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Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta?

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By Ross Young

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There’s no more popular carb than pasta! But you might be wondering if it’s okay to freeze cooked pasta and save it for later…

Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta?

Yes, you can freeze cooked pasta for up to 3 months. Once drained and cooled, portion it into airtight containers, seal and then freeze. You should freeze it in portions as you cannot refreeze cooked pasta. (Full instructions for different types and sauces below.)

Does Cooked Pasta Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Cooked Pasta? No

Close up photo of cooked fusilli pasta taking up the whole photo frame

How to Freeze Cooked Pasta

Although pasta tends to be quick and easy to prepare, some people like to cook it in a batch and add it to various recipes.

Pasta is the perfect staple in so many lunch and dinner dishes that it’s helpful to have a cooked supply of pasta on hand so that you can save time and effort in the kitchen.

Here’s how you freeze cooked pasta successfully:

  1. Drain
    If your cooked pasta isn’t already a part of a particular dish, you will need to drain the excess water from your pasta using a colander or sieve.
Cooked macaroni elbow pasta in a pot of water being drained into a white colander
  1. Allow to Cool
    Once drained, you will need to leave your pasta on the side to cool. It’s helpful to remove it from the pan and transfer it to a cool dish, as this will speed the cooling up significantly.
Cooked macaroni drying and cooling in a white colander
  1. Split Into Portions
    Next, decide how you want to split your pasta. It’s better to divvy it up into portion sizes before you freeze it, so you only have to take the needful out of the freezer when you come to eat it.
  2. Place Into a Container
    If you’re freezing plain cooked pasta, you can place it in a freezer-safe bag. Just make sure you press out as much air as possible from the bag before you freeze it, to save it from freezer burn. If your pasta is part of a dish or is covered in sauce, you’re better to freeze it in a Tupperware box to avoid leakages.
Macaroni pasta placed into a freezer bag with a blue seal ready for freezing
  1. Label and Freeze
    Write the date that you cooked it, as well as the desired use by date then pop the container(s) into the freezer.

How to Freeze Different Types of Cooked Pasta

Pasta. That’s quite a broad category of food. You might prefer one shape to another. You might enjoy a particular dish over another. Well, here are some of the most popular cooked pasta types and how I freeze them:

Cooked Spaghetti

Freezing cooked spaghetti can be a little tricky due to its length and tendency to stick together, but it’s doable.

After cooking your spaghetti, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain it well. I find that tossing the spaghetti with a little bit of oil can help prevent it from sticking together in the freezer.

I usually portion the spaghetti into freezer bags or containers – enough for one meal – and flatten the bags to save space in the freezer.

One drawback is that spaghetti can become a bit mushy when reheated, especially if it was overcooked before freezing.

Cooked Macaroni

Macaroni is a great candidate for freezing. Its small size and sturdy shape hold up well in the freezer. After cooking the macaroni, I drain and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process again, then let it cool completely.

Just like with spaghetti, a light toss in oil can help keep the macaroni from sticking together. Then, I portion it into meal-sized servings and store it in freezer-safe bags or containers.


Cooked Penne

Penne is another pasta shape that freezes well, and the process is pretty similar to macaroni. After cooking, cooling, and lightly oiling the penne, I portion it into freezer bags.

One thing I love about freezing penne is that its shape allows it to heat up quickly and evenly, whether you’re reheating it in the microwave or in a pan with sauce.

Cooked Tortellini

Tortellini is a bit different from other pasta because it’s filled and requires a gentle touch. After cooking the tortellini according to the package instructions, I drain it and let it cool completely.

I prefer to freeze tortellini in a single layer on a baking sheet first to prevent them from sticking together, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container.

When freezing filled pasta like tortellini, it’s also worth noting that it will only freeze as well as its weakest filling ingredient. If it is loaded with cheese and meat then you might only want to freeze them for a month or so.

How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta?

You can freeze cooked pasta for around three months.

It’s essential to get your cooked pasta in the freezer as quickly as possible to ensure it’s nice and fresh when you come to defrost it. If you plan to use your leftovers within a few days, you can place your cooked pasta in the fridge.

However, if you know that you want to freeze it and save it for another time, it’s best to get it straight in the freezer.

How Do You Defrost Cooked Pasta?

When ready to enjoy your cooked pasta, remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge. You can leave it covered in its respective container, but it’s best if you remove it the night before you plan to eat it. This will make sure it defrosts thoroughly.

If your pasta contains meat or fish (in a pasta bake, for example), you must ensure it is defrosted in the fridge. You should never defrost meat on the countertop.

Thawing Isn’t Always Necessary

Did you know that you don’t always have to thaw your pasta before reheating? For soups or saucy dishes, you can add your pasta directly from the freezer, and it will thaw and heat up as your dish cooks, saving you time and keeping your pasta from turning mushy.

Can You Refreeze Cooked Pasta?

If you have an excess of plain cooked pasta after you’ve defrosted it, it’s perfectly safe to return it to the freezer and refreeze it, providing it was defrosted in the fridge.

Don’t do this more than once as your pasta will deteriorate in flavour and texture if you do.

Also, if your cooked pasta dish contains vegetables, be careful with refreezing it as they could easily go mushy and ruin the texture of your meal.

Does Cooked Pasta Freeze Well?

Cooked pasta freezes really well. Whether you freeze it plain or as part of another dish, it will preserve its texture and taste for up to three months in the freezer.

So, if you’re keen to save lots of time in the kitchen, consider rustling up a variety of pasta-based dishes that you can turn to for lunch and dinner, as they will freeze perfectly well.


Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta With Sauce?

Yes, you can freeze pasta that has been mixed with sauce. However, where possible, we would advise freezing the sauce and the pasta apart as there is less risk of the texture changing. 

Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta With Cream Sauce?

Although it will freeze, we would avoid freezing any cream-based sauces. Once frozen and then thawed, the cream sauce will split resulting in a grainy, gritting texture – not the sort of thing you want coating your pasta!

How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta With Sauce?

You can freeze cooked pasta combined with a sauce for 6 to 8 weeks. This reduces to just 4 weeks if the sauce contains cheese or is a cream-based sauce.

How Long Does Cooked Pasta Last in the Fridge?

When kept in an airtight container, cooked pasta will last for between 3 and 5 days in the fridge but this will depend on what sauce, if any, the pasta is combined with.


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