Cooking Tips

How to Keep Fresh Pasta from Sticking Together

A professional’s insider tips for the best fresh pasta at home. 

Published Mar. 3, 2023.

Making fresh pasta dough is easier than you might think. It shapes and cooks quickly, and any pasta enthusiast will tell you that any work is well worth it once you’ve forked up a big bite of your own hand-cut tagliatelle.

Unfortunately, it clumps just as quickly. And once it starts to stick together, there’s no salvaging those globs. 

All that hard work for a lumpy mass of chewy dough. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. I talked to Test Cook Carmen Dongo, who worked on our new release, Fresh Pasta at Home. Here are some of her expert tips to ensure your fresh pasta stays separate.

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1. Flour Is Your Friend

Use flour on the rolling pin, the pasta when it begins to stick, your work surface . . . anything the pasta touches (including your hands) can be floured. 

Carmen’s Pro Tip: Keep a small bowl of flour at your workstation so you aren’t digging into the bag and making a mess.

2. Keep Shaped Pieces Separate

Whether you're rolling by hand, using an extruder, or forming with a tool, once the desired shape is achieved, keep the pieces from touching so they won’t have anything to stick to. 

Carmen’s Pro Tip: When making strand pasta, Carmen recommends “gently lifting the pasta and shaking it out on my work surface before setting it down on a plate or tray.

shaping farfalle pasta by hand
Avoid stacking or layering your shaped pasta pieces while they cure to prevent them from sticking together.

3. Give the Pasta a Rest

Allowing your shaped pasta to rest and dry slightly is a good thing. This process, called curing, keeps pasta from sticking together and keeps sheets of pasta from tearing when cutting and manipulating.

Carmen’s Pro Tip: “A 15-minute period of rest really helps the gluten network relax and the pasta continue to hydrate.”

tri-colored pasta nests on a baking sheet
These flavored pasta nests can cure for 15 minutes on a baking sheeting before cooking or storing in the freezer.

4. Don’t Let Cooked Pasta Sit

Fresh pasta is softer than dried, especially after cooking. You don’t have to put it directly into sauce (although you can!), but whatever you do, don’t let it sit in the colander. 

Carmen’s Pro Tip: “I always either put the pasta directly into my sauce or I gently toss it with oil or butter to ensure all the pieces stay separate.”

New Release!

Fresh Pasta at Home

Turn homemade pasta into your new favorite kitchen hobby with foolproof methods and 100+ approachable, achievable recipes. You can make incredible pasta (of any shape!) from scratch using the test kitchen’s rigorously tested techniques.
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5. Have a Damp Towel Ready

Chances are, you’ll be working one piece of dough at a time. This means the rest has to stay supple until you get to it. Before it’s ready to dry, help the pasta dough pieces you aren’t working with stay soft until you’re ready to use them.

Carmen’s Pro Tip: “While rolling out pasta or cutting shapes, be sure to use a damp towel on top of the pasta to prevent them from sticking to each other and from cracking/drying.”

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