11/16/2016

    I put a layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish, then assemble lasagna per recipe. Have done this for years with no problem. It is my most requested dish for any occasion.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I always put sauce on the bottom too!

    [Reply]

    Fern Reply:

    Don’t think I was clear with this–I don’t cook the noodles, just put them uncooked on the sauce and go from there. No other adaptations to the recipe.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — thanks for clarifying 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Evie

    11/16/2016

    Wonderful photo of Simon concentrating on eating!

    [Reply]

  7. Angela

    11/16/2016

    My mom taught me to just put the lasagna together the night before, put in fridge overnight until ready to bake, turns out perfect every time. No need to boil. Add some side dishes and dinner is ready with very little clean up!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve done this too with great results! And it’s so nice to know that dinner is already made and I don’t need to worry about it during the day!

    [Reply]

  8. Barb T

    11/16/2016

    Simon. A two-fisted eater! I like that in a boy.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, that is an OLD picture, but it was so cute I just had to include it in this post as he’s actually eating lasagna!

    [Reply]

  9. Linda

    11/16/2016

    I’ve always thought the secret to boiling lasagna noodles is to do it in my biggest frying pan so they stay relatively flat while boiling. It’s not as much water as the package calls for, but it seems to work for me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well, now you know the “secret” to NOT boiling your noodles 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Rose

    11/16/2016

    I’m 100% Italian—put a tablespoon of oil (olive, for canola, or vegetable) in the boiling water and slide the long noodles in and they will soften up and not stick because of the oil. Make sure to stir slowly and often.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — thanks Rose!

    [Reply]

  11. Stacey Meyer

    11/16/2016

    I don’t think I’ve boiled the noodles in probably 20 years (and just use regular noodles). Instead, I just rinse the sauce jars and use that “saucy” water (a cup or two?) and pour it along the edges of the pan, so as to not wash any of the top layer off the top noodles, then cover tightly with foil for all but the last 10 minutes of baking time.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I often do the “rinse the sauce jar out with water” trick too!

    [Reply]

  12. Anne H

    11/16/2016

    One trick I’ve been using is to make the lasagna the day before & put it in the frig until and hour or 2 before baking. It tastes like regular lasagna with no starchy taste.

    [Reply]

  13. Eileen

    11/16/2016

    I found a recipe for Crock Pot Lasagna and it uses regular noodles. You just brown your meat, add the sauce and a cup of water, then mix together whatever you use for your cheese layer (plus an egg) and then layer it in your crock pot.

    I never made lasagna before I started using this method. Good to know that an over version works the same way!

    [Reply]

    Eileen Reply:

    *oven version

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’ve done this successfully in a slow cooker as well!!

    [Reply]

  14. Jenny Z

    11/16/2016

    His is how I have done mine for years! I use the regular lasagna noodles, but make the sauce a little watery and it turns out perfect every time! So lasagna is an easy meal instead of a painstakingly long one!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    “An easy meal instead of painstakingly long” — exactly my thoughts!

    [Reply]