How to keep the pasta from boiling over? (5 options)

In this article, we will answer the question “How to keep the pasta from boiling over?”, and how to boil pasta?

How to keep the pasta from boiling over?

Boiling-over is a common problem with pasta and some starchy vegetables like potatoes and beans. This happens because of the following reasons:

  • A large amount of water is used to prevent the pasta from sticking. But the pasta is not stirred occasionally.
  • The pot is covered with a lid.

To solve this problem, follow the instructions below.

Do not cover the pot

If you cover the lid, you are actively trying to trap the steam inside the pot that leads to the water boiling over. Leave the pot uncovered to let the steam release and to prevent the pressure from building up.

Use wooden spoons or chopsticks

Placing a wooden spoon in the pot or across the top of the pot will keep the water from boiling over. This is because the spoon or chopsticks will break the bubbles that gather on top allowing the steam and pressure to release. Stirring occasionally with a spoon will serve the same purpose.

Control the temperature

Once a boil has been achieved after adding the pasta, reduce the flame and bring the water to a rolling boil.

Use a larger pot

Use a large and deep pot that has a broad surface area. Do not fill the pot more than half. Filling a large-surfaced pot with lesser water will prevent the water from escaping the rim.

Add butter or oil

Adding butter or oil helps break the starch at the top of the pot. This allows the steam to escape which prevents the water from boiling over. Do not add too much of it or else you will end up with too slimy pasta. Slimy pasta will have a bland taste because the sauce won’t stick to it properly.

Other FAQs about Pasta which you may be interested in.

How much water is needed to boil pasta?

How long to cook al dente pasta?

Does pasta have eggs in it?

How to cook pasta?

Follow the instructions below to cook the perfect pasta for your lasagna, spaghetti, or pasta salad each time.

Stir occasionally

An ample amount of water is important for boiling pasta. It helps with the following:

  1. It is easier to submerge the long pasta like spaghetti into a hot boiling pot of a generous amount of water.
  2. It prevents the pasta from sticking.

Speaking of sticking, stirring at the start of boiling pasta is very important. Because it is the time when the starch from the surface of the pasta is dissolving into the water. If not stirred occasionally, the pasta will clump and boil as is.

Do not add oil to the boiling pasta

Adding oil to the boiling pasta does not prevent it from sticking. It only prevents the water from overboiling and reaching out of the rim. It also makes the pasta slimy due to which the sauce just slides off the pasta. The pasta ends up tasting bland. 

Adding salt, on the other hand, helps season and add a lot of flavor to the pasta while it absorbs the water to soften.

Mix sauce with hot pasta

Mixing hot pasta with the sauce helps the pasta absorb more flavor. When the Pasta cools down, the swollen starch converts into an insoluble crystalline form. Therefore, prepare the sauce first and toss the freshly drained al dente pasta into the sauce for maximum flavor absorption.

Do not rinse the pasta

It is not recommended to wash the pasta with cold water after boiling as it removes the surface starch and cools the pasta reducing its ability to absorb the sauce.

The water that you used to boil pasta is enriched with starch. Save some of this water to add into your sauce to act as a thickener.

How to reheat leftover pasta?

Cooked pasta without sauce can be reheated by keeping it in the hot boiling water for about a minute. Drain the water and serve warm.

Pasta with sauce can be reheated in 3 following ways:

  • Grease a pan and put the refrigerated pasta in it. Cook the pasta on the stovetop on low-medium heat. Stir gently for even cooking. This cooking step might reduce the liquid content of the pasta, add a bit more sauce, milk, or water to adjust the consistency and texture.
  • Transfer the pasta to a casserole dish. Put the dish in a preheated oven. Bake for about 20 minutes at  350°F or 176°C.
  • Transfer the pasta to a microwave-friendly dish or plate. Cover the dish halfway through with a microwave-safe plastic wrap. Leave some space for steam to eject. Toss the pasta occasionally to distribute heat evenly throughout the pasta. Remove when heated completely.


In this article, we answered the question “How to keep the pasta from boiling over?”, and how to boil pasta?