Newcastle scored twice in two second-half minutes to condemn Bolton to their eighth home defeat of the season.
Wanderers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen saved Ryan Taylor's free-kick, while Newcastle's Tim Krul kept out Martin Petrov's effort in a dull first half.
But Hatem Ben Arfa swept in Taylor's cross from 12 yards before Demba Ba bundled in Gabriel Obertan's cross in quick succession to snatch the victory.
Martin Petrov fired wide for Bolton, who remain second-bottom of the table.
Newcastle stay seventh in the Premier League after they ended a run of six games without a win with what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
A draw had looked the most likely result after a first half that lacked any chances of note bar a terrific free-kick by each side that the goalkeepers did well to push to safety.
The first was curled with pace round Bolton's defensive wall from 25 yards by Taylor, but Jaaskelainen's strong left hand kept the ball out.
And five minutes before the break Bolton's Petrov stung the palms of Newcastle keeper Tim Krul with a fiercely hit 20-yard effort.
In between, poor passing, mis-timed tackling and an inability to retain possession spoiled the game.
However, Leon Best should have done better in the closing stages of the half with a free header from six yards, but the United striker glanced his effort wide.
As the scores stood at half-time, Bolton, who have won only one of their nine home games this season, were bottom of the table as Blackburn were leading 1-0 at Liverpool.
Maybe the news filtered through to the players because they started the second half with a little more urgency but all too often the final pass went astray.
- Bolton have the worst defensive record in the Premier League. They have conceded 41 goals in 18 games
Ivan Klasnic tried to take the attack to Newcastle on his own, showing good skill and quick feet to work an opening in the penalty area but he fell over his own feet as he prepared to shoot.
The Croatian, who was booked in the first half, glanced nervously over his shoulder as referee Peter Walton awarded a free-kick for a dive but common sense prevailed and he was not shown a second yellow.
The game turned on its head midway through the second period when Chris Eagles gave the ball away and Taylor's left-wing centre found an unmarked Ben Arfa who beat Jaaskelainen with a low first-time effort from 12 yards.
It was the first goal scored by a United player other than Ba in five games, but the Senegal striker was soon on the scoresheet with his 14th goal of the season.
Bolton full-back Paul Robinson was easily dispossessed, allowing Obertan to jink towards the penalty area on the right and the winger delivered an inviting centre that Ba beat Gary Cahill to and the ball ballooned into the top corner.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle sent on Kevin Davies and Tuncay but neither could provide the impetus the home side needed.
Tuncay's tame effort was the highlight of the final 15 minutes, but his shot was easily gathered by Krul as Bolton's frailties in front of goal continued.
The only positive news for Trotters fans was Maxi Rodriguez's equaliser for Liverpool, which meant local rivals Blackburn remained bottom of the table.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew:
"Sometimes in the Premier League you have to be patient and the win will come to you.
"We kept disciplined and just as the game was opening up we created the chance and once it landed at Ben Arfa's left foot it was always going in.
"We had centre-half Mike Williamson back and he was my outstanding player.
"We've done terrific and now it is about trying to improve in the second half."
Sorry, we were unable to load match stats, please try again.