7 Pasta Water Substitute

You know that foggy, starchy liquid left over after you’ve cooked your pasta till it’s perfectly al dente? Culinary experts advise us not to squander pasta water, yet it is one of the most ignored stages when producing a creamy sauce and a well-made dough.

If you forgot about it and are now making either, don’t worry, we have the best pasta water substitutes mentioned below. What’s the greatest part? You won’t even have to make pasta.

The “Liquid Gold” a.k.a. Pasta Water

Pasta water is the leftover liquid after preparing pasta that is full of starchy, salty goodness.

If you dump your pasta water through a strainer and down the drain, you’re losing a valuable resource known as liquid gold among cooks.

This liquid gold is the key to a great sauce and an eye-catching pasta meal. However, it is used in much more than only Italian cuisine.

Although pasta water is an excellent component for pizza and bread dough, it may also be used to soak and soften lentils or other legumes. Some chefs even boil vegetables in it or use it as the base for a substantial tomato soup or meat stew.

As you can see, there are several applications for pasta water, but we’re not here to discuss them. What is sometimes neglected is that there are as many pasta water substitutes as there are applications for it. Let’s have a look at them.

The Best Pasta Water Substitutes

  1. Corn flour
  2. Potato starch
  3. Cornstarch
  4. Flour
  5. Xanthan gum
  6. Arrowroot
  7. Boiled potato

Corn Flour

Corn flour is a well-known thickening agent with a smooth texture and bland flavor. It is the most often used pasta water substitute because it is inexpensive, flexible, and versatile.

Corn flour is a starch, which means that all of the gluten has been eliminated, making it a perfect choice for those who are gluten intolerant.

To make a decent pasta water alternative, blend the corn flour with salt, water, and oil.

It has a more gel-like texture when boiled than pasta water, so use it sparingly.

Don’t make the mistake of substituting cornmeal for corn flour. Cornmeal has a rougher texture, which makes it inappropriate for a silky sauce or stew.

Potato Starch

You may use a water and potato starch combination instead of pasta water to not only thicken but also sweeten your meal.

Gluten-free chefs swear by it, so if you or a loved one is allergic to gluten, this is an option to consider.

Cooked potato starch has a texture similar to pasta water and a somewhat neutral-to-sweet aftertaste.

The trick to utilizing potato starch is to use it sparingly, simmer it over low heat, and carefully combine it until all lumps are gone.

If potato starch is unavailable, potato flour may be used. While they are practically similar, the flour has a greater potato taste and is often used when the stronger flavor enhances the meal.

Corn Starch

Another gluten-free option to pasta water is cornstarch with water.

To get the same thickening effect as pasta water, mix one or two teaspoons of cornstarch with a little quantity of water.

Adding cornstarch immediately to hot water will result in lumps rather than a smooth finish.

After completely blending the cornstarch and cold water, add a tablespoon of hot water at a time.

Because water and cornstarch provide a dull, flavorless alternative for pasta water, season your meal with salt to improve the flavor.


If you don’t have any other choices, flour and water may help.

To use as a substitute for pasta water, whisk together one tablespoon all-purpose flour and a little amount of water until thoroughly combined.

Pour one spoonful of heated stock or water at a time into any sauce, gravy, or other thickening mixture.

Because raw flour creates digestion issues, we recommend heating your food for five minutes after adding the flour and water combination to the pot.

Xanthan Gum

If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative to pasta water, Xanthan gum is a fantastic option.

The finest feature of the gum is that it does not need either heating or freezing to function well as a thickening agent.

You just need a teaspoon for each cup of liquid you wish to thicken. Remember to stir well.

If you’re using xanthan gum to thicken a sauce, we recommend combining it with oil first. This improves the texture, creating a more silky and creamy sauce.


Arrowroot powder is a flavorless thickening agent that works well as a substitute for pasta water. For individuals on a gluten-free diet, arrowroot powder is another option to consider.

You may substitute arrowroot powder for pasta water by mixing 45 tsp with around 3 tbsp water.

Make a slurry and add it to your sauce, soup, or other dish.

Because arrowroot requires a little heat to thicken, simmer the dish for a little longer after adding it.

Boiled Potato

When compared to the other alternatives on our list, potatoes are the best thickening agent and provide the most nutrients to your food.

Peel and finely dice the potatoes first. Cook until they are soft enough to come apart in water.

Remove the potatoes from the water and mash them. Add two teaspoons to a sauce, soup, or stew and thoroughly stir for 5 minutes.

You may add extra mashed potatoes if you want a thicker thickness.

As with leftover potatoes, you can always utilize them to create creamy mashed potatoes for your family to enjoy.


Pasta water is a starchy culinary jewel that thickens sauces, soups, and stews, softens beans, works well in dough, and may be used to cook vegetables.

If, on the other hand, you neglected to put aside a cup before draining your pasta and now need it in your dish, you still have alternatives.

Pasta water may be replaced with seven different ingredients: corn flour, potato starch, cornstarch, all-purpose flour, xanthan gum, arrowroot, and cooked potato.

You’ll have a backup strategy the next time you fail to conserve your pasta water.


What can I use in place of pasta water?

How to Make a Pasta Water Replacement in an Emergency. 14 teaspoon cornstarch to 1 cup water, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated. To make a smooth sauce, use this combination in the same way you would pasta water.

Can I add water instead of pasta water?

We discovered that adding 14 teaspoon cornstarch and kosher salt to 1 cup water (the quantity of cooking water most recipes recommend conserving) gave us the consistency of regular pasta cooking water.

Do I really need 5 quarts of water for pasta?

4 of the way, or around 4-5 quarts of water for 1 pound of pasta.If there is insufficient water, the spaghetti will become mushy and sticky. The usual pasta pot holds 6 to 8 quarts and should be filled approximately 34 full.

How do you make extra pasta water?

We want to conserve as much pasta water as possible, so instead of draining it all at once, do this! One cup of water per pot of pasta is plenty. Stir your sauce into the saucepan of boiling water. After that, add your spaghetti and mix well.

Can I use flour instead of pasta water?

If you don’t have any other choices, flour and water will suffice. To use as a substitute for pasta water, whisk together one tablespoon all-purpose flour and a little amount of water until thoroughly combined.

Why do recipes call for pasta water?

According to this school of thought, the starchy pasta water binds and thickens the sauce, and in certain cases—such as buttery or fatty sauces—emulsifies it into a creamy, non-greasy covering.

Can you substitute milk for pasta water?

Cook your spaghetti with milk instead of water! Normally, milk is added later in the cooking process to form the cheese sauce, but for an additional touch of delectable creaminess, add the milk right at the start.

How important is pasta water?

Making smooth, restaurant-quality sauces requires a little amount of pasta water. The starchy, binding force of pasta water is used to form the sauce in some of the most traditional Italian pasta meals, such as cacio e pepe and carbonara.

Can I cook pasta with less water?

Traditional pasta boiling asks for 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta, but with a little stirring, you can create pasta with a quarter of the water. You’ll also use less energy this method since the tiny volume of water boils much faster.

How do you cook pasta with minimum water?

pan! Because you’re using less water, make sure it covers all of the pasta so it cooks evenly.How to Cook Pasta in Less Water
Use half the amount of salt you would typically use for 4 quarts. Otherwise, when you add the pasta water to the sauce, it would become overly salty.
Use the proper kind of pot.

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