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Cooking Frozen Pasta (What To Know)

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Frozen pasta is one of the most convenient ways to make a quick, easy, and super hearty dinner. And there are so many different options available these days!

But what are the rules when it comes to cooking frozen pasta? You should not thaw pasta (filled or unfilled) before cooking it. You also have to use seasoned water, and it has to be at a rolling boil. Frozen unfilled (and un-stuffed) pasta takes between 5–6 minutes to cook. Filled pasta (ex. ravioli) will take longer, about 6–8 minutes depending on their size.

In today’s article, we will take a look at the different kinds of frozen pasta you can find and how that affects their cooking method.

We will also discuss how to cook the different types of frozen pasta including how to reheat frozen precooked pasta dishes.

What Is Frozen Pasta?

Frozen pasta is always made from fresh pasta; there is no point in freezing dried pasta because they are already preserved. We’ll compare the two in just a minute.

Freezing fresh pasta is a way to prepare fresh pasta in advance and still have a good flavor and texture when you eventually cook it.

Now, you also get two types of frozen pasta: noodles or filled. Each of these is made and cooked in very different ways. We’ll compare those in a bit, too!

Fresh Pasta Vs Dried Pasta

Pasta may just be our all-time favorite category of food. The ingredient itself is extremely versatile — you can create hundreds of different functional shapes from just one piece of dough!

Then, you can also use this ingredient to create thousands of different delicious dishes. You can make them vegetarian, meaty, savory, slightly sweet, creamy, and heavily textured. The possibilities are truly endless!

Now, there are two types of pasta we will focus on today. The first is fresh pasta noodles and the other is fresh filled pasta.

Before going any further, you have to understand what exactly the difference is between fresh and dried pasta, plus why this is important for today’s topic.

Fresh pasta is made from a combination of flour, eggs, and sometimes oil. These ingredients are shaped into a dough that is rolled into a flat sheet. This sheet is then cut and shaped into the type of fresh pasta noodles you want.

Dried pasta is actually made using fresh pasta. Once the noodles have been shaped, the dough is dried in a dehydrator or oven. 

Fresh noodles cook a lot quicker than dried noodles. They also contain more nutrients, have a much better flavor, and are a lot more tender in texture.

Noodles Vs Filled Pasta

When we refer to noodles, we are talking about any shaped pasta that is not filled — this includes spaghetti, angel hair pasta, fettuccine, fusilli, macaroni, and many more. Technically they aren’t all “noodles,” but it’s easier to explain this way.

Then, as we’ve mentioned, you get filled pasta. This is fresh pasta that encloses a filling. The filled pasta is then frozen for later use.

The benefit of freezing filled pasta is that they take a very long time to make. So, if you spend a day making a ton, you can simply freeze them so you can easily cook them when you are short on time!

Popular examples of filled pasta include ravioli, cappelletti, agnolotti, pansotti, and cannelloni.

Should Frozen Pasta Be Thawed Before Cooking?

When it comes to cooking pasta noodles and other shapes (filled or unfilled), there is a lot of controversy around whether or not you should thaw these before cooking.

Some people say yes, while others say no. Here are the arguments on both sides!

Why some people say yes:

Many people say that it is crucial to slowly thaw noodles in the fridge overnight. This will (in theory) help prevent them from overcooking and breaking apart. This is especially important if you have to portion out pieces.

Why some people say no:

This will soften the fresh pasta dough too much, causing it to become mushy and slimy when it is cooked. The filling of filled pasta can also make the dough soggy if left thawed for too long.

Our opinion:

From personal experience, we never thaw our frozen pasta (unfilled or filled) before cooking them.

We have also found that they lose some integrity when they are first thawed, and their flavor isn’t nearly as good. They become mushy and soggy, and they tend to stick to each other like crazy!

It is always best to cook any type of frozen pasta from frozen. Do not thaw them under any circumstances.

How To Cook Frozen Unstuffed Pasta And Noodles

Cooking frozen fresh and unstuffed pasta noodles and shapes is a lot easier than cooking frozen filled pasta! The secret is to cook the pasta for 1–2 minutes longer than you would originally have cooked the fresh pasta.

On average, fresh pasta takes 4 minutes to fully cook. It very rarely takes longer than this.

For frozen fresh pasta (unfilled), we recommend cooking the pasta for 5–6 minutes. You will have to check the progress of the pasta as it cooks.

1. Bring Seasoned Water To A Rolling Boil

Add some cooking oil and salt to your water. This helps give the pasta a better texture and flavor — it makes it less bland!

Then, heat your water to a rolling boil. If it is not brought to this point, the cooking times for the pasta will be different, and your pasta will also cook unevenly.

You can quickly bring your water to a boil by putting a lid on the pot — this lets less heat escape.

2. Add And Cook The Frozen Pasta

Once you add your pasta, start a 4-minute timer. After 4 minutes, check the progress. Leave the pasta in for another 1–2 minutes or until they become al dente (slightly chewy).

You should cook your pasta without a lid on.

3. Drain Your Pasta And Serve It Immediately

Once you are happy with the doneness of the pasta, you should immediately drain it — don’t dunk it in ice water to “stop the cooking process!” When your pasta is cooked, it should be immediately served warm.

It if is allowed to cool, it needs to be reheated. This means you will likely overcook it.

How To Cook Frozen Stuffed (Filled) Pasta From Frozen

Frozen filled pasta often takes a little longer to cook than noodles or unfilled pasta — that’s because they are generally a lot larger than a single noodle. The dough is usually a little bit thicker and there are often overlapping pieces.

All of these factors contribute to the longer cooking time. On average, you can expect frozen stuffed pasta to take between 6–8 minutes to cook completely. It rarely takes longer than that. 

When cooking frozen filled pasta, you have to check that the pasta itself is cooked, but also its filling!

1. Bring Seasoned Water To A Rolling Boil

Season the water with salt and cooking oil, then bring the water to a rolling boil. You can speed this up by placing a lid on the pot.

2. Add The Filled Pasta And Let It Cook

Once you have added the filled pasta to the boiling water, start a 6-minute timer. Don’t put the lid back on the pot while the pasta cooks.

3. Check The Doneness Of The Pasta

After 6 minutes, check the progress of the pasta. The dough should be al dente and completely cooked.

The filling should be soft as well. The only way to check if the filling is heated is to remove one and cut it open. However, this wastes pasta because you cannot put it back in the water. Instead, go with the timer and doneness of the pasta.

4. Remove And Serve Immediately

If your filled pasta is completely cooked, drain it from the water and serve it immediately. Some recipes do require you to pan-sear the pasta before serving, so you don’t want to overcook them.

How To Reheat Frozen Pre-Cooked Pasta

This is another type of frozen pasta we haven’t touched on yet. Many people cook fresh or dried pasta and freeze it afterward. This can be intentional meal planning or a way to not waste any leftovers.

In this case, you have to consider the accompanying ingredients!

If you are working with plain, pre-cooked frozen pasta, you can cook it using the same method we have mentioned above.

But, if it is a pasta dish (with sauce and accompanying ingredients), you have to cook it on the stovetop in a saucepan.

You can still cook it from frozen, but you have to use medium-high heat and stir constantly. This method will take about 10 minutes, but it’s your best option.

This will help prevent the pasta and sauce from becoming soggy and too watered down, plus it will help prevent the pasta from burning and sticking to the pan.

You can also use a microwave to thaw and reheat your frozen pasta dish.

Use a medium heat setting when doing so. If the heat is too low, the dish will become water-logged and soggy. If it is too high, some parts will dry out before the center has been cooked.

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