Home Food Gluey? Phooey! 5 Easy Tips for Perfect Pasta

Gluey? Phooey! 5 Easy Tips for Perfect Pasta

by Jenn

Perfect NoodlesPasta is a beloved and affordable staple of many family and budget-friendly diets that is known for being easy and fast to make, as well as delicious. But have you ever boiled a batch of pasta and had it come out not quite as good as the last time? Maybe it was sticky like glue, or water-logged and flimsy. Or maybe it was too hard and chewy. This phenomenon can cause even the best cook to wonder, “Was it something I did?”

To help you make your meal turn out the way you like every single time, here are some tips compiled below for a guaranteed positive pasta experience:

1. Wonderful Water—

A common mistake many cooks make is not using enough water for pasta. When too little liquid is used to boil pasta, it can make the water thick, and the pasta bloated and starchy. The amount of water needed depends on the type of pasta, so follow the directions on the package explicitly when it comes to pasta/water ratio, and err on the side of too much water rather than not enough. If you’re deciding between two pots, for example, choose the larger one. Your pasta will thank you.

2. Salt of the Earth—

Most of us know to sprinkle a little salt in the water when we boil pasta, but many of us are not putting in enough salt to actually flavor the pasta, which is the whole point. Pasta is bland by nature, intended to take on the flavor of the sauces used with it, but starting with a little seasoning inside your pasta can only help the recipe pop! One tablespoon of salt per quart of water is considered acceptable by many chefs.

3. Stirring is Stupendous—

Pouring the pasta into the water and forgetting about it is pasta abuse. This sort of treatment will guarantee that your pasta will stick together in little neglected masses of humiliating pasta failure. Stir frequently as pasta cooks, even once it is boiling. This will help it cook evenly and keep tough, rubbery pieces from hiding inside of clumps of pasta.

4. Al Dente is Excellente—

Nobody wants to eat puffy, swollen pasta, and that is why al dente has long been the desired texture for pasta. Firm, yet fully cooked, pasta cooked in this manner has both the flavor and feel to perfectly complement your sauce. To test your pasta, just break open a piece. If it’s still white inside, it’s not ready, but if it looks cooked all the way through, go ahead and give it a try. Using tongs, you can rinse a piece of hot pasta in cold water to make it a taste-testable temperature. (If you burn your mouth, you won’t be able to taste the delicious meal you’re making!)

5. Rinsing is Ridiculous—

Pasta should never, ever be rinsed, unless it is being used in a cold pasta salad, or if you need to work with it immediately to make manicotti, lasagna or some other type of casserole-style pasta dish. When you rinse pasta, you remove the starch that helps your sauce and other ingredients cling to it, giving the dish its flavor. And speaking of flavor, go ahead and save a cup of the pasta water when you drain it, just in case. That flavorful water can be used if you need to thin a sauce later.

There’s no need to let poorly-done pasta rain on your delicious dinner parade. Using the tips above, you can make perfect pasta like a professional every time.

Pauline Greenwood is an avid blogger and contributor to JustaPinch.com. She enjoys sharing about cooking experiences and her favorite meal ideas such as stuffed mushroom recipes.

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30 comments

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Peggy Greco March 26, 2013 - 1:13 am

Thanks so much for sharing tried and true tips for making great pasta every time!

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misty willis March 26, 2013 - 8:52 am

love good pasta, nothing better than pasta made right! Thank you for sharing, I will be bookmarking this so I can come back later and check it out Jenn

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tami s March 26, 2013 - 1:03 pm

I always rinse my pasta because it sticks together if I don’t I had no idea that as not a good thing. I will no longer rinse and see what difference it makes

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md kennedy March 26, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Your Salt of the Earth point is very important – I make sure my water tastes like seaswater before I put in the pasta!

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RANDY FULGHAM (@moooondog) March 26, 2013 - 4:07 pm

I LOVE PASTA ANY WAY U CAN FIX IT….HAPPY EASTER!!!

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lisa March 26, 2013 - 6:06 pm

You nailed it! A pasta that’s a bit firm will re-heat well.

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Kellie March 26, 2013 - 9:24 pm

I think that I am guilty of not using enough salt! I’m not big on salt normally I let other add it as they want it.. It works for us

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Valarie Lee Gentry March 26, 2013 - 10:52 pm

I always have a hard time making pasta! It gets sticky and clumpy! I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to wash the pasta!! Great tips!

