How to tell If pasta is al dente?

In this article, we will answer the question “How to tell If pasta is al dente?”, and how to keep the pasta from boiling over?

How to tell If pasta is al dente?

If you bite al dente pasta with your front teeth, you will feel the texture is not crunchy but not soft either. It will feel firm. Plus If you cut the pasta and observe its cross-section, you will see that the al dente pasta has a core of uncooked pasta in the middle.

How to cook pasta al dente?

  1. Add water and pasta into a large pot. Set the pot on the stovetop. Let the water come to a boil. Add the slat If you want.
  1. After 6-7 minutes of boiling, taste-test the pasta to check If it is crunchy or firm.
  1. From this point onwards, keep checking the pasta after regular intervals of 30 seconds. Instead of biting the pasta, cut the pasta with a sharp knife to observe its cross-section.
  1. Drain the 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.

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.
  1. 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

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 it to add into your sauce for thickening.


In this article, we answered the question “How to tell If pasta is al dente?”, and how to keep the pasta from boiling over?


Sana Ameer

Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.

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