How Much Is a Serving of Pasta?

Feb 5 2014
Question@2x Hungry Girl,

Help! I can never figure out exactly how much pasta makes up a single serving. The serving size listed on the box says 2 ounces -- is that before or after it's cooked? I often just cook up the entire box, and I need to know how much of that cooked pasta I can have...

Pasta Puzzled
Answer@2x Hi Puzzled,

Great question! The weight listed on nutritional panels is almost always for the product as it's packaged. In the case of pasta, that 2-oz. portion refers to the dry, uncooked noodles. As for figuring out serving sizes, we decided to do some investigating. So we broke out our trusty kitchen scales and measuring cups, and here's what we found...

What we tested: Three varieties -- penne, elbow macaroni, and spaghetti -- all cooked al dente.

Servings per container: While the nutritional panels stated the boxes contained "about 7 servings," we found that they contained closer to 6 servings. What does this mean? Simply dividing the box into portions according to the approximate "servings per container" won't necessarily give you the correct serving size.

Cooked measurements: We got down to it and found that a single 2-oz. serving of the dry penne cooked up to a heaping cup. Both the cooked spaghetti and the elbow mac measured in at a scant cup per serving.

Dry measurements: Wanna cook up a single serving of pasta but don't feel like busting out the food scale? A 2-oz. serving of uncooked elbow macaroni comes to just shy of 1/2 cup. The same amount of dry penne measures in at a little more than 1/2 cup. Good to know! There's no easy cup measurement for uncooked spaghetti, but there are some cool measuring tools out there!

Bottom line: Pasta generally doubles in size when it cooks, and a cup of cooked pasta is a good ballpark for a single serving size!

Looking for recipes? We're all about the high-fiber pasta here at Hungryland! If you love penne, check out our Spicy Chicken-Sausage Penne, Chunky Eggplant Penne for Two, and BLT-rific Mac 'n Cheese. As for elbow macaroni, we've got no fewer than SEVEN cheesy macs. And for a spaghetti dish you'll LOVE, our Veggie-Loaded Spaghetti Amore is where it's at.

Hot tip! If you're eating at a restaurant (or your grandma's house) and need to estimate that 1-cup serving, it's about the size of your fist. And each cup of pasta has around 200 calories. This is extremely good to know, considering most restaurants serve up at least FOUR fistfuls per order.

There you have it. Hope you're no longer pasta puzzled!

Chew on this:

It's the first week in February, which means it's Shape Up with Pickles Time. (We did NOT make this up, people!) Grab some hefty kosher dills, and do some squats while you chew...

Fact: Everyone loves pasta. Conclusion: Everyone will love you once you click "Send to a Friend!"

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