How to Cook Pasta

A complete guide to cooking pasta! From how long to cook it for to how much to measure out for recipes – this post gives you everything you need to know to cooking the best pasta.

How to Cook pasta - a complete guide

How Much? And for How Long?

Cooking pasta is simple – we know. And today we wanted to share with you all the best tips for cooking up pasta the BEST way.

Typically, we just follow the directions on the box or packaging, which is always good, but we have a few extra tricks to make sure it always turns out perfectly.

We also wanted to make sure we shared this information in case you are like us and pour our pasta into containers, which means we don’t always have the directions handy. These FREE printables will help you know how long to cook the pasta as well as tell you how much to use (and measure out).

The Best Way to Cook Pasta

It’s easy – we know, but here is how we do it…

  1. Use a large pot: If the pasta doesn’t have enough space or enough water to be cooked in the pasta will end up clumping when cooking together, which doesn’t yield to yummy pasta that’s easy to toss.
  2. Fill your pot with cold water: The reason cold water is important is because the hot water could risk impurities getting into your water from your pipes. This kinda seems high maintenance, but it’s an option.  
    • To help cold water boil more quickly, cover the pot with a lid.  
    • Add salt to your water once it has started to boil. Salting your water allows more flavor to come out of the pasta. 
    • When you add salt before it boils it makes it actually boil slower, so add the salt once it is boiling. Lastly when you add salt to hot water you can assure that the salt crystals melt fully. 
    • Use 2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta.
  3. Consistently mix the pasta to avoid it from clumping. The stirring will help it cook more evenly.
    • Once the pasta has been added don’t cover the pot with a lid. If it is getting crazy, turn the heat down the littlest bit and it will help get it under control
  4. Drain the pasta right after it’s done.
    • Don’t rinse off the starch unless the recipe says to. The starch on the pasta helps it stick better to sauces. 
    • After its drained place the pasta back in the pot to keep it warm rather than drying out in the colander.

NOTE: DO NOT mix different pasta types together in one pot.

More Tips & Tricks

    • It is suggested that you should try the pasta after 4 minutes just to check because some labels aren’t correct with their cooking times.
    • When cooking pasta for baked pasta dishes you don’t need to fully boil the pasta. You could probably get away with only boiling your pasta for a ⅓ of the recommended time. This way it turns out well and not overly mushy in your dish
    • “Al dente” means that the pasta should have some chew to it, but not be overly mushy or have a hard center to it.
    • Don’t drown the pasta with sauce, you can actually “cook” the pasta in the sauce for 2 minutes or so to marry the flavors. Keep it on the stove on warm for a little bit.
    • What about cooking fresh pasta? Fresh pasta only needs to cook for about 2-3 minutes as opposed to dried pasta. The range is anywhere from 90 seconds to 4 minutes. Al dente noodles seem to need 2-3 minutes. Use your mouth to test for your preferred doneness.

How long to cook pasta - free printable

How Long to Cook Pasta

As you can see from the chart above the times are different based on the type of pasta.

Be sure to use the chart to know based on the type of pasta you are cooking with, but here’s a breakdown of what’s already included on the free printable.

NOTE: This is the cooking time once water has started boiling and the pasta has been added to the pot.

DRIED PASTAS:

  • Acini de pepe – 5 to 6 minutes
  • Capellini – 5 to 6 minutes
  • Egg noodles, regular – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Egg noodles, extra wife – 10 to 12 minutes
  • Elbow macaroni – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Farfalle – 13 to 15 minutes.
  • Fettuccine – 11 to 13 minutes
  • Fusilli – 11 to 13 minutes
  • Japanese curly noodles – 4 to 5 minutes
  • Lasagna noodles – 12 to 15 minutes
  • Linguine – 9 to 13 minutes
  • Mafalda – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Manicotti – 10 to 12 minutes
  • Mostaccioli – 12 to 14 minutes
  • Penne – 9 to 13 minutes
  • Radiatore – 9 to 11 minutes
  • Rigatoni – 12 to 15 minutes
  • Rosamarina – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Rotelle – 10 to 12 minutes
  • Rotini – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Shells, jumbo – 12 to 15 minutes
  • Shells, medium and small – 9 to 11 minutes
  • Soba noodles – 6 to 7 minutes
  • Spaghetti – 8 to 10 minutes
  • Vermicelli – 5 to 7 minutes
  • Wagon Wheel – 10 to 12 minutes
  • Ziti – 14 to 15 minutes

