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Is it possible to cook pasta in the sauce, avoiding boiling it in water first? Will the pasta cook correctly without cooking in water?

Can I Cook Pasta In The Sauce Directly?

Pasta offers endless opportunities for those weeknight meals. It also dresses up nicely for special events. But what happens if we cook it directly in the sauce?

In fact, Cooking pasta in the sauce is a great way to make a hearty meal with minimal effort. The only problem is that it can be tough to know if your pasta will be cooked through by the time the sauce is ready. In this post, we’ll share a few tips for making sure your pasta turns out perfectly every time. So whether you’re cooking for one or for a crowd, read on for some advice on how to make delicious pasta dishes using sauce.

The standard protocol for pasta 

Get a big pot and fill at least half-way with water. Bring to a boil. Add your pasta and cook for the specified time for that type of pasta. Now, lug it to the sink where your colander awaits. Pour the pasta and water in the colander and allow to drain.

Wait! Many cooks insist you need to keep some of the water aside to help thicken the sauce. Why water? Because cooking allows the pasta to release some of the starch into the water.

And so some cooks began to wonder. What if we skip the step that involves carrying a pot of boiling water to the sink and pouring all that starchy water down the drain?


cook pasta in the sauce
cook pasta in the sauce

Pasta as a one-pot meal

Alternatively, consider cooking the pasta with the sauce. Skip the boiling water and then draining it after the pasta finishes.

Yes, it is possible.

No more waiting for that water to boil. No need to strain the boiling water and pasta.No need to keep starch water aside.

Instead, use one pot. Get your sauce cooked and up to a good temperature. And cook your meal in one pot!

Is It Really That Simple?

Yes, but with some restrictions.

Our homemade tomato sauce is very thick. We plan it that way. And an overly thick sauce will not work well for this technique. Using our thick sauce results in

  • undercooked pasta
  • a very pasty sauce

However, the solution is very simple. We just thin our sauce slightly when we are using this method. Ok, maybe more than slightly. I did say that our family likes a very thick tomato sauce. But for a one pot meal that is ready quite quickly, we find it’s worth the effort.


Will This Work With Store-Bought Sauce From a Jar?

Yes! Ok, you are in a hurry, and you don’t want to wait for that sauce to cook down like your Grandma’s sauce always did. 

If you use a jarred tomato sauce from your grocery, it probably is already thin enough to use. And if not, a little added water will bring it to the right consistency. Or, consider adding another liquid to thin it a bit. Have you tried adding a little wine (yes, that non-alcoholic wine works, too) or even a bit of grape juice? Some people will even add a bit of oil or vegan butter to help thin the sauce.

These all add flavor the sauce, too. No more boring “out of the jar” tomato sauce. Add your herbs and garlic, too. It’s now just the base for what inspires you!

How do I cook the pasta in the sauce? What if I want to add other ingredients? 


We do that all the time! Cook your seitan, onions, and other ingredients in the pot first. The simple directions we use are:

  • Saute your onion and garlic. We add extra spices and celery here, too. It’s sliced thin and all together they add even more texture and flavor.
  • Add your marinara sauce. If using a jar, add about a cup of vegetable broth, too, if it seems thick. Or the juice as mentioned above.
  • Cover and cook on medium-low for about 15 minutes. Stir it occasionally to avoid any sticking.
  • Now, adjust your texture. You might need another 1-3 cups of broth to get the consistency right. You are aiming for something like a stew texture that allows the pasta to move about freely but not so think that it’s a tomato soup.
  • Add one pound of pasta. Spaghetti works well. We really like shells and rotini pasta. Choose your favorite.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Cover and reduce to low to medium-low heat. 
  • Cook for about 15 minutes. Stir it once or twice to make sure it isn’t sticking.
  • Check for doneness. Cook a little longer, if needed.
  • When done, serve immediately.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. You will need to add a little water when reheating.


What about adding vegetables?

Ok, we know it’s not authentic to add veggies to our spaghetti or other similar pasta dishes. But we just can’t resist. They can be added with the pasta with no problem. And if you are adding artichoke hearts, spinach, or the like, you can even stir those in at the last minute. They will heat right up and become a part of your delicious dinner.

cook pasta in the sauce

Ready to Cook Pasta in the Sauce?

While this method isn’t perfect for all types of pasta, it’s a good compromise for those one-pot meal nights. Of course, if you insist on a thick sauce simmered all day to bring out the rich flavors, plan on cooking your pasta separately. But we think you will find days when this method is just what you need to get dinner on the table. Have you tried the one-pot method yet? We’d like to hear about your experiences. Please share your comments below.

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