Tried and tested: How to make lasagna ahead of time with no-cook pasta

Are you feeding a crowd the next day? Do you need to prepare lasagna ahead of time with no-cook pasta strips and not sure how that would work? Rest assured you’re in the right place; we have a clear answer for you.

After seeing conflicting advice on this exact topic on the web, we decided to answer this question for once and for all. We tested out two ways of using no-boil lasagna pasta to fix lasagna for a crowd. This was done using the same lasagna dish, cooking the same quantities, etc, so everything was the same. The two different ways we tested it was:

Option 1: Assemble the lasagna as normal using the no-cook pasta; then cook in oven as normal except stop about 10 mins early; store in fridge overnight. Then reheat the next day in oven. So there are two oven steps.

Option 2: As for option 1, but omit the first cook-in-oven step. This means assemble the lasagna as normal with no-cook pasta, then store in fridge overnight. Cook next day in oven. There is only one oven step in this option.

Results

Both methods produced tasty lasagna, but Option 2 (no oven-cooking on first day) clearly looked the best when about to serve it – it looked exactly as you would expect. By contrast, the lasagna produced by Option 1 looked very “hilly” and undulating – something which surprised us. Again, I’d like to re-iterate that they tasted great. But when you’re about to serve up something to guests, you’ll want it to look the best possible; you don’t want them to be surprised by the hills on your lasagna.

The good news is the clear winner of Option 2 requires the least amount of work from you! That’s right: you just assemble everything, let it cool down a bit, put in fridge overnight, and the next day cook it in oven. So simple! No need for extra steps.

So there we are; dilemma solved.

If you’d like extra details and info (what brand did we use, etc etc) then I’ve included that below in case it helps. Otherwise, enjoy your guests and relax in the knowledge that you don’t have to do extra steps.

Extra info

  • Brand of lasagna pasta: We used the Kroger store brand of no-cook lasagna pasta. I imagine other brands would work similarly, but these tests were both carried out with the Kroger store brand.
  • You want the other ingredients as hot as possible when assembling. The meat sauce and cheese sauce (I use that instead of ricotta) was absolutely piping hot. The no-cook pasta was obviously going in hard and cool, but I noticed that after the assembled dish was in the fridge overnight, the pasta had softened a lot. Upon cooking it was the perfect consistency – the pasta had no hardness but was not ‘wet’ or soggy either, so just exactly as you’d want it. I imagine that if your ingredients were colder while assembling, you might not get such a good result the next day.
  • Add less water before cooking in oven. No-cook lasagna pasta usually recommends adding a certain amount of water when first cooking the pasta in the oven. I added the water only when just about to cook it in the oven (i.e. not at assembly time), and I added much less than recommended; maybe a third of the suggested amount. I imagine that if you added the full amount of water, the lasagna would come out too soggy or watery. This is because the no-cook pasta has already soaked up some of the ordinary liquid from the meat sauce by being in the fridge overnight.