Why Salt Water For Pasta

You Should Always Salt Your Pasta Water—Here’s Why

Do you want to create the most delicious spaghetti you’ve ever had? Then make sure to follow Nonna’s instructions. In the event you grew up cooking alongside your Italian nonna, you may already be familiar with the key to perfectly moist meatballs, the fact that pasta water should always be “as salty as the sea,” and the fact that singing to your red sauce will make it taste better. Although that final item is unlikely to make much of a difference (other than providing a slight mood boost), we’re here to confirm that Nonna was correct in her observation regarding the pasta water.

For the rest of us who had to learn the hard way, salting your water is the first, and possibly most crucial, step in making a delicious dish of pasta from scratch.

That’s because, no matter how delicious your Bolognese or Alfredo sauce tastes right off the spoon, if your pasta strands aren’t boiled in salted water, you’re going to get a very blandforkful of noodles.

There is just one acceptable reason to salt your pasta water, according to scientific principles: it equally season each noodle from the inside out.

  • The similar principle applies to preparing pasta, when seasoning the water with salt is like setting the groundwork for a delicious feast to come.
  • Examine the water when the salt has completely disintegrated; it should be briny, but not overpoweringly salinity-laden.
  • In reality, it is believed that a pound of pasta will only absorb around a fourth of that amount.
  • Table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, or any combination of these will work nicely.
  • To finish, don’t toss out the water just because your properly seasoned pasta has been dropped into the sauce.

Here’s what happens when you add salt to boiling water

What is the purpose of adding salt to boiling water? There are a handful of possible responses to this often asked culinary question.

Key Takeaways: Adding Salt to Boiling Water

  • When cooking, many chefs add salt to boiling water, and many recipes call for it. The most important reason to season water with salt is to enhance the flavor of food cooked in it. Adding salt to water also helps it to boil (little) more quickly. While adding salt to water does raise the temperature at which it boils, the effect is so modest that it has no influence on the amount of time it takes to cook.

Salting Water for Flavor

Typically, salt is added to water before it is brought to a boil in order to cook rice or pasta. A salty solution imparts taste to water, which is then absorbed by the meal being served.

The ability of chemoreceptors on the tongue to detect chemicals that are experienced through the sense of taste is enhanced by the addition of salt. As you’ll see, this is actually the only reasonable explanation.

Salting Water to Raise Water Temperature

Another benefit for adding salt to water is that it raises the boiling point of the water, which means that the water will be hotter when you add the pasta, resulting in better cooking results. That is, at least, how it works in theory. In actuality, it would take 230 grams of table salt to increase the boiling point of a liter of water by 2 degrees Celsius. The equivalent of 58 grams per half-degree Celsius for each liter or kilogram of water is 58 grams per kilogram of water. That is far more salt than most people would choose to consume in their diet.

Salting Water So It Boils Faster

Although adding salt to water raises its boiling point, it’s important to note that salted water boils much more quickly than unseasoned water. That appears to be counter-intuitive, yet it is simple to put to the test yourself. Cooking two containers at the same time on a burner or hot plate: one with pure water and the other with water containing 20 percent salt Why does salted water boil more quickly than unseasoned water, despite the fact that it has a higher boiling point? This is due to the fact that adding salt decreased the heat capacity of the water.

Pure water has an extremely high heat capacity compared to other liquids.

In essence, when you use a 20 percent salt solution, you lose so much resistance to heating that the salted water boils significantly faster than unsalted water does not.

Adding Salt After Boiling

Some individuals like to add salt to water after it has been brought to a rolling boil. Obviously, this has no effect on the rate at which the water boils because the salt is added after the water has begun to boil. However, because the sodium and chloride ions in salt water have less time to react with the metal, it may be beneficial in protecting metal pots from corrosion in some cases. Really, the difference is small when compared to the harm that can be done to your pots and pans by leaving them out for hours or even days before washing them, so it isn’t a huge concern whether you add your salt at the beginning or the end of the process, either.

Do You Have to Salt the Water?

