How can I make day-old pasta taste better? (adding healthy ingredients)

In this article, we will answer the following question: “How can I make day-old pasta taste better?” and discuss when you should not eat day-old pasta, how to properly reheat pasta and how to know if day-old pasta has gone bad.

How can I make day-old pasta taste better?

To make day-old pasta taste better you can add seasonings, fresh herbs and sauces to the pasta, as well as cheese. In addition to improving the flavour of day-old pasta, these ingredients can improve the nutritional properties of the pasta.

Some possible healthy ingredients to be added to day-old pasta are the ones that compose the Mediterranean diet, which is related to improved health benefits (1, 2):

  • Extra virgin olive oil and chopped nuts: including 1 litre of olive oil per week and 30 g of different nuts, such as walnut, hazelnut and almonds during 3 months resulted in lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol levels in individuals in a study.
  • Tomato sauce: due to the high amount of lycopene, a carotenoid, tomato sauce can help prevent inflammatory diseases, some types of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant whose availability is improved through the cooking of tomatoes to produce tomato sauce

When should you not eat old-day pasta?

You should not eat old-day pasta when the cooked pasta has not been cooled to a temperature of 70 °F (21 °C) within 2 hours or 40 °F (5 °C) within 4 hours after being cooked (3).

Leaving cooked foods at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, which is called the “temperature danger zone” for longer periods can lead to fast microbial development, making the consumption of the food unsafe. Alternatively, food can be kept at high temperatures (above 140 °F or 70 °C).

Another reason for not eating old-day pasta is when any sign of spoilage is noticeable in the pasta, such as a bad odour, which may indicate spoilage caused by microorganisms (4).

How to know if old-day pasta has gone bad?

To know if old-day pasta has gone bad, you should be able to identify the possible signs of spoilage in the pasta, which can be (4, 6):

Generation of off-odour and off-flavour: unpleasant odours and flavours characterised as fruity, alcoholic, rancid, fermented, ammonia-like and sour are indications of spoilage.

Generation of gas, slimy or ropy textures.

Changes in the colour and the growth of mould (noticeable by the formation of hyphae or cloudiness). 

How to safely reheat pasta?

To safely reheat old-day pasta, you should use the microwave, the oven or the stove. In all cases, good hygienic practices are mandatory, such as hand washing, good sanitising of surfaces and utensils and the use of clean containers and cooking pans or dishes (3).

Reheat in the microwave

To reheat in the microwave, use a microwave-safe dish and place the cooked old-day pasta in it. Add the desired ingredients to the old-day pasta to improve its taste, as suggested in the previous section of this article.

Cover the food with a plate and reheat at medium heat till the temperature reaches 165 °F (75 °C). It is recommended to measure the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature has reached the safe temperature for reheating leftovers (5).

Reheat in the oven

Alternatively, you can use the oven and an oven-safe dish. Add the desired ingredients to the old-day pasta and cover it with aluminium foil. Turn the oven to 350 °F (180 °C) and cook till the internal temperature has reached 165 °F.

Reheat on the stovetop

To reheat on the stovetop, place the old-day pasta in a cooking pan and add the desired ingredients. Add a small amount of liquid and turn the heat to a minimum. Cover the pan and heat till the internal temperature of the food has reached 165 °F.

Other FAQs about Pasta that you may be interested in.

How often should I eat pasta?

How long do you cook pasta for?

the pasta from absorbing all the sauce?


In this article, we answered the question “How can I make old-day pasta taste better?” and discussed when you should not eat old-day pasta, how to reheat pasta properly and how to know if old-day pasta has gone bad.

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Preedy VR, Watson RR, editors. The mediterranean diet: an evidence-based approach. Academic press; 2020 Jul 7.


Capurso C, Vendemiale G. The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk and mortality of the prostate cancer: A narrative review. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2017 Aug 24;4:38.


Coorey R, Ng DS, Jayamanne VS, Buys EM, Munyard S, Mousley CJ, Njage PM, Dykes GA. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2018 Jul;17(4):827-40.


Cook FK, Johnson BL. Microbiological spoilage of cereal products. Compendium of the microbiological spoilage of foods and beverages. 2009:223-44.

5.- [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from:


Lorenzo JM, Munekata PE, Dominguez R, Pateiro M, Saraiva JA, Franco D. Main groups of microorganisms of relevance for food safety and stability: General aspects and overall description. InInnovative technologies for food preservation 2018 Jan 1 (pp. 53-107). Academic Press.