Lasagna is a classic Italian dish that is perfect for feeding the masses because who doesn’t love hot gooey cheese, pasta, and delicious sauce? I’m going to share a few tricks so you will still get that rich, flavorful homemade lasagna you expect but without as much hands-on time and effort.
One step that often adds time and effort is the boiling of the pasta and today you are going to learn how to cook lasagna without boiling the noodles!
In our home, lasagna is one of my go-to fast food meals.
It comes together in no time and I can have it completed and in the oven faster than I can drive into town to get takeout.
I grew up with my mom making a delicious lasagna and she never boiled the noodles. It always tasted amazing.
As I’ve gotten older and created my own style of cooking in the kitchen, I have had many discussions with friends about their lasagna.
For me, this is my “scapegoat” meal when I haven’t meal planned very well and the whole family devours it.
For others, it seems like it is a fancy meal that takes them a lot of time to prepare.
The main difference has been the time they spend fixing and dealing with boiled noodles.
So, today I’m going to share my tried and true lasagna recipe with no-boil lasagna noodles so you can have this classic be a weekly tradition.
What is lasagna?
Traditional lasagna is a one-pot dish that uses uncooked lasagna noodles, an Italian meat sauce, mozzarella cheese, and herbs to create a layered meal.
You will often find a ricotta cheese or cottage cheese mixed in to create a full flavor profile, but you can totally leave this out if you are in a pinch.
It is baked until the noodles are soft and the top of the cheese is golden brown. Most people serve it alongside a salad and bread such as my sourdough french baguette.
Why you’ll love this no-boil lasagna recipe
- It is a perfect make ahead dinner that you can prepare even a few days in advance and have ready for busy nights.
- This recipe is completely adaptable to your family’s preferences and what you have in your kitchen.
- Use whatever ground meat you have on hand. If I have it available, I like to use a combination of ground beef and a sweet italian pork sausage.
- You can make this with a homemade sauce or your favorite jarred pasta.
- There is no need to boil noodles or deal with a hot pot of water with this homemade lasagna.
- Add as much flavor as you want with the use of herbs or a ricotta cheese mixture. Or, just keep it simple with noodles, meat, and cheese!
Tell me about this recipe
- Texture– You have the soft noodles which provide a nice texture paired with the piping hot cheese and meat sauce.
- Taste– Lasagna is a classic meal for a reason. It has so many simple, yet delicious flavors all in one lasagna pan.
- Ease– This recipe is so simple as all you need to do is layer the uncooked noodles, meat sauce, and cheese in a lasagna dish and toss it in a hot oven.
- Time– For this recipe, the only time you will really spend is making the meat sauce. If you opt for jarred pasta sauce, then you can have this ready even less time, which is why it is the best lasagna around.
Different Types of Lasagna Noodles
- Oven-ready lasagna noodles– These are pre-boiled and then dehydrated prior to packaging.
- Regular lasagna noodles- Regular noodles are thicker than oven-ready noodles and require most moisture while baking.
- Fresh pasta- This is always the tastiest option, but it is a labor of love and not feasible when you’re short on time.
How to soften lasagna noodles without boiling
This is really quite simple and you can use any kind of regular noodles you have in your prepared kitchen pantry.
Water bath method-
Fill a baking pan or large bowl with dry lasagna noodles. Get the hottest tap water you can and pour it over the lasagna sheets. Let the hot water sit for 20 minutes and softened the noodles to al dente. Proceed by layering your lasagna dish or make lasagna roll-ups with the soft, pliable noodles. They end up being like a manicotti.
Add additional liquid-
This convenient shortcut is the method I have employed for years and it works like a charm. Make your lasagna sauce as you normally would and add an extra cup of water to the tomato sauce. The extra moisture helps soften the noodles. Since the noodles are uncooked prior to layering the dish, you won’t end up with a watery sauce. The noodles soak up the extra liquid as they cook. I also cover the lasagna with aluminum foil for the first hour of baking to help steam and soften the noodles. Then, I remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to get the cheesy, crusty top you would expect with a hot lasagna.
Pro Tip for this no boil lasagna method
The main problem people have with a no boil lasagna recipe is that their noodles get tough on the outer edges.
This is because there isn’t enough moisture for the noodles and this can be remedied quite simply.
Add an extra cup of water to your sauce (or make extra sauce) to help soften the noodles while baking.
Cook your lasagna with aluminum foil covering it for the first hour. This keeps the dish moist and allows the noodles to soak up the moisture without drying out.
Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes to get that golden brown cheese layer on top!
How to assemble your no-boil lasagna
- Make sauce- You can either make your own sauce or use premade sauce. You will need a 24 ounce jar of sauce, but use as much sauce as you prefer. If your family likes more, go for it! Add one cup of water to your sauce and the cooked ground meat of your choice.
- Layer– Layer our lasagna as follows until your sauce is gone: noodles in the bottom of the baking dish, meat sauce to cover the noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese if using, scatter shredded mozzarella cheese over the layer, and repeat. Finish the dish with a generous layer of cheese on top!
- Bake– Bake in a 350°F for 45 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes to get the top browned.
No-boil Lasagna Recipe
No Boil Lasagna
- 1 casserole dish
- 2 pounds ground beef
- ½ cup diced onion, dice finely
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Ricotta Cheese Mixture
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
For Layering Lasagna
- 1 box lasagna noodles
- 1 pound shredded mozzarella
- Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan. Drain.
- In the same pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the minced garlic and onion until fragrant.
- Add the ground beef back to the saucepan and toss in all of the other sauce ingredients.
- Simmer covered for 1½ hours. Stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes.
Ricotta Cheese Mixture
- Combine the ricotta cheese, egg, and parmesan cheese in a small bowl and whisk until combined well.
Layering the Lasagna
- In a 9 x 13 casserole dish, layer in one layer of noodles.
- Add a layer of meat sauce on top of noodles.
- Carefully add a few dollops of the ricotta mixture and smooth out.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat being sure to end the layering with a tad of meat sauce and a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.
Baking the Lasagna
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes to one hour.
- Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes to get the golden cheese.