If you’re following a recipe that calls for salting the water, but you’re attempting to reduce your sodium intake, you might question if it’s safe to omit the salt altogether. Will your recipe be damaged as a result of this? In baking, salt is beneficial since it helps to keep leavening at bay (how baked goods rise). When baking, omitting the salt has an impact on the outcome of the recipe.

Adding salt to water before cooking rice or pasta, on the other hand, is all about flavor. Neither the cooking time nor the final texture of the product are affected by this factor. If you don’t want to salt boiling water, that’s perfectly OK.


  • Atkins, P. W., et al (1994). Physical Chemistry is the study of matter and energy (4th ed.). ISBN 0-19-269042-6
  • Chisholm, Hugh (ed.) Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-269042-6
  • Oxford University Press, Oxford (1911). “Cooking.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. (11th ed.). Eds. : Elvers, B., and colleagues (Cambridge University Press)
  • Et al (1991). Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (5th ed.). Vol. A24. Wiley. ISBN 978-3-527-20124-2
  • McQuarrie, Donald
  • Et al. Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (5th ed.). Vol. A24. Wiley. ISBN 978-3-527-20124-2
  • Et al (2011). “Collaborative characteristics of Solutions” is an abbreviation. Chemistry in general. The Library of Congress, Mill Valley, California, ISBN 978-1-89138-960-3
  • Serventi, Silvano
  • Sabban, Françoise (2002). Pasta: The Origins of a Universal Food (in Italian). Columbia University Press, New York, ISBN 0231124422
  • New York: Columbia University Press.

Dear Olive Garden, This Is Why You Need To Salt Your Pasta Water

A recent 294-slide criticism of Olive Garden by hedge fund Starboard Value unflatteringly exposed the fast-casual restaurant’s faults in an attempt to shame Olive Garden into altering its business practices. Much of the criticism is directed at the way the company is operated, but it appears that the Internet’s favorite slam is directed at Olive Garden’s complete inability to season its pasta water. Take a look at this slide, which says it all: Despite the fact that it may not come as a surprise that Olive Garden has absolutely no clue how to prepare pasta, we are pleasantly shocked at how furious the general public is at the restaurant’s inability to master the most fundamental of culinary skills.

  1. Olive Garden maintains that skipping this crucial step saves money by reducing the wear and tear on the pasta-cooking pots, which means that O.G.
  2. As a result, we were left wondering: Is this even true?
  3. So, does salt really cause pots to deteriorate?
  4. Stainless steel rusting is a kind of rusting caused by the interaction of chloride in salt, oxygen in water, and chromium in stainless steel.
  6. (Continue reading)Can anything like this be avoided?
  7. Here’s a straightforward solution: In order to avoid allowing the elements too much time to interact with one another when the water is cold, add the salt to the saucepan after the water has come to a boil.

Are you paying attention, Olive Garden?



Given that one ounce of salt only raises the boiling point of water by one degree Fahrenheit, it would take an inordinately large amount of salt to make a noticeable difference in the amount of time it takes to cook something – an inordinately large amount of salt.


Spaghetti that has been marinated in salt from the inside out will be tastier than pasta that has not been marinated in salted water.

Even if your bolognese or marinara sauce is delectable, the pasta serves as the basis upon which you construct your tastes to perfection.

Also, don’t be concerned by the large amount of salt you’re dumping into the pot.

So, how much salt do you recommend I use in my pasta cooking water?

My experience was negative and I would never intentionally put something in my mouth again.

She recommends that you use no less than 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt for every pound of pasta.

What sort of salt should I use, and how much?


However, sea salt, kosher salt, and just about any other type of salt can do the work in this case.

I’ve realized that I should season my water.

And now, what should I cook for dinner?

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You’re Doing it Wrong: The Guide to Making Perfect Pasta

Most of our kitchens are stocked with a variety of pastas, as photographed by Flickr user Stacy. As reported by Zagat, almost half of the American population consumes pasta 1-2 times per week, with nearly a quarter consuming it 3-4 times per week. It goes without saying that we adore pasta. Seriously, who wouldn’t want a huge dish of spaghetti and meatballs or Bucatini all’Amatriciana in the middle of the night? The popularity of pasta in America may be traced back to Thomas Jefferson, who brought apasta machines to Philadelphia in the late 18th century after falling in love with the trendy cuisine while eating in Paris in the previous century.

