Here's How To Get Your Sauce To Cling To Your Pasta

We love a good pasta dish as much as the next guy. There are few things more disappointing than a pasta dish that doesn't turn out correctly, especially when it's a fairly straightforward recipe calling for essentially just sauce and noodles. Creamy alfredo, delicious marinara, even a good vodka sauce, they're all really easy recipes and they're so, so good. Except when, of course, something goes wrong, and suddenly your noodles and your sauce are like oil and water, and nothing you try can get the sauce to cling to the noodles the way you so badly crave. 

Sometimes getting the sauce to evenly coat the noodles and stay there can seem like an impossible task, but there's actually a hack to get your noodles perfectly saucy, and it's probably not what you would think. All you'll need is a little fat (like butter or olive oil), some pasta water, and your sauce.

You need to emulsify your sauce

The key to making your sauce and your noodles stick is to bind your sauce with some starchy pasta water and some fat, like butter or olive oil. This process is called emulsifying, and it works whether you're using a homemade sauce or a jarred store-bought variety. MyRecipes writes "emulsion is a scientific concept that simply means at least two liquids that normally won't mix have been forced to come together." In this case, the sauce. 

According to Reddit user manofmystry on the subreddit r/foodhacks, you'll start by reserving some pasta water when you drain it (about a cup), and add butter to a pan until it's starting to brown and sizzle a bit. Next, add some of the pasta water and sauce and stir it for a bit, before finally adding in the pasta and tossing to coat. MyRecipes calls for a different technique, stating that you should add the sauce to the pot and add a tablespoon of cold butter, stirring constantly as the butter slowly melts. Keep adding butter until your sauce is nice and thickened, and then add your noodles and continue to stir, mixing the sauce and noodles together. If your sauce is too thick, add in some pasta water. 

Whichever avenue you try (maybe different techniques work better with different sauces?) the ingredients and the end result are fairly similar: delicious pasta, perfectly coated in sauce.