Perfect Your Pasta: Quick & Foolproof Guide to Boiling Spaghetti

How do you boil spaghetti?

Is this a serious question? Any idiot can boil spaghetti…right? Who doesn’t know how to boil water?

Yes. Any idiot can boil spaghetti. But not any idiot knows how to properly boil perfect spaghetti. Today I’m going to explain the process of making perfectly cooked spaghetti.

This is a really basic pasta recipe, but with a little planning, we are going to do it in a traditional way that gives the best results.

I bet this simple pasta dish becomes one of your favorite foods.

Table of Contents

You might be saying to yourself, “Why spaghetti? There are so many different shapes of pasta.

What I’m about to teach you will apply to almost any shape of pasta, but I figured if you can do this right with basic spaghetti, you’ll be able to do it with any pasta.

Use this method for ziti, penne, elbow macaroni, or angel hair pasta. Lots of people like angel hair. It’s thin spaghetti. It got its name because I guess it’s thin like an angel’s hair.

Another reason I wanted to write this article is probably a little bit selfish…but selfish in a good way. We make a jarred Marinara sauce at Mortadella Head that we sell in our store and online.

I figured this article would be a good guide to teach our customers how to make the perfect pasta when they use Mortadella Head Marinara. Our sauce is really good. We make it ourselves and let it cook low and slow. We believe in doing things right. That’s the only way.

It’s so good lots of people have told us it’s better than most homemade sauces they’ve tried.

So when people are going to eat my marinara sauce, I want to make sure they eat it with perfectly cooked pasta.

I’d hate to think that people are putting our delicious Mortadella Head marinara on limp noodles!

But this method of boiling spaghetti doesn’t just have to be used for a dish of pasta with sauce. Boil your pasta this way even when you’re going to make a pasta salad.

*And if you don’t like reading, here’s a video tutorial*

What type of spaghetti should I use?

There are a lot of types of pasta out there. There’s fresh pasta and there’s dry pasta.

Some pasta is made with eggs and some pasta is just flour and water.

The pasta that we are going to focus on is the most common pasta that you’ll find in the grocery store. It’s a dry pasta made from water and Semolina flour.

It usually comes in 1 pound packages so this article will be based on a recipe with one pound of dry spaghetti.

Semolina pasta is made from Semolina flour. And semolina flour is made from Durum wheat.

You’ll notice that Semolina flour has a golden color when comparing it to the more common all-purpose flour.

How much spaghetti do I need?


We are going to base this spaghetti recipe off of a pound of pasta. A good rule of thumb is that a pound of dried pasta is enough for 4 people if it’s a main course and 6 people if it’s a side dish.

What type of pot should I boil my spaghetti in?

tyoes of pots used to boil spaghetti

When you boil spaghetti I suggest using a large stock pot made of stainless steel. A large pot is better than a small pot because you want it to be big enough to hold lots of water.

You could use a non-stick pan or a pan made of aluminum, but I think stainless steel is the best choice. It will usually last longer and you don’t have to worry about scratching the surface of a non-stick pan.

I like a pot that is tall enough to hold the long dry pieces of spaghetti when you throw them in the pot. Look for something 8 quarts or larger.

How much salt do I need when I boil spaghetti?

a bunch of salt that will be used to boil spaghetti

We want to use salted water. When you boil your spaghetti you want to put a lot of salt in the water. It’s more salt than you probably think you should use. I usually put in about 2 tablespoons of salt for 6 quarts of water.

I like to use Kosher salt, but you can also use sea salt or table salt if that is what you have.

I usually put the salt in the water while it’s still cold and let it dissolve as the water starts to boil. You’ll know it’s fully dissolved when you can’t see the salt crystals floating around anymore.

When do I put my spaghetti in the water?

a hand about to put spaghetti in water

Turn the stove on high heat and wait for it to come to a full boil. When the pot of water comes to a fast boil you should put in your pound of pasta. Put it in whole and make sure you don’t break it. If it looks like it’s too long because part of it is sticking out of the top of the water, that’s ok.