  1. We call the pasta dish he made popular in the United States “macaroni and cheese,” and it is named after him.
  2. When the first Italians came in the United States, spaghetti was one of the few pasta kinds accessible; this is one of the reasons why it has become so synonymous with Italian American food.
  3. Check out Pop Chart Lab’s chart of 250 different forms of pasta, The Plethora of Pasta Permutations, to get a good picture of the sheer amount of options available.
  4. On the other hand, pasta is a mainstay of the Mediterranean Diet, which has become more popular.
  5. Durum pasta has a low glycemic index (GI), ranging between 25 and 45.
  6. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming foods with a low GI has been linked to greater HDL-cholesterol concentrations (the “good” cholesterol), a lower chance of acquiring diabetes, and a lower risk of getting cardiovascular disease (heart disease).
  7. The use of even healthier grains, such as whole grain and spelt, in pasta recipes does provide additional nutrients, but they do not always decrease the GI.
See also:  What Does Orzo Pasta Look Like

You want to cook the pasta al dente, which literally translates as “to the tooth” or “to the bite,” for the healthiest and tastiest results.

So, in order to make your pasta both nutritious and tasty, follow the guidelines below.

It is important that the pasta be swimming in water since it will expand throughout the cooking process.

The normal pasta pot is between 6 and 8 quarts in size, and it should be filled approximately 3/4 of the way, or around 4-5 quarts, with water for each pound of pasta.

Fill the kettle halfway with ice water: This is true for every type of cooking that involves water.

Always use cold water from the faucet and let the water flow for a few seconds before using it, just to be cautious.

As the water is coming to a boil, you should add salt to taste.

Follow the lead of celebrity chef Mario Batali and salt the water until it “tastes like the sea.” To get the desired saltiness, Mark Ladner, executive chef at Del Posto, recommends using around 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water.

However, this is not entirely correct.

Moreover, there is an excessive amount of salt for anyone’s palate.

And that is a formal order!” It is claimed that olive oil prevents the pot from boiling over and prevents the pasta from clinging to one another.

It has the potential to prevent the sauce from clinging to the spaghetti surface.

It is drained through this oiled layer, which puts an additional coat of oil on the pasta once it is drained.

Make certain that the water is boiling: For those of you eager chefs out there, just wait that additional minute until the water is boiling vigorously with many bubbles.

What happens during that first plunge into boiling water is essential to the ultimate texture of the finished product.

Whisk:Don’t forget to stir the mixture.

If you don’t mix the pasta, it will almost certainly stay together and cook unevenly.

This is just to prevent the white foam from erupting out of the rims of your pot like Mt.

According to Lidia Bastianich, an alternate method is to leave the lid on while propping it open with a wooden spoon during cooking.

However, the most accurate timing is your mouth.

In the case of pasta with a sauce, Chef Michael Chiarello suggests pulling the pasta out of the pot around 4 minutes before it is supposed to be served.

It is recommended that you employ this procedure with a comparable amount of sauce.

It is a good idea to create extra sauce, especially if you want to save it in the freezer for another day or serve it as an accompaniment.

Set a timer for 7 minutes to begin.

Prepare your sauce by adding around 14 1/2 cups or a ladle full of water to it before adding the pasta.

The method you drain the pasta can also have an impact on the flavor and texture of the finished product.

If at all possible, you want to combine the sauce and the pasta as soon as possible.

To avoid the pasta sticking together, don’t let it sit for too long after it’s been boiled.

The similar effect may be achieved by rinsing the cooked pasta under cold water.

Do you have any tips or tricks for making the ultimate pasta dish? Recommended Videos for CookingRecipes

Does Salting Pasta Water Have Any Scientific Merit?

We independently select these products, and if you make a purchase after clicking on one of our links, we may receive a commission. (Photo courtesy of Emma Christensen/Megan Gordon.) – Sure, seasoning pasta water with salt makes for tastier pasta, but does it really result in more efficient preparation? When it comes to making pasta at home or with friends, the question of how much salt to put in the water seems to be a fairly common one. Do you use a salt solution in the water? How much is it, exactly?

