Learn how to cook gluten free pasta, so it is al dente every time! Avoid mushy pasta by following these simple tricks. You won’t believe how easy perfect al dente gluten free pasta is to make at home!!

Cooking spaghetti in a large silver pot.

Do you hate mushy gluten free pasta? This hack will help you learn how to cook gluten free pasta to tender perfection. Try it with this simple ground pork pasta sauce.

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.”

Clare V.

The Story:

Being gluten free for medical reasons, I rely heavily on the restaurant staff to ensure our family doesn’t get sick when dining out from the waitperson who helped us muddle through the menu trying to find out what items were safe to eat to the chef who took a few minutes to leave his busy kitchen to answer my questions about cross-contamination.

My husband and I wanted to try a new Italian restaurant, Sorrelle Italian Bistro in Campbell, CA, that opened just a few minutes from our house. When I called to ask if they had gluten-free options, the owner told me they didn’t have gluten free pasta dishes.

A bowl of uncooked gluten free rotini shaped corn pasta.

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. (Note: they do not have gluten free pasta, so if you want it, you need to bring your own uncooked pasta.) They cook it in separate water.

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 al dente! I usually had something a little mushy when I cooked gluten-free spaghetti and pasta.

The restaurant used the same brand of pasta that I use (obviously, since I brought the bag!), 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 to cook gluten free pasta al dente.

A pair of tongs lifting gluten free fettuccine in a pan.

How to Cook Gluten Free Pasta:

I am so excited to share this simple pasta hack with you!! It has put gluten free pasta back on the menu in our home. Even better, this works for every type of gluten free pasta!!

Try it with this Gluten Free Fettuccine Alfredo recipe!

Pasta cooling down in an ice water bath.

The secret to firm pasta starts with an ice-water bath. This halts the cooking process immediately, so the pasta doesn’t continue to cook in the colander. Trust me; this works on all brands of gluten free pasta.

Chef Tips For Al Dente Gluten Free Pasta:

  1. Add ice and water to a medium-sized bowl to make an ice-water bath.
  2. Add your pasta.
  3. This will halt the cooking process, so your pasta doesn’t get mushy.

Now that you know how to cook gluten free pasta, you can use the method when you make your favorite gluten free pasta and spaghetti dishes!

Easy Gluten Free Pasta Sauces For Pasta:

Tips & Recipe FAQ:

What is the secret to cooking gluten free pasta?

The secret to firm pasta starts with an ice-water bath. This halts the cooking process immediately so the pasta doesn’t continue to cook in the colander.

Why does gluten free pasta get mushy?

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.

Why do gluten free pasta all have different cook times?

All kinds of gluten free pasta have different cooking times because they are made with different ingredients. Some are made with rice, corn, legumes, and often a combination of ingredients. These all require different cooking times.

Are legume pastas gluten free?

Several new kinds of pasta on the market are made with legumes like garbanzo beans and lentils. These are naturally gluten free, but just to be sure, always read the labels. Try this fun Mexican Pasta Salad recipe that features lentil penne pasta.

If you love pasta, try my homemade Gluten Free Ravioli recipe!

A pot of spaghetti cooking on the stove.

How to Cook Gluten Free Pasta and My Favorite Sauce Recipe

Sandi Gaertner
Learn how to cook gluten free pasta to al dente perfection and then serve it with this delicious quick and easy marinara sauce.
5 from 15 votes
gluten free allergy icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Course Gluten Free Pizza and Pasta Recipes, Meal Recipes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people
Calories 460 kcal


  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 14 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups cooked gluten free pasta


  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  • Add garlic and saute until golden.
  • Add fresh basil and saute another 2 minutes.
  • Add tomato sauce, capers, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Reduce heat and simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes.
  • Toss with cooked gluten free pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Serve hot.


  1. To halt the cooking process and avoid mushy pasta, give that pasta an ice bath! To make an ice water bath, add ice and water to a medium-sized bowl.
  2. I prefer to use Jovial or Tinkyada gluten free pasta brands, but Barilla is also delicious.


Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.


Serving: 1gCalories: 460kcalCarbohydrates: 99gProtein: 7gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 421mgPotassium: 230mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 331IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @FearlessDining or tag #FearlessDining!

Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

This post was updated from an old January 2017 post with more information and photos.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Hello Sandi, this is an interesting concept. I always rinse my gluten-free pasta with cool water to keep it from getting mushy. I use Jovial brown rice pasta but I have yet to be able to get their cassava pasta to not completely fall apart in the sauce.

    My question to you is how does this water bath method work if you’re trying to finish your pasta in the sauce? I think it makes for a better end result if you marry the sauce with the pasta but I know gluten-free pasta is a whole different animal then what my grandmother used. Can I get your thoughts on this? Thanks!

    1. Hi, I typically cook the pasta a minute less than the box. I find rinsing in cool water stops the cooking process quickly, then I add the pasta to the hot sauce and mix it. I haven’t tried cassava pasta yet so I am not sure how to advise with that type.

  2. You don’t mention using gluten free pastas in a “baked” casserole type dish.
    Will the rigatoni get mushy while the cheese melts and browns a little?
    After the ice bath, once the casserole is assembled, it all bakes together, so will I have mushy rigatoni?

  3. I finally made a decent goulash gluten free, however my leftovers turn mushy, will this help so I can eat nonmushy leftovers?

    1. Hi Jane, I know what you mean. It is more the gluten-free pasta because it is mostly rice-based. It absorbs the liquid in the food while in the fridge. I don’t have a good fix for this.

  4. 5 stars
    Great tips! Cooking al dente gluten free pasta can be a challenge but thanks to your quick hacks much easier now.

  5. Thank you so very very much for that tip on the pasta. My daughter is gluten free and I always feel so bad when her pasta looks like a big lump of dough. I’m going to surprise her the next time we have spaghetti. ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Hello! I enjoyed reading your post! I’m willing to try your idea but wondering something. How do you get your pasta hot again after the ice bath?

  6. 5 stars
    I can hardly wait to try this! How long do you keep the pasta in the cold water? Doesn’t this method give you cold pasta? Do you warm it up in the microwave? Thanks Sandy.

  7. Do you just pour hot pasta in a colander and then plunge the colander into a bowl with ice water? Thanks! We haven’t found a gf pasta we like yet. Maybe this will help.

    1. Yes, I dump the pasta from the colander into the ice water. You can either dump the pasta right in or keep it in the colander and dip the whole colander into the cold water so the cold water comes in all of the holes and gets to the pasta that way.

  8. This may seem like a dumb question but isn’t the pasta ice cold when you eat it? I wouldn’t think putting some warm sauce on top of it would warm it up enough.

  9. This is a GREAT tip! Thank you Sandi for sharing it. I will be using this method to cook all GF pastas from now on.

    1. I was so excited. This restaurant has certainly gotten very popular. It is tiny and they always have a line out the door of people waiting because they don’t take reservations.

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

  11. 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. 🙂

    1. Oh wow…I guess if the chefs weren’t used to using gluten free, that could be disastrous :-0