How to cook penne pasta – Tips and tricks revealed

Penne pasta is one of the most versatile pasta out there. Yet, it can also be confusing on how to cook it because sometimes it comes out mushy, crunchy, and everything in between. In this step-by-step demonstration, we will show you the best way on how to cook penne pasta every time.

All you need is a 12-inch skillet—one with a lid—and 5 cups of water for every 1 pound of dried pasta.

  • Use your stove’s highest heat setting. 
  • Bring the water to a boil and add salt.
  • Add the penne pasta and cook for 10 minutes until it is al dente.
  • Drain the pasta water.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce you’re using.

In addition, the key to making perfectly cooked penne pasta is to boil the pasta in a large pot of water until al dente, then add it to the sauce you’re using. That way, your penne will soak up all of the delicious flavors in whatever pasta sauce you’re serving with it. You can also use any kind of penne you want, such as traditional penne or gluten-free, or whole wheat penne.

How to cook penne pasta

How to cook pasta?

Cooking pasta is one of the quickest, most satisfying things you can do in a kitchen. It’s cheap to make, nutritious (if you add enough veggies), and extremely versatile: you can mix up your sauces, add proteins, or use whatever you have in the fridge. Here’s a way to cook pasta: 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta, stir quickly and return to a rolling boil.
  • Stir every few minutes for an even cook. 
  • Test your pasta by tasting it. It should be al dente or firm to the bite. 
  • If you’re using fresh pasta, remove it from the pot and drain well before making your pasta dish (don’t rinse). 
  • If you’re using dried pasta, drain in a colander or large strainer, reserving 1 cup of cooking water per pound of pasta used.

Penne pasta cooking time

Penne pasta is a favorite among kitchen aficionados. This tubular-shaped, hollow pasta is perfect for soaking up all the delicious sauces that accompany it. 

Penne pasta may be cooked to a firmness that you prefer, but the time in boiling water will determine how firm the pasta is. Penne pasta takes 8 to 12 minutes to boil. And for 1 pound of penne, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat, salt the water with at least one tablespoon of salt, then add the pasta in a single layer.

How to cook penne pasta with tomato sauce

Cooking simple pasta and tomato sauce from scratch is easy if you follow a few basic rules: use the freshest quality ingredients you can find, cook the tomato sauce for long enough to achieve a light, sweet taste, and be sure not to overcook your pasta. This quick and simple recipe is filled with Mediterranean flavors. The addition of butter and parmesan at the end of cooking ensures a creamy sauce.

  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil, then add minced garlic, anchovy fillets, and chili flakes. 
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring until the sauce turns a deep red color.
  • Stir in basil and salt to taste. 
  • Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, then drain when ready.
  • Serve pasta with tomato sauce on top, plus Parmesan or Pecorino shavings sprinkled over if you like.

If you want to cook penne pasta in tomato sauce, follow the first four guidelines above and continue with these:

  • Add pasta and parsley and toss to coat with sauce. 
  • Simmer for 6 minutes or until cooked through.
  • If desired, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately. The result: perfectly seasoned pasta!

How do I cook penne pasta?

Penne pasta is one of the easiest types of pasta to make. Here’s a foolproof formula for pasta perfection.

  • First, bring four quarts of water to a rolling boil.
  • Add two teaspoons of salt and add the pasta.
  • Stir the pasta frequently until almost al dente, and then test a noodle. Test the pasta by biting one in half. It should be soft or al dente, but not mushy.
  • If it is not yet done, return the noodles to the water for 30-second increments until they are done. Penne pasta should be cooked for 11 minutes total.
  • Once the noodles are done boiling, remove from heat and strain in a colander.

How long do you cook penne pasta?

Pasta cooking times vary based on your preference, but it should be cooked until it is al dente. Follow the package instructions regarding how long to cook penne pasta but reduce it by a minute and test it while cooking. The texture will start to feel less firm but not mushy.

In addition, most people tend to undercook pasta. A good rule of thumb is to cook it one minute less than indicated on the package directions and then let it finish cooking in the sauce. For example, if the package says 12 minutes, cook it for 11 minutes and then toss it with the sauce for 12 minutes or until al dente.