  1. Do you believe it makes a significant difference?
  2. The addition of salt raises the boiling temperature of water, resulting in a longer time required to bring your pot to a boil.
  3. As he points out in his section on Boiling Points, “a negligible 1°F increase in the boiling point of water can be accomplished with one ounce of salt per quart of water.” As a result, we’re not going to say much.
  4. So, how much salt do you use in your dish?
  5. I’m afraid to say that this isn’t based on scientific evidence, but rather on personal preference.
  6. It’s possible that the pasta dish will require less salt overall.” We’re leaning a little more towards the flavor side of things and a little less towards the scientific side of things on this one.
  7. After much deliberation, we’ve come to the conclusion that salted pasta water results in tastier pasta.
  8. The case has been closed.
  9. Megan is a writer, recipe developer, and cookbook author who works as a freelancer.

How Salty Should Pasta Water Be?

I am frequently asked how much salt should be added to a pot of boiling water while making pasta, and I typically just advise folks to guess. I was thinking about this when someone recently asked me about how much salt I should use in my pasta water, and it got me thinking about a more specific question: how salty should my pasta water be? I’m not sure when the last time was that I measured the salt in my pasta water. I only add enough salt to make the water taste well-seasoned without making it taste too salty.

  • While I’ve made the error of over-salting my pasta water on occasion, the vast majority of individuals I’ve witnessed make the opposite mistake, adding much too little salt.
  • My hunch is that a lot of home chefs are intimidated by the prospect of adding a lot of salt to their pot of pasta water, but they’re overlooking one essential point: the majority of the salt ends up going down the drain.
  • (For more information on how much water to use while cooking pasta, see our post here.) You might be surprised by the response.) If you use too little seasoning, the pasta will be unable to be adequately seasoned.
  • Rather than an absolute amount of salt, the response will be expressed as a ratio between salt and water.
  • Although it’s important to note this before moving on to the recipes, it’s important to note that salt tastes are extremely individual, and what I discovered to be my sweet spot may not necessarily be to everyone’s taste.

Some people like more salt, while others want less. Having said that, I was able to come up with a reasonable range that I believe would be acceptable to the majority of folks.

Testing How Much Salt You Should Use for Boiling Pasta

It was simple to set up this experiment: all I had to do was boil pasta in multiple pots of water, each with a different quantity of salt, and then taste them to discover which ones I preferred the most. The only question was which salt concentrations to experiment with. I looked through numerous Italian cookbooks and other sources and came up with a variety of options to choose from. Chef Paul Bertolli recommends 5 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water in his excellent bookCooking by Hand (available on Amazon).

  • I found this information online.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of salt is that the density of various varieties (kosher, fine sea, coarse sea, table) varies.
  • When it comes to salt, even two different manufacturers’ brands of the same type of salt, such as Morton and Diamond Crystal kosher salt, will not be identical.
  • I chose fine sea salt since it is highly recommended by many Italian specialists, despite the fact that I did not know what sorts of salt Bertolli and everyone else used.
  • A salt content of 8 percent by weight (or 8 grams per liter) corresponds to the one teaspoon every two quarts recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).
  • People were pointing to a salt solution that had around 1.8 percent sodium chloride (18 grams per liter).
  • That’s one I’ve heard more times than I want to remember.
  • On average, around 3.5 percent of the total weight.
  • Knowing all of this, I made the decision to boil dry penne pasta in water with the salinity levels shown below:
  • 0.5 percent (approximately 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt per liter)
  • 1 percent (approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons per liter)
  • 2 percent (approximately 1 tablespoon fine sea salt per liter)
  • 3 percent (approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt per liter)
  • 3.5 percent (approximately 2 tablespoons fine sea salt per liter)

A saltiness of around 35 grams per liter, which corresponds to the usual salinity of the sea, is far too salty for making pasta. Allow me to begin by emphasizing one very crucial point: Never, ever make your pasta water as salty as the sea water. That is the worst piece of advise somebody could ever provide. It has a terrible, inedible saltiness to it. To be quite honest, 3 percent salt is likewise far too salty. Below that, I discovered that the other possibilities are viable options, depending on your salt tolerance level.

