Yesterday we shared our pick for the best gluten-free pasta. A few of those gluten-free options almost convinced us we were eating wheat pasta – they were that good!
One thing about gluten-free pasta that is definitely different than its wheat counterpart, though? How you should cook it.
Gluten-free pasta has a tendency to get gummy, mushy, or stick together if it's cooked for too long or too short. It's more finicky than regular pasta that way. And the cook time on the package? Don't trust it.
But it is possible to get perfectly al dente gluten-free pasta! Here's how to do it.
How to Cook Gluten-Free Pasta
IMPORTANT TIP! Before you begin, look at the cook time instructions on the pasta package and then subtract two minutes. This is your starting cook time. In my experience, gluten-free pasta rarely adheres to the cook time on the package, so it's best to start checking it a couple of minutes early to make sure you don't miss the window and the pasta descends into gumminess or mush.
1. Add a little olive oil to the pot.
Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way full with water. Gluten-free pasta foams more than wheat pasta, so it's wise to leave a little space in the pot to account for that. Season the pot of water with two tablespoons Diamond kosher salt OR four teaspoons Morton's kosher salt per one gallon of water. Salty water is one of the keys to good pasta, gluten-free or not.
Then, once the water starts boiling and before adding the pasta, pour a little olive oil into the pot to help keep the noodles from sticking together.
Truth time: This is a controversial recommendation. I think this is an important step, and that it really does help prevent the noodles from sticking together, but some think adding olive oil is unnecessary, or worse, that it actually makes it more difficult for sauce to stick to the noodles after cooking.
I haven't found that to be the case, and since I'm more concerned about ending up with a clump of sticky noodles than I am with a potential loose sauce-and-spaghetti situation, I'm solidly pro olive-oil-in-the-pot.
2. Stir the pasta more than usual.
Once you've added the pasta to the pot of boiling water, stir every 30 seconds for the first five minutes of cooking to move the olive oil around and keep the pasta loose. Gluten-free pasta requires more stirring in the initial cooking stage than regular pasta so that it doesn't (surprise!) stick together.
3. Taste for doneness before the package says you should.
Begin checking your pasta for doneness a couple minutes before the cook time indicated on the package. If it's not ready yet, keep checking every minute until the pasta is al dente with a slight chew and a uniform texture and color all the way through.
4. Give it a quick rinse.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain it but keep some of the cooking water on hand to use later if the pasta starts clumping. Rinse briefly with cold water. Again, this helps prevent sticking (a common theme here!). Don't rinse for long or else the pasta will cool down too much. Five seconds is perfect.
5. Toss immediately with olive oil or sauce.
After the quick rinse, return the pasta to the pot or pour into a bowl. Toss immediately with olive oil or your sauce of choice. Add in some of the saved cooking water if needed to help loosen things up. Eat!
How did yours turn out?
Share your gluten-free pasta cooking and reheating tips with us! We'd love to hear them.