Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Ash Mittal
When cooking pasta, things can get pretty tricky, and the number one issue people have is the pasta sticking together like super glue.
The problem happens when it is time to drain the pasta and put it back in the pot or a bowl. It comes out as one big clump. So how do you keep the pasta from sticking together?
There are a couple of things that work, but the best two things we find to do are using extra virgin olive oil and constant stirring in the water while boiling the pasta. Frequent stirring is a must during the process and after it is cooked.
There are more ideas to follow, and we will offer steps on how to cook pasta without hassles. So, please read on to find out more.
Why Does Pasta Stick Together?
Pasta is one of those food items where the directions must be followed on the packaging. It is filled with starch, and when it is not cooked correctly, the starch is broken down, making the pasta sticky and mushy.
If the pasta is cooked with insufficient water levels, it will also cause it to stick together as it swells in the pot.
Having the right amount of water is critical because the levels will drop through quick evaporation, and the pasta takes in the water as it softens.
Too much or not enough water will have the same effect of sticking problems with the pasta. It also has to do with undercooking and overcooking. The same results apply.
As the starches mix with the steam when removed from the pot for draining, it acts as an adhesive, welding themselves into a big pile of pasta mess. Before you know it, you will try to find ways to stop the sticking before it starts.
The best thing you can do at this point is stir frequently. Frequent stirring when the pasta has failed to cook appropriately will cause everything to break apart with each spoon pass. Then you will have another problem.
Solutions to Keep Pasta from Sticking
And here we come to the rescue! This is a list of things you can do to keep the pasta from sticking:
- Follow the package instructions: Every package has cooking instructions, and each package is different because of the different brands, so please read carefully.
- Boil the water first: This is another critical thing to avoid sticky pasta. The time starts from the water boiling point, not from when the pasta is put in. In other words, boil first, add the pasta, then time it.
- Use a big pot: Use a big enough pot to hold the right amount of water for boiling. The pasta will not cook properly if the pot cannot hold the right amount of water. It will either stick, come out chewy, or burn to the pot.
- Stir frequently: Failure to stir frequently will cause the pasta to stick together. Stirring loosens everything and keeps the pasta from sticking to the pot and each other.
- Add extra virgin olive oil: This solution can become argumentative. Some say the oil doesn’t fair well when adding the sauce. It has to do with how much you put. It should only be a dash of oil into the water. The oil adds flavor and prevents the pasta from sticking. But don’t overdo it.
- Add salt while boiling: This will not keep the pasta from sticking. Instead, it will add flavor while boiling.
- Do not let the pasta sit: The pasta needs to fully drain after boiling, but do not leave it sitting for long periods. Keep stirring as it drains.
The Best Way to Cook Pasta
Now that you know what causes the pasta to stick together and the primary solutions, we can discuss the best technique for cooking pasta step by step.
- Step 1: Bring four quarts of water to one pound of pasta to a high boil.
- Step 2: Add the pasta and set a timer according to the package instructions. Some vary from 10 to 12 minutes.
- Step 3: Add a dash of extra virgin olive oil and salt to the pasta water.
- Step 4: Stir frequently, about every one to two minutes.
- Step 5: Drain the pasta thoroughly. We recommend adding about a teaspoon of another dash of extra virgin olive oil while waiting for the pasta to drain.
- Step 6: Use tongs to mix up the pasta while it drains. This will disperse the small dash of oil throughout the pasta and keep it from sticking while draining. It will also keep it from sticking to the pot or container.
How do I stop egg noodles from sticking together?
The best way to keep egg noodles from sticking together is to add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and use tongs to mix the noodles to coat each noodle. If it becomes one big clump, boil it for a few seconds and stir.
My pasta is sticking after draining – why?
The starches act with the steam as an adhesive. It turns the pasta into mush and causes a sticky mess. We strongly advise you to continue stirring the pasta while it is draining and after.
Should I rinse off the pasta while draining?
Do not rinse off the pasta after draining. This will remove all of the flavors and drastically change the temperature, causing more issues with sticking and turning to mush.
It also washes off the pasta’s starch, which helps the sauce attach to the pasta.
The only exception to this rule is when the dish calls for cold pasta or if you plan on storing it in the fridge.