Tips for Storing Cooked Pasta So You Don't Waste a Single Noodle
Freshly boiled pasta might be best, but you can store cooked pasta for later. By knowing the best way to store cooked pasta, you'll be able to throw together a speedy dinner on time-crunched evenings. Whether you made too much or want to get a head start on meals for later, we have some helpful tips on how to save cooked pasta in the fridge or freezer.
We've all made more pasta than we can finish in one sitting, and those leftovers can be tough to part with. Great news! You don't have to. While freshly-cooked pasta recipes usually have the best flavor and texture, you can still save those leftover noodles for later. We'll show you the best ways to store cooked pasta your fridge or freezer (without them getting all mushy or stuck together) to reheat it for a quick meal. And if you like to make pasta from scratch, we've got tips for how to store fresh pasta, too.
How to Store Cooked Pasta
You'll have the most success storing leftover pasta if you keep the sauce and noodles separate. Keep that in mind before you mix sauce and pasta together, especially if you're storing your leftovers in the freezer (because yes, you can freeze cooked pasta if you don't think you'll be eating it for several days or weeks). You'll want to freeze the sauce separately as the pasta and sauce will require different times to thaw or reheat. Follow these steps for storing leftover noodles.
Storing Cooked Pasta in the Refrigerator
Allow cooked pasta to cool slightly then it can be stored in airtight containers ($8.49, The Container Store) in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Again, store pasta and sauce separately, if possible. To reheat, drop the pasta in boiling water for just a few seconds; drain.
Storing Cooked Pasta in the Freezer
Freezing pasta requires just one additional step than refrigerating. Cool the pasta slightly, then drizzle with a little olive oil or cooking oil and toss gently (use about 1 tablespoon oil to 8 ounces cooked pasta. this helps prevent the pasta from sticking together when frozen). Spoon into airtight containers or freezer bags. Store up to 2 months.
To defrost, place your bag of frozen pasta in a colander ($10.49, Target) in the sink and run cool water over it. Or, put the frozen pasta directly into boiling water or a simmering pasta sauce. Thawing and reheating time depends on the amount of pasta you're using, but 1 to 2 minutes is usually all you'll need to bring pasta to the desired temperature. Since the pasta is already fully cooked, you just have to worry about getting it as warm as the sauce or other ingredients you're serving it with.
How to Store Fresh Pasta
If you like to make your own pasta at home, you should store it a little differently than dry pasta. You can usually keep boxes of purchased dried pasta in your pantry for a year or more. Since homemade pasta is fresh, it's more delicate. Here's how to store uncooked homemade pasta up to 8 months.
- After cutting your pasta, spread it on a wire cooling rack ($14.99, Bed Bath & Beyond), or hang it from a pasta drying rack ($19.95, Sur La Table), and let it dry for 2 hours. If you're using it soon, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To freeze homemade pasta, let it dry for at least an hour. Then, place it in a freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 8 months. You can cook it straight out of the freezer, just add 1 or 2 minutes extra to the cooking time.
If you've already cooked more fresh pasta than you can eat, no need to waste it. Following our directions above can also apply when storing cooked fresh pasta. Keep the sauce separate if you can. Then you can just reheat the noodles for your next meal.