How to Measure a Portion of Pasta

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Hi HG,

I'm trying to watch my portions, but I'm totally stumped when it comes to pasta. The box lists a serving size of 2 ounces -- that's for the dry pasta, right? I need to know how much pasta I can have once I've cooked up the whole box.

Perplexed by Pasta Portions

A Guide to Pasta Serving Sizes

Hi Perplexed,

You're definitely not alone... I get this question all the time. That 2-oz. portion does refer to the dry, uncooked noodles... which isn't all that helpful when you're trying to figure out how much cooked pasta you can have for the calorie count on the label! We did a full-scale investigation of this last year, and came up with some GREAT info. And since you (and lots of others!) are still baffled by pasta portions, I'm rerunning our findings here and now...

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 mac 'n cheese, beefy mac, and more. 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 perplexed!

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