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I have been having this problem with my macaroni and I'm hoping that I'll finally be able to find an answer here!

I make my noodles in a pot on the stove. But I find that a lot of my noodles are sticking to the bottom of the pot. This severely complicates the pot cleaning process - plus it is hard to make sauce in the pot when there are noodles stuck there... Anyone know why this happens and how it can be prevented?

  • I wonder what would happen if you tossed the raw noodles in oil. – mroll Sep 27 '19 at 15:50
  • How soon/often do you stir the macaroni? When I boil macaroni, I stir the pot at least once a minute, possibly more often, for the first three or four minutes. – John Gordon Sep 30 '19 at 18:39
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When noodles or pasta is cooked in too little water, the starch released during cooking has nowhere to go, hence the stickiness.

If you are cooking plain noodles or macaroni, I would use at least twice the volume of water to noodles, preferably more depending on the size of pot available to you.

If you are cooking the "instant" variety that comes in a packet with pre-made flavourings, I would follow the package instructions but use a lower heat setting on your cooker, and ensure you give them a stir every so often. That way, the sauce will not thicken or evaporate so quickly.

  • I would add that if you are cooking plain noodles, to maybe add a small drizzle of olive oil (or the like) to the water to prevent stickiness as well. – J Crosby Sep 26 '19 at 22:08
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    @JCrosby that is not true. The small drizzle of oil will sit on top of the water doing exactly nothing. – Ben Sep 27 '19 at 6:09
  • If you put the oil on first, the pasta has to pass through the oil. It’s not perfect coverage but it helps. – Escoce Sep 28 '19 at 0:51
  • Twice the volume of water to pasta is basically like cooking rice, and it's not anywhere near enough. Your pasta would be crowded together as it absorbs water – user57361 Sep 30 '19 at 17:31
  • @Escoce The best thing to do is to cook the pasta correctly. That way you don't have to pour oil down the drain to attempt to fix poorly cooked pasta. Use enough water, give it a quick stir, and pour it straight into a colander to drain. – SnakeDoc Oct 1 '19 at 18:16
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While Greybeard's answer is correct in any regard, if you want to make the now so trendy one-pot-pasta this of course is not an option. Here, in a best case scenario, you have exactly the right amount of water/liquid for the noodles to absorb and to result into a creamy sauce. The starch the noodles release is used to thicken the sauce, which of course is prone to sticking or even burning to the bottom of your pot. This method isn't as easy as many cooking videos (especially on youtube) want you to believe, but if you stir often enough (for some thick sauces even constantly) it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

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Both Greybeard and Gretel are right. You need plenty of water (because pasta expands as it cooks and absorbs water), probably a lot more than you're using (at least 3 times as much as if you were making rice, for instance). AND you need to stir. In my experience, stirring early is the most effective. You put the pasta in, you stir a couple times by the time the water is back to a roiling boil (that's another point, no simmering here). And then you stir really well before you let it really cook. Keep stirring every couple minutes. I'm not saying you have to stand there and stir the whole time like it was polenta, but you really have to keep it moving, that's what keeps your pasta from lying wanly at the bottom of the pot and sticking to it.

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    If it's a rolling boil with sufficient water, you might not need to stir it every few minutes ... but you definitely need to stir it just after adding the pasta, and maybe a minute or so in as the outside starts to gelatinize – Joe Sep 28 '19 at 1:13

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