How to Make The Best Pasta Ever

Ah, pasta—it’s one of the easiest and most delicious meals you can make. You don’t need a recipe, you don’t need a big budget and you don’t need to spend hours slaving over a stove. As simple as it is to make a pasta dish, there are plenty of ways that you can make or break your meal. Read on for the ultimate guide on how to make the perfect pasta dish.

Don’t Start with Hot Water

It’s best to start off with cold, not hot water. Sure, it’s nice to save time, but, cold water is actually safer to use. Sometimes, old pipes contain lead that can seep into your water supply. It’s easier to get this lead in your food when you use hot water, not cold, from the tap, because the lead dissolves more easily in hot water. This applies to more than just pasta — whenever you use tap water for cooking or drinking, stick with cold.

Pans boiling in a kitchen

Salt Your Water…

You don’t need to follow the common advice of salting your water as much as the sea, but you should generously salt your water. For every quart, add 3/4 teaspoon of table salt. For 1 pound of pasta, then, a little over a tablespoon should do it. To be clear, salting your pasta water is for your taste buds—not for the sake of science. So, if you watch your salt intake, it’s not absolutely necessary to salt the water.

… But Don’t Add Oil

Oil does NOT belong in the pasta water. At worst, it will make it harder for the sauce to stick to the pasta. At best, it’s a waste of perfectly good oil.

Don’t Add Pasta Until the Water is Boiling

Resist the urge to speed up the process—wait to dump the pasta in until after the water is boiling. If you add it too early, the pasta can become gummy and even doughy. Cooking pasta in boiling water ensures the starch stays intact, and it makes it easier to measure cooking time.

Don’t Rely Only on Package Time

The best way to know when your pasta is ready? Nope, it’s not what the package says and it’s not throwing it at the wall—it’s tasting it. Start tasting a piece every 30 seconds or so 1-2 minutes before it seems like it’s ready.

Don’t Rinse

Rinsing pasta removes much-needed starches and, like using oil, makes it harder for the pasta to stick to the sauce. Even if you’re making cold pasta salad, skip the rinsing!

Save Cooking Water

For nearly every type of pasta dish, reserving a little of the starch-packed cooking water is a very good thing. Using a metal measuring cup or a ladle, carefully dish out about 1 cup of the water. You don’t always need it, but, when sauces are a little too thick, or you’re making pasta with just oil and garlic, for instance, a little bit of pasta water can go a long way to making a great dish.

Match Pasta Shapes and Sauces.

Certain types of sauces are meant for certain types of pasta shapes. As a general rule, long and skinny shapes, like fettuccine and spaghetti, work best with oil or cream-based sauces. Smaller tube shapes, like penne and macaroni, work well with thicker, chunkier sauces. Small-shaped pastas, like fusilli and farfalle, work well with any type of sauce, and are great shapes for adding veggies and other ingredients.

107 comments

Sonia M

Love pasta.Good reminders and some useful tips,thanks for sharing.

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natasha p
.2 months ago

yum

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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The J.
Vikram S2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Graham P.
Graham P2 years ago

Guilty of adding oil,so will try without and hope I don't get a sticky mess!

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Feather W.
Feather W2 years ago

pasta is simple when you do it like this...

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delilah st louis
delilah st louis2 years ago

Thanks for the tips

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Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Christina C.
Christina C2 years ago

Love pasta, thank you for sharing the tips!

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