See also:  What Type Of Pasta Are You

For me, 1 percent (which is roughly about the quantity Bertolli recommends) was the sweet spot: seasoning without a strong salt flavor, but not overpowering.

For people who are more sensitive to salt, a concentration of 0.5 percent will enough for their needs. After that, I experimented with a few batches below the 0.5 percent mark and discovered that they were all underseasoned.


Depending on your salt tolerance, you may use anywhere from 0.5 percent to 2 percent salt by weight, with 1 percent being my ideal quantity of salt. 2 percent may be plenty for individuals who enjoy salt, but keep in mind that it is perilously near to crossing the line into the too-salty zone when used regularly. Depending on how salty your sauce and cheese are, as well as if you finish the meal with the pasta-cooking water (which will concentrate the salt as the water evaporates), 2 percent might easily put you over the limit, so proceed with caution.

Salt per Liter of Water
.5% Salinity 1% Salinity 2% Salinity
Fine Sea Salt 3/4 tsp 1 1/2 tsp 1 TB
Table Salt 3/4 tsp 1 1/2 tsp 1 TB
Morton Coarse Kosher 1 tsp 2 tsp 1 TB plus 1 tsp
Diamond Crystal Kosher 1 1/2 tsp 1 TB 2 TB

And keep in mind that you should never use as much salt in your water as the ocean does. That’s really disgusting.

How to Salt Pasta Water – Tips for Cooking Pasta

We’re sharing tips and tactics that we’ve learned from talks on the Food52 Hotline to make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more enjoyable. Today: What is the first step on the path to great pasta? It’s all in the salt, you know. If you’re reading this page, it’s probable that you’re familiar with the process of making pasta. In fact, you’re probably familiar with three distinct methods of preparing it. You presumably even know how to make ravioli from scratch, if not from a box. Cooks of all levels, including the most seasoned professionals, can make the fatal error of underseasoning their pasta water.

  • While you could absolutely toss in a couple of large pinches of salt and call it a day, let’s take it a step further and investigate.
  • Why?
  • In addition, what is the appropriate ratio of salt to water?
  • It is necessary to salt the pasta water.
  • Seasoning the pasta water is the only opportunity you have to flavor the pasta itself, and it is an important step that should not be skipped.
  • When the water comes to a boil, add the salt and stir well.
  • However, after doing some research, it appears that there is no definitive solution when it comes to seasoning pasta water with sea salt.

Many people (including Marcella herself) believe that the salt should only be added to the water once it has reached a full rolling boil.

If you want to dissolve your salt in cold water, make sure to stir it around with a spoon (or your palm) until the salt is completely dissolved.

Continue reading:Now that you’ve made a perfectly cooked pot of pasta, here’s how to dress it up.

For myself, I prefer to envision it being declared, rather than said, by a wise old Italian grandmother, who is gesticulating furiously and tossing salt around her rustic kitchen.

So, in terms of cold, hard figures, what does all of this add up to?

If you receive a sense of accomplishment from precise measures, feel free to break out the measuring spoons.

While the amount of salt in your pasta water will have an impact on the final outcome, the kind of salt will also have an impact.

Christopher Boswell, of the Rome Sustainable Food Project, never uses anything other than coarse sea salt, which is the salt of choice for the Italians, and he never uses anything else.

This is a Public Service Announcement from your friends at Food52.

Thank you for reading. Keep this in mind, everyone: Make sure to season your water with zest. Make your water taste better with panache. But, most importantly, always salt your water – period. What method do you use to season your pasta water? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Why add salt to the water when cooking pasta?

That there was no response above referring to the basic truth that adding even half a teaspoon of salt to boiling water accomplishes this goal is surprising to me.

  1. The salt helps to fill water molecules, which decreases the transfer of vitamins, particularly B-vitamins, from noodles into the cooking water, which is then thrown away when the boiling noodles are drained, along with all of the vitamins in that water.

