Alton Brown's Pasta Cooking Tip Is A Total Time Saver

When it comes to cooking skills, boiling pasta in a pot of water is about as basic as it gets. No matter how many ingredients the recipe calls for or how complicated the sauce is, every pasta recipe starts out exactly the same way. But if you thought it couldn't get any easier than just pasta and water, Alton Brown's hack might just change your mind.

According to a post on Alton Brown's blog, the most efficient way to cook pasta is to start off with cold water. Instead of waiting for the water to boil first, Brown's method is to add both the water and the pasta to the pot at the same time, cook it over medium-high, then reduce it to a simmer once the water begins to boil.

Contrary to popular belief — and what Brown once claimed in an episode of "Good Eats" — this method is actually a lot faster than the traditional one. The reason, as Brown explained, is that cold water requires less energy to heat, and because the pasta is added to the water immediately, it also requires less cooking time.

Using cold water also affects the consistency of the sauce

Not only does Alton Brown's cold water cooking method save time, but it also can improve your pasta sauce. Many recipes, including carbonara and cacio e pepe, use leftover pasta water to thicken the sauce. The best pasta water happens to be the kind produced using Brown's method. Brown explains that because the pasta is brought to a boil at the same time as the water, more starch is drawn out by the end. The resulting water "gives a silky, creamy finish to pasta sauces," Brown wrote in his blog.

HuffPost further elaborates that this method works so well because the pasta starch left behind in the water after cooking acts as both an emulsifier and a thickener. Using pasta water with a higher starch content more effectively binds all the ingredients in the sauce, ultimately allowing it to better adhere to the pasta. So, if you find that your sauces are looser than you'd prefer, cooking your pasta in cold water first may be just the solution you need.