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How long to cook spaghetti? The spaghetti cooking time is 8-12 minutes in a pot of boiling water. This is for dry pasta noodles. Get additional tips on how long to boil spaghetti that’s fresh, how long to cook spaghetti al dente, and more. You’ll also learn how long to cook noodles of other types, as well as spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles!

cook spaghetti how long

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How long do you cook spaghetti? You should boil pasta for 8-12 minutes, with spaghetti averaging 10-11 minutes. For the best results, follow the directions on the pasta packaging.

The shape of pasta you use, type of pasta (wheat, rice, chickpea, etc.), and how you want to cook it determines the spaghetti cook time. That’s why the pasta package has the most accurate info on how to prepare spaghetti. The directions there are written for that specific product.

However, sometimes the box of spaghetti may be missing or damaged. Or maybe you are a cooking beginner who needs more specific step by step spaghetti instructions. No worries, dietitian Summer is here to help!

How Long to Cook Spaghetti Al Dente

How long to cook spaghetti noodles al dente? If you’re wondering how long to cook spaghetti noodles on stove, here’s the answer to how do you make spaghetti step by step:

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water per pound of dry spaghetti to a boil over medium heat. You can cover the pot to speed up this process, if desired.
  1. Add salt to taste. Some sources recommend using 1-2 tablespoons per pound of pasta. (If you’re on a low sodium diet, I don’t recommend adding salt at all.)
how long to cook spaghetti
  1. Once the pasta water is boiling, uncover the pot, and slowly add the spaghetti. You want to keep the spaghetti noodles moving until they’re soft enough to bend and be completely covered by the water. Use a spaghetti spoon or tongs to stir the noodles around.
  1. Keep the pot uncovered and allow the water to return to a boil. Cook the spaghetti for 8-12 minutes until tender. Continue to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. I find a 10-11 minute cook time is best for al dente spaghetti.
  1. Drain the spaghetti but do not rinse. Reserve about one cup of the pasta water (a secret ingredient in many Italian recipes). Sauce the pasta immediately, and enjoy.

Do you cover pasta when cooking?

No, do not cover pasta noodles while they cook. However, you may cover the pot before adding the pasta to help the water come to a boil faster (if desired).

Do you boil water before adding pasta?

Yes, most recipes have you boil the water before adding the pasta to the pot.

Should you put oil in pasta water?

No, adding oil to pasta water is a waste. Olive oil and other oils just float on the water. Don’t add oil to the pasta after cooking either; oil makes it harder for spaghetti sauce to stick to the pasta.

Do Italians put salt in their pasta water?

Yes, according to friends in Italy, pasta water is typically salted quite heavily. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water per pound (454g) of dried pasta helps season the pasta inside and out. (I do not recommend this practice if you have high blood pressure or are on a low sodium diet.)

How do you make spaghetti not sticky?

How do I cook long spaghetti without clumping together? My top tip is don’t walk away from the pasta pot after adding the spaghetti! Once added to the water, the pasta releases sticky starch, so you need to stir it to keep the pieces separate.

How do you keep spaghetti from sticking after draining?

To keep pasta from sticking together after draining, add the sauce right away. Don’t rinse the starch from the pasta, it adds flavor. Also, don’t add oil or butter to the pasta (unless serving buttered pasta); the fat can keep the sauce from sticking.

Why do Italians use cold water for pasta?

Alton Brown has an interesting article on why you might want to try cooking pasta in cold water. In short, it’s a faster method that results in extra-starchy pasta water to finish pasta sauces. (I still think using boiling water is the best way to cook pasta, but you may want to experiment.)

What’s the best pot to cook spaghetti?

The most important attribute of a pasta pot is that it needs to be big enough to hold the pasta and water. Since you should use 4 quarts of water per pound of spaghetti, a 6-8 quart pot (or larger) is perfect. Here’s a highly rated option that comes with a strainer lid.

How do you cook spaghetti without breaking it first?

To cook spaghetti without breaking it in half, you need to push it around with a spaghetti spoon! Before long, the spaghetti will be bendy enough to completely submerge in the cooking water. Stirring the spaghetti also helps keep individual pieces of pasta from sticking together.

cooking spaghetti

🍝 How Long to Cook Pasta Chart

Here is a chart showing how long to cook different types of pasta in salted water. Please keep in mind that these are estimated times for dried pasta. Refer to the pasta packaging for the most accurate cooking time.

