Lasagna: To boil or not to boil the pasta? That is the question.

Okay, Food52 community, help me out here. I am planning to make some lasagna in order to take advantage of some meat sauce that I friend gave me in our food-sharing circle, and I have been looking at lasagna recipes on Food52. Some of them involve boiling the lasagna sheets for varying amounts of time; some don't mention boiling the pasta at all.

So my questions are these (and you can assume that I am not using freshly made pasta, but something out of a box from a grocery store):
(1) If I am using a standard box of lasagna that I have in my cupboard, do I boil the lasagna sheets before using them in the layering process, or do I put them in the layers dry, right out of the box? If boiling, are they parboiled or fully boiled (i.e., for how long)?
(2) Some of the recipes refer to "no-boil lasagna" from which one can infer that these lasagna sheets are put into the layering process right out of the box -- correct? Are these lasagna sheets different from the "standard" lasagna sold in groceries, and, if so, how? Is there anything that I would need to be aware of in using "no-boil" lasagna sheets in cooking?

Thanks in advance for your help, so that I do not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous cooking techniques.

  • Posted by: gandalf
  • April 22, 2020


Rosalie G. April 26, 2020
I always pre- boil my Lasagna noodles. It gives them more depth of flavor when you add the sauce and cheese to the noodles when you finish them in the oven I bought a pasta machine, so I can make my own Lasagna noodles. Delightful!!! so much easier to make regular noodles, ravioli, just about anything you can think of fast and easy..
GigiR April 26, 2020
No boil noodles require extra liquid to get them to cook in the oven. I would make sure to follow the box directions. First time I tried no boil, it went well. Second time with a different brand did not turn out as well. It wastes a lot of good ingredients and time if it doesn’t turn out well. I’m just used to regular boil them first style noodles and like them because they always turn out for me. I’d do what you can rely on to work if you’ve got people coming for dinner. I just need more experience with the no boil noodles in order to feel confident that the lasagna will turn out.
Stephanie B. April 22, 2020
Yes, I agree with Nancy. I usually buy regular lasagna and never pre-boil them. Last time I made lasagna I used the "no-boil" kind because that's all there was, and I didn't think it turned out any different than when I use the regular kind. I'm not shy about the amount of sauce/filling when I make lasagna, but lasagnas aren't supposed to be sparse anyway.
Nancy April 22, 2020
Gandalf - I can't tell you the science for sure, but I think no-boil noodles are made slightly differently to cook through in a composed dish and not require boiling.
But in practice, you can use regular machine made dry lasagna sheets without boiling.
I've done it and it works.
Some sources advise adding 25% more sauce or liquid to the dish if you are using regular noodles in a no-boil recipe.
To sum up - use whichever noodles you have in a no-boil set up, or boil regular ones if you like the texture that gives.
gandalf April 22, 2020
Nancy April 23, 2020
Glad to help.
PS You get the Oliver Burton Tennant award for planting TWO Hamlet quotations in your question. With apologies to all the other actors I couldn't name who've played that role.
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