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Apr 18, 2007 01:17 PM

Oil or salt in the pasta water?

Or both?

Oil keeps it from boiling over, but it can make the pasta greasy and limp.

I usually go with just salt myself, and then toss the cooked pasta with some EVOO, but I'm willing to try something new.

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  1. Only salt. No oil in the boiling water.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Campania


      Never oil in the water. It makes the pasta "slimy" and keeps it from holding onto the sauce.

    2. lots of salt. to taste like the sea. never oil. unless you're making pasta salad, i think. i never make pasta salad. and never rinse. except maybe again for pasta salad!

        1. re: puds_companion

          are you saying only use salt and not oil, or only use kosher salt and no other type?

          1. re: puds_companion

            It matters not what kid of salt you use -- it's all 99% NaCl.

            It does matter that you use a LOT of boiling water and a good amount of salt -- so that it tastes like sea water.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              Iodized table salt can impart a bitter or metallic taste in foods to certain palates. Salts without additives would be preferred here and always.

              1. re: CDouglas

                Only if your palate can detect such a distinction.

                Don;t get me wrong. I only cook with kosher salt. But there is really no scientific or culinary reason to use it in pasta water if you cannot appreciate the difference.

                Think of all the people who only use iodized table salt. They need not run out and buy a box of kosher for this purpose.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Agreed. I don't keep that stuff in my house but I do know folks who claim they taste metal when it is used on popcorn or fries. When I need a finer grain than Kosher brings to the party I run some through a coffee (now spice) grinder.

              2. re: C. Hamster

                I would beg to differ. There is a distinctive difference in flavour between regular iodized salt and Kosher (sea, if you will) salt. I find the taste of Kosher salt more pronounced, whereas regular salt cannot be detected in the pasta water.

                1. re: puds_companion

                  I would venture to guess that 99 out of 100 people would disagree.

                  Take sea salt as it is commonly known out of the equation, if you will.

                  Both iodized table salt and kosher salt are 99% NaCl, so they are essentially the same thing, And of course you can taste both in the pasta water --they are salty!

                  Most people who claim to be able to differentiate bewteen these types of salt come ot the opposite conclusion as you: they believe iodized salt to leave a chemical/bitter or otherwise "off" taste.

                  My point was that if your go-to salt is the blue box of Morton's tables salt, by definition you either can't detect and off taste or don't care. So go ahead and use it and don't be a slave to the cries of "use kosher salt."

            2. Recent, long, exhaustive discussion of this exact topic at

              1. I also endorse the always salt, never oil routine.