Should You Defrost a Lasagna Before Cooking it?

Tonight’s dinner is on your mind, and suddenly you remember that you have a lasagna in the freezer, but you don't have time to defrost it. Can you bake frozen lasagna directly in the oven? We've looked at countless lasagna reheating methods to find the best option for your dinner.

Frozen lasagna purchased from the grocery store is meant to go straight from the freezer to the oven with no defrosting required. The package cooking instructions will list this as the preferred cooking method. If the lasagna happens to be thawed, you will need to reduce the cooking time and possibly lower the cooking temperature. Either way, make sure the internal temperature reaches 160° F. If your frozen lasagna is homemade, it’s still safe to cook while frozen, but the best results come from thawing first.

In this article, we’ll look at a long-time family favorite, frozen lasagna. You will learn if defrosting is necessary and how to do it safely. You will also find tips on improving frozen lasagna and helpful information if you decide to freeze your own. Let's dig into it!

rustic spicy lasagna on a tin baking dish on top of a chopping board with basil. Should You Defrost a Lasagna Before Cooking it

Frozen Lasagna, A Healthy Household Staple

Commercially processed frozen food was first developed in the 1920s. Now it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that changes how people cook and eat. Frozen food allows a consistent food supply in stores, regardless of growing season or geographic location. It also provides convenience and flexibility when cooking. Frozen lasagna continues to be a top seller in the frozen food industry.

Benefits of Freezing Homemade Meals

Frozen food does not have to be store-bought. Many people freeze food at home. Freezing is a safe way to preserve homegrown produce and leftovers. It is also popular with meal planners who like to make multiple meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer for later use.

Lasagna is a common freezer meal recipe. Benefits of freezing food at home include reducing food waste and saving money. Leftover food can go in the freezer for a future meal rather than the trash. Having prepared meals ready in the freezer reduces the temptation to eat out too often. Frozen food makes it possible for those who have limited time to put a hot meal on the table with ease.

Are you interested in learning more about freezing food at home? Here’s where to start:

  • Know which foods freeze well and which do not.
  • Know how long frozen foods last in the freezer before quality deteriorates.
  • Know what types of storage containers are suitable for freezing.
  • Understand general food safety guidelines for freezing and thawing food.

You can find this basic information on Freezing and Food Safety from the USDA.  Once you know the basics, there is no limit on your ability to stock your freezer with food to use later. Start gathering freezer meal recipes, with lasagna being the first one to try!

Thawing Tips for Homemade & Store-Bought Lasagna

If you prefer to thaw before cooking, put your frozen lasagna in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerator thawed lasagna should be cooked or refrozen within three to five days to avoid going bad. If refrozen, food quality may lessen, but the lasagna is still safe to eat.

If frozen lasagna is thawed using the microwave or cold water method, it should be cooked immediately and not refrozen. If your frozen lasagna needs to stay in the freezer a while longer, know that store-bought frozen lasagna should last in the freezer when properly stored for up to 18 months without compromised quality, while homemade frozen lasagna should be used within two to three months for best quality.

How Do You Make a Frozen Lasagna Better?

lasagna with minced meat and cherry tomatoes on a white plate

Frozen lasagna, prepared according to package instructions, is an easy crowd-pleaser.  Pair it with a salad or vegetable, add garlic bread, and you have a quick, hearty meal. To take frozen lasagna to the next level, consider adding options from the following:

  • Extra cheese. You can add mozzarella, fresh parmesan, or an Italian blend.  For boldness, add cheese not traditionally paired with Italian foods such as cheddar or a Colby blend.
  • Herbs.  Fresh basil, oregano, parsley, and rosemary all compliment tomato-based sauces.  If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, a dried Italian blend or garlic pepper will also add flavor.
  • Spicy heat.  Spicy red chile peppers such as Calabrian or dried red pepper flakes will add spice for those who like to kick it up a notch.
  • Fresh vegetables.  Mushrooms, spinach, onions, chopped broccoli, or tomatoes add flavor and give frozen lasagna a homemade touch.  It’s also a great way to add extra nutrients.

When adding extra cheese or raw vegetables to a frozen lasagna, wait until the lasagna has partially cooked, then add the toppings to prevent overcooking. Covering with foil is suggested.

What are Some of the Best Frozen Lasagna Brands

Several lists agree that these brands are household favorites:

  • Michael Angelo’s Lasagna - Authentic family recipes straight to your freezer.
  • Amy’s Lasagna - An organic food company that focuses on special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
  • Stouffers Lasagna  - A tried and true classic.
  • Mountain House - Freeze-dried food with a long shelf-life, making it portable and perfect for the outdoor lifestyle, disaster relief, or long-term storage.

How Do You Freeze Lasagna in Aluminum Pans?

bolognese lasagna in a aluminum tray with cutlery on the side

Aluminum pans are great for freezing your homemade lasagna. They are inexpensive, easy to find, protective against freezer burn, resistant to extreme temperature changes, and can be discarded after use.

Click here to see Reynolds aluminum pan on Amazon.

After layering your lasagna in the aluminum pan, it can be frozen if it’s cooked or uncooked. Either way, your lasagna needs to have a covering. Some aluminum pans come with lids for freezing, but if not, cover the top of the lasagna with parchment paper and foil. There is no need to remove either one when ready to cook. Oven-safe covers help keep the cheese from burning while the middle is still cooking. Plastic wrap can be used as a last resort but is not recommended because you must remove it before cooking.

Can You Defrost Frozen Lasagna at Room Temperature?

USDA Food safety-thawing guidelines recommend that food remains at a temperature below 40° F to avoid bacteria growth. Safe methods of thawing include refrigeration, cold water, and microwave. Room temperature thawing can become dangerous when outer layers begin to drop below 40° F, usually occurring after about two hours.

Can you Freeze Lasagna in  Pyrex Dish?

Glass baking dishes, such as Pyrex, are suitable for freezing lasagna. Still, there are general guidelines to prevent cracking or shattering. Glass cannot withstand extreme temperature shocks. Dishes must be completely cooled before placing them in the freezer and back at room temperature before placing them in the oven.

For increased safety, consider Pyrex’s Cook &Freeze  product line. It’s a line of heat-resistant borosilicate glass products with a design suitable for stacking in your freezer and the ability to safely withstand the thermal shock between the freezer and oven.

Click to see Pyrex Cook & Freeze 1.1L container on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of being store-bought or homemade, frozen lasagna is a great reason to gather loved ones around the dinner table for quality time and conversation.  Don’t worry if you didn’t have time to thaw it first. Just pop it in the oven with a foil covering and keep watch. Buon Appetito!

For more great lasagna tips, check out our related articles:

Can You Make Lasagna Without Cooking The Noodles?

What Size Pan Is Best For Lasagna?

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