Should I place salt in the water? How many minutes to cook spaghetti pasta? Do I follow the instructions on the box? What if I was cooking spaghetti from scratch? When you’re learning how to cook spaghetti step-by-step, many questions surface. For most kitchen neophytes, these questions will revolve around the Italian term “al dente.” But what exactly does this mean?
In English, al dente translates to the phrase, “to the tooth.” It describes the ideal texture of cooked pasta (or rice and certain kinds of vegetables) — with enough chewy resistance in it so it has that perfect bite or bounce. Not that the pasta becomes hard to chew when al dente, but its texture should certainly be far from chalky or too soft that it turns to mush with a few bites or with exposure to steaming sauce.
Steps on How to Cook Spaghetti al Dente
So, how exactly do you end up with the perfect al dente pasta? You’ll soon learn that cooking spaghetti the al dente way is simpler than it seems. Just follow these steps:
- Get a large, deep pot where pasta can move around freely while cooking. This allows spaghetti to cook evenly.
- Fill the pot with clean water. Tip: Use 4 quarts of water for every pound of pasta.
- Add a generous pinch or about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. More pasta means more water and more salt. Tip: Add a drop or about a teaspoon of oil to the water to prevent the pasta strands from sticking to each other. This is optional.
- Boil the water. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and stir occasionally.
- Cook the pasta for at least 8 minutes. Sample a strand and cook for 2 to 4 minutes more if it’s still too stiff or hard. Tip: It’s better to undercook your pasta because its residual heat will continue cooking it.
- Drain the pasta in a colander. Don’t rinse. Add a drop of olive oil and toss the pasta so it slightly cools instead.
- Add the pasta to your sauce. Toss to combine the pasta and sauce well. Enjoy!
When you’re cooking store-bought pasta, its packaging will also have instructions. You can choose to follow this instead, but the rule of thumb for cooking spaghetti al dente is to undercook for 1 to 3 minutes less than the advised boiling time. If the box or plastic packaging has its own steps on how to cook spaghetti al dente, you may choose to follow that down to the last step. Usually, when pasta packs have al dente instructions, they have been tried and tested for that particular product. But feel free to keep our steps bookmarked as a reference or for future use!
The Perfect Pasta Inspiration
Before you go, take a look at our list of spaghetti sauce recipes powered by a host of ever-reliable Knorr pampalasa like Knorr Broth Cubes, Knorr Liquid Seasoning, and Knorr Recipe Mixes. Some are made creamier by Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise. Now you’ll never run out of spaghetti ideas!
Seafood-based Spaghetti Recipes
Filipino-inspired Spaghetti Recipes
Meaty sa Sarap Spaghetti Recipes
Classic Favourites That Always Win
What will you make first, then? Don’t forget to cook your spaghetti to al dente perfection before anything else!