The Pasta Tools *Everyone* Needs — Even If You Never Make Noodles from Scratch
Google “pasta tools” and you’re most likely to find pasta makers, ravioli stamps, drying racks, and all the stuff you’d need to make pasta from scratch. But most of us aren’t making our own noodles — especially during these hot, busy weekdays. When we’re turning to pasta (whether it’s the stuff from a box or a store-bought fresh option) it’s because we need something quick and comforting. Which brings us to this list of pasta tools. All the tools on this list will help you make better pasta dinners, with more ease and less frustration. Let’s take a look.
Tongs are absolutely essential when you’re cooking and serving long noodles (spaghetti, bucatini, fettuccine, etc.). We recommend using them to pluck pasta directly out of the water and drop it gently into your pan of sauce. No rinsing the noodles or dumping the pasta water required! This way, the starchy water will cling to your noodles (to help them sauce up better) and you’ll have a pot of pasta water waiting in the wings, if you need to add more to your sauce. Tongs will also help you swirl things around and plate your noodles with a restaurant-level flare. We really love these cheap utility tongs — mostly for the fact that they do not have a locking mechanism, which can often be faulty and annoying.
Buy: Winco Stainless Steel Utility Tongs, $5.50
For all those other noodle shapes, there’s a spider. Using a spider, you can get into the water, under the noodles, and pull them up from underneath. (They won’t even know you’re coming for them!) This spider, in particular, earned a spot on our Kitchn Essentials list because it’s super sturdy and can do in the dishwasher (lots of times, spiders have a wooden handle, which makes the tool hand-wash only).
Kelli Foster, one of our Food Editors, used this spider during culinary school and ultimately decided it would earn a place in her tiny home kitchen. “It’s a must for pasta, so you can transfer it directly from the water to the skillet with sauce,” she says. “It’s also super helpful when blanching vegetables, boiling eggs, and frying anything. You can even use it as a colander for rinsing a handful of berries.”
Buy: Hiware Solid Stainless Steel Spider, $12
3. Measuring cup
Remember all that pasta water you’ll leave behind in your pot if you use our suggested tong or spider method? Well, we recommend keeping a measuring cup by the stove while you cook. Then, you can easily grab the measuring cup to scoop some of that water to add to your sauce as needed.
Buy: OXO Good Grips Measuring Cups with Magnetic Snaps, $20
5. Salt cellar
Many people (Kitchn editors included) prefer to salt their pasta water once the water is already boiling (it’s supposed to be better for the pot). A problem occurs, though, when you hold a carton of salt over the pot and steam billows up into the box. For this reason, and so many others, we suggest a salt cellar. Keep a salt cellar on the counter and you can just reach in and grab some pinches. Some Kitchn editors actually use this Le Creuset canister as a salt cellar — noting that they like the lid for when it’s not in use and the fact that the canister is wide enough to reach in and get a big five-fingered pinch.
Buy: Stoneware Storage Canister, $26 at Le Creuset
6. Wooden spoon
Clearly, you’re going to need a spoon to stir those noodles once you drop them into the boiling water. We firmly believe this will be the last wooden spoon you ever have to buy. It’s made of a composite material (instead of actual wood), so it’s durable and dishwasher-safe.
Buy: Epicurean Chef Series Large Spoon, $15
7. The perfect pasta pot
Any big pot will work for most pasta dishes (we prefer to use a Dutch oven, as water heats up quickly in the enameled cast iron), but if you’re making a one-pot pasta dish (a Kitchn favorite!), we suggest this Everyday Pan from Le Creuset. It’s the perfect size for any recipe, has ample space for stirring and cooking down a sauce, and is easy enough to maneuver on the stovetop.
Buy: Le Creuset Signature 3.5-Quart Everyday Pan, $310 at Crate & Barrel
Got anything else to add to this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.