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No-Recipe One Pot Pasta (with whatever you have on hand!)

By now everyone has seen and probably tried one of the thousand one-pot pasta recipes which are floating around in the ethernet. I’ve heard from a handful of you about it and it seems that many of those existing recipes are … terrible pieces of shit. Encouraged by a friend online, I set out to figure out how to make a one-pot pasta recipe to end all one-pot pasta recipes. And after numerous trials and a handful of tribulations, here’s the only thing you need to know:

8 ounces of pasta

+ 2 1/4 cups liquid

= perfect ratio for any kind of one-pot pasta dish you want to create

For tons of ingredient suggestions, download my No-RecipeOne-PotPastaCheatsheet (Free!)

To be certain, by “pasta” I mean any kind of small pasta shape.

Don’t try a one-pot pasta with huge manicotti tubes. And for the love, don’t ruin perfectly good spaghetti noodles by breaking them into pieces to fit them into a tiny pot. Just forget that. It’s rude and inconsiderate and you’ll have much better results anyway if you just pick out a small pasta to begin with. Shapes like elbow macaroni, rotini, fusilli, shells, ziti, orecchiette, penne — anything you can fit on a spoon is a good choice.

(Also! I’ve only tested this with wheat pasta; I’m not sure how rice or corn or quinoa pasta would work with the ratio.)

To be extra certain, by “liquid” I mean water or broth.

Don’t try to cook your one-pot pasta in a pot of milk, for example. That’s a horrible idea and you’ll end up in tears with a pot of burnt milk-pasta. If you use broth (recommended! it’s very tasty) watch the salt you add to the pasta dish. Depending on the broth or stock, you may not need to add additional salt at all.

And another thing. So many one-pot recipes I see direct the cook to throw everything into a pot and boil it: raw onions, raw tomatoes, raw garlic. I am telling you now, there is nothing grosser than goddamn boiled onions. Take five minutes and brown the onions first in a little oil or butter, then throw everything else in and boil it. Try it. You’ll see. Extra goodness happens when you deglaze the pan with a splash of wine before adding the pasta and liquid.

That’s my tricks. Now take that information and go on and make all the one-pot pasta recipes you can imagine!

For tons of ingredient suggestions, download my No-RecipeOne-PotPastaCheatsheet (Free!)

If you’d like a step-by-step video and recipe using this technique, see my TexMex One-Pot Pasta recipe and video!

27 Comments

  1. Paulina on September 7, 2017 at 3:28 am

    I love that I found you, you’re the first cooking video I don’t mute! you’re hilarious and the two things you’ve shown me and done are delicious!

    • Hilah on September 7, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Oh that is a great compliment, Paula! 😀 Thank you! Super happy you are enjoying my recipes

  2. Sarah Baker on March 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I’m disappointed in your potty mouth language. Shame on you.

    • Hilah on March 19, 2018 at 9:08 am

      I’m sorry. It must be very stressful navigating life day to day when you are so easily disappointed by strangers on the internet.

      • skye on March 27, 2018 at 5:27 pm

        hahaha…you are my new favorite!

      • Judy on May 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm

        Hilarious Hilah. That’s my name for you! BTW, I love your strange Potty Mouth!! ;D

      • E.B. Harkness on September 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

        You are great! You don’t have any more of a pottymouth than the rest of humanity.
        Love this information on one pot pasta.

        • Hilah on September 12, 2019 at 11:20 am

          Haha! Thanks, E.B.!

        • Kelly on October 20, 2019 at 6:12 pm

          Agreed, your frickn hilarious. And for God’s sake! It’s not even potty mouth. You want potty mouth?!? , then, Go. $!;!#$-$”$#!$&_/=%::. …Right! ? ! Back to cooking, which btw i guarantee any1 who’s ever cooked has spilled a few cuss words, thank you for the tips. I actually was googling if i could use those uncut long fusili for 1 pot pasta. But ,this says not to. (Damn, i was dreaming of long thick hefty starchy goodness. And. Lol, i didn’t realize that may sound perv till After i wrote it) Oh ,and i like the reminder to cook the onions and deglaze. Thank u!

