Top 7 Tips to Making the Perfect Pasta

Kitchen TipsPasta is something nearly everyone loves. Boil some water, throw in some pasta and voila!


Well, not so fast. Cooking good pasta is easy but making perfect pasta takes a little bit more knowledge. It’s still easy, just better.

McNack’s focuses more on the beginner end of the cooking spectrum but we have found that even some of the more experienced cooks learn from some of these tips that take us all back to the basics.

1. Use a big enough pot and enough water – skimping on either of these will cause uneven cooking and pasta more prone to sticking together.

2. Salt the water – this is a must! Not just a dash or two either. You need to put in a small handful into the already boiling water.

3. Don’t put oil in the water! I was taught this ‘trick’ a long time ago – add some oil to the water and the pasta won’t stick and the water won’t boil over. Don’t do it! It will make the sauce not stick to the pasta and if you follow the other steps below, your water won’t boil over.

4. Follow this simple process – Bring the water to a boil, add the salt, add the pasta, cover until the water boils again, remove the lid and reduce the heat a notch to keep it at a rolling boil but not so hard that it will  boil over.  Simple. Works every time.

5. Cook the pasta al dente – al dente is a fancy term for just under cooked. Whatever you do, don’t overcook pasta. It’s horrible and gummy. Cooking until just slightly under done will allow for a bit more cooking time in step 7.

6. Drain the pasta well but always reserve a bit of the water. I generally just take a glass measuring cup and fill it up before I drain the pasta. You never know when you might need a bit to help your pan sauce.

7. Toss the pasta in a sauté pan with the sauce for 1-2 minutes. This will allow the pasta to finish cooking and allow the sauce to adhere to all the pasta.

That’s it! 7 little steps to the perfect pasta.

If you want to make it pretty in the bowl, use some tongs, grab some pasta, set in the bowl and as you begin to release the tongs, give them a little twist. Just like a restaurant.



  1. Morgan says:

    Hey Melissa – do you ever rinse your pasta after cooking it?

    • Almost never! If I’m serving a cold pasta salad, I do but that’s really it. Rinsing it takes the starch off and makes the sauce even less likely to cling to the pasta. It goes straight from the colander to the sauté pan with the sauce.

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