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Lotsa Pasta:
Gallons of Spaghetti

Always growing- Please also see my meatballs for 25 page for basic info and a truly great Cajun garlic bread recipe.

Serving a spaghetti dinner with tasty, well prepared pasta is actually a fairly tough, labor intensive meal for a large group. If you have the oven space, or enough crockpots, consider a baked pasta- can be made ahead and frozen successfully, and people love it. Lasagna or a baked "spaghetti pie" is a great alternative; additional recipes in the thrifty entree pages.

Pasta Quantities

Pasta Type


Cooked Quantity or Measure
Weight Quantity
Dry Pasta Shapes
Small to medium
macaroni, shells, fusilli, penne, farfelle
2 ounces 1/2 Cup 1 Cup
4 ounces 1 Cup 2 Cup
8 ounces 2 Cups 4 Cups
Long dry pasta shapes
spaghetti, vermicelli, fettuccine
4 ounces 3/4 Inch Diameter Bunch 2 Cups
8 ounces 1 1/2 Inch Diameter Bunch 4 Cups
Fresh Pasta or Fresh Egg Noodles 8 ounces   2 1/2 Cups
Per person Dry Pasta Serving Sizes
Main Course 4 ounces 1 Cup 2 Cups
Side Dish or 1st Course 2.5 ounces 5/8 Cup 1 1/4 Cups

The quantities above are basic standards that can be used for estimating the quantity to buy. You can also refer to the table on the backside of the package, which shows yields for that specific type of pasta, but pay close attention to portion sizes.
When using fresh pasta in place of dried pasta, the amount used will need to be increased because when cooked, equal weights of dried pasta will produce close to 60% more than the fresh pasta. So if you want to use fresh pasta in a recipe calling for 16 ounces of dried pasta, you will need approximately 26 ounces of fresh pasta to get the same amount.

Baked Sausage Mozzarella Supper for a Crowd

serve 120; makes 8, 6 quart (12x18x3) pans or about 14, 9x13 pans

20 pounds link or bulk Italian sausage, sliced or crumbled
4 1-pound packages mixed frozen pepper strips
3 large onions, chopped
3 gallons spaghetti sauce
4 large carrots, shredded into sauce
16 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/2 quarts tomato juice
3 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
12 pounds rotini (corkscrew) noodles, cooked and drained
5 pounds mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
Mixed with 1 pound grated parmesan cheese

Brown sausage, remove from pan, wilt onions, mushrooms and peppers, drain fat. Mix together the spaghetti sauce, carrots, tomato juice, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Grease 8 6-quart or 14 (9x13") baking pans. Layer half of the noodles, all the sliced cheese and half the meat and sauce in pans. Repeat layers of noodles and sauce. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese mix equally over each pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Heads up! If you refrigerate the pans before baking, reduce the baking temp to 325 degrees and increase cooking time another 20-30 minutes.


Remember, soak no-boil lasagna noodles in hot tap water for 5 minutes before using.

Preparing Quantity Lasagna
to serve 50

Pan size 9" square pan 9x13" pan 11½" x 17" pan
number of pans
to serve 50
10 pans 5 pans 3 pans
Servings per pan 6 portions 10 to 12 portions 16 to 20 portions
Cups of sauce per pan 3 cups 6 cups 10 cups
Lasagna pasta per pan ¼ lb. ½ lb. 1 lb.
Meat or veggie
mix per pan
about 2½ cups about 4½ cups about 8 cups
Ricotta cheese per pan
mix in 6-8 eggs per pound
½ lb. 1 lb. 1 2/3 lbs.
Mozzarella cheese
shredded, per pan
¼ lb. 1 cup ½ lb. 2 cups ¾ lb. 3-4 cups
Parmesan cheese per pan
mix with mozzarella
½ cups 1 cups 1 2/3 cups
Baking time freshly made 45 minutes 1 hour at 350° 2 hours at 350°
Baking time refrigerated 1 hour at 325° 1 1/4-1/2 hour at 325° 2 1/2+ hours at 325°
Baking time frozen 3 hours at 325° 3 hours at 325° 4 hours at 325°


Big Lasagna in an 18 quart electric roaster

If it is a small party and you will use a pan that fits inside the roaster, just use the rack and cook like you would in your regular oven. If you want to make the whole roaster full in the cookwell, these are the hints for lasagna in the roaster that I give:

Coat the cookwell (the removable pan) well with a nonstick spray or shortening (oil does not work well here) and coat with the old fashioned grated type Parmesan that comes in a shaker- you don't want the fancier shredded type for this job.