      • Luke Gardin on November 19, 2019 at 6:44 am

        Hear hear!!

    • chris on April 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

      jkdjashjasdfa. nice joke friend.

  3. CAS on June 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Thanx, I’ve been looking for a way to calculate how much water to use and just make my own combinations!

  4. Jennifer on June 18, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    I stumbled upon your video. I was just looking for water to pasta ratio for one pot, no drain pasta dishes. I actually want to try some dishes with my pressure cooker. Thanks for the info and for the laugh. You are awesome!

  5. Sapphire on July 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Does pasta sauce count as a liquid? I don’t want to end up with a soup instead of a thick sauced one pot pasta!

    • Hilah on July 9, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      It does, but not quite as much liquid. That one gets a little tricky because it depends on how thick your sauce is, but I’ve had good results before using half sauce and half water (so 1 1/8 cup of each, sauce and water). And you’ll need to check it more often to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn. Add more water if it’s sticking

  6. Cynthia on August 22, 2018 at 11:10 am

    I want to make home made from scratch hamburger helper stroganoff. Their recipe calls for milk and water. What about condensed milk and water combo?

    • Hilah on August 22, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      I’m really not sure, Cynthia. It might be fine. Let me know if you try it

      • Jen on December 3, 2018 at 8:00 pm

        I make a homemade HH cheeseburger macaroni. The ratio I use is 2 c dried elbows, 2 c water and 1 1/2 c 2% milk. I also use 1T cornstarch to thicken the sauce and 8 oz cheddar cheese (or Velveeta) for the cheese. It turns out perfect every time

        • Hilah on December 5, 2018 at 6:11 am

          Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

  7. Hollis Ramsey on February 8, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    i’m about to make Chicken Paprikash, but i’m changing it to be a one-dish meal, using my 12″ cast-iron skillet. i’m adding one Globe eggplant, unpeeled & cubed, to the onions and garlic in the initial saute, then going on as normal with canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh (it’s what i have). instead of sweet Hungarian paprika, i’m using sweet Spanish smoked paprika. the recipe calls for 2 c. chicken broth, but i want to cook the pasta along with the paprikash. so, according to you, when it comes almost time to add the pasta (orecchiette, in this case), i should add, first, a splash of wine for deglazing (i’ve got some white wine handy, but i’m not sure about the wine). then, add the chicken thighs back in the pan, put a cover on, and simmer for about 40 min. after about 30 min., i’ll remove the chicken and cover the thighs to keep ’em warm. then, i’ll add the 8 oz. pasta and 2-1/4 c. broth. or i might just add 2 c. broth and see if it needs more after about 7 min. when the pasta is done, i’ll add a mix of 3/4 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. heavy cream, and 3 T. all-purpose flour, whisking it in. when that’s cooked a bit and thickened up, i’m tossing in half a bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems, chopped, and stirring to combine. the chicken goes back in, and it gets simmered just till the chicken is heated through.

    does that sound right for the sequence and the amount of pasta + broth? here’s the recipe i’m using as my base: https://www.daringgourmet.com/chicken-paprikash-paprikas-csirke/#comment-182901. any thoughts?

    • Hilah on February 13, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Hi Hollis, I think that sounds like it will work! Have you tried it yet?

  8. Nina on February 14, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Hey! I was wondering if there were certain kinds of pots that worked/didn’t work with recipes like this.

    • Hilah on February 19, 2019 at 9:12 am

      I’ve always used a deep skillet, but I think anything that’s big enough should work. Just take into account the pasta swelling as it cooks

  9. judith klein on June 30, 2019 at 9:29 am

    I have big pots and we love left-overs, soooooo how much liquid for the 16 oz. pasta packages? 5? 5.5?

    • Hilah on June 30, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      4 1/2 cups

  10. Kat on August 9, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Would egg noodles take the same amount of water?

  11. Jaye on December 3, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I am also disappointed by your “potty mouth”. I watched the whole video waiting for some f bombs or whatever but if you swore I never heard it 😀

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