Food Prep

Why you should never boil lasagna noodles

Why doesn't your lasagna look like this?

Why doesn't your lasagna look like this?  (iStock)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that lasagna is a pain in the butt.

If you're making it from scratch, you're probably simmering your own sauce. Prepping at least two kinds of cheese. Maybe making bechamel. And definitely boiling those lasagna noodles, which love to flop around as you drain them, stinging you with their clinging water as you clumsily try to separate them into neat sheets for layering.

But we're here to tell you there is another way.

No-boil lasagna noodles aren't just a convenient shortcut to piping-hot lasagna—they're actually way more delicious than the regular, frilly-edged kind you have to cook before using.

Why?

First of all, no-boil noodles tend to be much thinner than the conventional kind. And no wonder—that helps them cook through in the time it takes the lasagna to bake. But there's a secondary payoff there, too. Since lasagna was originally made with tender, delicate sheets of freshly made pasta, using no-boil lasagna mimics that same texture. Of course, you won't be getting the subtle egginess of true handmade pasta. But we're not after that right now, are we? Sometimes it's just about baking up a rich, bubbling casserole of pasta, sauce, and cheese with as little extraneous effort as possible.

A few caveats before you give it a try: first, no-boil noodles need plenty of liquid to cook through properly. So make sure your sauce is nice and saucy (no need for it to be watery, though). Also, be sure the sauce and/or ricotta coats each spare inch of noodle—if it's naked, it's not getting cooked. And follow the package instructions about covering and uncovering the lasagna as it bakes so it percolates properly and then browns beautifully.

Armed with this knowledge, you officially have no excuse not to make lasagna. In fact, shouldn't you be getting one in the oven right about now?

Get this recipe: Our Favorite Lasagna With Sausage, Spinach, and Three Cheeses