Making Pasta for a Large Group: Exactly How Much to Buy

Planning a large dinner can be incredibly stressful, especially when you are trying to figure out how much of each ingredient you may need.

Making pasta for a large group requires preparation. Know how many plans to attend and anticipate cooking 2 oz of pasta per adult and 1 oz of pasta per child. When preparing for a large group, it is better to buy more pasta than needed as many adults eat more than the serving size.

When planning a meal for a large group, it is crucial to buy the correct amount so there is enough food for your meal. Keep reading to learn just how much pasta you need for a large group.

How Much Pasta to Buy

Before you can figure out how much pasta you need to buy, you need to figure out how many people are planning to eat the pasta you are preparing. The portion size of dry pasta per adult is 2 oz and 1 oz per child. It is important to note that people typically eat more than the average portion size.

The chart below breaks down how much pasta you should make for a group of 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 people. This is assuming you are feeding adults with an average portion size of 2 oz. The chart is assuming you are buying a 16 oz box of noodles.

Group SizeDry Pasta/ozBoxes of Noodles

Again, most people eat more than the average portion size of 2 oz, so it is important to buy more than you think you need, just to be safe. It is better to have too much pasta than not enough.

It also depends on what kind of pasta you’re making. That’s why I wrote these helpful articles specifically about some of the most popular kinds of pasta. If you’re thinking of making one of them, you’ll probably find these articles really helpful.

Check out this video on our YouTube channel as well.

Changes in How Much to Cook

Each situation is different, so it is important to take into account the crowd you are feeding. The average portion size of 2 oz of pasta per person does not cover all types of people. Each person has a different metabolism, especially teenagers.

When You Might Need More

One example of when you may need to cook more pasta is if you are feeding a group of hungry teenagers. Typically, teenagers eat more because their bodies are growing quickly and their metabolisms are higher. So instead of cooking 2 oz of pasta per person, you might bump the portions up to 3 oz of pasta per person.

Another example is feeding a group of people after a long day. It could be a family reunion or after a long day outside. Whatever it may be, if the group is more hungry than usual, you might want to make extra pasta just in case.

If you are not having side dishes, you’ll need to cook more pasta as well. The less there is to fill up, the more of the main dish you’ll need.

It all depends on the group you are feeding and the situation of the meal.

When You Might Need Less

An example of when you might need to cook less is when you are feeding children. Young kids eat much less than adults and hungry teenagers, so you could get away with making less pasta.

Another situation where you could cook less pasta is if you are serving a 3-course to five-course meal. If there are going to be several sides, you could get away with making less pasta because there are more things to fill up on..

How to Stretch Out Your Pasta

Let’s say that you are preparing a meal for 30 people. You did all of the appropriate math for how much pasta you should have, but three people call and say they are coming. Now you have 33 people attending the meal, but only enough pasta for 30 people.

What are some ways you can make the pasta be enough for everyone?

Before you panic, look at our ideas on how to make your pasta go further.

  • Add Meat to the Sauce
  • Add Beans to the Sauce
  • Include Side Dishes
  • Use Smaller Plates (9 inch plates like these work great)
  • Serve Your Guests

Add Meat to the Sauce

You probably have a sauce you are planning to top the pasta with, so make it more filling! Adding a protein, such as meat, will make the sauce and the pasta more filling. You can use any meat you already have in the house.

Chicken is great with Alfredo and many other dishes. You can add beef to your pasta as well. You may already do this if you are having spaghetti.

Adding meat to the sauce will help stretch your pasta for any added guests that you were not planning for.

Add Beans to the Sauce

Similar to adding meat to the sauce, you can add beans!

The nice thing about beans is that they are cheap and filling. Depending on the pasta sauce and the bean, you can easily add the bean without anyone really noticing.

Adding beans to your sauce will help make the sauce more filling so your guests will become full faster. The faster they become full, the less likely your guests will go for seconds.

Include Side Dishes

If you are trying to stretch out your pasta, serving side dishes will do the trick.

When side dishes are offered, your guests will typically serve themself a bit of each, creating smaller portion sizes of the pasta. By grabbing a little bit of everything, there is more for everyone.

For any sides you do choose to pair with your pasta, you’ll also need to know how much to get. Here are some great ideas for sides that go great with pasta with links to articles I wrote to help you figure out how much of each you’ll need.

Use Smaller Plates

Using smaller plates is a mind trick to use when serving yourself or having others serve themselves food.

When serving themselves, guests can sometimes overfill their plates just because they have the space to do so. They may not even eat the whole serving they served themselves, so using a smaller plate will help prevent over-serving and wasting food. I prefer to use disposable plates when feeding a group, but don’t love the waste, so I found these compostable plates which are pretty awesome, and not much more expensive at all! Check them out on Amazon!

It also helps stretch the pasta so there is enough for everyone.

Serve Your Guests

When all else fails, you can serve the food yourself. That way, you have control over how much food each guest gets.

You can do this buffet style or you can dish up everyone’s plates before they get to the table so the food is ready when they sit down.

If you don’t host a lot of people very often, you can get a foil buffet serving/warming set like this


If this is a more common occurrence you could get something like this Electric buffet serving tray and food warmer. It’s compact, and can hold 3 different foods.

We hope this post has been helpful and that you are able to have a wonderful meal with your large group!

My Favorite Kitchen Items That I ACTUALLY USE!

ProductPriceWhy I LOVE This
7 Qt CrockPotCheck on AmazonI use this a ton to get meals going for easy and delicious evening dinners.
Mixing BowlsCheck on AmazonSo functional and multi-purpose! From popcorn, to salads, baking, and everything in between!
George Forman GrillCheck on AmazonThis is so underrated! I love grilled foods, but don’t always want to cook outdoors. Easy grilled burgers, chicken or veggies anytime!
Recteq Bullseye Pellet Grill/SmokerCheck on AmazonSmaller than most smokers with plenty of cooking surface area, I LOVE this pellet grill/smoker. The quality is great, and the price is amazing for what you’re getting.
KitchenAid MixerCheck on AmazonThis is a staple of the kitchen, and worth having around! These are heavy duty and last a long time.

Pasta Food Safety

When cooking for a group, it’s easy to finish cooking too early and up leaving the food out for a little while before it’s actually eaten. Especially when guests show up a while before it’s actually time to eat. It’s also easy to finish eating and then let the food sit while you visit with guests.

Either situation can lead to pasta being left out at room temperature for an extended period of time.

That’s why I wrote this helpful article about pasta food safety, so you can have confidence about whether you should throw that leftover pasta out, or if you can save it to eat for lunch tomorrow!

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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