How to cook penne pasta

How much water do I put in penne pasta?

Pasta type is probably the most important factor in deciding how much water to use. For example, a dried sturdier pasta like penne would need more water than fresh pasta like lasagna sheets. 

Additionally, the number of people you are serving will also determine how much water you need. Here is a general rule of thumb for measuring out the amount of water needed to cook pasta: 2 quarts of water per 1 pound of pasta. 

Also, if you’re cooking penne pasta in sauce, you needn’t put any water into penne at all. It absorbs sauces wonderfully. But if you’re after a bit of that starchy goodness to thicken them up, try cooking it as normal (in salted boiling water) till al dente, then return to the pan on a low heat to absorb some of the sauce.

Do you put the pasta in cold or boiling water?

Pasta is best cooked in boiling water. If you put the pasta into cold water, you are going to have a hard time getting it to boil. Pasta should be cooked in a pot of rapidly boiling water. Coldwater will not cook the pasta, and the pasta won’t absorb any flavor.

Your family or friends may say that cooking pasta in cold water is better because it saves energy since you use less water. However, this does not change how quickly the pasta is cooked. Also, if you cook the pasta for too long, your noodles may become soft and limp. Also, using cold water increases cooking time by 7-8 minutes!

Furthermore, Pasta is one of the most misunderstood ingredients in any kitchen. Boiling water for pasta should always be salted and started at a roiling boil before you add any noodles. If you use cold water, it will take longer to get a rolling boil, which equals more time for flavor-killing coated starch to leech from the pasta.

Get your water boiling as quickly as possible, so your pasta is ready as soon as possible. Knowing how to cook perfect pasta is one of the most useful skills in any kitchen – and now your know-how.

Should you rinse pasta after cooking?

Deciding whether or not to rinse your pasta after it’s been boiled depends on what you’re planning on doing with it next. If you’re going to toss the steaming-hot noodles with a fresh sauce, don’t rinse the noodles.

In addition, never rinse pasta after cooking. In fact, do not rinse your spaghetti, linguine, or any other long-strand pasta prior to cooking, for that matter. When you cook pasta in salty water (the only way – see below), the salt gets absorbed into the pasta as it cooks.

So, if you rinse off all of that hard-earned salt and flavor, you’re left with bland, flavorless clumps of mushy starch.

In addition, the starch in the water is what helps the sauce adhere to your pasta. Rinsing pasta will cool it and prevent absorption of your sauce. The only time you should ever rinse your pasta is when you are going to use it in a cold dish like a pasta salad.

Let it drain through a colander well before using it, then toss with olive oil to keep noodles from sticking to each other.

How to cook penne pasta

Should you add oil to pasta water?

The answer to this question is really complicated. While some cooks swear that a splash of olive oil helps prevent stickiness, others worry that it will make the sauce slide right off.

The short answer, according to the experts, is no. The only pasta cooking tip you need to know is this: don’t put oil in your pasta water! The starch in the water is what helps the sauce adhere to your pasta.

In addition, it also depends on what you want to use your pasta for. If you are making Bolognese, the answer is no. The oil will prevent the sauce from sticking to your pasta.

Add a nice grating of cheese if you like but go easy on the pepper because it could overpower the delicate flavors of this rich sauce that pairs beautifully with fresh angel hair pasta for a tasty authentic Italian experience. If you are making spaghetti aglio e olio, you can add oil.

The oil will help the spices and garlic coat the strands evenly, resulting in an exceptionally good spaghetti Aglio e ole.

Should you pour cold water on pasta?

You can pour the semi-cooked pasta into a colander to rinse it with cold water. The cold water will stop the cooking process immediately without ruining the pasta and works no matter whether you are using dried or fresh pasta.

Also, this will keep the pasta from sticking together and helps it retain its shape. The water cools down the starch just enough to prevent a clumping disaster.

Can I reuse pasta water to boil more pasta?

You can reuse pasta water. Some experts recommend it because the starch in the water can help your sauce cling to your pasta. The only concern with reusing pasta water is that if you’ve cooked the pasta too long, it’ll release too much starch into the water, making your sauce gloopy. Don’t reuse the water if it looks cloudy or if there is any visible mold.