That’s also why I’ve stopped washing the boiling noodles, because it washes away the nutrients and washes even more vitamins down the sink-pipe. If you drain noodles after boiling them and don’t want them to stick together, run a stick of butter through the whole batch very quickly, which immediately improves the flavor. Alternatively, put your thumb almost completely over the top of a bottle of first-pressed olive oil and sprinkle a teaspoon or so over the batch of noodles while stirring quickly.

There’s a Scientific Reason Behind Salting Your Pasta Water

Nanisimova Select the checkbox. No, honestly, look on the side of the box for any boxes of pasta that may be lurking in your pantry. A side of “season with salt to taste” will almost always be included, no matter what. If such sentence or a version of it is not printed on the box, that box should be thrown away immediately since it is performing incorrectly. (Optimally, you could give the spaghetti rather than toss it away figuratively. For seasoned pasta cooks, adding a pinch of kosher or sea salt to your pasta water is a given, but what precisely does it accomplish is less well understood.

  1. Even if the first part of the proverb is correct (the chemical composition changes), the second half does not ring true in terms of technical validity.
  2. However, this does not imply that your lasagna night will be postponed in the slightest—at least not by a significant amount of time.
  3. There will be very little difference in taste, but the salted water will be a little hotter with salt than without, which means the pasta will need to spend less time boiling and toiling through the eight minutes of expectation before it is transformed into bolognese.
  4. Yes, despite the fact that the procedure offers little scientific advantages, it will, simple and simply, result in better tasty pasta.

4 pasta-making mistakes you’re probably making

When it comes to preparing a great piece of pasta, the key is in the sauce—as well as in the amount of salt added to it. While boiling pasta may appear to be a straightforward process, there are a variety of ways in which a meal may go horribly wrong before it’s even put on the table. Among the many blunders that home chefs make when preparing pasta, according to pasta connoisseur and New York City-based chef Albert Di Meglio, are the following: They make a faulty estimation of the amount of salt required (either by adding far too much or far too little), and as a result, they are unable to obtain the desired consistency of their sauce.

His pasta plates, which include dishes like as potato gnocchi and linguine with clams, are infused with typical Italian tastes, but he also incorporates ingredients that are not indigenous to Italy, such as delicata squash.

Despite having had professional training, the chef admits to making the occasional clumsy mistake in the kitchen — but he has devised numerous surefire methods for making flawless pasta.

There are a few easy steps that any cook should follow while preparing either boxed or fresh pasta after they have mastered the art of portioning.

How to make pasta (and avoid these mistakes)

Here are four typical culinary blunders, along with Di Meglio’s professional advise on how to avoid making them in the future. Nathan Congleton / THE TIMES OF DAY

1. Never salting pasta water or adding too much salt

Have you ever wondered how much salt is too much? You know how you pour in a few heaping spoonfuls of sauce only to discover once dinner is on the table that the pasta is nearly too salty to eat? It happens to the best of us. Di Meglio studied the composition of saltwater and utilized that information to determine how much salt to add to the pasta water in order to maintain complete taste control. The sort of salt that is used, on the other hand, may have a significant impact on the final flavor.

If you add the salt to the water before you add the pasta, you will not get the required results.

Nathan Congleton / THE TIMES OF DAY

2. Adding salt to the water before cooking fresh pasta

Making pasta at home is not nearly as difficult as it appears. Whatever your level of experience with homestyle Italian cooking, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned expert, Di Meglio swears by a little unique approach to ensure that his fresh pasta tastes delicious every time. “When making fresh pasta, avoid seasoning the water with salt. as an alternative, salt the dough “Di Meglio stated in an interview with TODAY. Salting the dough instead of the water helps cooks to keep greater taste control over the final result than using water alone.

3. Pouring sauce over cooked pasta and serving it right away

A lot of people, according to Di Meglio, believe it’s perfectly OK to just boil their pasta separately from their sauce and then blend the two just before serving. It’s a significant error in his opinion because it prevents the pasta from absorbing any of the flavors of the sauce, regardless of whether you’re making a creamy Alfredo or a sumptuous, meaty bolognese. Consider the pasta and the sauce as elements for a final meal that must be cooked together before being served to your guests. It is recommended by Di Meglio that dry pasta be cooked in its sauce for around six to seven minutes, while fresh pasta should be cooked for approximately three to four minutes in order to absorb the sauce’s characteristics.