REFRIGERATED OR FRESH PASTAS:

  • Capellini – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Farfalle – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Fettuccine – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Lasagna – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Linguine – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Ravioli – 6 to 8 minutes
  • Tortellini – 8 to 10 minutes

TO DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTS:

How Long To Cook Pasta – Grey – CLICK HERE

How Long to Cook Pasta – Yellow – CLICK HERE

Cooked spaghetti in collander

Reheating + Making Ahead + Storing

Check out these storing and cooking notes too!

      • You can REHEAT the pasta (if already in sauce) in the microwave for 1-3 minutes while turning/mixing it halfway through to ensure it gets equally heated. OR you can run the plain pasta under hot water in a colander. 
      • If you want to make pasta AHEAD OF TIME you need to cook it till al dente, then rinse it under cold water to have it stop cooking. Drain and let it cool completely before tossing the pasta in oil and putting it in a ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
      • To STORE pasta, place in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. We like to store our pasta separately from our pasta, if possible. To reheat the pasta, just add to boiling water for a few seconds and then drain before using.

Pasta Measurements Printable

How Much Pasta to Use?

Many recipes call for ounces of pasta or box or package sizes. In case you like to store your pasta in containers, we wanted you to know how much to measure out for the recipes.

Just keep the FREE PRINT below handy in the pantry so you always have that information on hand.

  • Angel Hair/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 2 cups of dry pasta
  • Campanelle/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 ¾ cups of dry pasta
  • Cellentani/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 ½ cups of dry pasta
  • Collezione Bucatini/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 1.5 cups of dry pasta
  • Collezione casarecce/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 3.5 cups of dry pasta
  • Collezione cheese and spinach tortellini/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 1.5 cups of dry pasta
  • Collezione Orecchiette/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4.5 cups of dry pasta
  • Collezione three cheese tortellini/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 1.5 cups of dry pasta
  • Ditalini/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 2 ¼ cups of dry pasta
  • Elbows/16oz or 32oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4 cups of dry pasta
  • Farfalle/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 ⅓ cups
  • Fettuccine/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 2 cups of dry pasta
  • Fettuccine rigate/14.5oz of dry noodles in a box
  • Fideo cut spaghetti/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 3 ⅔ cups of dry pasta
  • Gemelli/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4 cups of dry pasta
  • Jumbo shells/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 cups of dry pasta
  • Large shells/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 cups of dry pasta
  • Linguine/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 ¾ inch circumference
  • Manicotti/8oz of dry noodles in a box/ 1 cup of dry pasta
  • Medium shells/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 cups of dry pasta
  • Mezze penne/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4 cups of dry pasta
  • Mezzi rigatoni/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 6 ½ cups of dry pasta
  • Mini farfalle/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 ½ cups of dry pasta
  • Mini penne/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4 ⅓ cups of dry pasta
  • Mini wheels/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 ⅓ cups of dry pasta
  • Mostaccioli/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 cups of dry pasta
  • Orzo/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 2 ½ cups of dry pasta
  • Pastina/12oz of dry noodles in a box/ 2 cups of dry pasta
  • Penne/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 cups of dry pasta
  • **Pipette/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 4 ½ cups of dry pasta
  • Rigatoni/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5  ⅔ cups of dry pasta
  • Rotini/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 cups of dry pasta
  • Spaghetti/16oz or 32 oz/ 5 ¾ inch circumference
  • Wavy lasagne/16oz of dry noodles in a box
  • Whole grain lasagne/13.25oz of dry noodles in a box
  • Ziti/16oz of dry noodles in a box/ 5 cups of dry pasta

TO DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTS:

Pasta Measurements – Grey – CLICK HERE

Pasta Measurements – Yellow – CLICK HERE

How to cook pasta tips

Man – we sure love pasta!! We hope this guide helps you out especially in know how long to cook your pasta as well as how much to use!

For pasta recipes, check out:

Author

Kristyn Merkley

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative – from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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