How Long to Cook Fresh Pasta & the Best Way to Do It

When you think about the cook times of different kinds of fresh pasta you need to keep in mind that not all fresh pasta is made the same way. I’m not referring to the different shapes, I’m referring to fresh pasta with eggs (the kind that most people think about when they imagine fresh pasta) or the kind without eggs which is slowly gaining in popularity with the rise of veganism. 

In this article whenever I mention "fresh pasta", I am referring to the variety that contains eggs. 

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Fresh Pasta Cannot Be Made Al Dente

You are probably familiar with the word 'al dente' which basically means that the pasta is not completely soft (undercooked), leaving a bit of a crunch to it. This is very popular in Italy and it’s not a stereotype if I say that Italians, in general, hate their pasta when it is made in any other way. Fresh pasta, however, is typically not hardened and therefore it is not possible to serve al dente.

There are people who enjoy fresh pasta raw, there’s no question about that. However, this is something I would not want to try myself. I prefer my eggs cooked. There are others who serve it slightly undercooked, it’s got its own unique flavor and texture when done this way. Again, I'm not a fan. 

Many professional chefs and I (not that I'm a pro) that make fresh pasta at home or at their restaurants prefer to cook it all the way through, of course, it is not overcooked. This brings out the best in the pasta as it boils in the salted water and olive oil. Adding a sauce to your freshly cooked pasta is then just a tool to add additional flavors and nutrition because fresh pasta when cooked is also delicious all on its own. 

Pro-tip: I prefer not to add oil to my water because the oil would float on the water anyway and does not really integrate. Once cooked and drained if it does coat the freshly cooked pasta it prevents any sauce from sticking to its surface. I do add oil to the water when I intend to eat it on its own. 

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Pasta Tagliatelle.

Cooking Fresh Pasta - How Long and the Best Way to Do It

Step 1: Use a little more than half a gallon (2 liters) of water for every pound (half a kilogram) of fresh pasta. 

Step 2: Add one tablespoon of salt, preferably sea salt (this is not a necessity) to the water. 

Step 3: Add one and a half tablespoon of olive oil (if you wish) to this water, it would also keep the fresh pasta from sticking together once the water has been drained if you are not going to serve immediately. 

Step 4: Cover the pot and heat until the water boils.

Step 5: Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water and follow the table below for approximate cook times of the pasta. 

Pasta Approximate Duration
Capellini & Angel Hair 30 seconds to 1 minute
Spaghetti Around 2 minutes, don’t cross 3 minutes
Tallarini, Gnocchi, and Linguini Between 2 and 3 minutes
Fettuccini Between 3 and 4 minutes
Pappardelle and Bucatini Around 4 minutes
Rigatoni, Penne, and Fusilli Around 5 minutes
Ravioli Depends on the type, typically around 5 minutes

I would suggest that you use these as recommendations and test your pasta when you are around the suggested time because there are going to be variations in thickness and size of fresh pasta from machine to machine or chef to chef. Lastly, do not forget to stir. If you don't already own a pasta maker and are looking for one, you may be interested in my guide on how to choose a pasta maker.