Easy pasta recipe to make for a large group?

I'm cooking for a large event - pasta for 20 people. Does anybody have a good recipe/sauce and how many pounds of pasta should I buy? It should be fairly easy to make, because there's going to be a lot of it. Thanks!

  • Posted by: nka2
  • September 28, 2011


Author Comment
I made this SUPER easy Sausage, Peppers & Arugula Ricotta Linguine. It actually made a big batch, for about 6-8 people. If you 3 or 4x the recipe, you'll end up with tons. Good luck!

Melusine September 29, 2011
A recipe from Epicurious, with a slight twist or two. For four servings:

Two jars of really good tuna in olive oil.

Artichoke hearts -- ideally in oil, but water packed is OK

Mixed green and black olives.


Sun dried tomatoes

1 lemon

Pour the tuna and oil from one of the jars into a large mixing bowl; add the tuna from the other, and reserve the oil.

Artichoke hearts: Slice the artichoke hearts into bite-sized pieces. Amount: I really like artichoke hearts, so for two jars of tuna, I'd use two of the small jars from a grocery store. Big ones from an Italian market -- depends on the size.

Olives: Slice a handful each of green and black olives into halves. Plain ones are fine; olives marinated in garlic and other aromatics are good, too.

Capers -- about a tablespoon, roughly chopped if large.

Sun-dried tomatoes: Four or five, depending on size -- I found it easiest to cut them over the mixing bowl with kitchen shears.

The juice and zest from the lemon.

Lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Mix everything together (hands are easiest). Add a bit more of the reserved oil; add some of it if the mix seems to need it.

Serve over your favorite squiggly pasta with lots of grated Parmesan.

If you dice things up rather small, this also works as a sandwich filling, or at room temperature with crackers.
Meatballs&Milkshakes September 29, 2011
I would also suggest a lasagna or other baked pasta dish. Then you don't have to worry about making it and keeping it from overcooking for that many people. I would do 2-3 large dishes (you can get those aluminum pans at the supermarket cheaply). You would probably need 3-4 boxes of lasagna noodles, and the great thing about lasagna is you can get the no-cook kind so all you have to do is make the sauce and grate up some cheese. Alternatively, you could just make a really big batch of pasta and toss with your chosen sauce, then spread in the pans and sprinkle with some cheese (and maybe some breadcrumbs for the crunch factor).
amysarah September 29, 2011
So many factors effect quantity of pasta needed: first course or main course; abundance of other dishes served; very rich sauce (cream, etc.) or light one (e.g., simple fresh tomato); whether the eaters include my son and his friends - who are capable of consuming their own weight in pasta - or more modest eaters, or young children...

Depending on these variables, one 16 oz. box can feed anywhere from 4 or 5 to as few as 2.5 people. And I tend to err on the side of leftovers over skimpy - reheated pasta for breakfast/lunch is much more useful than having enough pasta left in the box for .5 people. That's just pesky.
Esther P. September 29, 2011
I always reckon on 4oz per personfor a main course pasta... However! Plate size makes a big difference to how much people help themselves to, as does the number if people in the group, how well people know each other ( politeness plays havoc with quantities!) and whether there are other things to go on the plate.
boulangere September 29, 2011
Oh, love it Greenstuff! As I said, "conventionally." And who among of us is conventional when it comes to pastas? I like your ratios much better.
Greenstuff September 28, 2011
When we ate boulangere's First Night in Florence pasta, people were licking their plates and looking for more. Now, she was thinking 1/4 of a presumably one pound package for 2 people, and that's a little skimpy by American standards, especially if your group includes young people or good-sized men. If pasta is your main event at this event, I'd double that and plan on serving 4 people per pound. Five pounds of pasta for a group of twenty, You can do four pounds if the group is dominated by relatively small women or if you're having a lot of other food.
Eleanor July 13, 2019
I agree with Boulangere, Greenstuff...you are a treasure! Thanks for the advice. Ratios were SPOT ON!
boulangere September 28, 2011
I agree, wssmom. As I thought about it, your math is spot on.
wssmom September 28, 2011
Boulangere's First night in Florence spaghetti is awesome!!! You might also consider tripling (maybe a little more than triple) this wonderful sauce recipe and serve it atop 4 pounds of spaghetti:

One thing I sometimes do when I have a bunch of people is to make two or three different pastas, instead of one giant dish.
healthierkitchen September 28, 2011
Came across this one recently, though I haven't made it yet. This calls for three pounds of pasta for 16.

I think I'd figure three pounds would serve 16 - 18 depending on appetite. If the pasta is the only main dish, I might go with four pounds to make sure there's plenty.

boulangere September 28, 2011
Sorry, didn't read your question through. The conventional serving size for pasta is 2 oz. (in the dried state), so 8 servings per 1-pound package. Go with three pounds to be safe.
sdebrango September 28, 2011
Oh yes boulangere, love that.
sdebrango September 28, 2011
Maybe a baked ziti or lasagna. I usually make a quarter pound per person. Figure 4-5 people per box so 4-5 pounds of pasta. I don't use a recipe just wing it usually but you can make an easy marinara with good canned tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, shallot and basil. Add some ricotta and parm or romano some mozzarella to top it bake and serve.
I generally don't cook for a crowd so some that do tell me if my math is off.
boulangere September 28, 2011
It doesn't get much easier than this: http://www.food52.com/recipes/14030_first_night_in_florence_spaghetti
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