Is it better to cook pasta in cold water?

You can cook pasta in cold water but some experts say it’s not the best way to get al dente pasta.
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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Is cooking pasta in cold water something you should actually do?

A viral tweet has ignited a debate in the world of pasta lovers, where conventional wisdom has always been that you boil the water in a pot or pan first and then drop in the pasta to cook.

In the tweet, a man reveals his girlfriend's cooking technique, which inspired experts like Food Network personality Alton Brown and cooking expert J. Kenji López-Alt to weigh in.

"My girlfriend just added uncooked pasta to cold water and then turned on the stove and when i said that she should boil the water before adding pasta she said 'literally all men are the same,'" the tweet read.

Brown was brought into the discussion by another Twitter user and said the man's girlfriend was "right on both counts."

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He took the side of adding pasta in cold water, referring to a 2015 post on his website.

"Although I may be blocked from ever entering Italy again for saying this: I have come to prefer the texture of dry pasta started in cold water," he wrote in the post.

López-Alt also showed his support for the cold water method, writing, "Usually when you get called out for mansplaining you don’t double down and mock your significant other in public. She’s also right about everything."

Food stylist and pasta expert Anthony Contrino, star of TODAY's original series "Saucy," is definitely on the side of the traditional method of boiling the water first.

"By adding pasta to boiling water, it cooks more evenly since the temperature is a constant," he told TODAY in an emailed statement. "When you add to cold water, first of all, the salt isn’t going to dissolve quick enough to flavor the pasta and, depending on the pasta, you risk not being able to achieve al dente."

Star chef Lidia Bastianich also recommended the traditional method when she shared her tips for making the perfect pasta with TODAY in 2016.

"Before you put the pasta in, the water should be boiling rapidly and it should be salted to the point that it tastes almost like sea water," she wrote.

Chef Palak Patel of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York is another expert who is on the side of boiling the water first.

"Although you can definitely cook pasta in cold water, you risk overcooking because the starch has more time to release," she told TODAY. "It’s not as precise. In other words, the pasta had more time to absorb water, causing it to be mushy.

"Pasta cooked too long also can have an increase in glycemic index. During the cooking process, the protein and starch interact, which allows the pasta to cook. The longer the interaction with water, the more cooked the pasta."

Boiling the water first is the best way to get firm, al dente pasta, according to Patel.

"Alternatively, cooking pasta in boiling salted water allows the water to slowly absorb into the pasta," she said. "The proteins and starch have little time to interact, giving you a perfect al dente noodle. Salted, roiling, boiled water also ensures the pasta doesn’t stick together as the starch is releasing."