Recipes / One-Pot Pasta with Butter and Parmesan

One-Pot Pasta with Butter and Parmesan

By Mark Bittman

Published February 16, 2018

Instead of boiling pasta and making the sauce separately, you add liquid incrementally to toasted pasta until it’s tender—yes, like risotto, which in fact can be mimicked quite effectively if you use orzo.

One-Pot Pasta with Butter and Parmesan - The Bittman Project
Aya Brackett
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The starch in thick orecchiette or shells encourages a creamy sauce; breaking long strands into thirds or fourths delivers more contrasting textures. The cooking time and absorption rate might vary a bit, so be sure to add the water a little at a time and check frequently for doneness.


Make The Recipe!

One-Pot Pasta with Butter and Parmesan

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Makes 4 servings 1x

Time 25 minutes

Units Scale


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 small onion or large shallot, chopped
  • 1 pound any pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s glossy and smells toasty, about a minute. Add a little salt and pepper, then the wine, and stir.
  2. Let the liquid bubble away. Begin to add water, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. When the liquid is just about absorbed, add more. The noodles should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium-high, stir frequently, and repeat as necessary.
  3. Begin tasting the pasta 10 minutes after you added it; it should be tender but have some resistance when you bite. (It could take as long as 20 minutes to reach this stage.) When the pasta is ready, stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan, adding a little more water if necessary to coat the noodles in sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve right away, passing more Parmesan at the table.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition