How Long Does It Take to Cook Spaghetti?

How long does it take to cook spaghetti? Spaghetti is one of the most popular types of pasta to cook. It is also very easy to make if you know how long to cook it for. In this article, I will describe how long it takes to cook spaghetti so that it comes out perfect every time.

How long to cook spaghetti? After the water has come to a boil, it takes about 8 to 12 minutes to cook spaghetti in a pot. To cook spaghetti faster, you can cook it in a shallow fry pan.

The traditional way to cook spaghetti is in a pot, with the following steps:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Stir in the spaghetti.
  3. Cover with lid.
  4. Turn off heat.
  5. Set a timer for about 8 minutes for the spaghetti to cook.
  6. Sample a noodle and if it isn’t cooked enough, set the timer for another 2 to 4 minutes.

If you want al dente spaghetti, boil it uncovered and stir it occasionally for six minutes. If you want a more tender spaghetti, add another minute to the required cooking time. Stir the pasta several times so that it won’t stick.

A faster, more unconventional way to cook spaghetti is in a shallow fry pan. In a frying pan, there is less water to bring to a boil. You can add the water and spaghetti to the pan at the same time and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Cooking spaghetti this way, in a frying pan, takes only about 15 minutes total.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to cook spaghetti and tips for making it perfect every time.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Spaghetti?

Spaghetti is one of the easiest meals you can make. Part of what makes it so easy is that it just requires boiling the pasta and adding a sauce. But you have to know how long to cook the spaghetti for it to be perfect every time.

There’s a rule of thumb that many chefs use when they want to cook spaghetti. You can better appreciate this rule of thumb in the following table:

Type of PastaCooking Time
Long and thin (spaghetti, bucatin, linguine)8 minutes
Long and very thin (spaghetti, bavette)6 minutes
Small and thin pasta, boiled into broth6 minutes
Small and thick (farfalle)8 minutes
Short and thick (maccheroni, rigatoni, fusilli)12 minutes

Note: These cooking times are suitable for dry durum-wheat pasta. Other kinds, like freshly-made kinds of pasta, take a shorter time to cook.

One of the most common ways to cook spaghetti is as follows:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Stir in the spaghetti.
  3. Cover with lid.
  4. Turn off heat.
  5. Set a timer for about 8 minutes for the spaghetti to cook.
  6. Sample a noodle and if it isn’t cooked enough, set the timer for another 2 to 4 minutes.

It is also faster to cook pasta in a frying pan than in a saucepan. Most people cook spaghetti in a saucepan. But if you are short on time, instead of the usual saucepan, use the frying pan. Here are the cooking times in each of these two cooking methods.

Cooking Spaghetti in a Pot

  1. Boiling water in a saucepan will take around 10 minutes.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and some salt to taste.
  3. The pasta will take around 10 minutes.
  4. The total cooking time of pasta in a saucepan is 20 minutes.

Cooking Spaghetti in a Fry Pan

  1. It will only take 5 minutes to boil water in a shallow fry pan.
  2. As soon as large bubbles appear, put the pasta and salt.
  3. The pasta is ready after around 10 minutes.
  4. The total cooking time of pasta in a frying pan is about 15 minutes.

From the above, you can see that you can save around 5 minutes of cooking time if you boil and cook pasta in a frying pan instead of using a saucepan or in deeper pots. This is simply because there is less water required to bring to a boil.

See the below video for how long to cook spaghetti noodles in less time:

Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to Cook Spaghetti

The following are the factors you should take note of when cooking spaghetti:

1. Density

The density of the pasta will affect the time it takes to cook. You may assume that dense pasta will take a longer time to cook compared to less thick pasta. But there is a hypothesis that dense pasta takes a shorter time to cook than less dense pasta.

The particles in the dense pasta are compacted and are closer to one another. They can transfer their heat energies more efficiently to each other. When you are using a large saucepan, using less water will make boiling faster.

2. Quantity

The amount of spaghetti you’re cooking will, of course, affect the cooking time. The fewer the sticks, the shorter will be the cooking time and vice versa.

3. Thickness

The thickness of the pasta will also affect its cooking time. Thick pasta will take time to absorb water, and thinner ones will quickly get inundated once introduced to boiling water. Obviously, the thinner the pasta, the shorter will be its cooking time and vice versa.

4. Type of Pasta

There are different kinds of pasta. Each of them has varying cooking times. The Angel Hair pasta is the thinnest of all. It has the shortest cooking time of only 5 minutes. This pasta will change into a mush long before thick hand-rolled pasta is cooked. Home-made kinds of pasta also cook faster than commercial dry kinds of pasta.

5. Type of Cooking Utensil

The type of cooking utensils that you use for cooking spaghetti will also determine how long it will take. It seems that cooking spaghetti in a frying pan is faster than doing it in a saucepan. Using either an instant pot or a pressure cooker will also cook pasta faster.

how long to cook spaghetti
How long to cook spaghetti

How to Tell If Spaghetti Is Already Cooked?

There’s an old wives’ tale that says: “if you want to know if pasta is already cooked, throw it in the wall. If it sticks, it is done.” Other than soiling the wall, this activity cannot and will not prove anything.

There are more logical ways to test if spaghetti is ready to eat.

1. Is It Easy to Break?

If it is ready, spaghetti will not give any resistance making it easier to break with your finger or spoon, or fork.

2. Use a Timer

Set a timer. When the timer beeps, check the pasta and see if it is ready.

