Pasta bake is one of those versatile dishes most of us know how to cook – from student meals to family suppers. But can you get ahead and prepared? And how should you go about doing so?
Can You Freeze Pasta Bake?
Yes, you can freeze pasta bake for up to 4 months. You can either freeze a completed pasta bake in the dish you’re going to reheat it in or you can freeze your pasta bake unassembled in component parts.
Does Pasta Bake Freeze Well? Yes
Can You Refreeze Pasta Bake? No
How to Freeze Pasta Bake
When it comes to freezing pasta bake, there are two options you have:
You can either choose to freeze it as an assembled dish that can be tossed straight into the oven, or you can freeze your pasta baked in parts which can then be put together to create your pasta bake at a later date. We’ve covered both below:
How to Freeze Pasta Bake Assembled
If time is of the essence, then this has to be the approach you take. Not everyone has a free weekend to knock together a few sauces and freeze the elements that make up a pasta bake separately, so here’s what you need to do instead:
- Cook and Cool: Make your pasta bake as you normally would. Cook it completely and then allow to cool completely.
- Portion and Protect: If freezing as portions, then slice the pasta, bake it into those portions and place it into containers. Seal the containers with a lid (or foil and then cling film). If freezing as a whole, wrap your pasta bake in a layer of foil followed by a layer of cling film to stop the air from getting in.
- Freeze: Finally, label it up and then place it into the freezer.
That’s all there is to it!
How to Freeze Pasta Bake Separated
Pasta bake is essentially cooked pasta, sauce and cheese. That’s why we would highly recommend freezing each of these three ingredients separately and then combining them at a later date to create your pasta bake.
Doing it this way will give you a better result. This approach can also give you far more choice. You could cook 3 pasta types and 3 sauces, and you’ll have 9 different pasta bakes you can knock together.
After all, variety is the spice of life.
So if you decide to go with this approach, then here is what you need to do:
- Cook Pasta: First, cook your pasta until it is al dente. You’ll be cooking it again, so don’t overcook it, or you’ll be left with mushy pasta when it comes to reheating it. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
- Bag Up Pasta: Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pasta and shake to ensure every piece of pasta is covered. This is done to try and prevent some sticking. Tip the pasta into freezer bags, preferably in portion sizes. Seal the bags up, squeezing out at much air as you possibly can.
- Freeze Pasta: Place the bags of pasta into the freezer.
- Make Your Sauce: Now make your sauce. Try this simple tomato sauce recipe to get started. Once the sauce is made, allow it to cool right down to room temperature.
- Bag Up Sauce: Tip your sauce into thick freezer bags or containers. Again, make sure you tip it into portion sizes so you know one bag of pasta and one bag of sauce will be enough for your family pasta bake.
- Freeze Sauce: Place the sauce into the freezer – try and store it alongside the pasta so you can find them both easily.
If you then need to freeze the cheese, then chances are you’ll be looking to freeze mozzarella. We’ve written a full guide on freezing mozzarella here.
Now, when you fancy a pasta bake, you need to grab each element, allow it to thaw, mix and bake. Simple!
3 Tips for Freezing Pasta Bake
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing pasta bake to have the best results:
Add More Cheese
Melted cheese will not freeze well. As the moisture is drawn out, it becomes rubbery. When reheating pasta bake, add another layout of cheese to mask the rubbery cheese and to give yourself a gooey topping.
Freezing the elements of a pasta bake individually gives you more scope in future. If you freeze cooked pasta, pasta sauce and cheese individually, then you can also use the pasta sauce on its own for another dish.
Remember to consider the contents of your sauce. Most ingredients will freeze well, but there are some ingredients you may use in a sauce that won’t freeze as well.
How Long Can You Freeze Pasta Bake?
You can keep your pasta bake in the freezer for a good 3 to 4 months before the flavours will degrade somewhat. It will be perfectly safe to eat beyond this point, but it won’t taste quite as good as it once did.
As always, make sure you label everything with the date it needs to be consumed.
Once cooled, pasta bake can be popped into the fridge for up to 5 days. It should be stored in a covered dish or Tupperware container.
How Do You Defrost Pasta Bake?
If you have frozen a whole pasta bake or portions of it, then remove it from the freezer the night before and place it in the fridge. You need to give it time to thaw out slowly.
You can then reheat in the microwave or the oven until piping hot in the centre. If you want to make it extra gooey, then it’s a good idea to add an extra handful of fresh cheese – the original cheese will be somewhat rubbery.
If you have frozen your pasta bake in elements, then you need to take a similar approach. Take a portion of pasta, sauce and cheese and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight.
Once thawed, combine the sauce and pasta well, top with cheese and then bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Can You Refreeze Pasta Bake?
When you freeze anything, you impact the texture and flavour. Often, the change isn’t too noticeable. When you refreeze anything, you make a further impact on the food, often with negative effects.
The same can be said for a pasta bake, unfortunately. That is why we would strongly recommend not refreezing it.
Instead, try to freeze your pasta bake in suitable portion sizes so you can use the right amount as and when you need it.
Does Pasta Bake Freeze Well?
It certainly does! The good news is that it freezes well, regardless of the approach you take above. The only downside is that frozen, melted mozzarella will often go rubbery.
As long as you add an extra helping of cheese when reheating, you’ll be hard-pushed to tell the difference between a frozen pasta bake and a freshly made one.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing pasta bake or pasta in general, then these may help:
If you want to freeze tuna pasta bake, all you need to do is use one of the methods above. It will work in the same way with or without tuna.
Just like with tuna, freezing chicken pasta bake is perfectly fine to do. Just pick one of the methods outlined above for freezing it efficiently and safely.
You can, but it will go rubbery. There’s nothing wrong with freezing your pasta bake with cheese, but when it comes to reheating it, we recommend adding a fresh sprinkling. If you want to get it golden brown, then stick it under the grill for a few minutes at the end of the cooking.
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