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How to Keep Pasta From Sticking: Tips and Tricks

February 01, 2021 5 min read

How to Keep Pasta From Sticking

Every granny has a secret to making sure your spaghetti isn't a tangled "messghetti." But if you want to know how to prevent pasta from sticking, there's no secret to it - this problem can easily be remedied by following a few simple guidelines. 

You may have heard that you can simply add olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. Or, maybe someone told you that salting the boiling water is the best way to make sure you have perfect pasta.

With so many theories surrounding this culinary conundrum, we decided to pull apart the truth from fiction: in the article below, learn how to keep pasta from sticking together!

Just keep stirring 

Are you ready to hear the most straightforward solution ever? It's stirring! Believe it or not, this basic method is one of the best ways to achieve perfectly boiled and broken apart pasta. 

Here are some tips and tricks: 

  • Stir often; this is important, especially the first while.
  • Use tongs; this way, you can stir and lift as you go along ensuring that all sides of your pasta will cook evenly.

You'll notice that when you add your pasta immediately to a pot of boiling water, it will settle and stay in one spot. By stirring it constantly, you not only prevent it from sticking together, but also from sticking to your pot (nobody wants to scrub clean a pasta coated pot, right?)

Dry your fresh pasta 

Using dried pasta is one thing, but if you've decided to make fresh pasta with your pasta maker, a few more steps are required to keep your fresh linguine from becoming all lumped together. 

Before you cut your fresh pasta pieces, dry them out for around 20 minutes.

Even dusting a little bit of flour on your freshly cut pasta will help to prevent the pieces from sticking to one another. 

To salt or not to salt

One of the most common practices is to salt your pot of water before it boils.

Contrary to a popular belief, this concept isn't a sure-fire way to prevent sticky spaghetti. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't do it! That salted water adds flavor to your pasta. So pass the salt, please!

Some recommends to add salt before the water boils, while others claim that adding salt as the water bubbles away is best. To be honest, it doesn't really matter when you add the salt, as long as you get it in there for flavor.

Perfecting your water/pot/pasta ratio

How many times have you filled your pot with water, turned on the heat, and salted the water just to realize that your pot is too small for the amount of pasta you want to cook? 

If you find your pasta is sticking together even though you are stirring it frequently, it may be that you don’t have enough water in your pot.

Pasta releases starches into your pot of water as it boils. This is what makes your tortellini sticky.

Sometimes getting the right amount of everything is a little tricky!

To avoid a clumpy pasta catastrophe, make sure you are sticking to the ratio of 4 quarts of water to 1 pound of pasta (dried), so your pasta won't stick to the pot.

If your pasta pot isn't big enough for the 4-quart ratio, just make sure you are stirring more frequently.

Oil and water are like oil and water- they still don't mix!

Growing up, Momma always told me to add olive oil to my noodles after I’ve boiled and drained them. 

Adding olive oil to your boiling pot of water with the pasta doesn’t prevent your pasta from sticking together: when you add oil to boiling pasta water, draining the noodles is next to impossible because those noodles are coated with oil. 

The best advice for using oil during the pasta cooking process is to drizzle oil on your pasta after being removed from the pot of water and drained. This should be the only time you coat the pasta with oil - not only will it help prevent the cooked pasta from sticking together, but the oil can become a base for adding a sauce or seasoning for a richer and delicious pasta flavor.

Consider what you are cooking with your pasta

  • If you are using spaghetti with a tomato sauce - drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Oil the drained pasta, then add some sauce to the bottom of a pot and stir in the spaghetti. This creates a non-sticky base to pair with the additional sauce poured on top.
  • If you're using the pasta with a vinaigrette in a pasta salad, the best advice is to rinse it in cold water until it stops cooking. Then drain it until most of the water is gone. Add your newly drained pasta to your mixing bowl, where you will add your dressing and any accompanying raw vegetables such as carrot, radish, and green onion pieces.

Are you wondering about water temperature?

Apart from constant stirring, water temperature is also an important aspect in order to avoid sticky pasta.

A bubbling pot of boiling water is the ideal environment to submerge your spaghetti. Once you have added the pasta, lower the heat to a simmer. 

A lower heat makes the stirring easier, the water won't foam over the top, and the steam won't scald you as you continue to stir.

Some other tips on how to keep noodles from sticking together

Besides stirring, water temperature, and oil, there are few other factors to consider if you want to cook a perfect pasta:

  • If you let pasta leftovers sit out for too long, you'll have a gummy glob of spaghetti! Should you rinse pasta leftovers under the cold water before storing it in the fridge - it won't stick together. 
  • A pasta rinsed in cold water will stop cooking. Once the pasta is cooled, it can be used right away in a cold pasta dish or stored in the refrigerator. Cooked pasta can last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. 

Stick to the rules so your pasta won't stick together

Now you know how to stop pasta sticking together when cold, hot, dry, or fresh. Keep stirring the pot! With every meal, the key ingredient is the amount of work you put into each stage along the way as your recipe comes together. 

Pasta is one of the easiest and most versatile dishes to make, and simple understanding about how to keep spaghetti from sticking can easily help you become a champion of your Capellini Pomodoro.

Write these tips down or save this page to help you create delicious pasta that doesn’t stick to everything in sight!

Make your own delicious homemade pasta from scratch - check out this FREE guide on making pasta at home:

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