You won’t believe this easy, genius trick.
Spaghetti and Easy Meatballs
Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Anna Theoktisto

If there is one thing that is annoying about cooking pasta, it is the overall cooking time. Pasta is one of those dishes that can be a go-to for fast and easy weeknight meals, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be faster and easier!

Pasta cooking time

Cooking time really matters when it comes to pasta. Every shape and size will cook in different times, and minutes count. The difference between a perfectly al dente pasta and one that is blown out and soggy can sometimes be as little as 60 seconds. Angel hair can cook in two minutes, while some larger thicker pastas like rigatoni might take as long as 16 to 18 minutes. Generally, most recipes will have you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then cook your pasta according to package directions, beginning to taste for doneness about two minutes before the earliest recommended cooking time, just to be sure.

When it comes to cooking pasta faster, it isn't about reducing the amount of time the pasta is actually cooking, but more about getting you to that cooking quicker. A large pot of water takes a long time to come to a full, rolling boil. If you are making a pound of pasta, you might need as much as 25 minutes to get that water to a boil before you drop in the noodles! So, how do you cut your pasta cooking time in half? Create a faster cooking environment.

How to cook pasta in half the time

Boiling your pasta in less water in a large, shallow pan, will allow you to get the water boiling in 2-4 minutes, which gets you cooking faster. I use a large, wide pan that is only about 3 inches deep, instead of a large stockpot, and use only as much water as I will need to just cover the pasta. I bring it to a boil over high heat, add salt, and then my pasta, being sure to stir often in the beginning so that the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom or itself. Then I cook for the same amount of time as I would for that shape according to my package directions.

The bonus of this method is that there is more concentrated starch in the cooking water, which can help you create an extra smooth and creamy sauce, especially great for classic pastas that rely on that cooking water.

5 great pasta recipes to cook tonight

Here are some of my favorite pasta recipes to make with this style of faster cooking!