In addition, reusing pasta water is a great way to get more nutrition from your whole-wheat pasta or legume pasta like beet noodles or lentil noodles. You can also add salt and set the water in the fridge for tomorrow’s pasta cook-up to save time. The only thing you should think twice about is reusing sauce-coated noodles.

Can you cook penne pasta on stove?

You can cook penne pasta on stove as it is the traditional method for cooking pasta. The only difference is that there are some steps involved in ensuring the pasta is not overcooked. 

Also, if you have time and you prefer a more traditional method, cook pasta the old-fashioned way. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and add the pasta. Cook over high heat until the water returns to a boil, then reduce the heat but keep it at a steady simmer. It will take about 10 minutes for most shapes of dried pasta; fresh pasta will take less time. 

Is pasta water healthy?

Pasta water is the starch-packed water leftover from cooking any type of noodle, be it spaghetti, linguine, or rigatoni. The starchy water has been gaining popularity outside of the kitchen, though. People are drinking small cups of pasta water as a beverage to help with weight loss and digestion. 

In addition, hot water pasta not only reduces the cooking time but also tastes great with fresh herbs and spices. The best part is that it is good for you, with recent research showing that pasta water can actually help to lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease.

Also, pasta water does contain the proteins, starches, and fiber from the pasta itself. It is rich in minerals and is a good source of magnesium (which helps lower blood pressure), selenium, potassium, and iron. Pasta water has a bunch of nutrients leftover from the noodles and can be used as a cooking liquid or to deglaze a saucepan!

Is penne pasta healthy?

Penne pasta is a type of pasta that resembles tube shapes, and it comes from Italy. One serving contains about 200 calories and 10 grams of protein. There are six grams of fiber in every serving, which is 24 percent of the recommended daily value for adults.

Also, penne pasta is a pantry staple. It’s extremely versatile, which means you can use it in everything from mac ‘n’ cheese to stir-fries. Plus, it allows you to pack plenty of protein and veggies on your plate without weighing you down.

In addition, penne is a healthy pasta option, but it depends on how you prepare it and what you eat it with. To make a healthier penne dish, use whole-grain pasta. Consider adding vegetables and lean protein to your meal.

Can you freeze penne pasta?

You can freeze penne pasta as you just need to be careful how you do it. You can freeze penne pasta by cooking it for about half of the normal cooking time, letting it cool down, wrapping it up in a plastic wrap, and then transferring it to an airtight container or freezer bag.

Furthermore, cool the penne pasta completely before freezing (ideally within 2 hours of cooking). Transfer the cooked penne to airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn, label with the contents, and freeze for up to 3 months.

In addition, when you freeze penne pasta, the texture of the pasta changes because the pasta absorbs the water. This causes the penne to become mushy after it has been frozen and thawed out. If you need to freeze tube-shaped pasta like penne, remember not to cook your pasta for as long as directed on the box and undercook your pasta.

Can penne pasta make you sick?

No, penne pasta cannot make you sick. Not if it’s cooked properly. In fact, we’re here to tell you that making sure your food is cooked fully and then cooled appropriately is very important in preventing illness.

Any food can make you sick if it isn’t cooked or stored properly. Cook pasta thoroughly and keep it at a safe temperature. If you eat a meal containing penne pasta, and one or more of the ingredients in that meal is contaminated to the point of causing diarrhea or vomiting, then it is possible to have diarrhea or vomiting after eating your meal.

What does penne pasta taste like?

Penne pasta is light, neutral-tasting pasta that is perfect for more delicate sauces. Penne tastes like all pasta, a bit like cooked flour with a little bit of wheat flavor. But the flavor is not very pronounced or obvious and is easily overpowered by any sauce you use with the penne to make your dish.

Since it’s a neutral base, it’ll taste like whatever sauce and toppings you use. Also, the structure of the penne pasta allows sauces to cling to it, so it works well with many types of sauces, especially hearty, traditional Italian tomato sauces like pesto, marinara, and Bolognese sauce.

