Even though pasta tends to cook fairly quickly (boiling for 8 to 10 minutes), it actually takes longer than you’d think to complete it from start to finish. It often takes 10 or more minutes just to bring the water to a boil in the first place! Having pre-cooked noodles at the ready can not only save time, it also saves you from washing the same pot night after night and avoids having multiple pots going at once! Laziness pays off once in a while! Ha!
Plus, having cooked pasta in the freezer can help make lunch packing quicker and easier! Be sure to check out these MOMables tips for using frozen pasta dishes in lunches, and you can even sign up here to get menus delivered straight to your inbox!
Freezing Noodles 101
Step 1: Cooking the Noodles
When cooking noodles you plan to freeze, be sure to undercook slightly. Al dente is best and helps prevent mushiness when re-heating.
Step 2: Prepping the Noodles
After the cooked noodles are drained, be sure to toss with a little oil to prevent them from clumping up and sticking together.
There are three different ways to freeze them. The best way is to spread them flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet and “flash freeze” for 30 to 60 minutes before portioning into zip-seal baggies. (For longer noodles, pile them into small nests on the parchment-lined baking sheet.)
You can also portion the noodles into muffin tin cups, which works especially well for longer noodles.
The third option is to just put them into the baggies straight from the pot, but reheating them evenly is hardest when using this method. Try to spread them flat within the bags before freezing, rather than bunched at the bottom.
Step 3: Reheat
Noodles that were frozen spread out on a baking sheet can be tossed into skillet meals and such without any microwaving needed.
To reheat on the stovetop, bring enough water to cover the noodles to a boil (you won’t need as much water as used to boil them initially.) Drop in the frozen noodles, and cook for 30 seconds and check. If not thoroughly heated, cook in 15-second increments until done, and then drain. Do not overcook.
When reheating in the microwave, be sure to lay them in the container flat, to heat as evenly as possible. Cover the container lightly. You want the moisture to be retained, but you also need it to be able to vent a little. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds, rotating the dish halfway through if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable. If not warmed thoroughly, keep cooking in 15-second intervals until done.
If using in lunches, you can just pack the frozen noodles and some sauce or mix-ins, and they’ll thaw by lunchtime. Yum!
Do you use gluten-free noodles? Freezing gluten-free noodles has mixed results. They barely refrigerate and reheat well. Rice noodles do best, especially Tinkyada brand, and you’ll want to be sure to cook them just to al dente, maybe 2 minutes under the recommended cooking time. Then rinse with cool water when draining to halt the cooking process, and toss with a little oil, same as wheat noodles. To thaw, toss into boiling water just long enough to heat, then remove them immediately.
Gluten-free noodles frozen mixed with sauce tend to have the best results.
For more tips on what to do with leftovers or extras designed to be eaten over several meals, check out these MOMables tips on How to Store and Use Up Leftovers.