Making spaghetti and not sure how much to cook? Here’s how much spaghetti per person broken down into a simple answer!
If you’re anything like me, predicting how many ounces of spaghetti or cups of pasta noodles you need per serving is always tricky. But it doesn’t have to be! It’s simple:
- Pasta Side Dish: You need 2 ounces of uncooked spaghetti noodles or 2 ounces of uncooked pasta (shells, wheels, etc) per person if pasta is a side dish.
- Pasta Main Course: You need 3 to 4 ounces of uncooked spaghetti noodles or uncooked pasta if this is the main course.
- Filled Pasta: We recommend 6 ounces of filled pasta if it is the main course, and 4 ounces if it is a side dish.
Cooked vs. Uncooked
All servings of pasta are based on uncooked amounts. The amount of cooked pasta can vary based on the type of pasta, how much water is added, and how it is cooked. Follow the directions on the package you purchased as to how much water you add.
2 ounces of dry spaghetti is the USDA standard serving size for pasta. This, however, is not really in keeping with the way most of us eat spaghetti as a main course.
Consider our recommendations above as a starting point. We always make adjustments to this amount of pasta based on a few other details:
- Hungry Eaters? If any of those being served are teenagers, that portion is doubled or more if I know their eating habits.
- Planned Leftovers: Spaghetti is really pretty cheap, so I would prefer to cook too much than run short. You don’t want people holding back on seconds because the pasta bowl is getting low. At the same time wasting food is not a responsible way to live, so my rule is that if I know I can use leftovers in the next few days I’ll go ahead and increase the amount I cook by ¼ to ½.
- Send Some Home: Similarly, if I am having friends or family over whom I know I can send leftovers home with, I’ll bump up my amount by ¼ to ½.
- If anyone is known to be on a low carb diet or watching their weight, I’ll shave a bit off or make zucchini noodles as a second option. These zucchini based noodles are easy to make, and at less than 5 calories an ounce are perfect for those concerned about working pasta into their diet. Another substitute option is spaghetti squash noodles.
When Do You Consider Spaghetti a Side vs a Main Dish?
- If I am planning big plates of pasta with sauce and perhaps an Italian sausage along with bread, spaghetti is considered the main course. I plan on 3-4 ounces of uncooked spaghetti per person adjusted to the diners.
- If spaghetti is just one of many options in a buffet style dinner, I use the two ounces of dry pasta side dish planning figure.
- For dishes with small pasta noodles – like mac n cheese – if it is being served with burgers or some other main item, I’ll go with the two ounce portion size as it is clearly a side to the burgers.
how much Uncooked Spaghetti To Make
Use the quick reference charts below to quickly determine how many ounces of spaghetti to put into your pot based on the number of servings you need.
|Servings||Oz of Spaghetti (as a side)||Oz of Spaghetti (as a main)|
|20||2.5 lbs||4-5 lbs|
|50||6 lbs||10-13 lbs|
|100||12.5 lbs||20-25 lbs|
Best Ways to Measure Spaghetti
There are three simple methods to quickly measure dry spaghetti noodles.
- Option 1 – Kitchen Scale: This is the easiest and most accurate method.
- Option 2 – Hand Measure: Grab them in a bunch and roughly measure them. A bunch that is as round as a quarter dollar is roughly two ounces.
- Option 3 – Box Measure: Take your 8 ounce box of spaghetti and divide it roughly in half. Divide each of these in half again, and each pile is 2 ounces. This sounds silly, but it is the basis of our Imperial measurement system (vs metric) that we have used since the times of the Romans. (Why do you think there are 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon? You guessed it, the Romans could measure things easily dividing them in two. The Italians gave us pasta, so using the method of Rome can’t be wrong!)
What does Two Oz of Uncooked Pasta Equal in Cups?
Two ounces of uncooked long noodles (spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini, etc) generally yields about a cup of cooked pasta. Shorter pastas vary somewhat per this quick reference chart:
|Type of Pasta||2 Uncooked Oz||Cooked Cups|
|Elbows||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Farfalle||3/4 cup||1 1/4 cups|
|Macaroni||1/2 cup||1 1/8 cups|
|Penne||3/4 cup||1 cup|
|Rigatoni||3/4 cup||1 1/4 cups|
|Rotini||1/2 cup||1 cup|
|Rotini||3/4 cup||1 cup|
|Shells||3/4 cup||1 1/8 cups|
What do I do with leftover spaghetti?
We mentioned up front that since spaghetti is relatively inexpensive, we tend to make more than needed and reuse the rest later!
Storing leftover pasta in the fridge is simple. Just cool it and put it in an air-tight container like a ziplock style bag or tupperware. If you use a bag, try to squeeze as much air out as possible. If the pasta hasn’t been mixed with sauce, you should mix it with a bit of olive oil so the noodles don’t stick together. We recommend eating it within two days, but it will last a few more days than that.
To reheat just put pasta mixed with sauce in the microwave. You can do the same with the plain noodles you mixed with olive oil, but they will come out better heated on the stove with a little water.
Leftover Spaghetti Hack
Our favorite way of using leftover spaghetti? Spaghetti pizza!
Is Spaghetti Keto Friendly?
No. According to the USDA, a two ounce (uncooked) serving of spaghetti contains 40g of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber). Sadly, spaghetti is about as keto unfriendly as it gets. There are, however, other options. Try any of a number of pasta substitutes made with asparagus noodles, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.
How much uncooked spaghetti per person? 2 ounces for side dishes or 3-4 ounces if spaghetti is the main course.
How much spaghetti for 2 people? 4 ounces for a side dish and 6-8 ounces for a main course.
How much spaghetti for 4 people? 8 ounces for a side dish and 12-16 ounces for a main course.
We hope you found something you can use in calculating how much pasta per person is needed for your next event, and as always happy cooking!