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Can You Cook Pasta In The Sauce?

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The process usually goes. Boil the pasta, and then in a separate pan, heat the sauce. You’ll then drain the pasta and either add the pasta to the pan of sauce to mix or serve the pasta and lay the sauce over it. Either way, it requires two pans, getting your timings right, and a lot of washing up! So naturally, the question arises. Can you forgo this rigmarole and just cook the pasta in the sauce from the outset? Well, today, we’re going to find out!

So, can you cook pasta in the sauce? You can cook pasta in the sauce, though you will need to do so on low heat. At the same time, you will need to regularly add water to the sauce to stop it from burning or running dry. It typically takes longer to cook in this way.

The thing to know here is this. Cooking pasta in the sauce is not the traditional or typical way to do so.

But you likely know that already.

What is perhaps more important to state is that it may not be the best means of doing so.

Of course, it depends on your goals.

Are you looking for the most delicious bowl of pasta?

A bowl with the best flavors?

Or are you looking for convenience?

Of less washing up.

Well, if it’s the latter, then cooking pasta in the sauce is certainly a viable option.

Let’s now look at how you can effectively do so, shall we?

How To Cook Pasta In The Sauce

If you want to cook pasta in the sauce, then you are going to need to be particularly mindful of the heat, how long you are cooking for, and the consistency of the sauce throughout.

The reason is: pasta is often cooked in boiling water as it absorbs water and releases some of its starch.

Thus, if you decide to cook the pasta in a sauce, you will need to compensate for this required liquid.

Hence, you’ll need to add some additional water as you go.

Now, I don’t recommend adding the water all at the start.

You may overdo it, resulting in a thin, tasteless sauce.

At the same time, you don’t want to add the water too late, or your sauce could already be burnt, or the sauce would be too cold ahead of serving.

So with those considerations in mind, let’s delve into the process.

  • Step one: Measure out, weigh, or ascertain how much pasta you will be cooking.
  •  Step two: Add the pasta to a saucepan.
  •  Step three: Add the sauce to the saucepan of pasta.
  •  Step four: Be sure to stir the pasta into the sauce – ensuring the sauce coats all of the pasta.
  •  Step five: Add a small amount of water (remember, you can, and you will be adding more later). A couple of tablespoons is a good starting point.
  •  Step six: Place the pan over a stove and heat gently.
  •  Step seven: Continue cooking, and if you notice the sauce thickening too much, add an additional tablespoon of water.
  •  Step eight: Cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta (al dente) or more well done.

Remember, it’s all about finding the balance between adding enough water to the sauce for the pasta to cook and not adding too much so that the sauce becomes runny or not enough so the sauce burns.

Generally, the lower the heat, the more time you will have to adjust the sauce.

How Long To Cook Pasta In The Sauce?

It will take between 10-15 minutes to cook pasta in the sauce, depending on the heat in which you cook, the type of pasta, and the type of saucepan you use.

Consider that the shallower the pan, the faster it will typically take.

That being said, if you decide to cook pasta in a sauce, you will need to give sufficient time for the pasta to cook through.

When Its Best Not To Cook Pasta In The Sauce

I would just like to draw to your attention a couple of scenarios when it may be best to avoid cooking pasta in the sauce.

You Are Pressed For Time

It takes longer to cook pasta in the sauce, as opposed to cooking them separately (and combining them at a later point).

That’s just, unfortunately, how it is.

I suppose it’s a trade-off being time and washing up!

So, if you are pressed for time, it may actually not make as much sense.

You Can’t, Or Are Unable To Stand Over It

Cooking pasta with the sauce requires frequent stirring, monitoring, and rebalancing.

So you are going to need to be standing over the pot at all times.

You can’t go wandering around the house or doing other chores (like you may be able to if you were just boiling pasta and had a timer on).

You Have The Wrong Types Of Pans

For this to truly work, you are going to need suitable pans that will allow all of the pasta to cook sufficiently.

Besides, you don’t want some of the pasta to cook, whereas other parts not cook at all.

You Don’t Have Much Sauce

If you don’t have much sauce, again, this is likely not something you are going to want to try.

Otherwise, you may have to dilute it down far too much and mess up the texture and flavor in the process.

You Prefer Well Done Pasta

If you are not a fan of al dente, then cooking pasta with sauce is unlikely going to be for you.


Well, because this method of cooking is not going to loosen up the pasta like you can with boiling water.

It will cook it, sure, but it will still have that chewy and starchy texture and taste.

You Prefer Sauce On Top

If you are here, this is unlikely for you.

But I know a fair share of people who prefer their sauce to sit on top of their pasta and not be ‘mixed in.’

So if you are cooking for guests, and that could be the case, you are obviously going to want to cook the sauce and pasta separately and then carefully add the sauce on top once they are both cooked.


To cook pasta in the sauce, or not.

Well, that’s ultimately something only you can decide.

It depends on the dish, what you have available to you, and other factors such as time and preferences, too.

Just consider that the process and the results you will get from doing so will differ quite a bit from the traditional pasta and boiling water sauce in a separate pan method.

I can’t tell you what is right here.

But I can suggest you give it a try and see what you prefer.

But perhaps do that when you have some extra time and additional ingredients, and you are willing for things not to necessarily go to plan.

Or at least how you might have imagined.

That’s the fun and art, of cooking, after all.

It’s all about trying new things, experimenting, and finding what works for you.

Of course, one thing I am yet to mention is ‘the in-between.’

Cooking the pasta in boiling water, cooking the sauce in another pan, and then finishing the pasta in the sauce at the very end.

This could allow you to get the best of both worlds.

Well, it doesn’t solve the washing-up issue, but from a taste, flavor, and texture perspective, it does tend to work pretty well!

Ultimately, it’s over to you.

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