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Uses for Leftover Pasta Water

The humble leftover pasta water, once viewed as nothing more than kitchen waste, is actually a versatile ingredient with numerous benefits and uses. It is the water in the pan that turns milky when pasta is cooked. The starches and salt released during the cooking process make it an extra flavorful ingredient. Pasta water contains salt and starch, which give it several unique properties that can enhance the flavor, texture, and consistency of many dishes.

Pasta water can be used to thicken sauces, gravies, soups, and dressings. When combined with broth or stock and vegetables, it creates a thicker, richer soup base. Pasta water can also be used to marinate meats, flavor rice dishes, cook vegetables, and even poach fish. It can also be used as a natural binder, making it useful in creating emulsions or in keeping ingredients from separating.

Pasta water can also be used to make polenta, risotto, and creamy mashed potatoes. It can be added to salad dressings to create a creamy texture without using heavy cream or mayonnaise. Pasta water can even be used to make bread.

Here are 22 ways to use pasta water…

Make Soups

The starch in the water helps thicken soups without having to add cream or butter. Use the pasta water to make a thicker, richer soup base by combining it with broth or stock and adding your favorite vegetables and seasonings.  

Or instead of using chicken or vegetable broth, use pasta water as a base for your soup. The starchy water will add flavor and body to your soup. Add vegetables, meat, and herbs to create a flavorful soup that is both hearty and healthy.

Add flavor to sauces

Pasta water is a natural thickener and can be used to thicken sauces, gravies, and other liquid-based dishes. Simply add a small amount of pasta water to your sauce and let it simmer until it thickens to your desired consistency. Try using some in tomato sauce or pesto for an extra burst of flavor!

Marinating Meats

Boil tougher cuts of meat with a cup of pasta water to break down tough fibers and make the meat tender. 

Flavorful Rice Dishes

Flavoring rice dishes is as simple as adding some boiling hot pasta water just before serving it! 

Use it in salad dressings

Pasta water can be used in salad dressings to create a creamy texture without using heavy cream or mayonnaise. Combine pasta water with olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper for a delicious and healthy salad dressing.

Make a risotto

Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish that requires constant stirring and the addition of liquid. Instead of using chicken or vegetable broth, use pasta water to make a creamy and flavorful risotto. Add some vegetables, cheese, and herbs for a delicious and comforting dish.

Cook vegetables

Pasta water can also be used to cook vegetables. Simply bring the pasta water to a boil and add your vegetables. The starchy water will help to cook the vegetables quickly and evenly. Remove the vegetables from the water and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil for a delicious and healthy side dish.

Reheat leftovers

If you have leftover pasta or other dishes, use pasta water to reheat them. Simply add a little pasta water to a pan and heat the leftover food until it is warm and heated through. Don’t flood it, just use a little depending on what you are heating up.

Cook grains

Adding a bit of pasta water when you’re cooking rice or quinoa helps boost the overall flavor and texture. 

Make polenta and risotto

If you’re making polenta, use a combination of pasta water and milk to create the creamy texture. When making risotto, reduce your cooking time by adding some pasta water for that signature creaminess. 

Make mashed potatoes

Use some of the starchy pasta water to add creaminess to your mashed potatoes without adding more butter or cream!


Make guacamole

Use a tablespoon or two of hot pasta water when making guacamole for a delicious flavor boost. 

Moisten stuffing

Add a bit of warm, flavorful pasta water to any type of stuffing mix (whether it’s homemade from scratch or store bought). 

Flavor scrambled eggs

Add a few tablespoons of hot pasta water when you’re scrambling eggs for extra flavor and moistness. 

Boil eggs

Boiling eggs in starchy pasta water helps the shells to come off easily when peeled. 

Make creamy oatmeal

If you’re looking for a creamier breakfast option, try adding a few tablespoons of cold pasta water to your oats along with milk and other desired spices and toppings. 

As you can see, pasta water is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. From creating sauces and dressings to thickening soups and stews, pasta water is an ingredient that can add flavor and body to your dishes. So the next time you cook pasta, don’t throw away the water – use it in your cooking!

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