Tuesday, April 16, 2024
For men, women, and teens

Tried and tested: Best way to make lasagna ahead of time with oven ready noodles

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

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Lasagna with oven ready lasagna noodles

Are you feeding a crowd the next day? Do you need to prepare lasagna ahead of time with oven ready lasagna noodles and not sure when to do the oven cooking step? 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 2 ways of using no boil lasagna noodles to fix lasagna for a crowd, ahead of time. Both ways used the same size lasagna dish, same recipe, cooking the same quantities, so everything was the same.

Here are the 2 different methods we tried of making it.

Option 1 - cook the lasagna the night before, reheat before serving

Assemble the lasagna as normal using the oven ready pasta; then cook in oven as normal except stop about 10 minutes early; store in the fridge overnight.

Then reheat the next day in the oven.

So there are two oven steps.

Option 2 - assemble the lasagna the night before but don't cook until the day

As for option 1, but omit the first cook-in-oven step. This means assemble the lasagna as normal with no cook lasagna noodles, then store in the fridge overnight. Cook it the next day in the oven.

There is only one oven step in this option.


Both methods produced tasty lasagna, but Option 2 (assemble but don't cook 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 both options 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 it in the fridge overnight, and the next day cook your lasagna in the oven. So simple! No need for extra steps.

So there we are; dilemma solved. You can definitely make lasagna with oven ready noodles a day ahead of time. This makes it a breeze to cook for crowd!

If you’d like extra details and information (brand used, 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.

Make ahead no boil lasagna noodles tips

Brand of oven ready lasagna noodles used in this experiment

We used the Kroger store brand of oven ready lasagna pasta. I imagine other brands would work similarly, but these tests were both carried out with the Kroger store brand.

How to use no boil lasagna noodles

When cooking with oven ready lasagna noodles, you need to be aware that different brands have different cook times and cook temperatures.

The best way to ensure your make ahead lasagna is fully cooked is to read the baking instructions on the package and follow that when you do the oven step. Yes, your favorite lasagna recipe will handle a different oven temperature or different length of cooking time just fine!

I've used several different brands of no bake lasagna noodles and I can attest the food always works out fine. You just need to follow the length of cooking time and the baking temperature specified on the package of oven ready lasagna pasta. This may be different to what your favorite lasagna recipe says, but it will work.

Make sure other ingredients are as hot as possible when assembling

The meat sauce and cheese sauce (I use that instead of ricotta) was absolutely piping hot. The oven-ready pasta was obviously going in hard and cool, but I noticed that after the assembled dish was in the fridge overnight, the lasagna 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 the lasagna in the oven

The no boil lasagna pasta usually recommends adding a certain amount of water to your casserole dish when first cooking the lasagna 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 bake lasagna noodles have already soaked up some of the ordinary liquid from the meat sauce by being in the fridge overnight.

It's definitely easier than you think to make oven ready lasagna the night before.

Do you have a dessert plan in mind yet? If not, I recommend either of these two impressive but easy desserts that you can make ahead:

  1. Caramel slice - its beautiful layers will wow your guests, yet it's so easy to make! And it can be eaten with napkin and fingers if desired; no extra dishes for the dishwasher
  2. Sticky toffee pudding - this make ahead guide shows you how to do the work the night before, and then all you do on the day is reheat it quickly in the microwave before serving. You'll need a plate and fork or spoon to eat this, but it's worth it!

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