Sometimes we want a comfort meal but don’t want to put in too much effort. Doubling and freezing lasagna recipes don’t require much more effort than one. But there are a few things you need to know: do you freeze the lasagna before or after cooking, how do you properly portion the dish for 2, how to cook a frozen lasagna, and how to defrost it?
I’ve made many lasagnas over the years and most recently for Christmas. After eating leftovers for several days, I realized I had to portion it better. So I searched for the best way to freeze this comforting casserole.
You’ve spent the time making lasagna; it’s not too much effort to make two. It’s time to learn how to freeze lasagna.
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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The Best Lasagna Recipe
I’ve made several lasagna recipes, and these three stood out. If you have an afternoon, Samin Nostrat’s The Big Lasagna is well worth the effort. Once Upon A Chef has a more straightforward but delicious recipe that I make most of the time. Also noteworthy is Giada’s Classic Italian Lasagna (fair warning: while it’s delicious, it creates a lot of dishes).
Regardless of which recipe you make, the way you handle, freeze, and defrost is the same.
Best Pan For Freezing Lasagna
There are several excellent options for lasagna pans to freeze; the main things to consider are portion size and pan material.
The Best Pan Size For Freezing Lasagna
While we are huge proponents of using leftovers and reducing food waste, too much becomes tedious. No one wants to eat the same thing night after night, no matter how delicious. We can avoid that issue by properly portioning.
A loaf pan is a perfect size if you are serving two people. There are two standard sizes for loaf pans, 8.5” by 4.5” and 9”x5”. Since the typical lasagna noodle is 9” long, It’s best to use the larger size if possible. The smaller size will work, but you may want to trim the noodles.
If you are serving four, use a 9×9 cake pan. This size allows for two rows and generous portions. A standard lasagna recipe typically calls for a 9×13 pan and serves 8.
When deciding on pan size, remember that a typical noodle is 9-10” long, and the standard height is 3”. You want some headroom for the changes in height when heating and cooling.
The Best Type of Pan For Freezing Lasagna
There are four primary materials of pans that you can freeze your lasagna in, and each has pros and cons. Let’s dive in.
Ceramic — The popular brand Emile Henry boasts that you can put their cookware directly from the freezer to the oven. However, most ceramic pans will work for freezing lasagna. The material conducts and holds heat well and has an excellent presentation for the table.
Metal — I would advise against using metal pans for frozen lasagnas. Here’s why. They get hot quickly, which works well if you want a crusty top layer, but they cool down quickly, too. So if you aren’t serving the dish shortly after it comes out of the oven, you risk it being cool.
Also, most of the time, we cover lasagnas with aluminum foil during cooking and storing. If you have aluminum foil and another metal near the tomato sauce, you risk creating galvanic corrosion or a “lasagna cell.”
Galvanic Corrosion occurs when two metals enclose food. The acidity of the tomato sauce causes pitting or tiny holes in the aluminum foil. It’s not good.
Glass — This material is a great conductor of heat and holds it well. While this property may not be the best for baking cakes, it’s excellent for lasagnas. Glass is great if you want to cook the dish and then let it sit for a while.
As for freezing, not all glass is created equal. You want to make sure you use Pyrex or another brand that contains borosilicate, which expands only about one-third as much as standard glass (silicate) when heated.
When freezing glass, leave plenty of headroom between the lasagna and the cover. According to Pyrex, you can freeze their plastic covers but let the dish defrost before removing it since plastic becomes brittle when cold.
It’s vital to let glass dishes properly defrost in the refrigerator before putting them in the oven—significant fluctuations in temperature cause thermal shock, which leads to shattered glass.
Disposable Aluminum Foil Pans — If you are looking for the easiest option, disposable foil pans are great. There’s no cleanup involved, and they aren’t costly. Since they are disposable, they are the best for making a meal for a friend.
You may have heard that the acidity of the tomato sauce can break down the pan. I’ve heard that, too. I have personally frozen many baked zitis and lasagnas in aluminum pans without issue. I’ve also read much and haven’t found any information proving that tomato acidity breaks down aluminum pans.
If you are still concerned about reactivity, you can line the pan with parchment paper. A great trick I learned is to use binder clips to keep the parchment in place while assembling. Once it’s complete, remove as the weight of the dish will now hold the paper in place.
Do You Cook Lasagna Before Freezing it?
You can freeze cooked or uncooked lasagna. Ideally, you will freeze it uncooked as it will retain the freshness better. I like to spray the foil with cooking spray before placing it on the dish, so the cheese doesn’t stick.
Freezing cooked lasagna is fine, too, but the quality will be a bit degraded.
How To Defrost Lasagna
The best way to safely defrost a lasagna is to place it in the refrigerator overnight. This method allows the temperature to decrease, slowly avoiding thermal shock.
If you need to defrost something quicker, use the microwave. One piece should take approximately 5 minutes to defrost. Place smaller portions in a Ziploc bag and then submerge in water.
You don’t need to defrost lasagnas frozen in aluminum foil pans or ceramic dishes; both can go directly to the oven. These frozen dishes typically take 20 minutes longer to cook.
How To Heat Frozen Lasagna
Most recipes include instructions for cooking the lasagna from frozen. Before storing, write those on the foil.
Typically, defrosted lasagna takes one hour to cook at 375 degrees. Remove the foil for the last twenty minutes.
Cook frozen lasagna for an hour and ten minutes at 375 degrees. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.
What Do You Think?
Have you tried freezing lasagna? How did it work out? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to read.
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