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Everybody loves pasta, but it's not always a cakewalk to make — especially when it comes to getting serving sizes right. Seriously, how are you supposed to know how much dry pasta to prepare per person?

We can't be the only ones who always have way too many noodles left over — or a tragic shortage. Maybe it's because there's such huge difference between dry pasta and cooked pasta in size and texture, but getting the portions correct for a dinner party ain't easy.

Until now. We discovered some rules of thumb that help take out all the guesswork.

More: You Can Stop Making Pasta the hard Way Now

Keep in mind that pasta shapes may vary in size according to the brand you buy, so use these measurements as generalizations. Also, a single serving size is just 1/2 cup of cooked pasta, according to the USDA — but if you look at most plates we serve, you'll usually find two cups of pasta. So if you want to serve your guests a big hearty portion, aim for two cups of cooked pasta per person — but if you're keeping things light, serve 1/2 cup of cooked pasta.

1. Small to medium pasta shapes

8 ounces of uncooked small to medium pasta shapes = 4 cups cooked

This measurement applies to these types of pasta:

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Medium shells
  • Rotini
  • Wagon wheels
  • Bow-tie pasta (Farfalle)
  • Mostaccioli
  • Penne
  • Ziti
  • Radiatore
  • Rigatoni

2. Long pasta shapes

8 ounces of uncooked long pasta shapes = 4 cups cooked

This measurement applies to these types of pasta:

  • Spaghetti,
  • Angel hair
  • Linguine
  • Vermicelli
  • Fettuccine
More: Pasta Doesn't Make You Fat — According to Italian Scientists and Your Grandma

3. Egg noodles

8 ounces of uncooked egg noodles = 2 1/2 cups cooked

4. No scale? No problem

Use this trick to measure without a scale:

2 ounces dry spaghetti = the diameter of a quarter

In other words, two ounces of dry long pasta (like spaghetti, thin spaghetti, linguine or vermicelli) bunched up in your hand is about the same size as the diameter of a quarter. Two ounces of dry pasta yields about one cup of cooked pasta (two USDA servings).

Originally published September 2007. Updated July 2017.