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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.
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.
Added too much salt? Don’t stress it. Our Field Editors offer their best tips for a too-salty dish.
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.
Get Your Timing Right
So, when you 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.