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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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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.

  • 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. – Enrico Tuvera Jr 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
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    So the answer is NOT "write no-boil on the packaging" :) – rackandboneman Mar 28 '18 at 21:40
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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
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    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
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    Evidently your experiences do not match those of many other folks then. – SAJ14SAJ Oct 14 '13 at 6:18
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    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
  • I've seen versions where the pasta is soaked (but not boiled) before assembling, would this satisfy your concerns about hydration? – Megha Mar 28 '18 at 23:53
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I make lasagna without boiling the noodles all the time! I have also made other noodle casseroles without first cooking the noodles. If your sauce is "wet" enough or if you add a little extra water to your sauce, it cooks fine! Most of the dishes I make, bake for about an hour and that is plenty for plumped up noodles with the same texture as boiled ahead. I do like to make sure that all the noodles are covered in the sauce, otherwise they might still be hard. This works for all kinds of noodles!

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    Because most of the lasagna pasta sold dried at the store actually says no-boil somewhere on the package. – rackandboneman Mar 28 '18 at 21:40
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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.

  • 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 '14 at 19:36
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Just made the mistake with regular lasagna noodles by not boiling them 1st. I cut slits all around then added more marinara sauce mixed with water and poured on top. Almost 2 cups. I then baked covered at 350 for almost 2 hours. It was perfect.

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I agree with the answer that it does work with noodles straight out of the Box but the final result is slightly different. For years I've made lasagna with noodles Straight Out of the Box. But boiling them first, even just submerging them in hot water for 5 minutes prior to lasagna assembly changes the texture of the noodle. It plumps it up. Unboiled noodles, while tender, are not as plump. Just gives it a slightly different texture. I also saw a TV chef say something similar to this in regards of lasagna noodles.

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Set up the lasagna and let it sit overnight if you're not wanting it same day. My mom and I have always done it that way

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I have a Sicilian mother in law from the old country. She taught me tosubmerge the noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes then lay them out layered with ingredients. Small amount of water added to the sauce. What else is good is chopped fresh spinach to give it color.Black olives are good too. Take it from the horses mouthe mother knows best.

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This recipe from Serious Eats suggests that you soak the pasta in warm/hot (Not boiling, and not raw) water while you're making the sauce, and then bake that in the oven. It goes on to explain:

[...] any time you are planning on baking pasta in a casserole, there is no need to precook it. All you have to do is soak it while you make your sauce, then combine the two and bake. Since the pasta's already hydrated, it won't rob your sauce of liquid, and the heat from the oven is more than enough to cook it while the casserole bakes.

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I read all the above answers. However the best solution is to boil regular lasagna noodles for half the time. This way, you get nicely cooked noodles that are not mushy. If you are making 2 pans, remember turning off the pot in order to reuse the hot water cooks the noodles left in the pot. So use two pots! Most people have electric stoves, so the heat remains when gas stoves cut off immediately the heat does also. Yet the heat remains long enough to over cook your dish. So be sober and keep an eye on your dish. If everything is cooked except the cheese, one doesn't have to bake it as long. I only bake my lasagna for 30 minutes, then cover and allow residual heat do the rest.

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I just checked with an award winning chef and restauranteur here in North Georgia. I have know him for more than 20 years. He says he has always cooked lasagna using dry noodles, and not "no boil" noodles. His lasagna is outstanding and I have seen it served to groups with numerous good cooks included who all raved about it. So, I would trust him and his method. He also says that it slices better and retains its shape better, when portioning it for serving a large group.

  • Hello., and welcome to Stack Exchange. This is interesting, but does not answer the original question. – Daniel Griscom Nov 10 '18 at 11:41
  • @DanielGriscom I think it does. It says you don't need to do anything to turn regular lasagna noodles into "no boil" ones, because regular ones don't need to be boiled, either. – David Richerby Nov 10 '18 at 20:50
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In my experience, you need to add extra sauce (not necessarily water) & then ensure that you cover the noodles completely with your sauce & cheese. It’s a little too much sauce for my taste but I don’t want to use water or broth. I have found that even no-boil noodles need extra liquid to cook properly. I used this alternative no-boil method tonight with great success: I soaked regular noodles in hot water with 2 tablespoons salt (for seasoning) until they were pliable, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they didn’t stick together (a few did but the others were fine & I had less breakage than when I boil). I took the sheets out with tongs, dripping wet, layered them as usual & it turned out great. The reason I experimented is that I was very tired & cooked my meat sauce by mistake in my pasta pot & was not about to haul out my cast iron pot just to boil noodles. It worked perfectly. I didn’t have to wash a second pot & the results suited me: noodles that were perfect, not mushy or underdone. I’ll never boil lasagna noodles again. Waste of a pot & fuel. So, yes, you can skip boiling regular noodles but you have to be careful (more sauce & ensure the liquids & cheese to cover the noodles entirely) But for anyone interested in another no-boil approach, I got great results using the hot salt water bath tonight.

  • If you soak your noodles in hot water, then you are partially cooking them. When the OP suggests that you can "lay them out on the pan raw", I believe they meant straight from the box (dried) and uncooked. Have you ever used dried uncooked noodles in your Lasagna? – elbrant Feb 28 at 3:40
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Yes. I have used regular, dry noodles right out of the box for lasagna. Use a lot of saucy meat sauce (cooked ground beef and Italian sausage). Remember, you need to put a base of sauce in the pan first before putting in your first layer of the noodles, followed by some of the ricotta mixture (ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesean cheese,fresh basil) covering the noodles. Add meaty sauce and then mozzarella. Repeat. You can prepare lasagna the day before and let the noodles soak up sauce if you want. Either way, delish. ♡

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