How to Cook Gluten Free Pasta to Avoid Mushy Pasta

Do you hate mushy gluten free pasta? This hack will help you make perfect pasta every time. Try it with this simple gluten free marinara sauce recipe.

Gluten free al dente pasta with marinara sauce served on plates. A piece of cheese is sitting on a cheese grater next to the plates

Say goodbye to mushy gluten free pasta!

If you want to cook gluten free pasta, that isn’t mushy, read further down to see this famous hack to have delicious al dente pasta every time!

Have you visited a restaurant and found that the staff went so far above and beyond to help you that it left you with a happy feeling inside?

I am constantly amazed at how kind and helpful restaurant employees can be.

Being gluten free for medical reasons, I rely heavily on the restaurant staff to make sure our family doesn’t get sick when dining out. From the wait person who helps us muddle through the menu trying to find out what items are safe to eat, to the chef who took a few minutes to leave his busy kitchen to answer my questions about cross contamination. I am forever grateful when it works and I don’t get sick.

Every once in awhile through these acts of kindness, I learn something new that improves how I cook in my own kitchen.

My husband and I wanted to try to a new Italian restaurant, Sorrelle Italian Bistro in Campbell, CA, that opened up just a few minutes from our house. When I called to ask if they had any gluten free options, the owner told me they didn’t have gluten free pasta dishes. The owner then offered something wonderful. She told us that if we brought a bag of our own gluten free pasta, they would create something special for us.

No restaurant has ever offered something like this and we were intrigued. We decided to give this new restaurant a try and packed a bag of gluten free pasta in my purse. When our pasta dishes came out, I couldn’t believe how delicious the pasta was. It was firm. It is the first gluten free pasta I could say was really al dente!

When I cooked gluten free spaghetti and pastas, I usually ended up with something a little mushy.

Over the years my kids have been brainwashed to accept “mushy” gluten free pasta. After a while, they forgot what real firm pasta was even like.

The restaurant used the same brand that I use and I couldn’t figure out what they could have done differently. I was so curious to know how they cooked the pasta. When I complimented the owner, I begged for her secret. She told me exactly how they keep the pasta al dente.

I am so excited to share this simple tip with you!!!!

Al Dente Gluten Free Pasta

It has put gluten free pasta back on the menu in our home.

The secret to firm pasta starts with an ice bath she explained. This halts the cooking process immediately so the pasta doesn’t continue to cook in the colander. If you drain your pasta in a colander, or drain it and leave it in the pot, the heat from the pasta continues cooking the pasta and you can end up with mush.

How to cook gluten free pasta:

a bowl with ice cubes and water

Add ice and water to a medium sized bowl.

pasta in a colander about to be dumped in the ice water

Hot gluten free pasta about to be added to the ice bath.

pasta on ice

Chill for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is cooled. If the ice didn’t melt all the way, remove any ice cubes that remain in the pot. Drain the pasta in a colander.

How to make an easy marinara pasta sauce:

smashed garlic cloves on a cutting board

With a large knife, smash two garlic cloves with the flat part of the knife. Saute in a pan with olive oil.

 

Heat a pan with olive oil and saute the garlic until it becomes golden. Add fresh basil.

Marinara simmering in a pan

Add in organic tomato sauce and capers. Simmer for 10-15 minutes for flavors to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato garlic and basil sauce mixing into pasta with a wooden spoon.

Add the cold pasta and it warms up quickly with the sauce. Toss and serve hot. You can also try this easy pasta hack on this delicious pasta with meat sauce recipe.

(*Please note this post has affiliate links. Ordering through my site will not change the price you pay. A tiny commission will come to Fearless Dining to help offset the cost of running this blog. I truly appreciate the support.)

