How Much Pesto To Add To Pasta?

One serving of pesto

Short answer
We recommend 50 grams of pesto per person if serving as a simple pasta dish. Our accountant recommends more.

Long answer
In Italy, you'll find that chefs use just enough pesto to coat the pasta, and they certainly don’t allow the dish to drown in it. As a very rough guide, your pesto should weigh about 2/3 the weight of the dried pasta you are cooking. So, for a standard, single serving of 75g of dried pasta, we think that 50g of pesto is about right.

Naturally, everyone’s tastes are different, so you’ll have to adjust the quantities up or down depending on who you are cooking for. It also greatly depends on what other ingredients you are serving your pasta with. If you're making a dish with chunks of chicken breast, for example, you’ll want to add a little more pesto to ensure the meat is as well coated as the pasta.

Bear in mind that you will (or we at least hope you will) be adding some extra liquid to your sauce in the form of some of the starchy water that the pasta cooked in.

This water is not only incredibly flavourful, but it also acts as an emulsifier and thickener that enables you to create a silky, luxuriously smooth, restaurant-quality sauce. It also helps your jar of pesto go that little bit further.

Approximate pesto-to-pasta ratio in grams
Note: 190g is the standard size jar for pesto in the UK, and that's perfect for feeding four adults. Likewise, for a standard 500g bag of dried pasta, we recommend using about 335g of pesto.

Servings Dried pasta Pesto
1 75g 50g
2 150g 100g
3 225g 150g
4 300g 200g
5 375g 250g
6 450g 300g
7 525g 350g
8 600g 400g
9 675g 450g
10 750g 500g

Approximate pesto-to-pasta ratio in pounds and ounces

Dried pasta Pesto
1 2 oz 1.3 oz
2 4 oz 2.6 oz
3 6 oz 4 oz
4 8 oz 5.4 oz
5 10 oz 6.6 oz
6 12 oz 8 oz
7 14 oz 9.3 oz
8 16 oz (1lb) 10.6 oz
9 18 oz 11.9 oz
10 20 oz 13.2 oz

A note on using spoon or cup sizes to measure pesto and pasta
We have purposely omitted a chart showing recommended cup sizes for two key reasons. Firstly, shapes that don't fit into a regular cup (e.g. spaghetti) simply can't be measured in the usual way. Secondly, tiny, compact pasta shapes like orzo can weigh up to twice as much as cylindrical shapes like penne, where much of the physical space is taken up by pockets of air.