How Do Restaurants Keep Pasta From Sticking

How Do Restaurants Keep Pasta From Sticking? Solved (2023)

Last Updated on December 31, 2022 by Shari Mason

If you’re not a good cook, you can at least cook pasta noodles. But the tricky thing about cooking pasta is it could get sticky.

So how do restaurants keep pasta from sticking? If you can’t achieve it alone, you might be missing some pasta routine techniques. We’re here to give you foolproof tips. Let’s go. 

Top 5 Effective Ways Restaurants Keep Pasta From Sticking 

1. Add Pasta To Boiling Water

boiling pasta on a pot

If you put your noodles in before the water is boiling, they will become clumpy and gummy.

Once you add pasta to boiling water, it lowers the heat of the water. So if your water weren’t already boiling, it’d be pretty lukewarm once you add your noodles.

So, ensure it reaches its boiling point before throwing in your pasta noodles to prevent sticking together. This way, you can get the cooked noodles smooth, al dente delight.  

2. Keep Stirring the Pasta

When you drop the dry noodles into boiling water for the first few minutes, they’re covered in sticky starch. 

The noodles will stick together if you don’t constantly stir them for the first two minutes. A constant stir will separate them, so every noodle is perfectly cooked.

3. Add a Drop of Oil or a Knob of Butter

If your pasta cooking process involves adding salt and oil as your noodles boil, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, oil makes your pasta less sticky, but it also makes it slippery that when you add sauce to it, it just slides right off. 

If you intend to eat your noodles buttered or with olive oil only, feel free to add oil to the boiling water.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle a drop of oil or a knob of butter once the pasta has been drained. Fresh pasta can absorb the richness and stay moisturized without razing its matching sauce. 

4. Ensure It Has Enough Water

Using plenty of water is another key to preventing pasta from sticking together. We recommend using 1 gallon of water [1] per package (as per the executive chef) to lift away extra starch on the noodles, causing them to stick together. 

Also, ensuring it has enough water on the pan provides enough space for the starch to back off from your noodles.

Chef Tip: If you’re cooking dried pasta, you can add salt to the pasta water before it boils.     

5. Don’t Drain Too Long

draining pasta

Never let your pasta sit on the drainer while waiting for the sauce to be ready. It should be the other way around.

Have the sauces bowl ready first while you wait for the noodles to cook. So, once done, you can mix the two right away. 

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Do They Keep Cooked Pasta Submerged in Pasta Water? 

Restaurants do not keep cooked pasta soaked in water as it can result in soggy and waterlogged noodles. 

You can use the pasta water, actually, for your pasta sauce. The salty and starchy water where you cook the pasta is a great addition to the sauce. Find out how long you can keep your mac and cheese here.

Tips When Cooking The Pasta

  • We suggest rinsing it with cold water if you’re not eating it right away. This removes the starchy residue, which is the primary cause of noodles sticking together.
  • When you’re ready to eat the noodles, reheat them in the pot with the sauce of your choice. If you’re making pasta (cold dish pasta), this method also works (minus the reheating). 
  • You can add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pasta water to prevent pasta from sticking together. 
  • A little pasta water can add flavor, volume, and dimension to your entire dish as the sauce boils and decreases to your desired level. 


Does rinsing pasta keep it from sticking?

Yes. Rinsing pasta keeps it from sticking as it lifts away the residue causing them to stick. This is especially true when you’re making spaghetti.

If you need to store your homemade pasta to be used later, rinsing it with cold water would be ideal.  

Does oil prevent pasta from sticking?

It depends. Oil can only prevent sticking when you add it to the freshly drained pasta. But adding it to the pasta water does not make a huge difference. It only floats to the top of the water.  

Should you rinse pasta with cold water after cooking?

Yes. You can rinse pasta using cold water after cooking to stop the cooking time further. However, it will also rinse delightful starch [2] that aids sauce clinging to the pasta.

You only need to rinse it with cold water if you need to store it for later or when you plan to make cold pasta dishes. 

Does Gordon Ramsay put oil in pasta water?

Yes. Gordon Ramsay adds oil with salt to the pot of pasta water. But he uses olive oil and waits for the water to boil before adding the noodles and turning them into the pot before it overcooks.  


The secret to eating a plate of perfectly prepared pasta lies in your routine. Only add the noodles when the water is boiling and make sure it has enough water. Have a constant stir and only add a drop of oil or butter onto the pasta water.

Once cooked, don’t let it sit on the drainer too long. Then, add your favorite acidic sauces right away and enjoy the food. 

Preparing and eating your favorite noodle dish doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow our tips above, and in no time, you can get to enjoy the food that everyone loves — pasta!


Shari Mason

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