Should homemade lasagna be frozen cooked or uncooked?
My wife and I are prepping some meals ahead of time before Baby #2 arrives early next month.
She just made 3 small lasagnas (8"x8" pans) this afternoon and we are debating whether to bake them first and then freeze them down, or freezing them uncooked and bake when we are ready to eat.
What is the proper method to maintain the quality of the food as much as possible? Cooking and thawing times when we decide to serve it are less of a factor.
We used standard noodles (not the no-boil type) and it has canned sauce, pork sausage, ground beef, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella in case the ingredients impact is the best option.
I wonder if uncooked would be more prone to freezer burn since the cooked lasagna may have less air pockets---where I assume freezer burn will take place (I could be wrong). I still vote for uncooked for similar reasons as MandoMando.
@dolan interesting idea, I hadn't considered that. For my purposes, we don't plan on keeping them in the fridge that long to test the theory, but it is a good point for the general question. Thanks.
so from reading all these responses.......I am going to prepare my lasagna putting together the cooked meat and the cooked sauce with the cooked pasta....I am not going to put it in the oven for the completed cooking ...instead I will wrap and make air tight and put in freezer. when I am ready to cook it in the oven the day I am going to serve it.....I will take it out of the freezer and leave in frig for overnight and well into the next day so it is defrosted and then proceed to put in oven for the final step of cooking and serving.... so did I get it right based on these responses?
I'd say freeze nearly all of them uncooked and bake when ready. That way they go through only one cooking and maintain the fresh lasagna taste/feel.
The sauce and and the cheese will freeze ok. Mozzarella is a pretty sensitive cheese and once it's been baked, it's not going to hold as well when thawed and re-warmed. In my experience it gets gummy and the fat runs off. You have much better chance of enjoying a good meal with the cheese frozen raw.
Unfortunately, your noodles will likely take the hardest hit, but will likely fare better than going through two heat cycles.
The ground beef and sausage will also fare better that way.
The reason I suggested freezing MOST and not all, is that there are times when you're behind the 8-ball, hungry, and don't have the time to bake the sucker, and even ponder settling for dog-food. At that point having a silver bullet in the freezer is a bonus ;) and you'll be ok with inferior lasagna.
When I make lasagne to put in the freezer, I do not bake it first.
For me, the best way to freeze it is using a sheet of Glad's Press-N-Seal over the top of the lasagna, pressing down to get all the air out if you can, between the top layer (sauce/cheese) and your press-n-seal. You want more or less a vacuum seal (the cheap way). I seal my press-n-seal to the top and then up the sides of the tin pan, all the way to the top. Now when you foil your pan, the gap that was 1-2" between the lasagna and your pan won't freezer burn your expensive and time consuming meal!
I use 2 layers of heavy duty foil to encompass the entire pan and label the lasagna: Lasagna, 02-04-14 Press-N-Seal on top layer, Remove before Baking!
This way I remember to take it off before tossing the frozen meal into the oven. I then lay it flat in freezer just until it's frozen, a day or so, then you can move it because it's then a hard solid block!
Hope this helps! Mel
Hi Babyduck115 and welcome to the site! Thanks for your input here! As you can see, I edited your answer a bit. This was mainly because the wall of text was not easily readable and there was a lot of information not directly answering the question. But do not worry, it's normal for other users to edit each other's questions/answers. I hope you have a great time here!
I use the recipe on the Barilla no-boil lasagne package. I have successfully assembled extra pans of lasagne and frozen them prior to cooking. To cook, I put the pan in the oven then set the temp to the instructed temp 375degF (so the lasagne preheats with the oven), and bake until peeking under the foil reveals the lasagne is bubbly (i.e., at the same stage as the freshly prepared pan would be after the standard 25?50? min), then uncover and finish per the box instructions.
For our lasagne size and oven conditions, the total time it takes to cook from frozen in a cold oven is about 100 minutes (1 hour 40 min) covered with foil plus 5 uncovered. This may seem like a long time but I am pleased to report that it turned out just as perfect as the freshly prepared batch.
FYI, Regarding freezer burn on uncooked noodles: we did not see any freezer burn - but the longest one remained frozen was about 2 months.
I have not tried thawing the lasagne before cooking.
When I make a big pan of lasagna, I do cook first. After an overnight chill, I slice it into single serving portions. Then I lay those out on a sheet pan covered with parchment. Then I freeze them for half a day. Mr Foodsaver is called to action and it's a done deal. When I'm ready for a nice meal, I just pull one from the freezer the day before and either nuke but prefer to bake for 20-30 min with a little extra sauce in the bottom of the dish!!!!