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likwan March 27, 2013 - 7:43 am

These tips are very helpful. Thanks for sharing like always I appreciate everything you do for us!

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Lettie Easton March 27, 2013 - 9:55 am

I never thought about pasta to water ratio! I have to admit I am an abuser 🙁 I often forget my pasta is cooking, grr, will I ever learn lol

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Eva Mitton-Urban March 27, 2013 - 10:24 am

Isn’t it so fun how so much sense can come out of one tip. I always cook my pasta with salt and have made it customary to rinse the noodles after they are cooked. No wonder the sauce doesn’t stick to it – a Forest Gump moment – wow changing that trend.

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Abby March 27, 2013 - 10:54 am

I have a history of using too little water and my husband freaks out every time, haha. thanks for sharing I had a blast reading!

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Paula V March 27, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Great tips. I love pasta. Thank you so very much for sharing all this awesome information I appreciate it very much

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Mike March 27, 2013 - 6:09 pm

That was very useful I will be sure to try this out Thank you so very much for sharing all this awesome information I appreciate it very much

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cottagebunny March 27, 2013 - 9:12 pm

Thanks for the great tips.Sometimes my pasta is good and…..well sometimes it’s iffy.Now I know why.I absolutely hate when pasta is over cooked.

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darrell lester March 28, 2013 - 9:56 pm

If you want the real inside scoop about PCH and all their secrets go to http://www.pchbook.com where you can get more info.
Darrell Lester (former Senior Vice President at PCH)

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Nancy Lynn Hilderbrand March 29, 2013 - 4:29 pm

loved your article. I add a tsp. of olive oil for flavor because I can’t use salt.

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Fee Roberts March 30, 2013 - 12:41 pm

These are great tips for pasta lovers. I just can’t eat pasta myself.

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Debbie Welchert March 30, 2013 - 2:00 pm

I love your tips. I didn’t know about the one to test al dente. I will be using that one and I was always afraid of adding too much salt so I think I will be a little braver adding the salt.

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lisa March 31, 2013 - 4:52 pm

I agree. When the pasta is al dente it reheats much better. Thank you for sharing, glad to know I am not the only one that feels that way, seems like there is several others that agree

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pollylee April 3, 2013 - 2:30 pm

after all these years I never knew you shouldn’t rinse the pasta noodles…thanks for letting me know!

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Michael Murray April 3, 2013 - 11:25 pm

Perfect!!! But remember if you are going to also bake after boiling, cut down on the cooking time or the pasta will be tough and over cooked.

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Katrina Angele April 4, 2013 - 12:59 am

I am horrible at cooking pasta! Good tips! Now I’ll cook with more water and salt and not rinse. Didn’t know I was doing so much wrong!! lol

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Cindy Brickley April 4, 2013 - 1:09 pm

Thanks for the post, so many people do not know how to cook pasta perfect. i hope they learn from your post.

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Kathleen April 5, 2013 - 8:04 pm

I love pasta! You have given some really good tips on how to successfully cook it. I’m not sure I will add that much salt though. My husband has to watch his sodium intake.

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MrsD April 14, 2013 - 7:17 pm

It always amazes me that people have trouble making pasta. I’ve never seen the difficulty. The only point I’ll disagree with is the need to rinse. Some brands are exceptionally starchy. If you happen on one of those brands (usually among the cheapest) you will want to rinse.

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Anne May 10, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Great tips. I cook pasta frequently, and it’s good to be reminded of the right way to do it. The one I have the most trouble with is the amount of salt–I’ve found that if I put in what I think is enough, and then add more, it’s usually the right amount. LOL

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Sandra Beeman May 15, 2013 - 2:14 pm

I’m very surprised to learn of a tablespoon of salt to one quart of water. So much we hear about excessive salt intake. Maybe we should home-cook more and eat less packaged food to even out our salt intake.

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cheryl lister June 24, 2013 - 12:11 pm

thanks for the tips. I think I tend to not use enough water when cooking pasta, so will use my big pot next time!

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M.Clark September 23, 2013 - 9:24 pm

I have been practicing to these tips all along!! I have been cooking perfect pasta, hurray!

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