How to Salt Pasta Water the Right Way

It's as easy as the instructions on the back of the box, right? Sure, but using this easy pasta cooking technique makes for excellent noodles and proper pot care, too.

For such a simple task, cooking pasta has accumulated its fair share of oddball tips (throwing spaghetti against the wall—really?). In truth, outside of getting your water to a full boil (not a simmer!), the only thing you need to get right is salting the water. But how do you salt pasta water to get the most flavorful dish possible? We’ll break it down so you’re ready to tackle any of these five-star recipes. Make sure you also avoid the biggest mistake you can make while cooking pasta.

Use the right amount

There’s an old adage that pasta water should taste like the sea. Well, considering that no one relishes the taste of a mouthful of salt water, that’s not too helpful of a tip—not to mention that it’s not very precise!

In general, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta (you should use three or four quarts of water to boil a full pound). However, you can experiment a bit up and down to appeal to your taste. Be sure to bear in mind what sauces and finishes you’ll be adding to your dish. If you plan on salty additions like anchovies or Parmesan cheese, you can be a bit more reserved with the salt.

Use the right salt

When it comes to salting your pasta water, you can use regular kosher salt or sea salt. No need to waste your expensive gourmet salts on a chore like this. Your kitchen basics will do the job just fine. But no matter what you hear, make sure to never add oil to your pasta.

Get your timing right

So, when should you add salt to your pasta water? Ideally, you should wait until your water is at a rolling boil. The boiling water will agitate and dissolve the salt quickly.

You can add salt to your cold water if your prefer, though. You don’t want to forget it, after all! If you go this route, give the salt a bit of a stir to help it start dissolving. Since salt can be slightly corrosive to some older pots and pans, it’s best not to let it sit in a heap at the bottom of your pot.

There! Now you’re ready to make the perfect pot of pasta with even more flavor…just don’t forget to add a great sauce. Next, find out why you should add sugar to your spaghetti and meatballs.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

T. Lacoma
I have owned a freelance writing business for the past three years, writing a variety of articles on finance, technology, environmental issues, home repair and other topics.