How long can penne pasta last?

On average, dried pasta lasts for about three or four years. However, fresh pasta can only last for two or three days in the fridge when it’s uncooked. Pasta that has been cooked should be eaten within three to five days.

Furthermore, dry penne pasta can be stored in a cool, dry pantry or cabinet for two years. Having the right temperature will help ensure that you have the right shelf life for many foods. It could be stored in an area where the temperature is self-regulating and stays consistently between 40-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, pasta that has been cooked and then refrigerated within 2 hours will last in the fridge for about four days. If you want to keep your pasta for longer, you can freeze it.

Penne pasta lasts for as long as a week when in the refrigerator. So, if you plan on making penne pasta, you should consider making it several days in advance and freezing it until you need it.

Do you cook pasta on high or low heat?

For the most al dente results, we recommend cooking pasta on high heat. You want to make sure you have a rolling boil so that the pasta does not stick together. The salt or oil that is added to the water helps water boil at a higher temperature, cooks the pasta faster, and adds flavor. Using high heat also reduces the cooking time of pasta.

However, not all pasta is cooked the same way. Most pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti, are long strands and require plenty of room to cook all the way through. Pasta that is twisty or shaped allows for pasta sauce to stick to its nooks and crannies.

What kind of sauce goes with penne pasta?

There are tons of different sauces you can put on penne pasta. One of the most popular ones is a marinara sauce, which consists of tomato sauce that has lots of herbs and spices. Other options include pesto, which is made with basil, olive oil, and garlic, and vodka sauce, which is a creamy sauce for tomatoes that contain vodka!

Also, the best sauce for penne pasta is the kind that you most enjoy. You can use whatever sauce or dressing you prefer. Red sauce and Bolognese sauce work well with penne pasta. Both are delicious and filling and pair naturally with the shape of this pasta. 

Additionally, when serving penne, keep in mind it’s a hearty cut and can stand up to both simple and complex sauces.

How to cook penne pasta

How do you know when penne pasta is done?

Once you’ve been cooking long enough, you’ll start to know when pasta is done just by looking at it. But for beginners and the rest of us without that experience, here are some signs that your penne pasta is ready: 

  • It should be al dente or firm to the bite. 
  • The end of the pasta should be slightly curved, not straight. 
  • When tasting the pasta, there should be a slight hint of raw flour flavor.
  • The more pasta cooks, the gummier it gets, so if it sticks to the wall, it’s probably overdone. Rinse under cold water, drain and serve immediately with your favorite pasta sauce

How long should I cook penne?

The recommended cooking time for penne is 12 minutes. Penne should be cooked until it has achieved a firmness that is suitable for your tastes. We recommend going for an al dente pasta, which will be soft but still slightly firm to the bite.

For perfect penne, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes if using dried pasta and 2 minutes if using fresh. Drain the pasta and let cool.

How much water do you put in pasta?

Most boxed pasta and packages of dried pasta recommend that you use 4 quarts of water to 1 pound of pasta. This breaks down to 2 pints (4 cups) of liquid per 8 ounces of pasta. For a standard box of pasta, which is commonly 1lb, the directions will call for 2 quarts or 4 pints or 8 cups of liquid.

Also, the amount of water you use is based on how rich and starchy you want your sauce to be. For a starchier sauce, cook the pasta in less water (two to three quarts per pound). For a brothier sauce, go ahead and add more water. Just make sure it’s at least four quarts per pound.


Cooking pasta is a guarantee for delicious dishes, and knowing how to cook penne pasta is one of the most useful skills in any kitchen. Penne pasta is a favorite, with its perfectly sized tubes and hollow center that holds sauces nicely. 

There are only a few simple steps to making your perfect penne, including boiling the pasta to al dente and adding the sauce of your choice for the final toss. Penne is known for its consistency and flexibility with sauces, so you can enjoy it with meat, seafood, marinara sauce, or any other topping you might want to try.

Also, use high-quality ingredients like good quality olive oil and fresh basil, tomatoes, and cheese. There are many varieties of penne pasta, and you can find them all to please your family in your local supermarkets or Italian specialty markets. Try some today.

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