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Whenever I boil pasta (specifically spaghetti), it always sticks to itself before I'm ready to use it. What can I do to avoid this without it becoming mushy (which happens if I keep it in the water)?

Of course, if I happen to have the sauce done by the time the pasta is ready and am ready to serve it, I can immediately add the sauce and it's a moot point. But I inevitably screw up the timing and have the pasta sitting there cooling, and then it becomes impossible to separate...

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    @hobodave, not sure it's a duplicate of that question as this is specifically aimed at adding oil to the water to prevent it from sticking, not just how to prevent it from sticking, by whatever means. Not sure I'm that into it as a question though...
    – Sam Holder
    Aug 2, 2010 at 12:29
  • yea, just think it's close enough. this question is answered in that one.
    – hobodave
    Aug 2, 2010 at 14:01
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    This is really hard to choose an answer. I am one of the few Americans who do understand al dente, so my particular problem was actually solved by getting higher quality pasta. It turns out it really makes a difference! But, in the interest of spreading the knowledge of how long to properly cook pasta, I will accept @tunnuz's answer as it is probably the correct solution for most people.
    – Lee
    Jul 12, 2012 at 8:36

31 Answers 31

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Believe it or not, this is what works for me:

Put the DRY pasta into a bowl with a trickle of olive oil and stir it in order to spread the oil. Proceed to boil the pasta as usual (add it when the water is boiling).

The idea is that first the oil will prevent the pasta from sticking to itselt and by the time the hot water removes the oil coat from the pasta, it will be half boiled and will not stick anymore.

The upside is that you hardly have to stir it while it's boiling. In fact, I don't stir it at all. I leave it boiling in the kitchen and come back after 10 minutes to drain it.

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