See also:  How To Add Pesto To Pasta

4. Throwing out the pasta water

When you’re finished cooking your pasta, don’t throw away the water that remains in the pot. Because it is salty and starchy, it may be used to enhance the flavor of almost any sauce. Aside from that, it may assist home cooks in creating a superbly smooth sauce consistency. When making penne with marinara, save the starchy water after you’ve drained the actual pasta to avoid ending up with that dreaded watery puddle at the bottom of your otherwise gorgeous dish of pasta. Di Meglio adds it to his sauces spoonful by spoonful during the latter stages of cooking, and he told TODAY that the starch in the water really helps the sauce bond to the pasta better and, when handled appropriately, can also serve as a superb thickening agent.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making pasta, try some of our favorite variations on Italian classics: TODAY Paul Brissman is a writer who lives in New York City. Cooking Techniques Tyler Essary / THE TIMES Nathan Congleton / THE TIMES OF DAY Nathan Congleton / THE TIMES OF DAY Related:

The real Italian debate on salting pasta water—not if, but when

For Olive Garden to realize that they had a major problem, a 300-page hedge fund study was required. The problem: there is no salt in the pasta. As the story points out, “Olive Garden no longer salts the water it uses to boil the pasta, just for the purpose of extending the warranty on its pots.” It is shocking, to say the least. “Sciocca” is an Italian term that refers to pasta that has been devoid of salt. It also denotes “silly.” That should be enough to say anything. Starboard Asset Management filed the report, which claims that the company took a business choice to discontinue salinating its pasta in order to save money.

As stated in the study by Starboard analysts, “the first step in every pasta dish is to boil water in a large pot and salt it.”

Not so fast

While there is universal agreement that salty water is required for well cooked pasta, the question of when to add the salt remains a source of much debate. Everybody in Italy has an opinion on whether salt should be added before or after the water boils, and it is almost impossible to find a consensus. Here’s a short rundown of what the two camps think in terms of their respective positions.

Cold water salting

This has one clear advantage: you won’t forget to add salt at the end of the cooking process. But, beyond that, cold-water salters claim that their technique is backed by scientific evidence. There is a school of thought that believes that adding salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl), to water causes a solution that allows the water to reach a higher boiling point. Their argument is that cooking pasta at a higher temperature is the best option.

Salt when boiling

To my knowledge, this is the most widely used method of salt control. They suggest that waiting displays diligent cooking on the part of the boiling-salters. Furthermore, because water without salt boils more quickly, it saves both time and energy during the cooking process.

The Answer

It really doesn’t make a difference. There is no optimal timing to add salt as long as the salt is given sufficient time to dissolve into the water and permeate the pasta. Yes, increasing the boiling point of water by adding sodium chloride raises it—but only by a negligible 0.17°C per liter of water. In contrast, delaying the addition of salt until later saves time and energy, but not significantly. Engineers with a penchant for noodles conducted research that revealed the time was less than a second.

How To Properly Salt Your Pasta Water

It is possible that this content contains affiliate links. Please take the time to read my disclosure policy. Greetings, fellows! I thought I’d take the day off from providing a dish and instead provide a Very Important Tip for all of you pasta lovers out there who like reading my blog. My little culinary soap box happens to be about something that we haven’t talked about explicitly on the site before, and I wanted to bring it up for discussion. How to correctly season your pasta water is what I’m talking about!

  1. In fact, my first inquiry to them is usually the same: “Do you heavily salt your pasta water?” In the vast majority of cases, it turns out that they don’t.
  2. It’s also common for people to add only a little sprinkle or two of salt to their pasta since they are unsure of how much to use and are concerned about over-salting the dish or consuming too much sodium.
  3. Those priceless seconds while the pasta is boiling in the water are basically the only time during the cooking process when you have the opportunity to season the actual pasta itself with salt and pepper.
  4. For it to be properly seasoned, you must ensure that the pasta water has a high enough salt to water ratio that it can really make a difference with the relatively little amount of pasta that is being cooked in it throughout the seasoning process.
  5. However, using correctly salted pasta water will make a significant difference in the flavor of the dish.
  6. When do you include it in the equation?
  7. How much spaghetti do you want?

