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Cooking Tips

For Perfectly Portioned Pasta, Use a Penny

The perfect amount of pasta is only 1 cent away.

I have a confession: I never know how much pasta to make or how to portion it from the box. This is especially true when I’m just cooking for myself.

I always end up pouring out too much, and then I have enough pasta to feed an army. So I end up throwing away half of it, or I find myself eating pasta for days (not that that’s a bad thing). But there has to be a way to measure the perfect amount of pasta without “guesstimating,” right?

Notes From the Test Kitchen

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In our book, Cooking for One, we figured out that the perfect single-serving portion of pasta is 3 ounces. But what does that actually look like? 

For short pasta, it’s easy; roughly 1 cup. We like to use a dry measuring cup to get this right. Of course, depending on the size of your pasta, this measurement can vary—dial it back for smaller pastas like elbows or shells and add a bit more for big shapes like farfalle or rigatoni.

But when it comes to strand pastas, such as spaghetti or angel hair, 3 ounces can be hard to visualize without digging out your kitchen scale.

The solution? Grab a penny.

Three ounces of strand pasta measures about ¾ of an inch when bunched together in a tight circle, which is the same diameter as a penny. Just keep one in your kitchen to use as the perfect pasta measure. Simply place your penny onto the counter and stand your pasta strands on top to see if you have the correct amount.

Now you’ll never have too much, or too little, pasta again.