Layer the lasagna from your favorite recipe into the pan- it needs to be 4 inches deep or less, which means the maximum amount is about what you would put in 4 9x13 pans. Refrigerate covered until ready to bake.

Preheat the roaster with the lid on to 300 degrees for 20 minutes.

Have a can of tomato juice or an equivalent of whole milk for a creamy sauce, available.

Insert the cookwell and cover. Bake until the temp in the middle of the dish is 165 degrees, which takes about 3-4 hours depending on the thickness of the lasagna. Check about every 1 hour to see if it needs liquid added, use the reserved liquid.

You CAN prepare the giant lasagna way ahead and freeze it, by lining the cookwell thouroughly with foil, doing the nonstick spray thing, making the lasagna, freezing it, and popping it out of the pan into an oversize freezer bag. But this is important: if you do it this way, take it out of the freezer three days ahead, nonstck spray and cheese-coat the cookwell, put in the unwrapped lasagna and LET IT THAW covered IN THE REFRIGERATOR 3 DAYS. These giant lasagnas do not do well cooked from frozen in the roaster, though they can be cooked from frozen in the regular oven.

Bake in the PREHEATED roaster at 300 degrees. When it reaches temp, turn down to 180 and keep covered until served.


Cooking Large Amounts of Pasta

  • Cook just until ‘al dente’, cooked but firm, especially if you will be reheating later.
  • Use a tall narrow light weight pot with a lid.
  • Allow 1.25 gallons (5 quarts) of water for EACH 1 pound of pasta. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each pound of pasta.
  • Reuse cooking water ONLY once. This means you need to heat new water for the third batch!
  • Bring water to a full rolling boil, this takes about 20 minutes for EACH gallon of water in the pot. Remember, you can only reuse the water once before it gets too starchy to cook properly, so figure out how much you need to boil and how long to heat up.
  • Add pasta only when the water comes to a rolling boil (+212F). Lower long pasta into the water gradually as it bends. Pour short pasta into boiling water in a steady stream. Stir gently until it comes back to a boil and then occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Start timing when the water returns to a boil.
  • Cover the pot to cook the top pasta at the same rate as the bottom.
  • “gli spaghetti amano la compagnia” - “Spaghetti loves company”. Begin checking for doneness 2 minutes BEFORE you expect it to be done. Count 8-12 minutes for the first pound, plus about 5 minutes for each additional pound. Drain. Serve at once, or use sauce or butter to prevent it from sticking to itself. Stir to cool; avoid rinsing in cold water unless you are going to use it for pasta salad. Rinsing the pasta makes the sauce watery and keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta.
  • Angel hair pasta and other very thin pastas, you may put in at a rolling boil, clap the lid on and turn off the heat. The residual heat will cook it done in 5-6 minutes.


SO you want to cook pasta ahead and reheat it


More Spaghetti hints

A 500g (+- 1lb) box of pasta feeds 4-6 people as an entree, 8 to 10 as a side dish or first course, or about 15 people as a pasta salad. If you just have one sauce, less chance of leftovers. Leftovers can also be donated to the food bank or frozen.
Whatever is being served with the spaghetti, will have a direct effect on how much spaghetti to allow per person. This will vary depending on the age of the people being served and the time of day, as well as if it's being served as a buffet or being plated or if it's an all-you-can-eat dinner with seconds.
Thick, heavy sauces require slightly less pasta.
Calculate the size of your pasta serving. Then allow a measured amount of sauce per serving. When serving the sauce to a large number of people, scoop it onto the pasta using a pre-determined measure, even if it's just a small coffee mug or measuring cup you can quickly dip into the sauce.


