How to Cook Spaghetti

Does your pasta come out too sticky, too hard, or too mushy? Let this video be your guide to cooking it perfectly.

Pasta is a delicious, go-to meal you can throw together in minutes. But cooking it with the "just right" al dente texture—chewy, firm, and fork-tender—takes technique. Follow these simple steps and you'll be nailing it like nonna in no time.

Once you've perfected your pasta cooking technique, try your hand at one these delicious, easy-to-make pasta recipes (like bucatini with kale and ricotta, pasta carbonara, or shrimp and asparagus fra diavolo). You can also keep things simple: Drizzle your finished noodles with good-quality olive oil, salt and pepper, and finish with a shower of shaved Parmesan.

Whatever type of noodle dish inspires your palette, we promise you'll have a delicious dinner on the table in minutes with this foolproof method. (Pro tip: For best results, use a big stockpot.)

What You Need

  • Water
  • Large pot
  • Pasta
  • Salt
  • Tongs
  • Colander

Follow These Steps

  1. Boil water in a large pot. To prevent pasta from sticking together, use at least 4 quarts of water for every pound of noodles.
  2. Salt the water with at least 1 tablespoon, and more is fine. The salty water adds flavor to the pasta.
  3. Add pasta. Pour pasta into boiling water. There's no need to break the pasta; it will soften up within 30 seconds and fit into the pot.
  4. Stir occasionally. As the pasta starts to cook, stir it well with the tongs so the noodles don't stick to each other (or the pot).
  5. Test the pasta by tasting it. Follow the cooking time on the package, but always taste pasta before draining to make sure the texture is right. Pasta cooked properly should be al dente—a little chewy.
  6. Drain. Drain cooked pasta well in a colander. If serving it hot, add sauce right away; if you're making a pasta salad, run noodles under cold water to stop the cooking.
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles