How much water will dry semolina pasta absorb when it is properly cooked? For example, how much water would one pound of farfalle or spaghetti absorb?

I am guessing the shape of the pasta doesn't matter, just the absolute weight.

I am not looking for how much water is required to boil it, nor what temperature is required, just how much should be absorbed. I like my pasta cooked a minute or so past the box "al dente" stage.

The application is single burner cooking (I only have one available). I can make the sauce, then add additional water and pasta to cook directly in the sauce, making for only one burner being required, and only a single pot to clean.

I understand the actual amount will require due to the vagaries of how much evaporates, but I expect that to be a minor adjustment.

  • Cool, I'm going to try that. Should give the pasta more flavor and even coating. To only use one pot, I just put the glass jar of pasta sauce directly on the gas burner, open the lid, gently put the lid over the top, and turn the burner on low.
    – Chloe
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


You need 1.1x as much water as pasta for al dente! I measured this myself, cooking penne rigate (in water, not sauce) - 200g of pasta weighed 420g after being cooked and thoroughly drained.

The estimate below from the nutrition facts is 1.4x, which probably corresponds to typical American overcooked pasta - a surprisingly large difference from mine. I'm guessing you'll be somewhere between, maybe 1.25x.

You can also ballpark it from nutrition facts. Cooked spaghetti has 31g carbs per 100g pasta, and dry spaghetti has 75g carbs per 100g pasta. So 100g dry pasta turns into 100g*75/31 = 242g of cooked pasta, meaning the added water was ~1.4x the weight of the pasta. So for a pound of pasta, that's 1.4 pounds or about 2 2/3 cups of water. Given people's tastes, this might be a little past al dente, so I would personally start with maybe 1.25 cups of water then add a little more if necessary. (I'll also try cooking pasta normally and weighing it if I get a chance.)

Note: if you have a significantly different variety of pasta, it will obviously behave differently. This is for pasta that's 13% protein and 75% carbohydrates. For the standard 2oz/56g (dry) serving on the package, it'll say 7g protein and 41-42g carbohydrates. I checked Barilla, De Cecco, Ronzonni, Garofalo, Safeway store brand, Trader Joe's store brand, and those nutrition facts, and they all matched. If you're branching out to other styles like whole grains or egg noodles, things will obviously change, but things are very uniform in the US.

  • @Jefromi If no new information surfaces, I think you have it. On my next trial, I will try adding 1.4 lbs of water for the pasta cooking stage. I don't expect perfection on this estimate, but its better than constantly adding water when it looks too thick, and I don't want it to burn....
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 2:54
  • @SAJ14SAJ The one caveat is that I didn't actually try this yet - it's quite possible that standard-cooked pasta is more American "well-cooked", past al dente. I'll edit the answer, and if I cook pasta before you do I'll weigh it and come back again.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 2:56
  • I would upvote again for the actual experimental data, but that isn't allowed.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 4:53
  • 1
    The ballpark has a caveat: pasta loses starch during the cooking process.
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 10:53
  • 1
    @Rich I'm not saying that good cooks overcook their pasta, but the US has a long tradition of overcooked food. And even just using the time printed on a package of pasta generally goes well past al dente.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 23:49

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