3. Pull out a Few Strands and Take a Bite

The surest way to check if the spaghetti is ready is by pulling out a few strands from the pan or pot. They’re still hot, so blow on them until they cool down. Then take a few bites. Are they crunchy or chewy? If they are, the rest of the lot is not yet ready.

If they are soft enough and a bit springy to the bite, then they are already done. You can eat pasta or share it with your guests.

To check by throwing spaghetti on the wall to see if it is ready is a joke and a prank played on those who don’t know much better. The only thing you can accomplish in this activity is the soiling of the wall. 

A neat trick to ensure that pasta is ready in the right way is to switch off the gas upon the boiling of water. Then put a lid on the pot. The cooking time of pasta (from 4 -12 minutes) is shorter than it takes boiling water to cool down below 81 °C. So, you don’t need additional heat to cook spaghetti once you have introduced it into a pot of boiling water.

Tips to Cook Spaghetti Faster

You don’t need a large pot or lots of water to cook spaghetti. If you have a frying pan and cold water in the fridge, then you are set to go. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Prepare a frying pan good enough to accommodate your spaghetti pack.
  2. Put the spaghetti in the pan.
  3. Pour cold water in the pan, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 quarts, enough to submerge the spaghetti.
  4. Turn on the stove.
  5. Cook the pasta to a boil, stirring it all the while.
  6. Separate the spaghetti from the liquid once it is already ready to your liking.

Harold McGee, a famous food expert, introduced time-saving tips when cooking pasta. After experimenting with different cooking methods, he discovered that bringing water to a boil before adding the pasta can be eliminated. And using less water will boil the water faster. These two techniques save considerable time in cooking spaghetti and other kinds of pasta.

However, using this cooking technique will increase the starch concentration in the boiling water. This additional starch will make the pasta sticky. So, to prevent the strands from sticking to each other, you need to stir them every few minutes. Another advantage of this technique is that a small pan is easier to clean than a big one.

how long does spaghetti take to cook
How long does spaghetti take to cook

We’ve answered the question, “How long does it take to cook spaghetti noodles?”; next, let’s look at a spaghetti recipe that takes only 20 minutes to cook.

A Spaghetti Recipe That Takes Only 20 Minutes to Cook

The recipe below is a recipe from the famous TV celeb Martha Stewart. You can use one large-sided skillet. Preparation time and cooking time will take 15 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively. This dish is suitable for four people. This dish is suitable for four people.

The ingredients are:

  • Linguine, 12 ounces
  • One onion, thinly sliced (around 2 cups)
  • 12 oz cherry/grape tomatoes, halved or quartered (if large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Four cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • Two sprigs basil, and some torn leaves for garnish
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and more for serving

How to Cook:

  1. Put all the ingredients (except Parmesan cheese) in a big straight-sided skillet.
  2. Bring to boil over high heat.
  3. Frequently stir and turn pasta using tongs.
  4. Check if water has almost evaporated, and pasta is already al dente. This will be about 9 minutes into the cooking.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Divide into four bowls. Garnish with basil. 
  7. Serve each bowl with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese on top.

How Long to Cook Spaghetti in Instant Pot?

How long to cook spaghetti in Instant Pot? It takes about 15 minutes for spaghetti to cook in an instant pot.

You can also use either an instant pot or pressure cooker to make a delicious, easy spaghetti dish.

Prep time and cooking time are 10 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively. So the total time it takes to make this spaghetti dish is about 25 to 30 minutes.

This dish serves four people. Here’s how to cook this dish.

The ingredients are:

  • 8 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • One teaspoon onion powder
  • One teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar of marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cooking Utensils:

  • 6 to 8 quarts pressure cooker, preferably electric
  • Wooden spoon or spatula

How to Cook:

  1. Sauté the beef.

Turn on the electric pressure cooker. Once hot, add the olive oil and beef. Season it with salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Continue cooking and stirring, and breaking the meat into smaller pieces using the wooden spoon. Cooking the beef will take about 5 minutes.

2. Add water followed by the sauce.

Turn off the sauté function of the pot and add 1/2 cup of water. Scrape the bottom of the pot. Add the sauce. Stir to mix well.

3. Break the spaghetti in half, then layer it in the pot.

Spread the strands in one or two layers above the beef and the other ingredients. Avoid stirring the pot from this point on.

4. Add the remaining water but do not stir.

Use the remaining 1/2 water to rinse the jar of pasta sauce and pour it over the pasta.

5. Set the pressure cooker to the highest setting for 8 minutes.

Set the pot to high pressure for 8 minutes. The pressure cooker will take from 10 to 12 minutes to build up the pressure.

6. Release pressure with the quick release, then stir.

Use quick release by opening the pressure valve when the 8 minutes are up. Open the pot and stir the pasta into the sauce. Turn off the pot and remove the insert. Top the dish with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Conclusion: How Long to Cook Spaghetti Noodles?

So, to recap everything and answer the question: How long does it take to cook spaghetti? It takes around 8 to 12 minutes to cook spaghetti. To check if the pasta is cooked, you can taste it after about 8 minutes.

The traditional way to cook spaghetti is in a pot, with the following steps:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Stir in the spaghetti.
  3. Cover with lid.
  4. Turn off heat.
  5. Set a timer for about 8 minutes for the spaghetti to cook.
  6. Sample a noodle and if it isn’t cooked enough, set the timer for another 2 to 4 minutes.

A faster way to cook spaghetti is in a shallow frying pan. In a shallow pan, there is less water to bring to a boil. You can add the water and spaghetti to the pan together at the same time and bring it to a boil while stirring occasionally. Cooking spaghetti this way, in a shallow pan, takes only about 15 minutes total.