7 Ways to Keep Spaghetti Noodles Warm and Delicious

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Whether cooking for family or catering an event, serving cold spaghetti can lead to a culinary disaster. That’s why it’s important to learn the best methods for keeping spaghetti noodles warm – whether for a few minutes or even hours.

Whether your kids are late from soccer practice, or you’re hosting a party and cooking the noodles in advance, these best practices will help. Ready to get started?

Cold spaghetti noodles? No thanks!

cold spaghetti noodles on table with empty plates

Growing up in an Italian home, spaghetti was my favorite pasta food to eat. Every time my grandparents took me out to dinner, I’d always ask if spaghetti was on the menu. So I take the topic of spaghetti pretty seriously, even back then! Each of these methods have their own pros and cons.

We always want our pasta to taste fresh, so our goal therefore is to keep the spaghetti warm without overcooking the noodles. However, if you have overcooked your pasta, then bake it for 10 minutes at 350F in an oven proof dish. This will help dry out the pasta just enough so you can then toss it with fresh hot sauce and serve.

Keep spaghetti warm with aluminum foil

using foil and parchment to keep bowl of spaghetti warm

Every household most likely has a box of aluminum foil in the pantry. When you’re spaghetti is almost done cooking to your desired tenderness, drain the noodles and lightly coat them with a drop of olive oil. The olive oil keeps the spaghetti strands from sticking to each other.

Place the spaghetti in your serving bowl or serving tray and cover tightly with the foil. If you’re wondering which side of the foil to face down, according to Reynolds Brands, it doesn’t really matter. I usually do a double layer where I place the foil over parchment paper so the foil isn’t touching the food.

PRO TIP: Even though you’re keeping the noodles warm without sauce, make sure the sauce itself is hot when added. Otherwise you may end up with cold noodles quicker than you think.

Use a preheated insulated cooler for outdoor entertaining

Insulated Food Warmer

Keep your food warm during transport. These can also be used for keeping foods cool as well. These come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Spaghetti is a common dish for outdoor picnics, weddings, or for outdoor catering events. But transporting your spaghetti can be challenging for keeping the noodles warm. In this case, a preheated insulated cooler can do the trick.

These are similar to insulated bowls, which I talk about further down. Coolers however are good for larger quantities and work just like the bags pizza delivery guys use. Their aluminum thermal lining keeps foods warm, but usually not hot. Look for coolers that have sturdy bottoms and aren’t lightweight bags.

Use a Crock pot or slow cooker

Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker

Using a crock pot like this is nice for a variety of purposes, including keeping foods warm.

Crock pots or slow cookers will have a “warm” setting. This keeps a steady low heat temperature that shouldn’t overcook your food, unless you leave it in for too long.

Drain the pasta and coat with olive oil to prevent sticking, or use the sauce itself. Set the temperature to warm or low. Add the spaghetti and cover with the lid. Make sure to check on it periodically and stir to prevent it from drying out. Feel free to add some liquid or more sauce if necessary.

Just remember, for these kitchen appliances to work, you’ll need an outlet nearby. So this won’t work for most outdoor situations, but is great for buffet-style meals.

Hot water bath or double boiler method

hot water bath to keep noodles warm

This is a less common option, but works none the less. You can buy large double boilers that are often used for chocolate melting. If you don’t have a double boiler, than you can easily create your own.  

Boil some water and fill a bowl that’s slightly larger than your serving bowl. Place the serving bowl (with the spaghetti and sauce in it) in the larger bowl. The heat from the hot water will keep the noodles warm; just be careful that the water doesn’t leak into the spaghetti.

Chafing dish or buffet warmer

chafing dish with spaghetti

If you do a lot of entertaining, or buffet style events, such as church lunches, then a chafing dish or buffet warmer might be a good option. These appliances work by placing the pasta dish in a long metal serving tray that is positioned over a small flame or electric heating element. These types of warmers keep a consistent temperature so that your spaghetti doesn’t dry out or continue cooking.

Chafing Dishes – Stainless Steel

These stainless steel chafing dishes are perfect for keeping food warm for buffets or special events.

Use the Oven to keep noodles warm

warming spaghetti noodles in the oven

I love this option because everybody has an oven! You can use a regular oven or a toaster oven – I have a Breville Smart Pro which is a great size for keeping a dinner meal warm.

Place your spaghetti in an oven safe dish, cover, and bake in the preheated oven at the lowest temperature. Make sure the spaghetti is tightly sealed otherwise it may dry out.

Insulated serving bowls are great for transporting

Insulated Thermal Bowl Set

These bowls can be used for a variety of foods – both warm and cool.

Have you ever heard of insulated serving bowls? They work just like a thermos where the insulation is designed to keep food either warm or cold. These bowls come in various sizes. I think these are ingenious and are perfect for bringing food to potlucks, parties, or for having an outdoor Italian picnic with friends or family!

Common Questions

Here are some questions that you may have about keeping your spaghetti warm.

Can I keep spaghetti noodles warm in a crock pot?

Yes, just keep the setting to warm or low. Check frequently to ensure the noodles don’t dry out.

Which methods are best for keeping spaghetti warm for a party?

For large parties or catering, use a chafing dish also known as a buffet warmer. These will keep them warm but prevent over cooking. 

Can I add sauce to warm up the noodles?

Yes, you can heat the sauce up separately so it’s piping hot, then when ready to serve, add it to the pan that has the pre-cooked pasta. This is great when I have limited burners or heat sources.

Reheating leftover spaghetti

reheating the spaghetti noodles over stove

Even though I’ve provided ways for how to keep your spaghetti warm, there are times when it can still go cold, or maybe you’re dealing with leftover pasta from the fridge. In this case, heat a sauce pan over medium-low heat, add a bit of sauce on the bottom, then add the pasta.

As it heats up, give it an occasional stir to encourage even heating. If the noodles start to stick, add a Tablespoon of water and give it another stir. Too much water can make the noodles overcooked and mushy, so be careful. 

Continue heating until it’s hot enough for your tastes. 

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I hope you have found these tips helpful for keeping your spaghetti noodles warm. I’d love to hear your methods so let me know in the comments what works best for you!

7 Ways to Keep Spaghetti Noodles Warm and Delicious7 Ways to Keep Spaghetti Noodles Warm and Delicious7 Ways to Keep Spaghetti Noodles Warm and Delicious

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