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I have a microwave "pot" that I use for steaming vegetables. The instructions say it can also be used for cooking pasta, which seems sacrilege to me.
Does anybody know if the result would be a good al dente pasta if cooked in the microwave? I'd hate to waste a batch of my home made pasta just to try it.

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Eh. Fresh pasta takes less than 3 minutes to cook in boiling water. Why would you need to microwave this? –  hobodave Jul 26 '10 at 22:09
arghhh... as an italian, I'm dying a little on this one :P –  Stefano Borini Jul 27 '10 at 11:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You know, I'm right there with you on the sacrilege part, but nowadays I microwave pasta all the time. You need to use a non-starchy pasta for this to work. I use plain store-bought Barilla Plus because I love it anyway. For fresh pasta, you could try a small experiment; I've never tried with freshly-made pasta.

It takes less time than boiling on the stove for me because I do this:

  1. Fill up the electric kettle with water and turn it on.
  2. I use a 1/2 gallon Pyrex measuring cup as my "pot", and I put an inch or so of water in that and pop it in the microwave for four minutes to warm it up.
  3. When the water's boiling in the kettle and the oven timer expires, I take out the Pyrex container, add the pasta and a little oil and some salt (optionally a little vinegar), and then pour in the boiling water to cover by an inch or so.
  4. Dumpling-like pasta (rotini or penne) take about 8:30 to cook on high (I've got I think an 1100 watt oven; experiment); spaghetti 5:30, thin spaghetti 4:30.

I know it sounds like a horrible sin, but I started doing it when I needed to cook small portions of pasta for my kids. I tried it myself, and realized that I could tell absolutely no difference from the results I got in my big pasta pot. When I need to boil a lot of pasta (like 2 14oz boxes) I still use the big pot of course, but a pound or less actually cooks up perfectly fine. My pasta cooker is enormous and takes a long time to come up to the boil.

Now once I tried this (not thinking clearly, obviously) with some very starchy, fancy pasta, and it did not work at all. But maybe because it's got so much extra protein, Barilla Plus comes out absolutely fine. (It's good for you too.)

edit — Here's an update: I still do this, but recently one of the seemingly endless succession of microwave ovens I've had recently died, and I'm pretty sure it's because it somewhat frequently overheated while doing this very thing (cooking pasta). Now I don't blame the technique, really, since an oven should probably be designed with the possibility of hot stuff being inside of them for some periods of time, but be warned. (It overheated probably 10 times or so over the course of a couple years before dying, so it was right about at what I find to be typical end-of-life anyway.)

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Barilla is indeed a very good brand. Some people in Italy prefer Voiello, but I find it takes a little too long to cook properly. –  Stefano Borini Jul 27 '10 at 14:02
Ciao @Stefano - I like "plain" blue-box Barilla, but here I refer to the "Barilla Plus", and I don't know if it is sold in Italy. I understand that in Italy you can also buy a "premium" Barilla made with old-style bronze equipment, and I have never seen that in the US. –  Pointy Jul 27 '10 at 14:07
Oh also - my favorite commercial pasta is Giuseppe Cocco, but that's hard to find here. Also it is a little expensive. –  Pointy Jul 27 '10 at 14:12
I believe you this works, but it sounds like too much trouble. I always cook 170 g pasta at once, and do it in a 1.5 l pot on stovetop. It gets to boil quickly, and noodle cooking time is comparable with your microwave numbers. The method needs no kettle, is easy to stir, I can prevent a foamover quickly, nothing crunches a peeking noodle end, and I can constantly take out a piece and test for doneness. So I don't see how the microwave could be more convenient. –  rumtscho Aug 17 '11 at 6:21
@IsaacRabinovitch yes, Pyrex half-gallon "cups" are available. –  Pointy Oct 27 '13 at 17:56

All pasta needs to cook is hot water, it doesn't even have to be plentiful hot water at that. Kenji over at serious eats food lab just did an article about it. (link As your mircowave is very good at heating water it shouldn't be a strech to cook pasta in it. I would say that i would try it a few times with some cheap store bought at first because all mircowaves vary in terms of wattage and eveness so the amount of time it will take to get the water correct will vary greatly one to the other.

Also you are going to have make sure that there isn't any noodles uncovered as the microwave will turn them crunchy immedaitely. You will also have to stir a few times over the course of the cook to make sure that you don't get clumps.

Homemade pasta in particular needs very hot water to start so you will need to bring the water up to temp before adding the pasta.

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hot water and salt. –  Stefano Borini Jul 27 '10 at 11:47
sorry, and salt is very important, thanks for the catch stefano. –  sarge_smith Jul 27 '10 at 22:59
No prob. It's because I just saw a TV program where Danes cooked for Italians, and they forgot to put the salt, so it's commonly forgot, unless you see it done by your parents for 20 years. –  Stefano Borini Jul 28 '10 at 11:43
and a touch of oil helps to cut down foaming –  Toybuilder May 22 '11 at 16:00
An answer isn't really an answer if you haven't done it yourself. The link is helpful, but belongs in a comment. –  Isaac Rabinovitch Oct 27 '13 at 17:39

I can't speak for your pot specifically, but I microwave pasta all the time. My reason - I'm just one person and it's simple. I don't have anything fancy - just a plastic Glade (or similar) food storage container. Although I keep meaning to pick up one of the big, glass Pyrex measuring cups to use as my new bowl. That would shorten my cooking time too no doubt.

Either way, here's how I do it: Put in the desired amount, drizzle a tiny bit of oil over the dry pasta, swish it around a little, I use hot tap water, 50% power, 12-14min (depending on the type of pasta), drain, dress, eat.

Why so long? The 50% power. I'm sure that if I wanted to perfect a quicker method I could. But the point is - it's simple. Too many times on higher power it boiled over and I ended up with the sticky pasta-gluey mess in my microwave and down the sides of my container <-- = not simple. Less power + longer time = less likely to over-cook or boil over.

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I microwave pasta often. I sometimes cook it on defrost settings for 10 minutes, mostly at regular settings for between 3 and 5 minutes for one cup of macaroni, say. The trick is not to use too much water; you can always check after a couple of minutes and add more liquid if the pasta seems too dry. I use a 2 quart pyrex or ceramic bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Why boil ten cups of water if you only need one? Why wrestle a giant pasta pot to the sink to throw away 9 cups of water when all you have to do is swish the pasta around in one cup?

I often cook the other ingredients along with the pasta, I'm going to mix it together on my plate, anyway.

I cook rice in the micky, too, but there is not much time saved.

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