Go Back
+ servings
penne pasta cooked al dente in a colander over a pot with pasta.

How To Cook Pasta “Al Dente”

Course: Mains
Cuisine: Italian
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 278kcal
Learn how to cook pasta perfectly al dente, as the Italian tradition wants. Follow this step-by-step guide and tips to make pasta like a pro!
Print Recipe


  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cup
  • Colander


  • 300 g pasta


  • Fill ⅔ of a large saucepan with water, put the lid on, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Remove the lid and add the sea salt.
  • Stir in the pasta, then reduce the heat to medium heat.
  • Stir the pasta with a wooden spoon every 3 minutes.
  • Remove about 1 cup of pasta cooking water to emulsify the pasta sauce later.
  • Start testing the pasta about 4 minutes before the cooking time suggested on the package instructions. When it’s tender but still has a bite, drain the pasta in a colander over the sink or use a hand colander to scoop the pasta from the water.
  • Return the pasta into the pot or transfer it into the pan with your favorite sauce, and mix by adding a little of the reserved pasta water until you reach the desired consistency.



  • After you drain the pasta don’t “wash” it under cool running water, this will only make it sticky and chewy.
  • Choose the right pan. A large pot is best for short pasta, a tall pot is best for spaghetti and bucatini.
  • Don’t overfill the pot with water, fill just ⅔ of the pot with water.
  • Add all the pasta in one go, so that it will cook evenly.
  • Stir the pasta every 2-3 minutes to avoid that it sticks together, this is particularly important for long pasta such as spaghetti.
  • Follow the cooking time suggested on the pasta packaging, but not religiously.
  • For al dente pasta you’ll need to drain it about 2-3 min before the time suggested on the packaging.
  • Always reserve ¼ cup of pasta water before you drain it. You should never drain all the pasta water, this starchy liquid will make silky, smooth and delicious pasta sauces.


Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg