What's Really Going On With The Pasta Water Trend

Food trends come and go all the time on TikTok. Sometimes, these trends even stem from things that have been around for a while already. Such is the case with the recent surge of pasta water recipes across social media. Influencers may have latched onto pasta water as a trendy food hack, but it's actually been around forever. For instance, TikTok users like aldentediva swore by mixing pasta water into pasta sauce in 2021, lamenting, "You're throwing away liquid gold."

Even TV personalities like chef Daphne Oz showcased the value of pasta water in a 2021 TikTok, saying, "I go pretty shallow on the pasta water, and that is helpful for concentrating the concentrates the starchy, salty flavor that the water takes on from the cooking pasta." Of course, neither have taken the trend to the extremes of creating a Dirty Pasta Water Martini like a Philadelphia restaurant has or created a pasta water candle like one luxury candle brand, according to Food & Wine.

So what is it about pasta water that made it and continues to make it popular? Well, for one, it's all about accessibility. Pasta water is available to anyone who cooks pasta, and it's also a fantastic emulsifier as well. Dried pasta releases quite a bit of starch into whatever liquid it's boiling in. As Chef Angelo Auriana tells GQ, "Adding a small amount of the pasta water to the sauce can adjust the thickness of the sauce."

Pasta water is surprisingly versatile in the kitchen

Pasta is great when it's cooked alongside other food, so there are plenty of applications for the pasta water to shine. For instance, TV personality and chef Lidia Bastianich stands by pasta water, telling Today, "I think the cooking water of pasta always comes in handy. Even when you're making the sauce, let's say you're making something as simple as a carbonara with bacon and onion, you need liquid." 

That said, don't start saving pasta water in bottles as it typically only lasts two to three days. Pasta water is best when it's piping hot anyway. Besides, it's not that difficult to recreate. If you're looking to recreate "pasta water" without cooking a whole pot of pasta, a mixture of cornstarch and kosher salt should be enough to replicate the effect. Still, the convenience of pasta water always lies in the fact that it's already there as you're cooking. 

Some influencers may be trying to take pasta water in bold new directions. For instance, TikToker calatheakiller tried watering their plants with unsalted pasta water. But its use in the kitchen has been documented for years. For instance, YouTube Chef Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz, better known as French Guy Cooking, showcased the hack in his 2019 recipe for Cacio e Pepe. He demonstrated how to create the "super starchy water" as he called it. Pasta water and its uses are unlikely to go away anytime soon.