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Oct 13, 2005 04:18 PM

Pre-cooking pasta?

  • g

I know some restaurants precook pasta, then dunk it in hot water for a minute or so when the order comes up.

What's the best way to do this? To rinse (which I usually don't do with Italian pasta) or not to rinse?

To oil, or not to oil?

How to store, best way to refresh?

I have time to experiment, but I figure there's a generally accepted method, and someone here either does it, or has worked in a kitchen that does...Thanks!


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  1. Hi GG -- I've done this during a brief stint working for a catering company. Not sure it's the best method, but we would par-boil (within 2 minutes of ultimate done-ness) and strain into a colander. No rinse, no oil. Yes, the strands will stick together but will come undone in rapidly boiling water when you reheat. The key is the reboiling in plenty of boiling H2O-- difficult in a supermarket perhaps.

    2 Replies
    1. re: yumyum

      Naw, private event, I'll have a burner....Will it work for shaped pastas, like penne and those curly things?


      1. re: galleygirl

        Yes. And I really wouldn't oil the cooked stuff, despite the advice from others. It will end up floating on the surface of your pot of abundant rapidly boiling salted water. Good luck!

    2. I've used the precooking technique for large groups. I take the pasta out when extra-al dente. It seems to cook even when refrigerated. Toss in olive oil to keep from getting gummy and reconstitute in boiling water before serving.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jim H.

        I too would toss with oil, but do not rise. Tossing with oil prevents the pasta from sticking also, the oil prevents the pasta from soaking up any more liquid.

      2. I would not add oil if you are intending to eventually add the pasta to a sauce. Yes, if you do add oil it will stop it from absorbing more water, but you will also build a barrier from the ultimate destination: the sauce.

        I'd rinse to stop the cooking. It is not a preferred method to precook pasta. But, if you have to, i think this is the sacrifice: you have to rinse.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Nicole
          mrs. orthweinn

          Hmm... If the pasta is being cooked again the oil will simply boiled out. The water must be changed frequently when you're doing the second boil. If you rinse the pasta it will absorbed more water, hence it won't have any more starch to absorb the sauce. It's like eating warm pasta salad.

          The key is never add oil when cooking or rinse after cooking. The sauce should wait for the pasta and never the other way around. My suggestion is to use fresh pasta, so your cooking time will be relatively the same as pre-cooked pasta.

          The only time to rinse is when you're making pasta salad.

        2. Hmm, no consensus here...;)

          I MUST cook in advance, it's for 1000 "Tastes" at a tasting...Unless the client springs for fresh pasta, which I doubt...I know the sauce must wait for the pasta,but that won't happen this time...

          It *has* to be able to absorb sauce; the sauce is the point of the whole tasting; yikes!

          And soggy pasta is a no-no....

          Looks like I'll be back to the hot stove....


          1. how long do you need to "hold" the pasta? or, how far in advance before serving?
            this is halfway between: bring water to a full rolling boil (no oil) with salt - add pasta, stir, turn off heat, cover. Let sit. Drain and serve. I don't know that this method will work for your timing needs...but it may be worth experimenting...