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How to Make Your Sauce Adhere to Pasta

A plate of pasta is covered in red sauce with basil on top.

You’ve made a bowl of pasta, but you find yourself scooping sauce up with a spoon instead of having it stick to your noodles. Is there a solution? As it turns out, the secret is all in how you cook it.

Cooking your noodles in sauce ensures a seamlessly blended dish.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should be boiling your noodles in spaghetti sauce. This hack is a bit more subtle than that. First, you’ll make your sauce as normal, heating it on the stovetop and allowing it to simmer. As that’s happening, cook your pasta noodles as instructed.

The trick is to remove the noodles roughly four minutes before the package says to do so, according to Chef Michael Chiarello. Take those underdone noodles and add them to your sauce. Let them finish cooking for a minute or two until they’re perfectly al dente.

When this trick is used with a proportionate ratio of noodles to the sauce (aka you can’t drown or starve your noodles), it helps the sauce adhere. It also boosts the flavor of the pasta as well.

You can also save 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pasta water and add it to your sauce. The starchy water helps to add flavor and keeps the sauce stuck to the noodle. Don’t worry about it thinning out your sauce, either. It can actually help thicken it.

If you’ve got pasta on the menu for this week, this cooking method might make your dish even tastier.

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