Al dente

« Back to Cooking Terms Index

hat does al dente mean | how to cook perfect pasta al dente

What does al dente mean

al dente means to cook Pasta or other foods to a tender but slightly firm state, but not hard.

What does al dente mean in italian?

Simply put it is Italian for ‘to the tooth’.

In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables.
The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard centre.

How long do you cook al dente pasta

You can always check the pasta package for pasta cooking time.

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time as it is only a guideline.

If no estimated time is given, follow these rules-of-thumb, but be careful to check the pasta often for doneness as it cooks:
Remember to start timing when the water returns to a boil after you have added your pasta.

  • Fresh pasta –
    Especially egg pasta (fettucine, tagliatelle, lasagna):
    Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Thin –
    Dried durum wheat (eggless) pasta (spaghettini, shells, rotini):
    Cook fo 6 to 9 minutes.
  • Dried spaghetti –
    Is generally 8 to 9 minutes, depending on the brand and thickness.
  • Thick dried –
    durum wheat (eggless) pasta (penne, ziti, tortigioni, trofie):
    12 to 15 minutes.

How to cook pasta al dente perfectly

  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 to separate the pieces.
  4. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks, to 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.

Notes
Some boxes of pasta have directions for al dente. Because the directions aren’t always perfect, you will have to taste the pasta as it is being cooked to know when it is al dente.

Gordon Ramsey cooking pasta al dente

Gordon Ramsey’s top tips on how to how to cook angel hair pasta.
These principles can be applied to cooking any pasta.

Recipes using al dente pasta

« Back to Cooking Terms Index