You know that time? When you bought a box of Barilla gluten-free pasta to experiment with? Friends coming, over so you thought you’d show them how gluten-free pasta is done? Only to find you’ve wrecked an entire meal because the starch is a mushy ball of mess OR hard as a rock and dry? With no flavor to it, of course?
Help is on the way! I will show you how to boil gluten-free pasta the PROPER way and let me tell you, you’ll never go back to another method. I promise!
I’ve been boiling gluten-free pasta for years now. I remember how frustrating it was at first. The gluten-free pasta either came out too mushy, or hard and stuck together. Plus, the water would have this layer of film laying across the top. Yuck!
Hard, gluten-free pasta has come a long way.
A few things to remember when purchasing gluten-free pasta:
- Homemade gluten-free pasta is always best, but this post will focus on hard pasta. I have a recipe for homemade gluten-free pasta. Homemade pasta will be boiled differently, as it will take much less time. So, follow the directions on the other post for homemade pasta.
- When buying boxed pasta, look for brands with few ingredients. You’ll find several different brands on shelves when it comes to gluten-free pasta these days. Most of them, you will find, have few ingredients. Those are probably your best bets to choose from. Organic gluten-free pastas are good to look for as well.
- Start with spaghetti if this is your first time boiling gluten-free pasta. I use this method with ALL types of pasta, but we will start with spaghetti because you’ll want to learn that first. Feed Me Phoebe has an awesome post titled ‘The Best Gluten-Free Pasta Brands With Recipes To Match.’ The title says it all, so you can use that as a reference. Her blog and recipes are AMAZING!
My Method On How To Boil Gluten-Free Pasta – Step By Step:
- Use a LARGE pot full of alot of water to boil. Your gluten-free pasta will need lots of room to boil. Bring a large pot of water, just under 3/4 full, to a boil over the stovetop.
- While water is heating, take 2-3 large garlic cloves, peel them, smash them, (so that the garlic releases it’s aroma) then drop them in the water. The garlic takes away any blandness that’s associated with gluten-free pasta. Trust me on this!
- Add about a tablespoon or two of good olive oil to the water also, right after the garlic. I use California. Oil is essential for gluten-free pasta because it helps keep it moist as well as not stick together.
- Once the water is boiling, add a VERY generous amount of koshers salt. I usually add alot. A rule of thumb is about 1 tablespoon for about 1 quart of water. In my 7 quart stock pot, filled just above the halfway mark, I would add at least 3 tablespoons of kosher salt when making a whole box of pasta. Honestly, 4 to 5 tablespoons is better. No joke! Gluten-free pasta LACKS FLAVOR. So, salt is extremely important during the cooking process.
- Add hard pasta to stock pot, then break it up loosely with rubber tongs. I use rubber tongs to stir and grasp my gluten-free pasta while it’s boiling. It helps to not break strands of pasta in half, and is gentle enough to grip and separate strands when needed.
- Don’t leave your gluten-free pasta to boil alone. When you put the hard pasta in the water, you will notice your boiling going down a bit. Up the heat if you need to get that back to a rolling boil, but don’t walk away. Your gluten-free pasta will stick together from the start. Break apart the strands by pressing down on them with closed rubber tongs until they split apart length wise. Always be gentle! The key with gluten-free pasta when boiling is to not let the strands stick together by moving them around. Do not stir. Just move and break apart strands frequently.
- Cook your pasta one less minute than the allotted time on the box. Whenever I used to cook gluten pasta, I would go by the cooking time on the box. And it always turned out mushy. So, taking away one minute of time is ideal. It works!
- Once finished, grip pasta with rubber tongs and transfer to a bowl or container. THIS PART IS SO IMPORTANT! You do not want to use a colander to drain the water. Your gluten-free pasta will break and become a mess! Simply use your rubber tongs to gently grip the pasta from the water. Once you grip a section, hold it above the water, over the pot, for about 2-3 seconds so some of the water drips off. Then transfer to your large bowl or container.
- Add more olive oil to pasta while hot, then stir gently to coat. Once your gluten-free pasta is transferred and steaming, add a tablespoon or two of more olive oil. This is so essential! Gluten-free pasta sticks together rapidly, so breaking that apart quickly is so important. Many chefs do not use oil on pasta as it’s very difficult for sauce to adhere to it once incorporated. Throw that out the door when it comes to gluten-free pasta. You want the oil for sure, as gluten-free pasta is much more dry than regular pasta.
And there you have it! I know that took alot of steps! But I wanted to make sure you got every detail on how to cook gluten-free pasta. Or at least, how I do it now. I promise you this method is the way to go. It’s perfect! And you won’t ever be afraid of making gluten-free pasta again!
I’ve left you with a recipe to make that’s simple with some gluten-free pasta here as well! Let me know if you make this dish and how the method worked out! I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments section below! And be sure to rate it!
Tip: Don’t serve gluten-free pasta cold! It doesn’t work well because of lack of moisture. Without the wheat, this type of pasta simply hardens and shrivels when cold. Always heat up leftover gluten-free pasta in the microwave if you want to eat it again. You might want to think twice about making a cold gluten-free pasta salad. Chances are, it just won’t work.
How To Boil Gluten-Free Pasta
- Water 🙂
- 12 ounce box of gluten-free spaghetti (Barilla is certified gluten-free)
- good olive oil (California, you’ll need several tablespoons)
- 3 large garlic cloves (peeled, smashed)
- kosher salt (you’ll need several tablespoons)
- Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil.
- While water is heating, peel 2-3 large garlic cloves, smash them, then drop them in the water.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of good, California olive oil to the water.
- Once water is boiling, add a VERY generous amount of koshers salt. I usually add alot. A rule of thumb is about 1 tablespoon per quart. In my 7 quart stock pot, I add 5 plus tablespoons. ‘Sea water’ is what you’re going for!
- Add hard pasta to stock pot, then break it up loosely with rubber tongs.
- Break apart the pasta strands by gently pressing in between them with closed rubber tongs until they split apart length wise. Do not stir. Just move and break apart strands frequently.
- Cook your pasta one less minute than the allotted time on the box.
- Once gluten-free pasta is finished cooking, simply use your rubber tongs to grip the pasta from the water, one section at a time. Hold sections above water and over the pot for about 3 seconds, so some of the water drips off.
- Add more olive oil to pasta while hot, then move around sections with tongs gently to coat.
- Serve pasta with your desired recipes.
If your recipe calls for adding gluten-pasta to a sauce cooking in a separate skillet, simply transfer your pasta straight to it.
If your pasta dish calls for garlic, you’ve already got some soft chunks in your pasta water that you can use!
Just remember: large pot, lots of kosher, garlic chunks, and plenty of olive oil make for a great, gluten-free pasta!
Once pasta cools completely, it hardens! So be mindful of this!
Gluten-Free Pasta Idea: Kale with pasta is AMAZING. But I haven’t always enjoyed the clumpy pieces of kale within pasta recipes. Flash-frying kale fixes this! Heat up a skillet of good olive oil, then drop the kale in to cook for about 30 seconds. Scoop the kale out with a straining spoon and place onto a paper toweled plate. Quickly sprinkle on kosher salt and you’re done! The taste is incredible, and you can eat it with your pasta without all the clumpy pieces!
Want another pasta recipe? Try this: