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When making lasagna do you overlap the noodles?

This is a common question that many home cooks have when preparing lasagna. The short answer is: yes, you should overlap the lasagna noodles slightly when layering them in the baking dish. Overlapping creates a tighter seal between the noodles so that the layers stay intact when cutting and serving the baked lasagna.

Why Overlap The Noodles?

There are a few key reasons why overlapping lasagna noodles is recommended:

  • Creates a tighter bond – Overlapping the edges of the noodles helps them stick together better and prevents gaps in the layers.
  • Prevents drying out – The small overlaps create a better moisture seal to prevent the noodles from drying out as the lasagna bakes in the oven.
  • Keeps layers intact – The bonded edges are less likely to shift and separate when cutting and plating sliced portions of lasagna.
  • Looks better – The finished lasagna will look tidy and uniformly layered if the noodles are properly overlapped.

If the noodles are just laid next to each other without overlapping, it is easier for the lasagna layers to slide around when assembling and baking it. This can create a sloppy looking lasagna that does not hold its shape well when serving.

How Much Overlap Is Needed?

The noodles only need to overlap by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Any more overlap than that is unnecessary and can make the lasagna layers too thick. With a small 1/4 inch overlap, the noodles will bond together nicely without bulking up each layer too much.

Be careful not to over overlap the noodles. Too much overlapping can prevent the filling from peeking through between the layers and can make cutting through the lasagna challenging.

What Type Of Noodles Work Best?

The best noodles to use for layering in lasagna are long, flat lasagna noodles or sheets. Some options include:

  • Standard lasagna noodles – The wavy edged noodles that range from 7-9 inches long. These are the most traditional choice.
  • Oven-ready noodles – Noodles that do not require boiling first.
  • Gluten-free noodles – Lasagna sheets made from rice, lentils or chickpeas.
  • Zucchini noodles – For a lower-carb vegetable lasagna.

Shorter noodles like ziti or rigatoni do not work as well for lasagna layering and overlapping. The best option is traditional lasagna noodles or the oven-ready variety which are designed to handle the overlapping layers.

Step-By-Step Method

Follow these simple steps for properly overlapping lasagna noodles:

  1. Boil the noodles per package directions until al dente.
  2. Drain noodles and lay flat on a sheet pan or dish towel.
  3. Spread a thin layer of sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Place one noodle across the width of the dish, pressing gently into the sauce.
  5. Place a second noodle next to the first, overlapping the edges by 1/4 inch.
  6. Continue placing noodles across the pan, overlapping as you go until you have a full layer.
  7. Spread an even layer of sauce and filling ingredients over the noodles.
  8. Top with another layer of overlapping noodles and repeat the layering process.
  9. Finish with a final layer of sauce and cheese on top.
  10. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes.

Check that the center is hot and bubbly before removing from the oven. Let the lasagna rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tips For Preventing Noodle Sticking

To prevent the noodles from sticking together as you layer them, here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoid overboiling – Cook the noodles just until pliable, not mushy.
  • Coat with sauce – Use a spoon to spread sauce over each layer of noodles.
  • Spray with oil – Lightly mist the noodles with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  • Dust with flour – Lightly sprinkle flour over the noodles as you layer them.
  • Keep them separated – After boiling, lay noodles out flat in a single layer so they don’t stick.

Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when layering lasagna noodles:

  • Not overlapping enough – The layers may slide around if the noodles are laid flat next to each other.
  • Overlapping too much – This can make the lasagna too bready and difficult to cut through.
  • Undercooking the noodles – They should be pliable, not crunchy when layering.
  • Overcooking the noodles – Mushy noodles will fall apart and disintegrate when baked.
  • Too much sauce – Excess sauce between layers can make the lasagna soggy.
  • Not enough sauce – The noodles may dry out if each layer is not coated in sauce.
  • Sauce only between layers – Spread sauce evenly over the top layer of noodles too.

Can You Make Lasagna Without Overlapping Noodles?

It’s possible but not ideal to assemble a lasagna without overlapping the noodles. Here’s what to expect if you layer noodles without overlapping:

  • The lasagna may seem more prone to slipping and sliding of layers.
  • There will be visible gaps between the noodles when cut.
  • The layers will not bond together as tightly.
  • The edges are more likely to crack and split apart.
  • The final presentation and neatness suffers.

While overlapping noodles takes a bit more care when assembling, the end result is a neatly layered and cohesive lasagna. The small amount of extra effort makes a big difference!

How Can You Tell If Lasagna Noodles Are Overlapped Correctly?

Here are some signs that your lasagna noodles are properly overlapped:

  • The noodles form an even, flat layer across the pan.
  • The edges bond together without large gaps between the noodles.
  • Each layer remains intact when you cut and serve the lasagna.
  • There is no excess bubbling between the layers while baking.
  • You can see the sauce and filling between the noodle layers.
  • The slices hold their shape and don’t fall apart.

If you notice large gaps, slipping layers, or crunchy uncooked sections, the noodles may not be overlapping enough. Proper overlapping helps the lasagna noodles fuse together into a cohesive baked dish.

Can You Layer The Noodles Vertically?

Traditionally, lasagna noodles are layered widthwise horizontally across the baking pan. However, some recipes call for layering the noodles vertically or “end to end” in the pan instead.

This creates a different presentation, but can work just as well. The key is still overlapping the ends by 1/4 – 1/2 inch as you would the sides. Just be sure to use a baking dish that is oven-safe and tall enough to accommodate vertical noodle layers.

Should The Noodles Cover The Whole Pan?

For best results, the lasagna noodles should fully cover the bottom of the baking pan in each layer with no gaps along the edges. Having noodles completely covering the pan helps the layers bake up flat and uniform.

If the pan is larger than the noodles, you may need to break some noodles in half or overlap multiple noodles along the edges to completely cover it. It’s better to have the noodles slightly overlapped or bunched along the sides than large empty gaps.


Overlapping lasagna noodles by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch when layering them creates a nicely bonded, cohesive lasagna. This prevents drying, slipping, and cracking for neat serving portions. Be careful not to overlap excessively or the lasagna may become dense and bready. With the right amount of overlap, you’ll achieve lasagna layers that hold together beautifully from baking pan to plate.