Do Lasagna Noodles Have To Be Precooked? (Should You Boil Them?)

Last updated on October 6th, 2022 at 08:32 pm

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Lasagna is a favorite meal for many families. The classic Italian food is so good with its combination of wonderful ingredients. 

Unfortunately making lasagna can be sort of time consuming with the preparation involved. You have to cook the meat and make the sauce, boil the noodles, and layer it all in a casserole dish to cook for a little over an hour. 

If you make lasagna often, you may wonder if there is an easier or quicker way to get the pasta dish you love. Do you really have to boil and pre-cook the noodles before baking it?

If you are using regular lasagna noodles, you will want to cook them until they are Al Dente and then make your lasagna. However, there are no-boil lasagna noodles that can be purchased so you can add them directly to your dish with no pre-cooking needed.

Do Lasagna Noodles Have To Be Precooked? (Should You Boil Them?)

Lasagna originated in the country of Italy and more specifically in the city of Naples during the Middle Ages. One of the frost references to the dish was in a 14th century English cookbook and described as a dish with layers of pasta without tomatoes. 

Then later it was referenced again in the 1880s in an Italian cookbook as featuring tomato sauce. Over time, the dish evolved into what the traditional lasagna of Naples made with sausage, fried meatballs, hard boiled eggs, ricotta mozzarella, and Neapolitan Ragu. 

There are many different variations of this dish based on one’s preferences. Lasagna is a favorite and delicious meal for many people.

The popular Italian dish of lasagna is now enjoyed all over the world and made in households everywhere. The meal takes some time to put together but it’s all worth it once you bite into the cheesy layers of tomato meat sauce, and pasta. 

You need special lasagna noodles to complete this dish and they can be bought at any local grocery store. When you are picking some up, you will notice there are two options, regular and no-boil. 

Regular noodles will need to be precooked/ boiled before you add them into the dish but with no-boil noodles, it is said that these can just go straight in to bake. 

Not having to boil the noodles is a great time saver so if you are running short on time that’s a great option.

Do You Boil Noodles For Lasagna? 

If you are making lasagna you may think that it is taking way too long to boil the noodles. Do you have to boil them before putting them into the dish to bake?

Lasagna noodles should be boiled or pre-cooked before you add them into the dish unless they are the oven-ready lasagna noodles. These will still need to be softened, but you can skip the boiling step. 

It’s important to pre-cook regular lasagna noodles because if you don’t, they will be hard and not taste good. You should boil the noodles for about 8 to 10 minutes until they are Al Dente meaning they are still firm and slightly undercooked. 

They will have the opportunity to cook all the way when they are baking inside the lasagna in the oven later. 

No-boil lasagna noodles can be a great alternative to the regular noodles. Now, these come with the instruction that there is no need to boil them and they can go right into your lasagna recipe. 

While this may be the case with certain brands, in my experience you should boil them the same as the regular noodle. Just until they reach Al Dente and then they can cook the rest fo the way in the oven in the dish. 

Now, if you find that these work well for your lasagna without boiling them, have at it. 

In times past I have learned that, by skipping the pre-cooking (even with no-boil lasagna noodles) they have not been thoroughly cooked almost an hour and a half later when the lasagna comes out of the oven. 

It has been recommended that if you’re using no-boil lasagna noodles, to boil the bottom layer and then add the rest of the noodle layers with dry ones. This has seemed to work for a lot of people’s recipes. 

Although, I think I will stick to always pre-cooking and boiling the noodles for a little bit before adding them into the dish. It would be a pain to have to put the lasagna back into the oven just because the noodles are still hard and not completely done. 

So you can choose whether to pre-cook and boil your lasagna noodles or not, but the regular noodles should always be boiled before layering them into the dish.

How Do You Soften No Boil Lasagna Noodles? 

Great question! Oftentimes oven-ready (no-boil) lasagna noodles can come out of the oven still hard and not worthy to be eaten. 

So, is there a way to soften them?

To soften oven-ready lasagna noodles, try doubling the sauce and adding a cup of water to your dish. Another option is to boil them for a few minutes to ensure they come out of the over fully cooked. 

Andrea Dekker explains how to use lasagna noodles in her article, The “Secret” to No-Boil Lasagna Noodles

She says, “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 can be a great way to help soften the regular and no-boil lasagna noodles without the trouble of boiling them. Double the amount of sauce your recipe needs and add a cup of water that is either mixed in with the sauce or just poured over the lasagna before you put the final layer of cheese on top of it. 

You can also soften oven-ready lasagna noodles by soaking them in a baking dish with hot tap water before adding them into the dish. This method can make the time spent on preparing the lasagna go by a little faster. 

I wish I would’ve tried this before using the no-boil noodles for the first time because this can make a difference in the time you spend putting the lasagna together while also getting those noodles soft and delicious. 

Final Thoughts

Lasagna is a popular Italian dish with multiple layers of tomato meat sauce, pasta and cheese. It is hearty and yummy but can be time consuming to make. 

You should alway boil the lasagna noodles before adding them into the dish. If you don’t they will be hard even after the rest of the lasagna is baked. 

If you want to skip this step, consider buying oven-ready lasagna noodles. Soften them with the tips mentioned in this article and they are ready to be layered into the dish. 

Whether you boil the noodles or use the no-boil kind, the result will be some delicious lasagna that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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