I've never cooked pasta myself before, and I want to cook some penne for me and my wife. How can I tell when its the perfect doneness?

asked 26 Nov '09, 23:28

joejenkins's gravatar image

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Well, you could take a few pieces and throw them at the kitchen wall (if they stick, the pasta is done), but that's very unreliable (and messy). The best way to tell if pasta is cooked to perfection ("al dente") is to taste it. If the pasta is firm but chewy, it's done. If not, cook the pasta for another minute and taste again.


answered 27 Nov '09, 01:13

avidlcfan's gravatar image

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I found that tasting it is usually the best way to tell. It should be firm but soft enough to chew it. If it seems crunchy or hard still in any way then it needs a few more minutes. Also you can tell by how easy or hard it easy to penetrate it with a fork. So either method is pretty reliable.


answered 27 Nov '09, 18:05

NikiG30's gravatar image

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Take one piece of pasta out a minute or two before it's "supposed" to be done. Bite through it. Look for that bit of white uncooked part that you can see within the yellow of the cooked pasta. Cook it another minute. Test again. When the color of the bitten thru part is consistent yellow without white, it's done. Drain it and sauce it immediately.

Learned this at the Museum of Pasta in Roma when I lived in Italy. Hope it helps.


answered 01 Dec '09, 08:43

AnnaRaven's gravatar image

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Try some as it cooks. It will go from crunchy at the beginning, to soft on the outside with a tough center, to perfect, to soft, to bloated and sticky.


answered 10 Dec '09, 00:26

paulbeckingham's gravatar image

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Depending on how firm you like your pasta, the answer could vary. Usually the best way to check if the pasta is done or not is to taste it.


answered 27 Nov '09, 03:48

julwheaton's gravatar image

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There are many ole wives tales for how to test pasta's done state. One of the more popular ones is throwing it against a wall or cabinet. This while it does work is indeed as another poster stated, messy. I must agree that the only true way to test a pasta's done state is to taste it.


answered 27 Nov '09, 04:10

Destiany's gravatar image

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There is another way to check to see if pasta is done. Take one piece and cut it in half. There should be a white dot in the middle.


answered 27 Nov '09, 05:13

harwoodkp's gravatar image

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To check to see when pasta is cooked. Just use fork and grab a few strings of spaghetti and TOSS or flick onto cupboards. If it sicks it is done!...

I have used this method for years and have learned to see when it is at this stage. Over cooked pasta is not tasty. Good luck.


answered 27 Nov '09, 08:10

jasmin's gravatar image

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I'm a culinary student still looking for the best answer. My instructor and I had a disagreement about this. I like my pasta al dente with a slight bite and no stickiness. When it was done to my liking when the pasta was cut in half there was a faint whisper of a white line in the pasta. My instructor said it was not done until every trace of white, even the most faint is gone. I felt this was overdone. So I decided to do some research and see what other professionals thought. It seems that about 60% of the professionals that I have read agree with my instructor and approx. 40% agree with me. Of the 60% that agree with my instructor they all say that the difference between al dente and overdone is seconds and some say that slightly underdone is preferred. There is then some discussion that leaving pasta slightly underdone is preferred when pasta is to undergo further cooking such as baked pasta. Also al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index than pasta cooked all the way through so people with diabetic concerns would do better doing a less done pasta possibly with the faint whisper of white that I prefer.

This answer is marked "community wiki".

answered 20 Apr '13, 08:40

chefcindyvoice's gravatar image

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edited 20 Apr '13, 08:43

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Asked: 26 Nov '09, 23:28

Seen: 14,742 times

Last updated: 20 Apr '13, 08:43

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