Stick to these rules for cooking pasta and you'll always know how to make pasta not stick, how often to stir, the right sauce to use and more pasta guidelines.

Tip 1

Always Add Pasta to Boiling Water

Most pasta recipes are relatively simple, but they do require patience while you wait for the water to boil. It can be hard to wait—especially when you’re hungry—but adding pasta to water that isn’t boiling is a bad idea. It will cause the pasta to stick together and you’ll end up with a gummy texture.

Tip 2

Use Plenty of Water

Pasta cooks best when it has enough space to expand. Don’t force your favorite Pasta into a tiny pot with barely enough water. The pasta will release starch into the water as it cooks, causing a sticky situation without enough water.

Tip 3

Measure Your Pasta Portions

It’s easy to overestimate how much pasta you need. Instead of dumping in the whole box (and inevitably dumping the leftovers in the trash), take the time to measure proper portions. For small shapes, you’ll want about 1 full cup of dry pasta per person. You can also use a kitchen scale to weigh out servings —about 100 grams

Tip 4

Keep Long Pasta Intact

Breaking long pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, does help it fit into the pot, but it’s not the best practice. Instead, place one end of the pasta in boiling water and use a spoon to gently submerge the Pasta as they soften. You also want to make sure you have a big enough pot.

Tip 5

Taste as You Go

Professional chefs are so good at what they do because they taste their creations all the time. Before you commit to draining an entire batch of pasta, sample a Pasta or two to make sure it’s cooked to your liking. The easiest way to fish out a single strand of pasta? Grab a good pair of long-handled tongs.

Tip 6

Match the Pasta Shape to the Sauce

Make sure you’re pairing a complementary sauce to your Pasta shape Wide Pasta shapes should go with rich sauces, thin shapes with delicate sauces, and thick tube-like shapes for baked dishes.

Tip 7

Don’t Forget to Stir

Unless you like clumps of spaghetti that stick together, you’ll want to stir the pasta while it’s cooking. Give the pasta a good stir once it hits the water and again in the middle and toward the end of the cooking time. The last thing you want to do is drop in your pasta and walk away for 10 minutes!

Tip 8

Don’t Under (or Over) Cook the Pasta

We’re not sure which is worse: chewy, tough pasta with a hard center or mushy, soft pasta that’s completely overcooked. Find that sweet spot by learning to cook your pasta al dente. Keep an eye on the pasta as it boils and check it frequently. The suggested time stamped on the the box may help. Practice your skills with our best pasta recipes.

Tip 9

Don’t Add Olive Oil to the Water

If you’re not tossing your pasta with sauce, or you’re cooking it to reheat later, add a small drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water. The oil coats the pasta, ensuring they won’t stick together. We don’t recommend this tip for other situations, though, as oil will prevent the sauce from adhering to the pasta. That will lead to a pile of bare pasta surrounded by sauce.

Tip 10

Don’t Skimp on Salt

It won’t help the pasta from sticking together, but you need to salt the cooking water to create flavorful pasta. A measly sprinkle isn’t going to cut it, either. Grab your measuring spoons and add about 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta. Learn more about how to salt pasta water the right way.

Tip 11

Don’t Cook the Pasta Too Early

If your pasta are done before the homemade pasta sauce is ready, they’re bound to stick together in the colander. You can toss the pasta with a small amount of oil, but that will prevent the sauce from clinging to the pasta. You could run the pasta under cold water, but that also rinses the starches that help the sauce adhere. Instead, time your cooking so you’re ready to combine the pasta with the sauce as soon as they come out of the boiling water.