Update: Here is an objective and non-opinion based question.

I recently asked another question on how I could make a weeks worth of pasta on a Sunday night and have it still taste good throughought the week. I've been advised to store the sauce separately from the pasta and use hot water instead of the microwave to heat it up, in addition to cooking the pasta less al dente than normal.

However, when I buy frozen pasta, notably fettuccine Alfredo, I cannot believe how good it is. I'm referring to the boxed frozen food that you throw in a microwave as opposed to cooking on a stove or heating up with boiling water.

What precisely enables these cheap ($2.50 plus tax) frozen meals taste so good, and more importantly, how can I replicate it? I overdose my pasta with salt anyways, so that can't be it.

  • 4
    What enables these cheap foods to have any taste at all? Additives, flavours, chemicals, nothing natural. Why would you even aspire to replicate completely unnatural behaviours. It is possible to cook a tasty, wholesome and healthy meal in the same time that it takes to defrost and reheat a microwave meal. So why go for the junk if you can have the good stuff?
    – teylyn
    Mar 27, 2014 at 8:22
  • 1
    You might find the accepted answer here of interest: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/8775/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 27, 2014 at 9:32
  • @teylyn if the "additives, flavors, chemicls, and nothing natural" make it taste good, than I am interested in their precise nature. Please share if you know :). But really this is about convenience. I am unable to cook a decent meal in the 5 minutes it takes to microwave a frozen meal, with no clean up time required. Mar 27, 2014 at 9:42
  • 1
    @teylyn : fats, sugars and salt are perfectly natural! Not good for you in large amounts, but perfectly natural.
    – Joe
    Mar 27, 2014 at 12:50
  • What @Joe said. Usually, adding salt or butter add/enhance flavor to a dish, the issue is really the health thing. Mar 27, 2014 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


You were advised to not cook your pasta at once, because we assumed that you are going to keep it in the fridge. With liquid water, your pasta will grow mushy or dry, depending on how wet you store it. If you freeze it, these processes will not happen, and the pasta will not degrade.

The pasta in the supermarket frozen packages tastes good for other reasons beyond just not being mushy. It has exactly the right proportions of fat, flavoring agents and the like which will make it both cheap and tasty. Nobody can tell you the exact recipe, it is the company's secret. Their food technologists have created it after years of empirical research backed by theoretical knowledge and the availability of industrial ingredients and instruments. (If they list "modified starch", then something was done to the starch to ensure it has some characteristic; we never know what exactly was done, or what characteristic was created).

You can try to make it for yourself, by making a sauce you like, freezing it together with the pasta and see if you like the result when defrosted. If you like it well enough, you've won. If you don't, it depends on your skill of analysing food shortcomings whether you will be able to improve it substantially. You are welcome to ask us concrete questions about concrete faults once you've done the experiment.

  • I will freeze my next batch and report back. Thanks for the input on the modified starch, I see it all over my collection. Mar 28, 2014 at 6:22
  • There are components in food that change texture when frozen normally. You might have seen warnings like "Do Not Refreeze once thawed." The reason supermarket frozen food will taste better than home frozen food (in most cases) is the freezing technique. Most industries utilize equipment that bring down the temperature of food well below the freezing point in a matter of a few seconds, thus not giving food the time to degrade. I haven't seen home-grade blast chillers replicate that speed. Dec 23, 2014 at 6:26
  • Also, one example of freezer degradation is when the temperature is lowered gradually, since the food is not homogeneous, different components will freeze separately. The water will form separate crystals(try cutting through meat frozen in your freezer) as will the starch and the fat. This causes separation of these components when thawed, changing the texture, and the taste. Dec 23, 2014 at 6:29

Based on limited personal experience I suggest trying Crisco shortening (the diglycerides?) or vine ripe tomatoes with iodized salt.

  • Use Crisco in what way? Do you mean as a substitute for oil or butter? That's a strange thing to do with pasta. And why would it matter if salt is iodized? Mar 28, 2014 at 23:00
  • I don't know how to apply the Crisco to pasta because i only every used it to bake beyond 100*C. I was answering pretty much just the "cheap frozen meal" part. To me iodized salt and sea/kosher salt taste very different.
    – ran8
    Mar 29, 2014 at 23:55
  • "What specifically makes microwavable frozen food taste so delicious? "
    – ran8
    Mar 30, 2014 at 16:52
  • "I overdose my pasta with salt anyways, so that can't be it." I can't just comment yet.
    – ran8
    Mar 30, 2014 at 17:17

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