Life’s too short for sticky, bland pasta. When in doubt, cook pasta in so many liters of water and so many grams of salt.
Cooking pasta is one of those things in the kitchen that seems deceptively simple. At first glance, all you have to do is bring a pot of water to a boil, throw in the pasta, and wait for it to cook. And then come the questions.
Exactly how much water should you use? Should you salt the water? (And if so, how much salt are you supposed to add?) Do you put the pasta in the water before or after you’ve brought it to a boil? And how can you tell it’s cooked?
And if, like me, you live in a country that uses the metric system, searching the Internet doesn’t always help. Some of the best cookbooks and online recipes use the US system of measurement, and grams and liters are nowhere to be found.
To help you out, I wrote this guide. Read on to find out how much water and salt you should use per gram of pasta—and more.
How to Cook Pasta
The correct technique for cooking pasta is as follows:
Fill a pot with water and salt the water (we will get to the exact amounts of water and salt per gram of pasta in a moment). Place the pot on the stove, turn the burner to the highest setting, and bring the water to a full boil.
Add the pasta to the water and give it a quick stir to prevent it from sticking together. The room-temperature pasta will temporarily calm the water. Once the water returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium-high and let the pasta boil without interruption. There’s no need to use the lid when boiling pasta.
Take the pasta out of the water once it’s cooked to al dente. This is when the pasta is tender enough to chew, but is still firm on the outside, has a barely noticeable crunch when you bite into it, and sticks to your teeth when you chew.
Mix the pasta with the sauce, grate a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano over it (parmesan is made from cow’s milk and pecorino from sheep’s milk, so it is gamier), and bring to the table.
How Much Water and Salt to Use
|Pasta (g)||Salt (g)||Water (l)||Water (ml)|
|50 g||5 g||0.5 l||500 ml|
|75 g||7.5 g||0.75 l||750 ml|
|100 g||10 g||1 l||1,000 ml|
|125 g||12.5 g||1.25 l||1,250 ml|
|150 g||15 g||1.5 l||1,500 ml|
|175 g||17.5 g||1.75 l||1,750 ml|
|200 g||20 g||2 l||2,000 ml|
|225 g||22.5 g||2.25 l||2,250 ml|
|250 g||25 g||2.5 l||2,500 ml|
|275 g||27.5 g||2.75 l||2,750 ml|
|300 g||30 g||3 l||3,000 ml|
|350 g||35 g||3.5 l||3,500 ml|
|450 g||45 g||4.5 l||4,500 ml|
|500 g||50 g||5 l||5,000 ml|
|750 g||75 g||7.5 l||7,500 ml|
|1,000 g||100 g||10 l||10,000 ml|
If you want to know how we arrived at these numbers, you will find our sources and the proportions that they gave us below.
According to a blog post with tips on cooking pasta from pasta maker Gallo, for every 100 grams of pasta, you should add 1 liter of water to the pot. In other words, fill your pot with 10 milliliters of water for every gram of pasta cooked.
Remember to always add salt to the cooking water, or your pasta will turn out bland. In an article titled “Pasta’s One Gold Rule,” culinary writer Kemp Minifie advises Epicurious readers to add 10 grams of salt per 100 grams of pasta.
This gives us the following rule of thumb, which we then used as the basis for creating the table above: Boil each 100 grams of pasta in 1 liter of water salted with 10 grams of salt. We then took these proportions and applied them to a wide range of pasta quantities, the smallest of which 50 grams and the largest 1 kilogram.