Whether you’re looking to weigh pasta to work out nutrient macros and calories, or you need to know for a certain recipe you want to make, it’s important to know if you should be using before or after cooking weights.
If you need to work out the weight of pasta for the purpose of counting calories, then you should use the pre-cooked weight because as pasta is cooked, it increases in water weight. Most recipes will also use the pre-cooked weight unless stated otherwise.
Read on to find out more about weighing dried pasta, why you shouldn’t use cooked pasta weights to work out calories and how much it really changes in weight after it’s cooked (using my visual guide).
Weighing Pasta For Calories and Macros
So why is it so important that you weigh pasta before cooking when you’re working out how many calories you’re consuming?
The simple answer is for consistency because pasta calories (on packs) are based on the uncooked weight and cooking pasta does not alter the number of calories. The weight increase is due to the pasta absorbing water which has no calorific value.
Because pasta weights vary after cooking depending on the style and shape, it’s very difficult to calculate calories using the cooked weights.
If you change between cooked and dried weights for calories, this could mean you’re calculating more or fewer calories than the portion actually contains.
So, to be consistent, calculate your calories by using your dried pasta weight or measurement and ignore the cooked weight because at least half of that weight will be water content.
How Does Pasta Weight Change When it’s Cooked?
I’ve done some research and weighed different types of pasta before and after cooking and what I found is that how much pasta changes in weight after cooking depends on the shape.
When dried pasta is cooked it absorbs water and increases in weight by at least 100% and some shapes increase up to 150% (2 to 2.5 times the original weight). This means that if you cook 50g (1.8oz) of dried pasta it will weigh around 100g to 150g (3.5-5.3oz) after cooking.
I tested various popular pasta types including tagliatelle, penne (white and brown/wholemeal), and spiral pasta.
This test was carried out using 50g (or as close to 50g) portions of pasta which were cooked for identical times using the pack recommended cooking times.
Interestingly the pasta type which absorbed the most amount of water and increased in weight by 150% (2.5 times the original weight) was the tagliatelle.
The image below shows the weight difference of tagliatelle before and after cooking:
The spiral pasta weight increased from 50g to 117g when it was cooked which is 2.3 times its original weight.
Brown Pasta V’s White Pasta Before and After Cooking Weights
As part of this test, I also wanted to find out if brown or wholemeal pasta absorbs more water than white pasta of the same original weight.
I did this by measuring out 50g each of the white and brown pasta, both of which were Penne of the same brand and size. They were then cooked for exactly the same amount of time.
The brown and white pasta portions weighed more or less the same after cooking with only a few grams between them, which confirms that brown and white pasta of the same shape absorbs the same amount of water when cooking.
Pasta Weight Before and After Cooking Conversion Chart
If you need to work out cooked pasta weight, then you can use the chart below as a quick reference guide to find the information you need. I’ve also included the calorie values based on the dried weight.
I’ve based this on an average absorption of 2.2 times the original dried pasta weight, but this amount can vary slightly depending on the pasta shape and how long it’s cooked for.
For example, just cooked (al dente) pasta will have less time to absorb water than well-cooked pasta and will therefore weigh less.
Dried Pasta Weight
(in grams and ounces)
|Weight After Cooking|
(in grams and ounces)
|Calories in (kcal)|
Equipment and Information Used for This Article
I used precision scales that weigh to 0.01 of a gram which is regularly calibrated with a 100g weight. For more information see my recommended weighing scales here.
To make sure the information in this article is accurate, I researched and cross-referenced various sources (as well as original research) to obtain the correct weights and calories.
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