Oven ready lasagna noodles.

Can You Boil Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles?

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If you bought oven-ready lasagna noodles by mistake when you’re not, in fact, planning on using them in an oven, don’t beat yourself up about it- it happens to the best of us. Now that you’re back in the comfort of your home and would rather starve than schlepp off to the grocery store again, you’re probably wondering: “Can you boil oven-ready lasagna noodles?”

Well, as a lover of lasagna in all its forms and a lifelong advocate for not going to the supermarket more than absolutely necessary, I’ve got great news for you.

Yes, it’s totally fine to boil oven-ready lasagna sheets!

But with that out of the way, there are some things you should keep in mind if you’re planning on using oven-ready lasagna noodles for that non-traditional lasagna recipe. 

Stay with me, because I’m going to dive so deep into the intricacies of lasagna that you’ll wonder if I hired Garfield to ghostwrite this. 

What Are Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles?

Oven-ready lasagna noodles are exactly what you might infer from their name: lasagna noodles that you can put directly from the box into your lasagna recipe and into the oven. No boiling required. 

Traditionally, making a lasagna requires a multi-step process where you boil your noodles before layering them with all that cheesy, rich, tomato-ey goodness.

Oven-ready noodles eliminate that first step entirely, meaning you can throw together a lasagna in half the time. 

To save you that extra step in your kitchen, pasta makers take a few more steps on their end. 

 Some add eggs to their oven-ready noodles, but most use the same recipe as all their other pasta. To make noodles oven-ready, manufacturers start by running the noodles through a water bath to pre-cook them. 

Then, they dehydrate them so they’re shelf-stable, package them, and voila! Oven-ready lasagna noodles hit the shelves at your supermarket, ready for you to pick them up and take them home (although, as we established, not always on purpose).

A closed box of barilla Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

Do You Have to Boil Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles?

Not at all! That’s the beauty of oven-ready lasagna noodles: they really are oven-ready like they say they are. 

Don’t confuse their oven-readiness for infallibility, though. If you stick a pan of these noods in the oven without other moist ingredients, they’ll almost definitely burn.

In fact, even the wrong type of sauce can keep them from doing their thing. Using an alfredo sauce or a pesto in your oven-ready noodle lasagna (instead of a classic red sauce) can make for a very dry dish. So be careful before you go tossing them into anything willy-nilly!

If you’re a big fan of lasagna with white sauce or pesto, you can still use oven-ready noodles, though. You’ll just need to par-boil them for about a minute, a couple sheets at a time since they tend to stick together easily.

Oven-ready lasagna noodles soak up the moisture of whatever is around them, so they don’t actually “cook” in your lasagna, per se. They just expand to their pre-dehydration form- kind of like how you can bring dried fruit back to life by soaking it in water.

When you par-boil oven-ready noodles before you assemble your lasagna, they’ll soak up less moisture out of the sauce during the baking process.

An open box of Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagna

Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles: Pros And Cons

We all know that using oven-ready lasagna noodles is easier…but are they perfect? Not by a long shot.

Aside from being a slap in the face to Nonnas everywhere, oven-ready pasta has a few limitations. It’s important to be aware of these before you decide to use it in a recipe. 

But I’m a glass-half-full kinda gal, so let’s start with the pros!

The Pros

Set them and forget them: When you boil traditional lasagna noodles, you have to have a Goldilocks mentality: not too soft, not too hard….they need to be just right. 

When you use oven-ready lasagna noodles, you afford yourself a lot more mental real estate to perfect the other elements of the lasagna: sauce, fillings, etc. In my opinion, these, more than the pasta itself, are what make or break a lasagna. 

And if you’re feeding a large group, you don’t want to be batch-cooking lasagna noodles on top of everything else you need to get done. 

Beginner’s luck…in a box: If you’ve never made a lasagna, you might be surprised at how easily it can go wrong when you don’t have your noodle boiling technique down. 

With oven-ready lasagna noodles, you can dip your toes in the lasagna water instead of being pushed in headfirst. 

Okay, now I’m picturing a swimming pool full of water from a lasagna dish that’s been soaking and grossing myself out a little bit but….you catch my drift. They make delicious results attainable for folks of all skill levels.

They aren’t just a low-brow American thing anymore! With the increasing demand for ways to cook smarter, not harder, more and more companies are getting in on the oven-ready lasagna sheet game. This even includes some small-batch artisan pasta makers.

So if you or someone you cook for is a snob about mass market store-bought pasta, yes, even YOU can save time when you make a lasagna! 

The Cons

Let that sink in (literally): Lasagnas made from oven-ready noodles usually taste pretty good, but they’re not winning any lasagna beauty pageants. 

Because a lot of their starch gets purged off during the pre-cooking/rehydrating process, they can lose their shape under all the layers of other fixins. Your lasagna might have a sunken-in look to it. 

You may not care. But if you’d be mortified if someone knew you were using oven-ready noodles, know they might be able to tell, provided they know their way around a lasagna. Do with that what you will. 

No boil, no bite: As I just mentioned, oven-ready noodles lose a lot of their starchy charms during the manufacturing process. 

Some folks are just here for the meat, cheese, and sauce.

