Should you rinse pasta after cooking it? The short answer is, no, unless you plan on serving it cold. Pasta cooked for a cold salad should be rinsed. Rinsing will stop it from cooking. It will also prevent it from getting gummy and sticking together.
However, you should never rinse hot pasta. Rinsing pasta only removes the starch, and you want the starch. The starch is what makes your sauce good and thick. It also helps the sauce cling to the pasta.
I prefer to finish cooking my pasta with the sauce on the stove and even bring along a little extra pasta water to help thicken it. An exception would be pesto which I blend in a bowl, but even here, I want the starch. I also prefer to blend my cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) in a bowl and rely on the starch in the pasta water to make the cheesy sauce.
More pasta making tips
- Use a large pot with plenty of water.
- Add plenty of salt to the pasta water. The pasta will absorb the salt while it cooks and enhance the flavor. I typically add a handful of coarse salt when the water comes to a boil.
- Never add oil to the water. It won’t keep the pasta from sticking together, but will keep the sauce from clinging to the pasta.
- Do not break long pasta like spaghetti to fit it in the pot. Just add it whole and let it soften briefly before pushing it under the water with a spoon or other utensil.
- Always cook your pasta al dente which means to the tooth in Italian and refers to pasta that is still a bit firm to the bite. It not only tastes better, it’s better for you. Read why here.
- Always save some of the water when draining pasta in case you need to fix the consistency of the final dish.
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