Things You Need To Make This Recipe:

  1. A good metal colander. Don’t use a plastic colander for hot pasta. Most plastic is not safe when heated and it can release chemicals into your food.
  2. This large mixing bowl to do an ice bath.
Print
Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
32 mins
 
Gluten free quick and easy marinara sauce
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 443 kcal
Author: Sandi Gaertner
Ingredients
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked gluten free pasta
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and saute until golden.
  3. Add fresh basil and saute another 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomato sauce, capers, oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Toss with cooked gluten free pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve hot.
Nutrition facts per serving (1g)
443kcal | Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated fat: 1g | Monounsaturated fat: 2g | Sodium: 74mg | Carbohydrates: 95g | Fiber: 2g | Protein: 6g | Vitamin A: 0.7% | Vitamin C: 0.4% | Calcium: 0.2% | Iron: 0.2%

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Comments

  1. What?!? I’m definitely trying this! And I’m jealous that you have a restaurant that will cater to you like that… :p

    • Thank you Raia πŸ™‚

      • Sarah Teausaw says:

        Will the ice method work for keeping Alfredo pasta aldenti for party without going mushy.

        • Hi Sarah, That is such a good question. How long do you need the pasta to stay hot? I use this method with butter, parmesan, and salt for a pasta dish and I put it in my kids’ thermos for lunch. They said the pasta doesn’t get mushy. If you can give me more of an idea how you are doing this for your party, maybe we can test it out. Aka, my kids love alfredo and they want to test it out for you :-). PS I have an amazing alfredo recipe on my blog if you need one.

  2. What a great tip. I’ve always seen that technique done for halting the cooking of various vegetables, but haven’t done it for gluten free pasta. Can’t wait to try!

  3. What a great tip! I normally use gluten-free Barilla pasta and I find the texture to be pretty good but I’ll have to try this next time πŸ™‚

  4. what a great resource! I think this will help so many! I would love to add it to our resource page on Gluten Free Mama’s Gluten Free 101. Please Le me know if that is acceptable to you. Great job!

  5. So… I’m calling that new restaurant a keeper!! And so is your tip. We occasionally have GF pasta, but my kids reject it due to the “mush”, so I just don’t do it all that often. I’m totally trying this!

  6. This is awesome…you are lucky!

  7. Definitely going to have to try this! We recently found a brand of pasta that seems to be a cut above the others, but mushiness is still a very real problem.

  8. Well, you learn something new everyday! What a great tip! I’ll be using it from now on. Thanks!

  9. This is a such a wonderful recipe for pasta. I am a huge lover of pasta and I am always searching for great recipes like yours. I was at a steakhouse once and they didn’t have anything vegetarian on their menu except corn on the cob. The chef actually made me a wonderful sandwich and pasta dish. They didn’t have any pasta in their kitchen, so, he sent out a staff member to buy some pasta from a grocery store. He really went above and beyond.

  10. What a wonderful fresh recipe – perfect for an easy week night meal, yum! And secondly, a really good reminder….if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no, right? Good for you to even think to ask and yay for us for you to share your knowledge. Thanks for the great tip!

  11. I’ve done the shock method for my veggies, but never GF pasta. Happy to give it a shot.

  12. This my friend is a post we all can use. Nobody likes to eat gf pasta mush! Its an art for sure!

  13. Thank you so much for this info and recipe. Tonight I am eating soggy gf pasta that I cooked last night (package claimed you can’t over cook their pasta, it was al dente when I drained it and put it into the sauce to heat up for few minutes-was soggy by time I ate it).
    Next time I make gf pasta I will definitely try your tips.
    Thank you and please thank that restaurant for me-by the way no restaurant has ever gone out of their way for me once they hear gluten free…
    Kat

  14. What a GENIUS tip!! Love this

  15. Sounds like an awesome restaurant and an awesome tip! Thanks!

  16. Nice Tips and what a great restaurant!!

  17. Such a good tip. This looks so fresh and delicious!

  18. I shock my veggies all of the time… what a great trick! Brilliant!

  19. I’ve done this for years, but I find that rinsing with cold water from the tap works just fine. Ice bath might be necessary if it is slightly approaching overdone. Makes a huge difference though. I remember going to a gluten free conference and I could tell the chefs weren’t used to cooking gluten-free pasta because it was way overcooked. πŸ™‚

  20. love your step by step photos!

  21. Would you believe I already knew this, but never do it? LOL Silly, to say the least!

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