How to Cook Pasta in the Microwave or Slow Cooker

woman eating tagliatelle
A bowl of pasta with a woman's hands holding utensils. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Often made from wheat, pasta has been christened with the bad reputation of being a high-carb food. However, by controlling your portion size and preparing a healthy sauce to serve over it, pasta can be both healthy and fulfilling. One 2-oz. serving of spaghetti contains around 200 calories, 43 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of protein and 1 g of fat. Pasta is most typically cooked by boiling it on the stovetop, although you can also cook it in the microwave and with a slow cooker.

Microwave Method

Step 1

Pour 1 cup of water into a 1 1/2 qt.-size microwave-safe pot or container.

Step 2

Heat the water for two and a half minutes at 100 percent power or until it begins to boil.

Step 3

Add ¼ tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of vegetable oil to the water and stir.

Step 4

Add 2 oz. of pasta to the water.

Step 5

Cook the pasta for 12 minutes at 50 percent power or until the pasta is fully cooked. If you are using long pasta that will not fit the container, either cut it in half to fit the container or position it in the container with its ends sticking out. Cook the pasta for one minute at 100 percent power and then push the uncooked ends into the container. Cook the pasta for one minute at 100 percent power. Ensure that all of the pasta is covered with water and continue cooking it for six to 10 minutes at 50 percent power until the pasta is done.

Step 6

Strain the pasta from the hot water with a strainer and serve it with your choice of pasta sauce.

Slow Cooker Method

Step 1

Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and brown the chopped onion for five to 10 minutes. Optionally, add 2 tsp. of minced garlic and 1 lb. of ground beef or chicken and brown them with the onion.

Step 2

Transfer the browned onion into a slow cooker. Add chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, sweet peppers and zucchini, if you prefer.

Step 3

Pour one 8-oz. jar of tomato sauce into the slow cooker.

Step 4

Add 2 1/2 cups of tomato juice, water, vegetable stock or a combination of the three. You may need to add more liquid if you used ground beef and vegetables instead of just the onion. If desired, add 1/2 cup freshly chopped herbs, such as basil, to flavor the sauce.

Step 5

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Step 6

Cover the slow cooker and cook on "Low" for six to eight hours.

Step 7

Add 4 oz. uncooked pasta to the slow cooker and mix to cover completely with the sauce. Increase the heat to "High."

Step 8

Cook one hour or until the pasta is tender and cooked to your liking. If you are using a long pasta, such as spaghetti, break it in half to fit it better into the cooker.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 1/2 qt.-size microwave-safe pot or container

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil

  • 2 oz. pasta, such as spaghetti, macaroni or penne

  • Microwave

  • Strainer

  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • Skillet

  • Slow cooker

  • 1, 8-oz. jar tomato sauce

  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice, water or vegetable stock

  • Salt

  • Black pepper

  • 4 oz. pasta, such as spaghetti, macaroni or penne

Tip

The recommended microwave pasta cooking times are for a 700-watt microwave. You may need to adjust the times if you have more or less powerful microwave, according to Marie T. Smith, author of “Microwave Cooking for One.”

Optionally, cook only the pasta in the slow cooker without any other ingredients and a sauce. Pour 2 cups of water into the slow cooker. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tbsp. olive oil, then add the pasta and ensure that it is fully covered by the water. Cook on "High" for one hour or until the pasta is tender.

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