But for others (like me), lasagna just isn’t the same without that al dente pasta flavor, which oven-ready noodles often lack. If that describes you or someone you’re cooking for, you might want to make your lasagna the analog way.

side view of a stack of Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

How Long Do You Boil Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles?

Oven-ready lasagna noodles boil in practically no time at all, so if you’re making something where they need to retain their structure, limit the time you boil them to two minutes, max.

Another VERY important pro tip: don’t boil too many oven-ready lasagna noodles at a time! 

They’re basically the pasta equivalent of those little stretchy hands you get from 25-cent machines- they will absolutely stick to each other if you let them.

If you’re making a lasagna soup, where it doesn’t really matter if the noodles fall apart, then you don’t need to be too mindful of cooking time. 

But given their love of soaking up the liquids around them, keep an eye on your broth levels and adjust accordingly if needed. And keep in mind you’ll probably have to break up the noodles before serving. 

Can You Boil Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles For Roll-Ups?

I love a good roll-up, and Lasagna is one of my favorite kinds, surpassed only by Fruit and 

Cheesy (as if this even needs to be said).  

As for things that do need to be said, though: yes, you can totally boil oven-ready noodles for lasagna roll-ups. 

Since they need to withstand the whole “roll-up” part, though, you’ll need to adhere precisely to the recommended 2-minute boil time

If you boil them for even a little bit too long, then you’ll have to pivot and make deconstructed lasagna instead. 

Side of Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

Regular Lasagna Noodles Vs. Oven-Ready Vs. Homemade/Fresh, At A Glance

So we’ve talked a lot about oven-ready noodles: what’s good about ’em and what’s bad about ’em. But what about their formidable opponents, store-bought regular lasagna noodles and homemade lasagna noodles?

Let’s see how they all stack up!

Regular Traditional Lasagna Noodles

Boil time: 12-14 minutes for al dente

User-Friendliness: 3/5

Overall Flavor Rating: 4/5 

Widely available with a large range of optionsMore time-consuming to work with
Don’t stick together once boiledModerate margin of error
More flavor than oven-ready noodlesCan tear apart during the assembly process
Satisfying texture
Hold their shape well
Won’t soak up sauces during baking
No specialized equipment necessary

Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

Boil time: No more than 2 minutes for rollups; none for lasagna

User-Friendliness: 5/5

Overall Flavor Rating: 3/5

Widely available with a large range of optionsStick together when boiling
Low margin of errorLacking in structure
Saves time in the kitchenLess flavorful than other options
ConsistentCan soak up sauces, leading to dryer lasagna
Good for feeding large groups
No specialized equipment necessary

Homemade/Fresh Lasagna Noodles

Boil time: No need to boil for lasagna, but can be boiled for no longer than 1 minute if used for roll-ups

User-Friendliness: 2/5 for homemade, 4/5 for fresh store-bought

Overall Flavor Rating: 5/5

Best flavor Requires lots of time and specialized equipment when homemade
Can be store-bought for extra convenienceCan be delicate during lasagna assembly 
Very quick method if store-bought Not shelf stable unless dried
Low margin of error if store-bought
No need to pre-boil
Will hold its shape during baking

How Do You Boil Perfect Lasagna Noodles?

If your noodles are for an honest-to-goodness lasagna lasagna, there’s a trick for non-oven-ready dried lasagna noodles that basically makes them oven-ready. 

This method works best if you adhere to the same rule you would oven-ready lasagna noodles: keep it saucy.

1. First things first, fill a large bowl with water as hot as your tap will go, or microwave filtered water for about 60 seconds if you’re in an area where the tap water has an unpleasant flavor. I personally always boil my noodles with a bit of chicken bouillon just for added flavor – even for beef dishes.

2. Put the noodles in one at a time so they don’t get stuck together. With each new addition, stir the noodles around carefully, so as not to break them.

3. Let them sit for about 20 minutes, and then assemble your lasagna as usual. 

Above any boiling method, this is the best way to make lasagna from dried pasta that I’ve encountered.

Boiling Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

What Happens If You Use Regular Lasagna Noodles Without Boiling?

If you used regular lasagna noodles and didn’t boil or soak them first, what happens to your lasagna could be inconsequential or it could be inedible- it really, really just depends.

Sometimes, if you surround the noodles with enough moisture from the sauce and ricotta, your noodles will cook just fine and you’ll barely notice. Some people actually prefer their lasagna this way. When the noodles soak up moisture from the sauce and ricotta while they cook and the starch from the pasta mingles with the other ingredients, the finished dish stays together pretty well, and you get that nice “layer cake” structure.

Of course, there’s also a reason why some recipes tell you to boil the noodles first. Without adequate moisture to steam the noodles, they can come out undercooked, even burnt. 

If you don’t have the time or ingredients to play mad scientist, always stick to your recipe. If it says to boil the regular lasagna noodles, there’s probably a good reason for it. 

Detail of Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles

Can You Boil Oven-Ready Lasagna Noodles? The Final Word

Whether you grabbed the wrong kind of pasta at the store or you’re remixing some leftover noodles from a lasagna past, rest assured: you can definitely boil oven-ready lasagna noodles. 

However, if you’re using them for their intended purpose, a lasagna, boiling oven-ready noodles will make for overdone pasta in the finished product.

Ultimately, it’s best to carefully consider your dish and what you think would work best for it.

About Author

Tia Goodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!