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I've been told by other that you don't need to boil the noodles for lasagna before you assemble and bake it. They claim that you can just lay them out on the pan raw and assemble as usual and the heat from the oven + the liquid from the sauce is enough to cook the noodles to exactly where they need to be, and you. How true is this? I've heard of other people doing the same thing with home-made mac & cheese recipes, and getting good results. Note that I'm not talking about no-boil noodles, I'm referring to just regular lasagna noodles.

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4 Answers 4

It's true. I've done it quite a few times, before the 'no boil' packaged varieties were commonly available (if they even existed ... this was ~15 years ago)

Unfortunately, I haven't done it for many years, so I'm quite out of practice. (found out I had a problem with dairy, so lasagne isn't something I make anymore)

From what I remember, you needed to use more liquid than normal, and make sure that there was a wet layer directly above and below the noodles. You also had a rather long cooking time, to give everything a chance to absorb. (I want to say 350F for 1.5 to 2 hrs, but I generally went with 'til a knife went in easily, then put it under the broiler to get it bubbly)

I know there are also slow cooker recipes for lasagne that don't requite pre-boiling the noodles ... I'd just look for recipes online, as plenty of them exist. Just look for ones from the 1990s, as that tended to be before companies were selling 'no boil' noodles.

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I took a gander at the recipe box for the no-boil noodles at the store, and nothing in the ingredients list even indicates to me that it's any different from plain noodles; they both say nothing but 'durum wheat semolina' on it. –  cornjuliox Oct 14 '13 at 4:41
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@cornjuliox it is not about the ingredients, but about the way in which they are processed. The semolina in no-boil is heated once to gelatinize the starch, and then dried out again, and the retrograded starch has different swelling properties than "raw" starch. –  rumtscho Oct 14 '13 at 9:42

I hate to be a party pooper but no, it generally doesn't work right to use pasta in a baked dish without boiling first. Even just made fresh pasta needs a quick bath in boiling water. That's because cooking the pasta is about more than just making it tender, it's about hydrating and plumping each grain of flour. Even if your sauce is very wet, you're not going to achieve that hydration without boiling. That's not to say the end product will bad if the pasta isn't boiled, it just won't be as good. It's like the difference between homemade pudding and Jello pudding in a box. On a related note, most no-boil pastas are boiled as a part of the manufacturing process, then dehydrated.

Another way to say it is that if you're feeding the junior high wrestling team you'd be fine to use lasagna noodles as you describe as long as the sauce is sufficiently wet, the bake time is long enough, and the casserole is tightly covered. There are dozens upon dozens of recipes online for just this kind of thing. If you're going for a Michelin star, you had better boil your lasagna noodles.

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Temperatures as low as 180 F, easily obtainable in a baked casserole, are sufficient to hydrate the pasta. If there is enough water in the casserole, this does in fact work. –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 14 '13 at 4:44
    
This exact issue is one I have experimented with at length, with homemade and store bought dry pasta. I was specifically hoping to prove that I could in fact make lasagna that was just as good without pre-boiling the noodles. Without pre-boiling I could achieve "perfectly adequate", never great. –  Jolenealaska Oct 14 '13 at 5:03
    
Evidently your experiences do not match those of many other folks then. –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 14 '13 at 6:18
    
It probably does match, after all, there are a gazillion well regarded recipes for no-boil lasagna. One search confirms that. Maybe I'm just picky, but in side by side comparison I always found the lasagna with pre-boiled noodles superior. I was determined at first that my Lasagna Bolognese with homemade pasta (the dish that started my adventures here) would not involve boiling the noodles. My own experimentation and statements from a number of chefs that specialize in such things finally convinced me to boil my noodles. –  Jolenealaska Oct 14 '13 at 6:43

Just add an extra cup or so of water to the sauce. It comes out fine! I do it every time.

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It works. It tastes great. I've done numerous variations (All Veggie, White lasagna, etc.) for numerous dinners and no one has EVER known the difference. Including several Italian moms.

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Hello AJ and welcome to Seasoned Advice. Your answers and comments are most welcome but please refrain from negative comments directed at other users. –  Cindy Dec 16 at 19:36

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