Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 2, 2011 08:57 AM

Pasta... how much to cook as a side dish?

Having friends over for dinner tonight. Starter is a slow roasted tomato caprese salad. Main is chicken saltimbocca and spaghetti aglio e olio. Serving it all family style with lots of wine and crusty bread.

How much of the spaghetti should I cook for a group of 8 adults (4 guys and 4 girls)? I was thinking 1.5 – 2 pounds.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If it was my dinner, I would make 2 pounds even though you are likely to have leftovers. But since pasta is inexpensive--and leftovers never go to waste in my house--I would rather have too much than too little.

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123

      Plus, if you have leftovers, you get to have a spaghetti frittata for breakfast and/or crispy fried spaghetti for lunch!

    2. My general rule of thumb is 4 people per pound for a main dish and 6 people per pound for a side dish. Some people feel those ratios are generous but not with the people who come to my house.

      I would cook 2 pounds for this. You may have leftovers but leftover aglio e olio is great in a fritata the next morning (use the left over pasta instead of potatoes - put pasta in a fry pan - add eggs - any leftover veggies you have in the house - cheese if you want - cook on medium until bottom is cooked and then either flip (if you're brave), flip using a plate, or put under the broiler until the top is cooked through).

      2 Replies
      1. re: thimes

        Thanks everyone... would rather have leftovers as well. The frittata sounds great!

        1. re: thimes

          An alternate method of cooking a pasta fritatta:

          Take any left over pasta, in whatever sauce it was originally made, tomato or other, and mix it with some eggs in a bowl. Lightly oil a round baking tin, 9" x 1 1/2" and dump in the pasta. Add a light layer of freshly grated Parmagiano if you wish and spread that over evenly. Place into a pre-heated 350F oven, cook35 minutes till set.

        2. For a main dish, 4-5 people per pound, 6-8 per pound as side dishes. If you've got salad and dessert, just one pound.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jaykayen

            See I told you someone would think my estimates were on the generous side. I only use these estimates if I'm plating the meal, not for family style. I hate it when people have to be "cautious" when serving themselves family style - no one likes feeling like they took more than their "share" and I hate feeling like I made too little.

            1. re: thimes

              I'm with you, thimes. 4-5 people per pound as a main course? Yikes. What if someone's hungry?

              1. re: thimes

                When in doubt with spaghetti, I grab a a bunch that has the diameter of about a quarter (US 25 cent coint) thumb to index finger per person, plus a few extra just in case.

                1. re: thimes

                  I'm with you...never make "just enough"...but then my husband is half Italian.