Here are a couple of from-scratch bulk recipes for the sauce

Meaty Marinara Sauce for 100 servings

Remember, you need to increase to 120 servings for buffet style service or seconds

1 cup olive oil
20 medium size bell peppers, chopped (may use frozen, tricolor is pretty)
20 large onions, chopped
20 cloves garlic, chopped
3 pounds hot Italian sausage
3 pounds sweet/mild Italian sausage
10 pounds meat loaf mix (beef, pork, veal)
10 #2 1/2 can cans Italian "pear" tomatoes,
OR or 2 #10 cans
10 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
10 (1 pound) cans regular tomatoes
OR or 1 #10 cans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Italian seasoning, or use part oregano
salt and pepper to taste
water as needed for thinning

Fry peppers and onions briefly in olive oil. When golden, add garlic, saute just until fragrant Remove to large kettles. Brown meat loaf mix quickly, breaking it up as it cooks. Add to kettles with tomatoes, and Italian spice or oregano.
Remove sausage from casing, break up and add mixing all thoroughly. A wire potato masher works fine for this job.
Simmer about 2 hours, stirring as needed.
Add tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Continue simmering 1/2 hour.
Add water if needed to keep from sticking or to thin for serving.


Karen's El Dorado Spaghetti Sauce for 1000

It makes 70 gallons! Remember that 1 gallon weighs 8-10 pounds. Use a drinkable wine. Use good broths.
Notice all the ground and powdered items. This is part of the flavor secret- I have used ground celery and celery juice in my minestrone for decades. Also, minimal additiona, no tomato paste, etc.
Second, notice the mixed meats and broths. You will be tempted to omit or substitute- try it as is first. The pork broth will have to be home, but is one of the flavoring necessities.

ground beef, 120 pounds
ground pork, 70 pounds
ground onion, 30 pounds
ground celery, 15 pounds
ground carrot, 15 pounds
ground garlic, 1 1/2 pounds
beef stock, 15 gallons
burgundy wine, 256 ounces
pork stock, 10 gallons
marjoram or Italian seasoning, 1 pound, dried
OPTIONAL 1/4 cup fennel seed
black pepper ground, 8 ounces
salt, 12 ounces
bay leaf, 6
beef consomme soup, double strength 5 1/2 lbs
tomatoes, whole, puree or juice pack, #10 cans-21 cans
mushroom powder, 2.3 pounds, 1 kg

Start by dividing all the ground veggies, mushroom powder, seasonings and spices into kettles, and cooking while stirring, till they start to dry a bit.
Meanwhile, be browning meats, breaking it up as it cooks, draining and removing to large kettles.
Divide into kettles with tomatoes, broths and soups.
Simmer about 2 hours, stirring as needed. Be aware that tomato sauces that simmer for hours have a chemical shift sweeter. The ground carrot supports this.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue simmering 1/2 hour.
Add water if needed to keep from sticking or to thin for serving.


How to divide to smaller

A #10 can of tomatoes (ABOUT 1/20TH OF THE RECIPE) will make about three gallons, 50 people worth. A #10 can is 6 # 2 1/2 cans, so lets look at getting down to 3 #2 1/2 cans or 25 servings, 1/40th of the recipe.

Round 1 of the division
Translate everything into dividable units, looking toward dividing by 40:
ground beef 120 lbs.= 3 pounds
ground pork 70 lbs.= 1 3/4 pounds- you might consider your
favorite fresh Italian sausage for a bit more seasoning
ground onion 30 lbs.= 3/4 pound
ground celery 15 lbs.= 1 small head, trimmed, with leaves
ground carrot 15 lbs.= 3/8 pound or 6 ounces
ground garlic 1 1/2 lb.= about 2 cloves
beef stock 15 gal.=60 quarts=1 1/2 quarts
burgundy wine 256 oz.= 8 quarts= 1/5 quart or just over 3/4 cup
pork stock 10 gal.=1 quart
marjoram 1 lb. dried= 16 ounces= about 1/2 ounce*
black pepper ground 8 oz.= about 2 teaspoons*
salt 12 oz.= about 1 tablespoon- add AFTER consomme
bay leaf 6 ea.= about 1/2
beef consomme, double strength, 5 1/2 lbs= 84 ounces= 4+ ounces= 1/2 cup or a bit more
tomatoes, whole, in juice or puree, #10 can-21 cans= 126 # 2 1/2 cans= 3 to 4 #2 1/2 cans
mushroom powder 1 kg= 2.3 pounds= just under 40 ounces, use 1 ounce dried mushroom powder, or 1 ounce dried mushrooms ground for the sauce if powder is not available


Ellen's Kitchen Alfredo-style Pasta for 100

True Alfredo is made per serving, and I don't care much for the cream cheese variations that have shown up on the net. Here is my current working Alfredo-style dish for 100:

This sauce takes a lot of stirring and patience but that makes the consistency smooth and creamy. It thickens as it sits. If sauce is too thick, recommend adding some dry white wine.
Does not reheat well, but any leftover sauce chills nicely and makes a smooth, creamy cheese spread the next day.