When you add the uncooked pasta the water temperature drops a little so the rolling boil will slow down. That’s ok.

The bottom part of the spaghetti in the water will immediately start to soften up so that you can give it a stir with a long spoon. At this point, all of your spaghetti should be submerged in the boiling water.

Continuously stir your spaghetti in the boiling water so it doesn’t stick together. I make sure my spoon is touching the bottom of the pot so it also doesn’t stick to the bottom also.

Some people like to put a little olive oil in the water to avoid the spaghetti from sticking. Don’t do it. It will make it hard later when we want the sauce to cling to the surface of the pasta.

How long should I boil my spaghetti

The cook times can vary. The correct cooking time will vary depending on the type of pasta you use.

Fresh pasta noodles will call for less cooking time. Because we’re basing this off of dried pasta it will take a few extra minutes than fresh pasta. The package your spaghetti came in should tell you how long to boil it.

Most people like their spaghetti to be cooked “al dente”. The perfect al dente pasta is something special.

Al dente” is an Italian phrase that means “to the tooth”, and basically that means that when you bite into a strand of spaghetti it’s not mushy, but is still a little bit undercooked. It should be firm, but not hard. Avoid overcooked pasta at all costs.

In my opinion, the best way to test your spaghetti to see if it’s ready is simple. Take out a strand of spaghetti, quickly run it under cold water so you don’t burn your tongue, and bite into it.

Some people say you should throw it against the wall and if it sticks, it’s ready. I don’t do that because I don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen.

How do I drain my spaghetti?

how to drain spaghetti

When your spaghetti is ready it’s time to get it out of the water fast. You don’t want it to over cook and become mushy.

Here’s a pro tip. Before you drain it, take out a little of the starchy water it was boiling in because we may use that later when we add our sauce. I just grab a coffee mug with a handle, scoop out some water and set it aside. A scoop of pasta water will come in handy later.

Have a colander in the sink ready to go. Turn off the heat on the stove. Grab the pot and dump the spaghetti into the colander. Use oven mitts or dry kitchen towels so you don’t burn your hands.

You might be tempted to turn on the sink and rinse the spaghetti with water. Don’t do it. You want the starch to stay on the spaghetti. It helps when it’s time to sauce the spaghetti.

How much tomato sauce should I put on my spaghetti?

a pot of tomato sauce ready to be put on some spaghetti

I recommend about a quart of tomato sauce for a pound of spaghetti. Make your own tomato sauce. It’s really easy.

You can also buy your favorite sauce at the grocery store. Make sure it’s a good one.

The next part of the process with only take a couple of minutes, and will give you the best pasta.

Put the same pot back on the stove. It should still be hot at this point.

Add about 2 cups of marinara sauce to the bottom of the pot. Now add your drained spaghetti back into the pot with the marinara sauce.

Take a large spoon and stir it around making sure to lightly coat all of the spaghetti. This is all about the absorption of your sauce into your pasta al dente.

Turn the heat on low. Add another cup of sauce to the spaghetti with a little bit of the starchy pasta water that you set aside. This will loosen everything up and help combine the spaghetti and the sauce.

Add a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan or Romano cheese to the pot and keep stirring. This part is really important in my opinion. Your spaghetti is going to be awesome!

a bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce and parmesan

When all of your spaghetti is completely coated in the sauce and the cheese melts into the spaghetti, transfer it to a plate. Add a little more tomato sauce and grated cheese on top.

Congratulations! You know how to cook spaghetti!

What do I serve with my spaghetti?

Wine: Pour yourself a glass of Chianti or Montepulciano. These reds are perfect.

Side Dish: A real cheesy garlic bread is what you want with your spaghetti dinner. Let’s keep it simple and old school with this one.

Salad: Make a simple salad with mixed greens, thin sliced red onion and tomato. Toss it in a red wine vinaigrette.

Enjoy!

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