How Much Pasta to Make Per Person?

How Much Pasta to Make Per Person?

How many times have you tried to figure out how much pasta to make per person? Check out my charts below for pasta portions for 8, 25, 50 or 100 people.

I’ve learned making pasta for a large group is not down to a specific number. There is just no possible way, I can say “oh I’ve got 120 people; I’ll just make 15 pounds” and it be enough, because it wouldn’t be!

I make pasta for 120 people, which would require 15 lbs., I start off with 17.5 lbs.

When feeding my group, I always make extra because:

  • I have volunteers who serve it and some give more and some give less                                                    
  • people ask for extra
  • they come back for 2nd’s 
  • about 15-25 people show up that did not make a reservation 
  • pasta is filling  
  • it’s cheap and great for profit                                                                                                                      

Have you ever wondered:

  • How much is 2 ounces of pasta after it’s cooked?
  • How many people does it feed after it’s cooked?
  • Is it enough?
  • Is it not enough?

Ok, well, maybe you haven’t really wondered that, but I have and I’ve tested it.

I serve pasta every other week for 90-125 people (actually made reservations).

Portion size makes a difference because I serve kids, youth, teens, young adults, adults and seniors and none of them eat the same amount.

I never know how many extras are going to show up to dinner, after the reservation list has been turned in.  

But I know one thing, I better not run out and I better not make them wait for pasta.

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Do You Weigh Pasta Before or After It’s Cooked?

  • Weigh pasta before it’s cooked
  • If you break the pasta into halves or thirds it does not change the weight or portion size of the pasta

And please break the noodles into 3’rds or at least halves, that long noodle hanging from a mouth is not pretty!


I use a scale to weigh my pasta. There are different types of equipment and gadgets out there to measure.

If you’re running a large kitchen, a scale is a great investment. You’ll use it for lots of things and I also have smaller scales for smaller items.

For your home kitchen, a regular size scale that can weigh up to a couple of pounds is fine, this digital scale can weigh up to 11 pounds.

And depending on what you’re weighing and how often you weigh, check the dimensions of the scales, they come in different sizes.

You can visit this post, to see my scales and how to use them.

Name Brand or Generic?

Some things you can buy generic and some things you just can’t. We all have our favorite products.

But as far as pasta goes, to me, there is no difference in texture or taste using name-brand or generic and I’ve used both.

Have You Ever Watched Water Boil?

Well, I have and it takes 32 minutes to boil 12 quarts (3 gallons) of water, on my commercial range gas stove top.

Commercial range 6 burner gas stove top.

So make sure to give your water time to boil.

Storing Pasta

I receive my pasta from a restaurant supplier, in 20 lb boxes:

  • I break it into 3rd’s and store it in a labeled 18 qt. food storage container with a lid
  • If my food storage container has pasta in it, I do not add it to my container until all the pasta that was in it is used. (do not put new product on top of old product)

I buy my containers from Restaurant Supply Stores.

16 quart clear container.

How to Prepare Multiple Pots of Pasta

  • For 120 people, I fill 5/20 qt. stock pots (it’s my smallest size) with about 10-12qts. of water and set them on the stove
  • Then I measure out my pasta, 2oz. per person, plus an additional 2 pounds, and put it in a pan on the side, ready to go
  • 1 hour 30 mins before dinner is served, I turn on burners on full flame and bring water to a boil, for 12+ qts. of water, your water needs 35+ minutes to come to a full boil.
  • If the water boils before I’m ready to drop in pasta, I check my water level and add more if needed, then bring it back to a boil
  • Or I turn it down to a medium boil, as long as you can see the water bubbling, that is where you want it. (while your water is waiting for noodles)
  • If turned down too low, it can take up to 20-30 mins. to bring it back to a boil
  • When it’s time for the pasta, turn the burners on full and bring it back to a boil (this should only take a couple of minutes)
  • When it’s boiling, drop the pasta in 3 to 4 of the 5 pots (the 5th pot is a backup of water and sits on the back burner at medium boil, just in case)
  • Start the timer
  • With long tongs, take turns stirring each pot of pasta until the timer goes off
  • Cut off burners
  • Drain noodles in a large colander

Q & A

Question: Do I need to wait for the water to start boiling again after the pasta is dropped into the water?                                                      

Answer: No, you do not need to wait. As long as your water was at a full rolling boil before adding the pasta, just drop it in and start your timer and stir it.

Question: When do I start the timer?

Answer: You can start your timer when you drop the pasta in the first pot or when you drop it in the last pot

  • Remember not to overload your pot with pasta, you want to be able to easily stir it around the pot, that’s why you have multiple pots going
  • And not overloading the pot with pasta will bring it back to a boil faster
  • When draining, start with the first pot of noodles that started to cook first because while you’re dealing with the first pot, your noodles are sitting in the hot water of the other pots and still cooking, so you can cut all pots off at the same time, as long as you started them one right after the other
  • Remember to always test your noodles for doneness

Do You Add Oil to Noodles?

I do, I add olive oil to my noodles after draining, it helps to keep noodles from sticking together after they cool.

If you oil your noodles, you need the noodles to be hot or at least very warm. If you only have vegetable oil, you can use that, lightly.