* 7 to 8 3/4 cups sweet butter
* 40 garlic cloves, minced (roasted adds a different flavor)
* 40 cups (10 quarts) heavy cream (a cup of whole milk thickened with one tablespoon corn starch is a possible substitute for each cup of cream, but it is different. )
* 5 teaspoons white pepper
*less than 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ground nutmeg
* 10 cups grated parmesan cheese
* 15 cups (just under 4 pounds) mozzarella cheese (not fresh mozzarella)(may mix in other cheeses, Romano, Asiago, some sharp white cheddar)
*OPTIONAL 1 quart sour cream

* 15 pounds pasta- I like 1/2 and 1/2 spinach and white fettucine- makes a combo the Italians call hay and straw.

OPTIONAL add-ins: broccoli bits, mushrooms, red bell pepper, cooked drained chopped spinach; shrimp, crab, lobster, shredded chicken- about 15 cups

0. Start the pasta water boiling for the large amounts of pasta before you start making the sauce. See the spaghetti, lotsa pasta page on the website for info on cooking large amounts of pasta.
1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium/low heat.
2. Add the garlic, cream, white pepper and bring mixture to a simmer.
3. Stir often!
4. Add the Parmesan cheese and simmer sauce until sauce has thickened and is smooth. It takes at least 10 minutes, but can take 20-25.
5. When sauce has thickened, turn the heat to low. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth. STIR FREQUENTLY. Don't turn your back on it. If the heat is too high, it cracks and curdles.
6. If adding OPTIONAL add-ins, it helps to warm them before adding in. This is where you add them.
7. When everything is smooth, stir in the optional sour cream. I only use this if I have used milk instead of cream in the sauce.
8. While the sauce cooks, boil noodles to al dente stage. Drain well.
9. Place the cooked pasta in the serving dishes, spoon sauce over pasta, and mix well. Serve as soon as possible.


Complete Simple Served/ Plated Spaghetti Dinner for 50-60 people

Two to three cooks and about 6 volunteer servers are needed to prepare, set up, serve and clean up the dinner.

Supplies for front of the house
Dinner plates
Salad bowls or plates
Dessert plates
Knives, 2 forks, spoons
Red-checked or red table clothes
Candle or centerpiece for each table

Spaghetti with meat sauce
10 pounds spaghetti
10-12 quarts spaghetti sauce
8-10 pounds hamburger or meatballs (or 8 chickens cut up -64 pieces- browned and braised)
3 pounds shredded or grated Parmesan or domestic Asiago cheese for topping

7 1-pound loaves French bread
1/2-1 pound soft butter, mashed with
seasoning- few tablespoons crushed garlic, paprika or Italian herb, or mixture
Split bread longwise, butter, wrap in foil and heat in oven

Salad: Tossed salad with choice of dressing
6-7 pounds salad mix
24 ounces Ranch salad dressing
24 ounces French salad dressing
24 ounces Italian salad dressing

Dessert: 4 9x13 Dump cakes or cobblers
PAM or Baker's Spray
2 pounds butter in quarters
4 cans crushed pineapple in juice or fruit cocktail
4 white or yellow cake mixes
4 cans blueberry or cherry pie filling
2 quarts (2 large spray cans) whipped cream

To Make Cake: Spray bottom of 9x13 cake pans with Pam. For each pan, pour 1 can crushed pineapple in bottom of pan and smooth out. Pour one (dry) cake mix over pineapple. Layer 2 quarters of butter, sliced into thin squares, over cake mix. Pour one can of pie filling over butter. Bake in preheated oven of 350 for 40-50 minutes. Cut 12 to 15 pieces per pan and garnish with a dollop of cream.

Set tables with clothes and candles and decorate tables. If possible, let people sit down and "order", so you know exactly what they want on their plate.
If you do a "suggested donation", people who can't afford to go, can still enjoy the event. If it is a fundraiser, people who can do so, will give more, and it will even out.