how long should lasagna sit before you cut it

Learn how to make the best lasagna and get lots of lasagna tips along the way.

Just like the kidney bean versus no-kidney-bean debate surrounding chili, people are divided on what should be in lasagna. Should it have ricotta or not? A meat sauce or not? Mozzarella or not? Also, there are some procedural disagreements like should you boil the noodles first or not? How many layers do you need to have? There sure are a lot of places for debate when it comes to lasagna!

All those contentious issues mean that there are many ways to make lasagna. Because of that, it’s pretty difficult to come up with the ultimate lasagna that everyone will love. Somebody somewhere will have a problem with it, no matter what.

And so, I’m not claiming that this recipe is the best lasagna for everyone. I’m claiming that it’s my best lasagna for me. It’s my favorite. That’s all. There are reasons why it’s my favorite. It’s meaty, but not too meaty. It’s creamy and moist, but not so moist that it falls apart. It’s cheesy, but not too cheesy. Middle of the road, lasagna, perhaps.

Along with the steps below to make this lasagna, and the recipe at the bottom, I’ve also included my best tips. You can apply these tips to any of your own lasagna recipes. For more lasagna tips (and a different perspective), I really like this article on Epicurious and this one from Bon Appétit.

When the lasagna is ready it is difficult to resist the temptation to immediately eat it, but be careful because even in this case you have to be a little patient. Wait for your lasagna to rest for about 20 minutes once it is baked, in this way it will not fall apart when cut.
how long should lasagna sit before you cut it

Why Does Lasagna Have To Rest?

When the lasagna is baking (and this is true for all kinds of casseroles, really) it’s all hot and bubbling and everything is agitated and steaming inside and out. If you just take it out of the oven and cut into it, all that steamy agitation is going to squirm all over the place. You won’t get a nicely held together slice. It’s going to slip and slide and be sloppy for sure.

Letting the lasagna rest allows everything to calm down in there. It lets it set a bit. Then when you cut into it, it can hold together better. It’s going to taste better too when the first bite doesn’t scald your tongue.

Note that the 15 minute resting time will not cool the lasagna down to the point where it’s no longer hot. It will still be very hot and delicious. Don’t worry. I promise it will be good.

After it rests, you can cut it and serve it. I cut it into 12 pieces, 3 cuts in one direction (lengthwise in the pan) and 4 in the other direction (widthwise in the pan).

To serve the lasagna (as in, to get it out of the pan) I use a small-ish metal spatula. It really lets you get under the slice. Note that when I serve lasagna, I always have a second spatula right beside me. If the lasagna is for some reason more slippery than I anticipated, I use the second spatula, held in my other hand, to keep things together a bit better.

I love serving lasagna with an Italian salad and my delicious garlic bread recipe.

how long should lasagna sit before you cut it

The printable lasagna recipe, in a shorter, more concise form, is below. I hope you love this one. I really really think you will!

How To Make Lasagna

(Feel free to disagree with any of the following steps and go ahead and do it your way. This is simply how I do it and I won’t be hurt if you do it differently).

Boil the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure that you’ve bought regular dry lasagna noodles and not the “no boil” kind. This recipe will not work with the no-boil kind. To make lasagna with no-boil noodles, you need to have more sauce than is called for here.

Drain the noodles and then toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil so that they don’t stick together while you’re getting the other things ready. Lay them flat on a baking sheet so that they don’t end up all bent up. You want them nice and flat.

Make a meat sauce. Here’s my basic spaghetti sauce recipe, which works great here. You’ll need 6 cups of it. If you just want to wing it, go with 1 pound of ground meat sautéed until cooked (you can add chopped onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper – all, some, or none of those works fine) and then add enough canned tomato sauce to make up 6 cups of sauce.

Tip: If you’d prefer this to be vegetarian, you can sauté the vegetables without the meat and then add sauce to those. You might want to add something extra like finely chopped zucchini to the mix as well.

Make the béchamel sauce. Béchamel is a basic white sauce that is used in some lasagnas. It makes everything creamy, moist, and so good. It’s super simple to make. The step-by-step instructions and lots of info about béchamel are over here.

Now that you have all the components ready, it’s time to assemble the lasagna! You start by putting some meat sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch cake pan. Always start your lasagna with sauce, never with noodles. Otherwise, the noodles will be too dry.

Spread the sauce around. Sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese and then top with three non-overlapping noodles. Drizzle noodles with béchamel and then top with mozzarella cheese. Repeat that set of layers twice more for a total of 3 sets of layers.

Lasagna Layers:

Here are the layers with amounts so you can assemble things quickly at a glance. Each set of layers contains the following ingredients in this order:

  • 2 cups meat sauce
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 non-overlapping noodles
  • 1 cup béchamel
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

After doing that a total of three times, you’re done. You can add extra mozzarella cheese to the top if you want.

If you’re wondering why there isn’t any ricotta in there, here’s why: I find it dry in lasagna. I don’t think it adds much in terms of flavor either. I use the béchamel instead. If you’re a die-hard ricotta fan, go for it. Add it onto the noodles, before the béchamel or instead of it. But make sure to add beaten egg to the ricotta (this adds moisture) and to season it well with salt and pepper. Otherwise it’s really really bland.

Cover the top of the pan with foil. Bake covered in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until it’s heated through and bubbling, about 20 more minutes. Covering it for the first half is important because that stops it from drying out as it bakes.

The next step is important. Do not skip it!

I’m going to say this again: Do not skip this step!

Let the lasagna rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Do it. Don’t ask questions. Just do it.

O.K., O.K., you can ask a question.

Do you have to boil lasagna noodles before baking?


How long should lasagna cool before cutting?

Cool and Serve Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow the bubbling layers to cool for at least 15 minutes. Not only does this prevent diners from burning their mouths, but it can also make it easier to slice the lasagna into pieces.

How long should lasagna set after cooking?

A general rule of thumb for me is to let the lasagna rest for about 15 minutes. That is enough time to let the cheese and sauce set up and it will still be hot when you serve it. If you’re in a hurry, you can probably get away with 5-10 minutes of resting.

How long should lasagna sit out after cooking?

How long does lasagna last unrefrigerated? Lasagna should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Any longer than that, and the risk of bacterial growth increases, which can cause foodborne illness.

How do you cut a lasagna without it falling apart?

When taken out of the oven a lasagne needs to ‘rest’ for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. This will allow the lasagne to ‘set’ a little so that the postions are less likely to fall apart.

How long should lasagna sit before cutting?

Another tip is to let your lasagna sit before cutting pieces for at least 10 minutes, which allows it to set and keeps it from falling apart, Cericola explains. Then use a chef’s knife to cut squares and lift the pieces out with a flexible, silicone food turner like a brownie spatula, Cericola recommends.

How do you serve lasagna after cutting?

Serve the lasagna immediately after cutting to maintain its temperature and prevent it from drying out. For a clean presentation, wipe the knife between each cut to remove any excess sauce or cheese. If using a deep lasagna dish, consider using a long knife or a pie server to reach the bottom layers easily.

Should lasagna be cooled before cutting?

It is generally easier to cut lasagna when it is slightly cooled. Hot lasagna tends to be more delicate and can easily fall apart, making it challenging to slice neatly. Allowing it to cool for a while will make the cutting process much smoother. How do I prevent the lasagna from sticking to the knife?

Should lasagna be cut straight out of the oven?

“Lasagna is a lot like an apple pie,” says Lisa. “If you cut it straight out of the oven, it will fall apart.” And once you’ve waited patiently for the lasagna to cool, it’s important to think about your technique.

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