Al dente

al dente definition | how to cook pasta al dente
« Back to Glossary Index

What does al dente mean - What foods can be al dente

Al dente Meaning

Al dente meaning in cooking is to cook foods to a tender but slightly firm state, but not hard.
The term is used to describe the doneness of foods, mostly pasta and risotto, but sometimes rice and beans or even vegetables.

The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard centre.

What Does Al Dente Mean In Italian?

Simply, al dente means “to the tooth” in Italian.and describes where pasta tastes and feels the best.
The pasta or noodles are cooked to be firm to the bite and is cooked just enough so that it is neither hard nor too soft.
The texture should be felt by the teeth.

Molto al dente is the culinary term for slightly undercooked pasta.
Undercooking pasta is used in the first round of cooking when a pasta dish is going to be cooked twice, for example, when finishing cooking in a sauce.

Al Dente Foods

What foods can be al dente you ask
You can use the term to also describe the cooked consistency of pasta, vegies, rice, and beans with a firmer texture when done.

  • Pasta-Noodles
    Where pasta tastes and feels the best. It’s chewy and firm, holding its whole shape in whatever sauce you put it in.
    Learn how to cook aldente pasta here.
  • Vegetables
    When using the term to refer to vegetables, you want to make sure that the vegies are cooked enough so that it loses its raw taste.
    Blanching is often used in this situation.
    So firm, not mushy.
  • Rice
    Cooking rice al dente is a little bit trickier. It can really depend on the type of grain you use and its cooking instructions.
    Rice that’s more on the firm side is good for cold rice salads.
    So if you like your rice with a little bite, just set the timer earlier and use less water.
  • Beans
    With green beans, al dente would give them a cooked crunch. Blanching is often used in this situation.

    Beans, such as kidney beans, the goal would be to have a meatier bite, so they are softer on the inside with a little bite on the outside.
    Eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can lead to food poisoning, so don’t go there!

How to cook pasta al dente
Yield: 1 Serve

How To Cook Al Dente Pasta

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes

This guide will teach you how to cook al dente pasta and getting that perfect result.

It is as simple as boiling water, but cooking pasta correctly is about paying attention to detail.


  • 100 grams pasta noodles
  • 1 litre (4 cups) Water
  • Salt


  1. Fill a pot with 4 cups/1 litre of water per 100 grams serving of pasta, cover it, and set it to Boil over high heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, remove the cover and add 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt (a little less if it's fine-grained) per litre of water.
    In terms of saltiness, it should resemble sea water.

    This will season your pasta — and it's the only chance in your cooking process to do so.
  3. When the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon or tongs to separate the pieces.
  4. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks, this will keep the pieces from sticking to each other or to the pot.
  5. A minute before the estimated pasta cooking time is up, remove a piece of the pasta to check for doneness.
    You want an al dente, or chewy "to the tooth" texture -- not soft, limp pasta.
    Bite the pasta to check.
  6. Test again every 30 seconds or so, and as soon as the broken piece is a uniform, translucent yellow, drain the pasta.
  7. Toss the pasta in your sauce and serve.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per ServingCalories 158Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 582mgCarbohydrates 31gFibre 2gSugar 1gProtein 6g

"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."

Recipes using al dente pasta

Recipes using al dente pastaEasy Pasta Recipes

Sharing is caring!

« Cooking Terms
Skip to Recipe