How Long To Cook Spaghetti (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 8 To 12 Minutes

In British households, spaghetti has been present at mealtimes since the 1960s. It became the staple of children’s diet and slowly became well known internationally as well. Now, spaghetti is more popular than rice, meat and pizza around the globe, especially in Brazil, the Philippines and South Africa.

Cooking spaghetti might seem quite simple. All one needs to do is cook the pasta and top it with sauce and meatballs. However, time and time again, people still get it wrong. The key is in the cooking time. 

How Long To Cook Spaghetti?

The cooking time of spaghetti depends on two factors- the cooking method and sauce. 

It takes only 8 to 12 minutes to boil pasta on a stovetop. The difference in time comes due to the sauce prepared. Marinara sauce is one of the most loved pasta sauces in the world. It is easy to make and only takes 20 minutes. 

Alfredo pasta sauce, popularly known as white pasta sauce, is creamy and rich in taste. The sauce takes 15 minutes to prepare. Another everyday pasta sauce is the Bolognese pasta sauce. Also known as ragu, it is a favourite among those who wish to add meat to their pasta. The sauce takes around 3 to 5 hours to make. 

A Vegan tomato pasta, an excellent alternative to the other pasta sauces mentioned, takes 45 to 60 minutes to prepare. Amatriciana pasta sauce containing cured pork, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese cooks in 15 minutes. Pesto sauce is simple and easy to prepare. It takes 20 to 30 minutes and only a few ingredients. 

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The cooking method is another factor that affects the cooking time. As previously stated, spaghetti takes 8 to 12 minutes to boil on a stovetop. The time may vary depending on the brand used.

If one can not use a stove, one can prepare spaghetti in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Celcius in 50 to 60 minutes. Another alternative is to use the pressure cooker. One can calculate the cooking time by considering the lowest time on the package, dividing it in half and subtracting 1 minute. However, if one likes al dente pasta, then reduce 2 minutes. For example, suppose the time on the package is 12 minutes, then one must divide it in half (6 minutes) and subtract 2 (4 minutes) if one likes al dente pasta or 1 minute (5 minutes) if one likes softer pasta. Therefore, one will have boiled pasta in 4 or 5 minutes, the fastest among all other methods. 

One may also use a slow-cooker to prepare spaghetti. However, this method takes the longest time, 4 to 6 hours, depending on the ingredients used. 

In summary,

Cooking MethodTime
Stovetop8 to 12 minutes
Oven50 to 60 minutes
Pressure Cooker4 to 5 minutes
Slow-cooker4 to 6 hours

Why Does It Take So Long For Spaghetti To Cook? 

Different sauces require different cooking times as per the ingredients used. Sauces containing meat like bolognese take longer than those containing milk or vegetables like marinara or alfredo sauce.

Various cooking methods also affect the cooking times. A stovetop puts out heat quicker than all other modes of cooking. The heat is transmitted directly to the bottom of the pan, causing the skillet to heat up and boil the water fast. Therefore, it takes 8 to 12 minutes to cook spaghetti. 

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In a pressure cooker, food cooks faster as it is at high pressure. At 1 bar, the boiling point of water rises to 121 degrees Celcius, which generates hot steam. The steam can transmit thermal energy to the foods faster, allowing the pasta to boil in 4 to 5 minutes. 

In a slow cooker, heat rises along the sides to heat the food within. As it takes a long time for the temperature within the slow-cooker to reach the optimum level, a spaghetti dish takes 4 to 6 hours to cook thoroughly.

Conclusion

Spaghetti is a simple dish to prepare. The challenging part of the process is to not over or undercook the pasta. The key is to identify the cooking times of the different sauces and methods used. 

Firstly, alfredo, marinara and pesto sauces are the easiest and fastest to prepare and take 15 to 20 minutes. Secondly, a pressure cooker takes the shortest time (4 to 5 minutes) while a slow cooker takes the longest (4 to 6 hours) to boil pasta.

Reference

  1. https://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/156004/Bull0053a.pdf?sequence=47
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224408000046

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