Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Shari Mason
Pasta is a versatile and delicious staple of Italian cuisine that every household love. But preparing your pasta can also be time-consuming and messy.
So, can you cook pasta in the sauce, save time, leave fewer dishes and still have that perfect pasta on the plate?
Well, the answer may surprise you, but here it is. Read on.
Can You Cook Pasta Directly In The Sauce?
You can cook the pasta directly in the sauce, and this method is commonly referred to as ‘one pot’ or ‘no-drain’ cooking.
The technique is simple and involves adding uncooked pasta to a simmering sauce and allowing it to absorb the liquid and cook through.
It’s important that there is enough liquid in the pan so that the pasta will not stick together or burn while cooking.
When cooked properly, this method results in al dente noodles with more flavor absorption from all ingredients.
Read: How To Cook Pasta Without A Stove Or Microwave?
Why It Pays To Cook In The Sauce
Cooking pasta in the sauce infuses the noodles with flavor, which gives the dish more depth and complexity. It also eliminates the extra step of cooking and draining the pasta before adding it to the sauce.
This saves time and energy as well as reduces mess since you don’t need a separate pot or colander for draining.
Cooking pasta directly in its sauce also helps thicken sauces due to the starch released by the noodle/pasta during cooking.
Read: How Do Restaurants Keep Pasta From Sticking?
What Will Happen If You Cook Pasta Directly In The Sauce?
Cooked pasta in the sauce is usually starchier than in boiling water with salt and cooking the sauce separately.
“You can buy a good pasta but when you cook it yourself it has another feeling.”– Agnès Varda, Film Director
We know that pasta releases starch when boiled, and if you cook it in the sauce, you can not filter out the starchy pasta water, so the result will be much starchier than your usual pasta dishes.
Read: Do You Weigh Pasta Before Or After Cooking?
How To Cook Pasta In The Sauce
The first step is to select an appropriate pasta type. Shorter pasta, such as penne or macaroni, works best for this method, but long pasta, such as spaghetti, may cook unevenly or break as you stir.
Once everything is ready, start by heating other ingredients like garlic, mushrooms, and other ingredients of your choice in a pot or saucepan.
Then add your tomato sauce to coat the ingredients, followed by your pasta and some water.
Make sure not to add too much water. You can add a half cup of water first, then more water as you continue until it becomes ‘al dente.’ 
Things To Consider When Cooking Pasta In The Sauce
You must pay enough attention when you cook dried pasta in the sauce to achieve the desired consistency. You must add enough extra liquid to allow the pasta to absorb it while occasionally stirring.
Dry pasta absorbs a lot of water, so add liquid gradually, so it doesn’t burn but not so much that it becomes too watery or diluted.
If you are unfamiliar with this method, adjusting the perfect balance may take some time, which will increase your cooking time as you practice and have to do it slowly.
As a result, this technique requires more attention and experience than traditional pasta-cooking recipes.
If you don’t like starchy pasta or starchy flavor, then you might reconsider cooking it in the sauce as the excess starch can not be removed.
Boiling releases starch that could make a creamy sauce, but sometimes it could be starchier than expected, which is a bit off for some people.
How long does it take to cook pasta in sauce?
Cooking pasta in the sauce usually takes about 15-20 minutes, but it also depends on what pasta you are cooking.
Smaller and thinner type of pasta, like angel hair, cooks in less than 10 minutes, while the thicker spaghetti or macaroni cooks for around 15 minutes or more in the sauce.
When shouldn’t you cook pasta in the sauce?
If you want a less starchy with light and delicate texture past, then you shouldn’t cook it in the sauce.
Cooked dried pasta in the sauce is usually thicker and starchier than the ones cooked in boiling water.
Also, avoid cooking thick and long pasta to avoid unevenly cooked dried pasta in your dish.
Is it better to boil the pasta or cook it in the sauce?
Boiling the pasta first in another pot or pan of salted water is still more convenient and better, as you can control the amount of starch and its consistency without paying much attention.
You can control and add reserved pasta water for a perfectly smooth sauce without the risk of burning.
In A Nutshell
Overall, cooking pasta in the sauce is a great way to make quick weeknight dinners a little less hassle and time-saving, but it may not be as easy as the traditional way.
Just remember that it doesn’t work that well with long and thick types of pasta. Additionally, if you’re not careful, you also run the risk of sticking or burning it.
However, if done right means one less messy pot and more time to relax. It’s a must-try way to cook your beloved pasta recipe.
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