Recipes

How Long To Cook Pasta of Different Types

Instacart

Instacart

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Pasta dishes are usually regular weeknight dinner meals in most homes. Kids love it, and so do the adults, and it’s quick to make. In fact, one of the many reasons pasta is so popular, besides its delicious taste, is that you can cook it in no time.

While cooking pasta is quick and simple, it’s important to know the cooking times for pasta. If you cook the pasta for too long, you get a mushy product, and if it’s cooked for a short while, you get a chalky, crunchy, and almost chewy pasta which will ruin your meal.

So, how long should you cook pasta? In this guide, we will show you how to cook pasta, how long to cook it for, and other tips so that your pasta is always perfect.

How to cook pasta

You want to cook your pasta till it is “al dente,” which is Italian for cooking the pasta just right—not too hard nor too soft. The result of your cooking should be firm-to-bite pasta.

To cook al dente pasta, follow the steps:

  1. Add plenty of water to a pot—whether a small pot, large pot, or even a Dutch oven—it all depends on how much pasta you are making. Ideally, you want to use a deep pot so you can cook long pasta such as spaghetti. A good measurement to remember: add 1L of water per 100g of dried pasta.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add to salt it. If you add salt before boiling, the water will take longer to reach a boil. You can add about 1Tbsp of salt for 4q of water. Don’t be afraid to add enough salt, as the pasta will absorb the flavor of the salt and not the sodium content.
  3. When the water comes to a complete boil, add the pasta. Stir the pasta within 2 minutes to stop it from sticking.
  4. About 4 minutes before the pasta cook time, check to see if pasta is al dente.
  5. Take the pasta off the stove and drain the pasta in a colander. Do not rinse the pasta, as the starch helps the sauce adhere to the pasta. Rinse if you are using pasta in a cold recipe, like a cold pasta salad, as the rinsing will stop the cooking process.

Types of pasta and their cooking time

With a variety of pasta like farfalle, angel hair, spaghetti, macaroni, and tagliatelle, available at the grocery, it’s difficult to know how long to cook pasta for. Not all pasta cooks at the same time because of the shape of the pasta. Shorter, thicker pasta tends to take longer than traditional thin spaghetti strands.  

Although pasta is traditionally made from wheat, these days, you can get pasta made from alternative ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, organic beans, corn, and rice, which also determines the cooking time.

Based on the type of pasta, here are the general cooking times:

  • Angel hair pasta: 5 minutes
  • Farfalle (bowties): 10-12 minutes
  • Penne: 12-14 minutes
  • Rotini: 8-10 minutes
  • Spaghetti: 8-10 minutes
  • Macaroni: 8-10 minutes
  • Conchiglie (shells): 9-15 minutes, depending on size
  • Fettucine: 8-13 minutes
  • Pappardelle: 7-10 minutes
  • Gluten-free pasta: Approx. 6- 8 minutes
  • Tortelli and ravioli: 3 to 5 minutes
Plain pasta in a dish.

Tips for how long to cook pasta

It’s a good idea to check cooking times on the packaging for the pasta. That said, there are times you may want to eschew the instructions. If you’re cooking pasta for a casserole that you’re going to bake, cook the pasta for a shorter amount of time—this is known as parboiling. That way, when you add the pasta to the casserole and bake it, it will get perfectly cooked instead of overcooked. If you’re making pasta for a pasta salad, cook pasta a little longer than al dente so that it will soak up more of the salad dressing.

Pasta like lasagna sheets and cannelloni are baked with the sauce and not boiled, and their cooking time will depend on the oven temperature and the amount of sauce and other ingredients.

How long to cook pasta in a microwave

Maybe you don’t want to cook pasta the “traditional way” in a pot of boiling water. In that case, turn to the microwave to cook pasta quickly. A microwave is handy, and you can make a quick pasta dish without using too many utensils.

To cook pasta in a microwave, follow the steps below:

  1. Add pasta to a microwave-safe bowl and place the bowl on a plate to catch the water that spills over.
  2. Fill the bowl with water till the water level is 1 or 2in above the tops of the pasta. The pasta will expand as it cooks, so be generous with the water. You can always drain excess water once the pasta is cooked.
  3. Place the bowl and plate on the microwave plate. Add 3 to 4 minutes to the suggested cooking times on the package and start the microwave.
  4. Monitor the pasta while it is cooking. You can stop halfway to stir and continue.
  5. Test to see if the pasta is cooked. If not, then add another 30 seconds and continue cooking. Check if the pasta is done at every 30-second interval.
  6. Once you are satisfied that the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta.

How long to cook pasta in a steamer

You can even cook pasta in a steamer. Just cover the pasta with 1in of water and steam for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Drain, and your pasta is ready.

Other ways of cooking pasta and the time it takes

While boiling is the traditional way of cooking pasta, there are other ways to cook pasta to save on cooking time.

Soaking

Soak the pasta for about 90 minutes in water before you cook it. With a cold-water soak, the starch in the pasta doesn’t get activated, and the pasta soaks up the water resembling freshly made pasta. This pasta usually takes a minute or two to cook.

Parboiling

Often done in restaurants, parboiling makes cooking pasta faster when you are ready for dinner. Cook pasta in rolling boiling water for 2 minutes. Take it off the stove and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Add some olive oil. The pasta will keep for 6 hours. When you’re ready to cook it, just add it to boiling water for a minute or two.

No-boil pasta

To save on the hassle of boiling pasta, you can even cook pasta right in its sauce on the stovetop. Add all the ingredients, including the veggies or meat, and dry pasta and let it cook till everything is done, usually in about 20 to 25 minutes.

One pot pasta cooking on stove.

You can even add uncooked dry pasta to a crockpot with other ingredients and let it cook till ingredients are done, and the pasta is not too mushy.

Cook a pasta meal in no time

Now that you know how to cook pasta and how long to cook it for, it’s time to whip up a delectable pasta dinner. And you can get the ingredients delivered to your doorstep right from Instacart.

How Long To Boil Pasta

Recipe by InstacartCourse: RecipesCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

How long to cook pasta of various types to achieve “al dente” firmness.

Ingredients

  • 100g of dried pasta

Directions

  • Add plenty of water to a pot. A good measurement to remember: add 1L of water per 100g of dried pasta.
  • Bring the water to a boil and add to salt it. You can add about 1Tbsp of salt for 4q of water.
  • When the water comes to a complete boil, add the pasta. Stir the pasta within 2 minutes to stop it from sticking.
  • About 4 minutes before the pasta cook time, check to see if pasta is al dente.
  • Take the pasta off the stove and drain the pasta in a colander. Do not rinse the pasta, as the starch helps the sauce adhere to the pasta. Rinse if you are using pasta in a cold recipe, like a cold pasta salad, as the rinsing will stop the cooking process.

Notes

  • Please change the total boiling time depending on what type of pasta is used. Consult pasta packaging instructions for boiling time.
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