It simply comes down to boil, cook, drain, and top,

but our Test Kitchen has come up with a few tips and tricks to achieve the best results for making spaghetti.



1 pound ground beef1 onion, chopped; 4 cloves garlic, minced; 1 small green bell pepper, diced; 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste2 teaspoons dried oregano2 teaspoons dried basil1 teaspoon salt½ teaspoon black pepper



Step 1: Bring Water to a Boil

Fill a large pot ($30, Bed Bath & Beyond) with plenty of cold water (use 3 quarts of water for every 4 to 8 ounces of dried spaghetti). If desired, add salt to the water for seasoning. Bring the water to a rolling boil.

How to make spaghetti noodles not stick: Some people add a tablespoon of olive oil or cooking oil to the water to keep the spaghetti from sticking together. However, our Test Kitchen recommends not adding oil because it keeps your spaghetti sauce from adhering to the pasta. To prevent the spaghetti from sticking together, make sure you use enough water, cook it at a rolling boil, and stir the spaghetti occasionally during cooking.


Step 2: Add the Spaghetti Noodles

Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti a little at a time so the water doesn't stop boiling. Reduce the heat slightly so the water doesn't boil over; boil, uncovered, until the spaghetti is al dente, using the package directions as a guide for timing.

Test Kitchen Tip: You don't need to break spaghetti noodles in half so they all get submerged in the boiling water at once. After just 30 seconds or so, the noodles will soften and the entire noodle will end up in the boiling water.



Step 3: Cook Spaghetti Until Al Dente

To bring out spaghetti's full, nutty flavor, cook it until it has the firm slightly chewy texture known as al dente (Italian for "to the tooth"). Test near the end of cooking time by giving it a taste.

Step 4: Drain and Serve

When the spaghetti is cooked al dente, drain it in a colander ($25, Target) and shake well to remove excess water that could make your sauce runny. Toss noodles with your favorite sauce (our classic spaghetti sauce recipe is a winner!)


Test Kitchen Tip: Do not rinse the spaghetti because it removes the light coating of starch that helps sauces and seasonings cling. Pasta continues to cook after draining, so serve it immediately. If your drained spaghetti needs to sit before using, return it to the warm cooking pan (off the heat), toss it with a little butter or olive oil to prevent sticking, and cover for up to 15 minutes. Remember, adding oil will inhibit sauce clinging to the pasta, so try to keep it minimal.