Cooking Techniques

How to Cook Pasta Perfectly

Every Single Time

There’s a formula for perfectly cooked pasta and it’s easier than you think. Follow this step-by-step guide to get it right every time.


Make sure there’s enough water in the pasta pot. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of water for each pound of dry pasta. This allows the pasta plenty of room to cook and keeps it from sticking.


Bring water to rolling boil before adding the pasta.


Add the pasta with a stir and return the water to a boil.


As soon as the water comes back to a boil, add a generous sprinkling of salt to the pot (about 2 tablespoons per 4 quarts of water). Salt adds flavor and keeps the pasta from sticking.

Pasta Pro Tip: Never add oil to your pasta water – it keeps sauce from sticking to the pasta. Learn more


Gently stir the pasta occasionally during cooking.


Follow the package directions for cooking times. If the pasta will be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, undercook the package by 1/3 of the cooking time specified on the package.


Taste the pasta part way through cooking to determine if it’s done. Perfectly cooked pasta is “al dente”, or firm to the bite, yet cooked through.


Drain pasta immediately and follow the rest of the recipe.

Pasta & Sauce Pairings

Confused about which pasta shapes go with which sauces? Our Pasta Shapes Dictionary breaks down every pasta shape, what to pair it with, and provides plenty of recipe ideas.

You can also find tips for whipping up delicious sauces on our Pasta Sauces page.

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