Lasagna is best enjoyed when it has less moisture in it. No one wants to have some watery sauce running down their elbow or cheek while trying to have a meal. So, you must be wondering why is your lasagna watery and how to fix it.
Reasons why is your lasagna watery include using too many watery vegetables, using fattier beef, putting too much sauce, overfilling the baking dish, overlaying the lasagna, or slicing it too early. To fix watery lasagna, drain the excess water and bake the lasagna for a few more minutes.
There are a ton of reasons why your lasagna is watery. Once you can identify these reasons, fixing them becomes a walkover. In this article, I am going to share with you some tips on how to make lasagna less watery and thicken the lasagna sauce properly.
Why Does Your Lasagna Come Out Watery?
Mistakes are inevitable, and a watery lasagna is undoubtedly one of them. But this does not make you a bad cook. There are different reasons why your lasagna comes out moist, most of which centers around the ingredients and the procedures.
Let’s look at some of the common causes of watery lasagna.
Using High-Water Content Vegetables
One of the critical factors to getting your recipe right is the ingredient. The importance of correct measurement can never be over-emphasized. In addition, some vegetables have more water in their content, so they release that water while cooking.
To avoid that water excess in your lasagna, try to saute the vegetables before putting them in the lasagna.
Though it can be tempting to skip this process in a bid to save time, spending a few more minutes on getting accurate measurements and sauteing them will do you more good.
Also, follow the right procedure while getting your ingredients ready. For instance, drain out the water from the veggies after washing before you cook. Grate the vegetables rather than chopping if the grating is a better option.
The Use of Fattier And Cheaper Beef Parts
You might be trying to cut costs, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of quality. Though fattier ground beef is cheaper than thin ground beef, they come with a higher moisture level.
Excess moisture from your beef can result in runny lasagna. Therefore, it is preferable to use thin beef meat parts.
But if you must use the other, drain out excess moisture before proceeding. This will also ensure that your lasagna will be lighter for your stomach.
Putting Too Much Sauce
Sometimes you find yourself under pressure to deliver as quickly as possible.
Overfilling the baking dish might be the only reasonable thing to do at the time. But you should avoid doing this if you wish to maintain quality.
An overfilled dish with excessive sauce content can cause your lasagna to turn out messy. This is because meat and vegetables contain already contain a lot of moisture, and an excess quantity of tomato sauce will make your sauce too runny.
Replacing Lasagna Sheets With Zucchini
Some people tend to make lasagna dish in a healthier way, but they forget to change the proportions of other ingredients. For instance, they replace lasagna sheets with zucchini or eggplant.
These are great ideas, but people sometimes forget that lasagna sheets absorb moisture, and zucchini and eggplant release it.
That’s why you need to reduce moisture in other layers, such as in the sauce.
Over-Layering Your Lasagna
Evaporation is a necessary process that must occur to prevent a watery dish. Adding a few more layers to your recipe will hinder this process. A good lasagna only needs about 2 to 3 thin layers of fillings to be just perfect.
Overlaying and experimenting with too many different ingredients can lead to unwanted results.
Slicing When Still Hot
To prepare lasagna with the proper amount of moisture requires a great deal of patience. It is common knowledge that a hot dish is more watery or soft than a cold one. Once it cools down, it forms a thicker consistency.
It is almost inevitable to have a messy lasagna if you slice while still hot. Allow your dish to cool for about 20 minutes before digging your knife into it.
How Do You Make Lasagna Less Watery?
It is only logical to avoid these common causes of watery lasagna mentioned earlier or simply just do the opposite. So, if you wish to make a less watery lasagna, you should do the following.
- Measure your ingredients accurately and follow the right procedure. Also, ensure not to swap any key ingredient for another that may lead to a runny recipe.
- Use less-watery vegetables instead of vegetables with high water content. In addition, saute the vegetables before putting them in lasagna.
- Use lean ground beef in place of fattier ground beef to reduce the moisture content.
- Do not overfill the baking dish, no matter how convenient it may seem. You do not need excess meat filling on your dish.
- Do not overfill your lasagna with excess layers of meat and other fillings. Each layer of meat sauce, ricotta cheese, and lasagna noodles should be thin and spread evenly. Three layers of each are enough for a perfect lasagna.
- Allow your dish to cool for a minimum of 20 minutes before cutting. You could also just it a day ahead. It has been observed that lasagna is less watery when it is reheated.
In addition to simply doing the opposite of these common causes, below are other ways to make your lasagna less watery.
Saute Your Vegetables
Fresh vegetables are always preferred over frozen ones, but they contain more moisture. Cook your vegetables partially with the meat fillings to reduce their moisture level.
After doing this, drain the excess liquid and allow it to sit for a while before you introduce it into the lasagna.
Skip Frozen Vegetables
Always use fresh vegetables, but if you don’t have them at your disposal, frozen ones can also serve. Thaw your frozen veggies preferably the day before. In addition, remember to drain out excess liquid.
The less moisture your ingredients contain, the less watery your lasagna will be. But be careful, so you don’t end up with a dry recipe.
Bake It At Higher Temperature
Your oven dial might be wrong, do not rely on it. To ascertain the correct temperature, heat the oven for a few minutes, then use a thermometer to check its temperature. Alternatively, if you know that your oven is moody, try to bake the lasagna at a higher temperature from the start.
If you own an oven that bakes unevenly, rotate your lasagna while at it. This is to prevent having a half-baked lasagna.
Bake with a Glass Dish
A glass dish would allow you to monitor what is happening inside the dish. You can also see the liquid level in the casserole without going through the rigorous process of lifting a hot lid.
In addition, a glass dish traps and distributes heat better. This would help your lasagna cook better and faster.