So first and first, I should definitely state emphatically that everyone will almost certainly have a different point of view on this.

But, as a starting point, I’ll share with you the fundamental formula that I’ve been using for the past many years.

1 pound of pasta is equal to: 4:1 water: 1 tablespoon salt = 4 quarts (16 cups).

1 pound of pasta is equal to: There are no restrictions on the type of uncooked, dried pasta you may use here.

1 pound is a unit of weight.

I recommend 1 tablespoon of table salt or sea salt if you’re using regular table salt.

Alternatively, if you want really salty pasta, as I do, try with adding another half to a full tablespoon and seeing what you prefer.

You may argue that you could use more or less, but this is the standard for me.

Add the salt and mix well. After that, boil the pasta until al dente according to the package guidelines, drain, and then plate it. So, if you’re new to the practice of salting your pasta water, I strongly advise you to give it a try! Wishing you a wonderful pasta-making experience! Print


The following formula will teach you how to appropriately salt your pasta water. 1:4 It will unquestionably enhance the flavor of your pasta to a delightful new level!

  • 1 pound (uncooked) dried pasta
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water
  • 1 tablespoon normal table salt (or 1.5 teaspoons Kosher salt)
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add the salt and mix well. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, turning periodically and lowering the heat if it begins to boil over, until the pasta is al dente
  2. Remove from the heat and set aside. Remove any surplus water from the area
  3. Prepare your favorite pasta recipe right away and serve immediately.


*If you like a saltier pasta, feel free to increase the amount of salt by 1/2 tablespoon every batch until you discover the level that tastes good. A post published on August 31, 2016 by Ali

Should You Salt Water to Cook Pasta?

When boiling pasta, do I need to add salt to the water? Years of watching cookery shows on television would lead me to believe the answer is “yes.” However, this lengthy dispute between chefs, nutritionists, and other professionals has been going on for years. As a dietician, the obvious answer is “no!” yet the situation is not quite that straightforward. There are two primary reasons why some people are enthusiastic about seasoning pasta water with salt: first, it tastes better. For starters, salt is utilized to improve the flavor of foods.

  1. This, according to many people’s taste senses, results in tastier pasta.
  2. Of course, the addition of salt results in an increase in the amount of sodium in our diet.
  3. While I learn that the typical American eats 3,400 milligrams of salt per day, when the suggested amount for more than half of the population is less than 1,500 milligrams per day, I think it’s reasonable to advise that we should cut corners wherever possible!
  4. The second reason for adding salt to pasta water is that it speeds up the process of bringing the water to a rolling boil.
  5. Because salt raises the boiling temperature of water, it will take a little longer to bring the water to a boil, but once the pasta is in, it will likely cook faster.albeit a small bit faster.
  6. There is no way you could make a significant difference without using an enormous amount of salt, and I don’t believe anyone would like your overly salty dish!
  7. For example, it serves as a preservative in pickles, permits yeast to activate and provide a fine texture in yeast breads, regulates the speed of fermentation in cheese, and aids in the holding together of components in processed meats, among other things.

How Much Sodium Does Salted Cooking Water Add to Pasta?

The addition of salt to the pasta’s cooking water guarantees that the pasta is delicious. After years of experimentation, we’ve come up with a favored ratio of 1 tablespoon table salt to 4 quarts of boiling water per pound of pasta for the best-tasting pasta of any shape or size. For our investigation, we sent samples of six different shapes of pasta—spaghetti, linguine, rigatoni, campanelle, and orzo—all cooked al dente according to our method to an independent lab for testing. The results were surprising: the sodium content of the pasta was significantly higher than we expected.

With the exception of a few milligrams of sodium, all of the forms absorbed approximately the same amount of salt: 1/16 teaspoon each 4-ounce portion, or a total of 1/4 teaspoon per pound of pasta, on average.

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