Youve been cooking pasta wrong – five mistakes that can ruin your spaghetti

Thousands of Brits chuck some pasta in a pan each night and boil it as an easy dinner option alongside family favourite sauces like bolognese or carbonara.

But, it turns out there are lots of ways this fail-safe dish can be made incorrectly from the cookware you use to what you add to your pasta water.

And, while you might think you’re cooking your pasta just fine your guests might think it’s overdone or oily – which is embarrassing when hosting a dinner party!

Luckily, we've put together a list of common cooking mistakes made when whipping up pasta for tea.

Take a look below to make sure you're not making a major faux-pas.


First up, you could be overcooking your pasta.

Roberta d'Elia, the Head Chef at Pasta Evangelists, said: “Whether dried or fresh, pasta should always be served 'al dente' – literally 'to the tooth' – meaning that it should still have a 'bite' and not be mushy.”

To get that perfect bite you should cook it for six to seven minutes – two to three for fresh pasta – before trying a piece.

If it’s still crunchy continue to cook it in 30 second increments until it is just right.

If you follow this method, the pasta will be firm but fully cooked rather than flacid or mushy.

Adding olive oil

According to chefs at, you shouldn’t be adding olive oil to your pasta water.

We’ve all heard that doing so can stop the pasta from sticking together when drained, but if it’s properly cooked and quickly added to the sauce then this shouldn’t happen anyway.

Chefs said: “You should avoid doing this as it’ll leave a film on the pasta after it has been drained.

"This will stop sauces from clinging to it.”

And nobody wants a puddle of sauce at the bottom of their plate and flavourless pasta.

Wasting pasta water

According to the Sun, you should salt your pasta water when it’s cooking and then reserve some of it before draining the pasta.

Cooks said: “It can actually help to thin the sauce later if needed.

“It’ll boost the flavour without adding extra salt.”

Rinsing your pasta

Some people give their pasta noodles a wash off after cooking, but any Italian would shake their head in horror at this.

The pros at said: “This is because you will wash off some of the pasta flavour, and you will also lose some of the starch which helps bind the sauce to the pasta.”

Using a small pan

Chef Roberta added: “The pasta needs to be cooked in lots of water, with space to breathe, it shouldn't be crammed into a pan that can't accommodate a lot of water.”

Use a large, high sided saucepan and between 500ml and 1 litre of water per 100g of dried pasta – decide where within that range dependant on the size of your pan.

Make sure there’s still some room at the top of the pan or it could overflow.

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