In the absence of a glass dish, metallic pans and quality ceramics are also good alternatives. They are also aesthetically pleasing.
The size of the baking pan can also determine how watery or not your lasagna will turn out. It is best to use a larger baking pan. Preferably something about 9×13 inches.
Reduce the Cheese Content
Another root cause of an overly wet lasagna is the cheese content. Cheese is often sprinkled on the top layer of the lasagna. Thus, you should avoid too much moisture on the cheese.
Rather, sprinkle a reasonable amount of dry cheese on the top layer.
Cheese with ricotta or low fat is the best option for inner layers. It does not retain much liquid during and after cooking. The less moisture a cheese has, the better it is. Make sure to pour out any excess liquid found in the cheese before placing it on the lasagna.
If you are concerned about the cheese losing its creaminess, add chipped eggs for this purpose.
Choose the Right Noodles
In a bid to fix or prevent a watery recipe, lasagna noodles are your best bet. However, overcooked noodles can ruin your meal. Lasagna noodles are great for absorbing moisture; hence, you should not overcook them.
Boil briefly before usage or use the no-boil noodles for a better outcome. Add another layer of lasagna noodles to your wet recipe and cook for a few more minutes. This would allow the noodles to soak up the extra moisture.
As the name implies, the no-boil noodles and fresh tomato pasta do not need to be boiled. Skipping the boiling process makes your cooking faster and easier. Simply shred the noodles into tiny bits before adding them to the recipe.
If you choose to use the other form of noodles, then you can skip the shredding process. Boil or blow-dry for some minutes, then lay them on the recipe. Ensure that the noodles cover all the parts of the recipe.
The heat and moisture from other ingredients will soften the noodles to a chewable texture.
Avoid Too Much Add-ins
Sometimes we wish to experiment with recipes; this might mean adding extra veggies to your delicacy. Though eating lots of veggies is good for the body incorporating a ton of it into your lasagna might not be the best idea.
Vegetables are known to contain a good amount of moisture. To restore your watery lasagna, take out some vegetables and squeeze out the extra liquid.
Cut down on your vegetables if you constantly find yourself with a messy lasagna. Avoid excess vegetables such as onions, sweet pepper, spinach, mushroom, or zucchini. They are commonly known to contain more liquid than others.
Also, precook your veggies briefly and drain the water before introducing them into the recipe. The process of precooking the vegetables reduces the moisture content by a significant level.
You can also choose to roast or sauté your zucchini and sweet pepper.
Modify the Recipe In High Altitude
Your environment can play a significant role in the texture of your delicacy. High altitude regions might require a slightly different recipe from other areas. Tweak your recipe and oven temperature to meet your need.
No-bake lasagna noodles might be a better option than its counterpart. This type of noodles absorbs water better without getting soaked.
How to Fix Watery Lasagna
If your lasagna turns out watery, it could only mean that a few things are wrong in the procedure and the ingredients used. It is quite possible to salvage it and make it less watery.
No one became perfect at a craft overnight, not even the best chefs. Some steps can help you fix your watery lasagna.
Cook the Lasagna a Little Longer
The excess sauce in your recipe can make a mess of it. Drain out the unwanted sauce from the watery lasagna and return it into the oven to cook for a few more minutes. This would allow the lasagna sauce to develop a thicker consistency.
Do not wrap the lasagna with foil, but if you must, take it off after baking halftime. The presence of foil paper traps moisture, which is then reabsorbed into the recipe.
The importance of using a foil should, however, not be overlooked. Often, the top layer noodles become overcooked without any form of covering. The use of foil would prevent this from further occurring.
This is a major reason why the use of foil is encouraged. However, the use of foil throughout the baking process is not advisable.
Only cover your recipe halfway through or preferably some minutes to the end of the baking time. Create some holes in the dish while it is wrapped to let out some moisture.
Wait for Lasagna Dish to Set
When you take your dish out of the oven, it is still very hot and watery. That’s why you need to allow it to set properly and let the noodles absorb the moisture.
Waiting about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting the lasagna will do magic.
Thick the Lasagna Sauce
There are several ways to thicken lasagna sauce. Here are three ways to thicken your sauce to get the lasagna you require.
If you didn’t already know, cornstarch is one of the best options for thickening sauce. It works like a charm, and it has no taste whatsoever.
All you have to do is mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water. Stir until you have a thick paste, then add it to your hot sauce. Afterward, stir your sauce, then allow it to simmer until your sauce loses any starchy taste.
Remember that you should never add cornstarch straightly into your sauce; if not, it will clump up.
Flour is the next best thing after cornstarch. It contains starch too, so it works the same way. Flour works just as well to thickness sauces like gumbo or gravy.
Using flour works a little differently. You have to mix equal parts of flour and melted butter (roux). First, you melt the butter, then add the flour. Ensure you mix it well until it turns brown. Afterward, you can add the roux to your sauce and let it simmer.
Reducing the Sauce’s Liquid Content
Another method is to rescue your sauce’s liquid content. This technique works for just about any sauce.
This is the easiest technique on this list, and all you need is to be a little more patient.
All you have to do is leave your sauce over medium heat for a few minutes. This will allow your sauce to lose excess liquid, thereby getting thicker.
Is Lasagna Hard to Make?
Making Lasagna is not hard. Yes, the first time might be tricky, but if you use the right ingredients and follow the right recipes, you will be a master in no time.
Here are some tips you should follow to avoid making mistakes:
- Salt the water you use to boil the noodles.
- Do not overcook your noodles(Boil for about 4-5 minutes).
- Once you are done cooking, drain the noodles and place each of them on an oiled baking sheet.
- Use fresh ingredients.