Type of PastaHow Long to Cook
Bowties (Farfalle) 8-15 minutes
Fettucine 8-13 minutes
Gluten Free Pasta 6-10 minutes
Large Pasta Shells 9-12 minutes
Lasagna Noodles 11-15 minutes
Linguine Noodles 9-13 minutes
Macaroni 9-12 minutes
Manicotti 10-12 minutes
Pappardelle Pasta 7-10 minutes
Penne 10-13 minutes
Ravioli (frozen) 4-9 minutes
Rigatoni 10-15 minutes
Rotini 8-12 minutes
Small Pasta Shells 8-12 minutes
Spaghetti 8-12 minutes
Thin Spaghetti Noodles
(Angel hair pasta)
3-5 minutes
Tortellini (frozen) 4-9 minutes
Vermicelli Pasta 2-3 minutes
Ziti 9-15 minutes


Pasta that you’re going to add to a casserole will cook more in the oven. In this case, you should knock a few minutes off the cooking time above (i.e., parboil the pasta). This will keep the pasta from getting mushy during baking.

Some recommend cooking pasta longer for cold pasta salads. More tender pasta may absorb more salad dressing.

How long does it take to cook whole wheat spaghetti?

Dry whole wheat pasta tends to cook soft, so you should check on it after 7-8 minutes. Add additional boiling time if needed.

How Long to Cook Spaghetti in Microwave

To microwave spaghetti, put the dry spaghetti and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 11-14 minutes, stirring and checking on the pasta halfway through microwave time. (Note: For the best texture, I don’t recommend this method, but it works in a pinch if your stove is broken.)

How Long to Cook Spaghetti in Instant Pot

Find directions for cooking Instant Pot dry spaghetti using the pressure cooker function here. In this recipe, the spaghetti and meat sauce are cooked together under high pressure. It looks like a convenient one pot meal!

How Long to Cook Pasta in Crock Pot

Find instructions for making slow cooker dry spaghetti here. This is another one pot pasta recipe, where the spaghetti and meat sauce all cook together.

🤔 How do you know when spaghetti is done?

The best way to know when spaghetti is done is to taste it. Al dente pasta is tender-firm but not hard, with a slightly chewy bite. This is for dry pasta only; please note that you cannot get fresh pasta or homemade pasta dough to cook al dente.

Can you overcook pasta?

Yes! Overcooked pasta is gummy at best, and a mushy mess at worst. Many Americans overcook pasta, an issue I never encountered when I visited restaurants in Italy. The best way to prevent overcooked pasta is to pay close attention to the cooking time.

💡 How Long to Cook Fresh Pasta

How long do you cook fresh pasta? Fresh pasta only takes 1½-4 minutes to cook. The exact cooking time for fresh pasta depends on how done you like it and the thickness of the noodles.

⭐ How Long to Cook Spaghetti Bolognese

My favorite easy Bolognese sauce recipes all have a cook time of 45-60 minutes. 15-30 minutes is used for sautéing the veggies and cooking the meat, and the final 30 minutes is used to simmer the sauce. More complex spaghetti Bolognese recipes have you simmer the sauce for 3-6 hours.

For a time-saving shortcut, don’t miss my Air Fryer Spaghetti Bolognese recipe.

How Long to Cook Spaghetti Sauce

You can heat a jar of spaghetti sauce on the stove in only 5-10 minutes. Homemade spaghetti sauce has a far longer simmer time to allow the flavors to develop. Many homemade pasta sauce recipes have a simmer time of 1-4 hours, sometimes longer.

🔥 How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash

The total cooking time for spaghetti squash depends on its size. An average spaghetti squash takes about 40 minutes in an oven set to 400F (200C) to become tender. I like to split the squash in half, remove the seeds, and brush the cut halves with oil to encourage some caramelization.

For a super spaghetti squash shortcut, try my Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash Recipe.

How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash in Microwave

To make microwave spaghetti squash, begin by stabbing the squash all over with a fork or knife so it doesn’t explode. Put the squash in a microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for 6-7 minutes, adding time as needed until the flesh of the spaghetti squash is tender and easily shredded.

How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash in Instant Pot

Find easy directions for Instant Pot spaghetti squash here. Spaghetti squash is an excellent gluten free and low carb substitute for spaghetti.

