Does Throwing Spaghetti At The Wall Show You It's Cooked?

A hand throwing strands of spaghetti against a wall

No, throwing spaghetti at the wall, fridge, or ceiling gives absolutely no indication of whether the pasta is perfectly cooked. A far better approach is simply to bite into a strand of spaghetti and see whether the texture is to your liking.

Throwing spaghetti is just one of many crimes against pasta

We've already written extensively about the worst pasta mistakes people make, and in the process, we debunked some of the more ludicrous tips and tricks that have somehow made their way into the public consciousness. However, the popular idea of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it is properly cooked is one fallacy that continues to be propagated despite a mountain of evidence showing that it provides no useful purpose.

The origins of the spaghetti-throwing myth

We've no idea where the concept of the spaghetti wall test originally came from, but Snackdinner has tracked down a book, published in 1946, called "You Can Cook If You Can Read." It contains the first known publication where the recommendation was made.

If you really want to throw spaghetti against a wall, do it for fun, not for cooking advice

In many ways, the idea of throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing if it falls to the floor, sticks perfectly, or disintegrates into a pile of mush is a visually entertaining concept. We actively encourage mischievousness in the kitchen, but however you set out to discredit the myth, it ends with the same conclusion: slinging pasta against a wall does not tell you whether it is cooked properly and therefore ready to eat.

For starters, just think of all the factors at play...

1.) How far away is the wall?
2.) How hard are you throwing it?
3.) Is the wall tiled or painted?
4.) Is your pasta a naturally sticky variety?
5.) For how long must the pasta stick to the wall?

We're not scientists, but even we can see that without specific benchmarks, the results of the test will be arbitrary. Stickiness may indeed have a small amount to do with how well cooked your pasta is (after all, uncooked dried pasta clearly isn't going to stick), but far more important is the stickiness of the wall's surface and the inherent stickiness of the pasta you're tossing at it.

Do you throw your steaks against the wall too?

We hope our final argument is the most persuasive. Just think of spaghetti like a steak. When you fry a steak, the outside starts creating a nice crust before the heat has even gotten close to the middle of the meat. Pull it from the pan too early, and you'll have a perfectly cooked outside and a completely raw inside.

Pasta works in the same way. The outside can be soft and well-cooked, while the inside can be completely raw. All a wall can tell you is whether the outside of the pasta is sticky or not.

It's far better to use your own judgement and just taste a bit of that pasta. Is it soft but with a slight resistance when you bite into it? Congratulations. You are the owner of some perfectly cooked, al dente pasta that's ready to be paired with your favourite pesto. Is it still a bit too firm? Keep it on the heat for another minute or two and taste again.