The Only Time You Should Be Rinsing Pasta

It seems almost everyone who cooks pasta at home has, by now, heard that pasta water should never be wasted and the pasta itself should never be rinsed. And there's a good reason for this prevalent advice. Pasta that hasn't been rinsed retains some of the starch that cooks out into the water because it holds some of its own pasta water (via Bon Appétit). That allows your pasta to hold onto the pasta sauce you plan to serve with it better so you end up with more flavorful pasta.

While this is certainly true and a good tip to keep in mind for many pasta dishes, it actually isn't a rule to blindly follow anytime you use pasta in a dish. Some dishes are actually better served when made with pasta that has been rinsed with a bit of tap water. But those dishes are rather few and come down to how you plan to serve them.

You should always rinse your pasta for this dish

According to Food & Wine, pasta should always be rinsed when it is going to be eaten cold or even at room temperature. That means dishes like pasta salad are best when the pasta is rinsed before it is mixed in with other ingredients.

The reason that pasta that will be eaten at cooler temperatures should be rinsed off after it is drained once again has to do with the starch content of pasta and the water it cooked in. Pasta that is not rinsed and cools off either to room temperature or while sitting in the fridge will have a clear, sticky coating of starch on the outside. It could almost be mistaken for fat like you would see after meat cooks. Obviously, that isn't a particularly appetizing way to serve anything. But by rinsing the pasta before allowing it to cool, you can avoid the starchy layer all together and keep your pasta from sticking together.