How to Cook Pasta – I Heart Naptime

  • on 11 August 2020
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Learn how to cook your favorite varieties of pasta with these easy instructions. All my best tips and tricks for cooking pasta to perfection every time.

Is there anything better than cooking up a big bowl of pasta? It is one dish that my whole family can all agree on. It’s one of those comfort meals I love to make on Sundays with some homemade meatballs and garlic bread. Seriously so delicious!

spaghetti noodles

There’s so many variations of pastas, so I’ve created a list for how long to cook the most popular varieties. The cooking time definitely differs depending on the noodle type, so it’s nice to have everything laid out in one place. I’m also sharing a few of my top tips for cooking pasta that I’ve learned throughout the years. Check them out below.

Cooking pasta

Here are a few basic tips before getting started.

  1. Make sure to use a large pot (such as a 8 or 12 qt pot). You don’t want to overcrowd the noodles while they cook.
  2. Add enough water to the pot (about 5 to 6 quarts). I like to fill mine about 2/3 the way full.
  3. Salt the water while it’s warming up. I always add about 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt. You can use up to 2 Tablespoons per pound. This will help boost the flavor.
  4. Bring the water to a full boil before adding the noodles to the water.
  5. Add the pasta to the pot without breaking. With spaghetti, you’ll be able to fold it about a minute after adding to the pan.
  6. Stir the pasta every couple minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Test the pasta about 1-2 minutes before the recommended time. Allow it to cool slightly and bite into it to check. Add a minute or two more if needed, but do not overcook.
  8. Reserve a cup of pasta water and then drain the noodles in a colander and then add back to the pot. Add the sauce right away and use the pasta water if needed to thin it out.

spooning salt into a pot of water

How long to cook pasta

The cooking time will vary greatly, depending on the type of noodle you are cooking.

  • Egg noodles: 8-10 minutes
  • Elbow macaroni: 8-10 minutes
  • Farfalle: 13-15 minutes
  • Fettuccini: 11-13 minutes
  • Fusilli: 11-13 minutes
  • Lasagna noodles: 12-15 minutes
  • Linguine: 9-13 minutes
  • Manacotti: 10-12 minutes
  • Mostaccioli: 12-14 minutes
  • Penne: 9-13 minutes
  • Rigatoni: 12-15 minutes
  • Orzo: 7-10 minutes
  • Rotini: 9-10 minutes
  • Shells (jumbo): 12-15 minutes
  • Spaghetti: 8-10 minutes
  • Ziti: 14-15 minutes

cooking pasta in a pot of water

Storing + reheating

Leftover pasta is great for another easy lunch or dinner. We especially love to make leftover spaghetti boats. For storage and reheating instructions, simply follow these simple steps:

  1. Drain the noodles in a colander.
  2. Let cool, then add to a zip top bag or container with lid.
  3. Add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  4. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  5. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water until warm.

TIP: If you’re meal prepping pasta ahead of time with the intent of reheating it later, I’d recommend cooking it al dente. This way the next time you heat it up, it won’t get overcooked or too mushy.

Delicious sauces to serve with

lifting pasta out of the pot with tongs

Favorite pasta recipes to try

lifting pasta out of the pot with tongs

How to Cook Pasta

Course: Main Dish

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: how to cook pasta

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Servings: 8

Learn how to cook your favorite varieties of pasta with these easy instructions. All my best tips and tricks for cooking pasta to perfection every time.

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt , more to taste
  • 5-6 quarts water
  • Fill a large pot about 2/3 the way full with water. Add in 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.

  • Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat.

  • Add the pasta to the pot (without breaking the noodles) and cook for the recommended time according to package directions. Stir every couple of minutes to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  • Test the pasta about 1-2 minutes before recommended time. Cook for 1-2 more minutes if needed, but do not over cook.

  • Reserve a cup of pasta water and then drain the noodles in a colander and add back to the pot. Immediately pour the sauce in and thin out with the reserved pasta water as needed.

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