  • Drain noodles
  • Add some olive oil to the bottom of a full-size pan
  • Add noodles to cover the view of the bottom of the pan
  • Mix it around to coat the noodles (I use tongs and swirl the noodles in the olive oil in a zig-zag, back and forth or figure 8 motion, you get the idea)
  • Add more noodles on top of already oiled noodles
  • Add a lighter amount olive oil and blend it all up again
  • And continue till the pan is full
  • Cover with plastic wrap and put pan in food warmer or low 250-degree oven
full size disposable aluminum pan with olive oil drizzled on the bottom of the pan
full size disposable aluminum pan with asta noodles being swirled around in pan to coat with olive oil with long metal tongs
full size disposable aluminum pan with pasta noodles and a squeeze bottle of olive oil

Use just use enough oil to coat the noodles, NOT drench them wet.

If you’re using aluminum disposable pans, remember that you still need to be able to carry the pan without it caving in or being too heavy to carry. See my post on tips for aluminum pans.

Who’s Serving?

If you’re volunteering or having volunteers serve,

  • Prepare and show an example of what a finished plate looks like, so that your volunteers get an idea of portion size and presentation. I show an adult and kid portion of the finished plate.
  • Remind your volunteers not to be stingy with the pasta, it’s cheap, filling, and quick to make
  • Remind your volunteers not to wait till the last minute to let you know noodles are low; depending on the type of pasta you use; you should add an additional 10 mins. to cooking time (boiling water, draining, oiling)

I ask the volunteers to let me know when they pull out the last pan of pasta, that way we can check how many more reservations are still to come and how much time is left for dinner.

If it’s super early, I will put an additional smaller pot of water on as a backup to my 5th pot of water, in case I need it.

If you have a really large group, you can have 2 backup pots of water, there is no rule as to how many backups you can have, use your better judgment. I especially do this for a larger amount of people.

My Charts

What my charts mean:

  • Pasta: the type of pasta
  • Portion: the recommended serving size on the box
  • Cooked: what 2ozs of pasta weighs after it’s cooked
  • Servings Per Pound: How many servings are in a pound (16oz) after it’s cooked
  • 1lb Cooked: what a pound of pasta weighs after it’s cooked
  • Entrée: pasta serving size with a sauce or some type of meat with sauce (ex: only serving salad/ pasta with meat sauce and bread)
  • Meal: pasta serving size with a side (ex: salad/vegetable/pasta/meat sauce/bread, adding a side like broccoli or mixed veggies)
  • Kids: age 9 and under, there is a smaller portion for children 3 and under, usually half of kid’s portion

What my second charts means:

  • Pasta: The type of pasta
  • People: the amount of people to feed
  • Pounds: how many pounds based on my charts, this is the MINIMUM to START with

NOTE: You need to start with 1-2 extra pounds, based on the count of people you are feeding. Unless you proportion your pasta in portion bags, you need to cook extra for larger groups

Remember the charts below for large groups is the exact amount needed. Do yourself a favor and have that backup water ready.

It’s better to have some pasta left over than to be running around like a nut, waiting on water to boil!!!

How Much Spaghetti to Make Per Person?

PastaPortionCookedServings Per Pound 16oz 1lb CookedEntreeMealKids
Spaghetti2oz4.5oz82lbs 7oz4.5oz4.5oz3.5oz
PastaPeople (Adult Portions)Pounds

How Much Linguine to Make Per Person?

PastaPortionCookedServings Per Pound 16oz1lb cookedEntreeMealKids
Linguine2oz4.3oz82lbs 6oz4.3oz4.3oz3oz
PastaPeople (Adult Portions)Pounds

How Much Angel Hair to Make Per Person?

PastaPortionCookedServings Per Pound 16oz1lb CookedEntreeMealKids
Angel Hair2oz5oz3.5oz – 12
4oz – 10
2lbs 11.4oz4oz3.5oz2.5oz
PastaPeople (Adult Portions)Pounds
Angel Hair25 – 3.5oz
25 – 4oz
50 – 3.5oz
50 – 4 oz
100 – 3.5oz
100 – 4oz

How Much Vermicelli to Make Per Person?

PastaPortionCookedServings Per Pound 16oz1lb CookedEntreeMealKids
2lbs 10.4oz5oz4oz2.5oz
PastaPeople (Adult Portions)Pounds
Vermicelli25 – 4oz
25 – 5oz
50 – 4oz
50 – 5oz
100 – 4oz
100 – 5oz

How Much Fettucini to Make Per Person?

PastaPortionCookedServings Per Pound
1lb CookedEntree MealKids
Fettucini2oz4.5oz81lb 12.5oz4.543.5
PastaPeople (Adult Portions)Pounds
Fettucini25 – 4oz
25 – 4.5oz
50 – 4oz
50 – 4.5oz
100 – 4oz
100 – 4.5oz


Below is an example of pasta cost from a local store and bulk supplier.

  • 1 lb. (16 oz box) of spaghetti for $1.00, will cost under .14 per person.
  • A name brand on sale for $1.49, would be less than .20 per person.
  • I have found that using Angel Hair pasta for all my dishes saves a lot of time (other than if I make fettucini alfredo). The cooking time is 4 minutes and if I need extra, it can be ready and out in 10 mins or less.

But keep in mind; have your backup water ready, there is nothing worse in the middle of dinner than watching water boil!!

Share your story, have you ever made way way to much or not enough for your guests?

Did you feed a large group and run out, only to get the stink eye while people had to wait?

Have any comments or questions, leave it below, or contact me .

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