😋 ️ How Long to Cook Spaghetti and Meatballs

Rachael Ray has a popular spaghetti and meatballs recipe here that takes 20 minutes. In general, you want to cook the pasta and meatballs separately, then add them together at the end. To make meatballs in about the time it takes to boil spaghetti, try my Frozen Meatballs in Air Fryer Recipe.

🌡️ How long does spaghetti last in the fridge?

How long can you keep cooked spaghetti? You can keep cooked pasta in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days (source). Keep it in a covered container so it doesn’t dry out.

🥶 How long can you freeze spaghetti?

Frozen spaghetti can be kept in the freezer for up to 1-2 months (source). Note that spaghetti is best fresh. Sometimes cooked spaghetti becomes mushy when frozen and thawed.

👨‍🍳 Spaghetti Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for spaghetti sauce and spaghetti:

FAQs

Can you cook raw spaghetti in sauce?

Yes! Cooking dried spaghetti in sauce can save time, and makes for easy clean up. Find recipes for both Instant Pot and Crockpot dried spaghetti and sauce above. Here are directions for easy stovetop spaghetti and sauce.

Are spaghetti noodles?

Are spaghetti and noodles the same thing? According to Merriam-Webster, noodles are “a food paste made usually with egg and shaped typically in ribbon form.” Spaghetti is “pasta made in thin solid strings.” Spaghetti isn’t typically made with egg, but “noodles” and “spaghetti” are often used as interchangeable terms.

How can I cook frozen spaghetti?

The easiest way to cook frozen spaghetti is to heat it in the microwave until thawed. You’re less likely to burn the spaghetti or make it crispy compared to using the stove or oven. After defrosting, you can add your sauce and continue heating.

How to cook fried spaghetti?

Here is a highly rated recipe for fried spaghetti. Unlike other fried pasta recipes I’ve seen, you do actually fry spaghetti in a skillet with this one. Also, there’s a generous amount of cheese in the recipe, so you know it has to be good.

How long to cook zucchini noodles?

Want to know how long to cook zucchini noodles in skillet? Fresh zucchini noodles heat up in only 2-4 minutes on the stove, as discussed in my Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs recipe. For how long to cook zucchini noodles in a microwave, try 1-2 minutes on high, adding time as needed.

spaghetti cook time

Watch How to Make It!

cook spaghetti

How Long to Cook Spaghetti (Boil Pasta Time)

Summer Yule
How long to cook spaghetti? Find out here!
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Food Education
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 200 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. spaghetti (454 grams dry pasta noodles)
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt (optional)
Don’t be a stranger! 😊If you love this recipe, please come back and leave a rating. This helps readers and I’d love to hear from you. Thank you ❤️

Instructions

  • In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over medium heat. You can cover the pot to speed up this process, if desired. 
  • Add salt to taste, if desired.
  • Once the pasta water is boiling, uncover the pot, and slowly add the spaghetti. You want to keep the spaghetti noodles moving until they’re soft enough to bend and be completely covered by the water. Use a spaghetti spoon or tongs to stir the noodles around. 
  • Keep the pot uncovered and allow the water to return to a boil. Cook the spaghetti for 8-12 minutes until tender. Continue to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. I find a 10-11 minute cook time is best for al dente spaghetti.
  • Drain the spaghetti but do not rinse. (Reserve some pasta water if needed for the sauce.) Sauce the pasta immediately, and serve.

Equipment

Notes

💭 Expert Tips from Dietitian Summer Yule

This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Spaghetti is a high carbohydrate food that has a smaller portion size than many realize. You can use a food scale or spaghetti tool to help you measure and visualize pasta portions. (Here’s one that looks like fun!)
A serving of dry spaghetti is 2 ounces (57g), and about 200 calories. (This is a general guideline- athletes and others with high energy needs may benefit from bigger portions.) After adding some other food groups (maybe with meat sauce, cheese, and a big side salad), you can make a nutritious meal. 
What many of us do, however, is enjoy extra large portions of pasta and skimp on veggies and protein. A 1-lb box of pasta can only make eight servings if you add other filling foods to the meal. The small serving size of grains matters less when you refocus on the other delicious, healthy foods that you could add to your plate.
Nutrition information listed is for a 2-ounce (57g) portion of spaghetti (measured before cooking).

 

nutrition info disclaimer

 

All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.

 

The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.

 

“To taste” means to your preferences, which may have to be visual to follow food safety rules. Please don’t eat undercooked food x

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 7gFat: 1gPotassium: 110mgFiber: 2gIron: 10% DV
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