Every Mistake You're Making With Your Pasta and How to Avoid It

Pasta is comfort food for a lot of people all over the world. Its versatility is one of the reasons people love it so much, so whether you’re craving a soup, a salad, a bake, or a simple sauce-based dish, pasta is everybody’s friend. While making pasta seems relatively simple, there are some basic mistakes that can mess up the shape and texture of your pasta, which can really mess up your entire meal. Check out these common mistakes you might be making with your pasta to make sure you’re never disappointed. 

You’re cooking the pasta in too little water

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When you add the cold pasta to the cooking water, it lowers the temperature of the water, which will not only add to your cooking time but also mess up the overall texture of the pasta. So adding enough water ensures that the temperature of the water doesn’t drop drastically. The ratio of the pasta to water should be 1 part pasta to 3 parts water; trust us, it’s not too much.

Adding the pasta to the water before it’s a rolling boil

Do not add the pasta to the water before it’s a rolling boil, because that will cause problems. The bubbles will prevent the pasta from sticking to each other or settling to the bottom, and also make sure the pasta is cooked quickly and evenly. 

Adding oil to the pasta water

Adding oil to the pasta water to prevent the water from boiling over or prevent the pasta from sticking together is a cardinal sin. The oil makes it tough for the sauce to stick to the pasta, so just add the pasta when the water is at a rolling boil. 

Overcooking or undercooking the pasta

When cooking pasta, stick to the time the box says, and start testing the pasta a minute and a half before the suggested time. The pasta needs to be al dente when you serve it, which means it has to have a subtle bite to it. The best way to know when your pasta is ready is to keep tasting it as you go. 

Not stirring the pasta 

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The pasta needs to be stirred well in the first two minutes of you adding it to the water, since that’s when it’s most likely to stick together or clump. Stir it occasionally and that will guarantee that your pasta ends up being perfectly cooked. 

Not salting the pasta water

Cooking pasta in unseasoned water will result in bland pasta and affect the taste of your overall dish. When the pasta is cooked in salty water, it absorbs the salt throughout instead of just on the surface where it’s coated in sauce. 

Rinsing the pasta in water

When you rinse the pasta in water, it removes the starch from the pasta. This starch is what allows the pasta to hold on the sauce and give it that lovely texture and mouthfeel. Just use tongs to remove the pasta from the water and add it directly to the pan with the sauce. 

Not cooking the pasta in the sauce

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A rookie mistake many people make is to cook the pasta till it’s completely cooked in the water and then just tossing it in the sauce on the plate. You should ideally cook the pasta 70% in the pasta water, and 30% in the sauce, which will allow the pasta to absorb the flavours in the sauce better as well as coat itself better with the sauce. So keep tasting your pasta while it boils, and just before it’s finished cooking, drain it quickly, add it to the pan with the sauce, and toss well. Give it a few minutes in the sauce to finish cooking and then serve. 

Adding fresh water to the pasta sauce

After you’ve added the pasta to the sauce, it can sometimes reduce a little too much. If this happens, do not use fresh water. This will dilute the flavour, so use some of the water you cooked the pasta in. That water has flavour and starch from the pasta which will thicken your sauce and help bind the pasta to the sauce. 


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