Whether you’re making beef stroganoff and need something for under all that tasty sauce, or you’re just making a quick side dish, buttered noodles are a great go to.
Which Noodles To Use:
I like to use wide egg noodles when making buttered noodles. Their wide shape means that they have a lot of surface area for the butter to cling to.
What Are Egg Noodles:
Egg noodles are pasta like regular pasta but they contain a higher ratio of egg to flour than regular pasta does. The eggs give the noodles a richer flavor.
How To Cook Egg Noodles:
Like any pasta, you want to cook egg noodles in a lot of salted water. You put the water into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Then add salt. Quite a bit of salt. Then you add the noodles.
The reason you use a lot of water is so the temperature of the water stays very hot even after adding all the pasta. It also allows the noodles and water to circulate more which cooks the pasta more evenly.
Once you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir it all for a bit. When the noodles first go into the water and are getting moistened, they can easily start sticking together. Having a lot of water in there, and stirring, prevents sticking.
Once the water comes back up to a boil, reduce it to a simmer. This sometimes takes some jiggling to get the right temperature. You want the pot of water to just be bubbling a little bit.
For my stove top, I drop the temperature down to low and then stir occasionally and wait to see what happens. If the water cools and stops bubbling completely, I increase the temperature to medium-low.
Stir the pot of simmering noodles occasionally (every minute or so) until the desired tenderness is reached (see below). Use the instructions on your pasta bag to determine the likely amount of time.
I set my timer for the shortest time given. So if it says “simmer for 8-10 minutes,” once the pasta and water have come back to a boil and I have reduced the temperature to low, I set a timer for 8 minutes. Then I start checking the noodles.
Once the noodles are at the desired tenderness, put a large colander into a clean sink. Pour the pasta and water into the colander.
You’ll be discarding the water by letting it run down the drain. But note that some recipes have you retain some of the water. To do that, use a measuring cup with a handle to go into the pot, before draining off the water, and scoop out the amount of water that you need. Set it aside until your recipe says to use it.
When recipes call for you to save some of the pasta water, it’s usually to add to the sauce. Pasta water is well-seasoned with salt and also has a bit of body (slight thickness) to it from the pasta boiling in it. If you have a sauce that is too thick, adding a bit of the pasta water thins it out with seasoned hot water.
Once you have drained the pasta, return it to the now empty pot. Note that I use a pot with a very heavy bottom. It retains heat incredibly well and that means that it can keep cooking things even when off of the heat. In the case of pasta, if I put the drained pasta back into the pot, the heat from the pot causes the pasta to stick badly to the bottom.
For that reason, before I put the pasta back into my pot, I rinse the bottom of the pot with a little bit of cool tap water. This cools the bottom of the pot enough that the pasta won’t stick to it, but since I only used a bit of water (approximately 1 cup), the pot stays warm, which will help to keep the pasta warm for a little while.
Once you have drained the pasta and returned it to the pot, you can proceed with your recipe.
How Do You Know When Pasta Is Cooked?
There are a lot of methods out there for figuring out when pasta is cooked. I’ve heard of people throwing noodles against the wall. If it sticks, it’s done? Maybe? I’ve honestly never tried it.
Instead, I just taste the pasta to see how it is.
So, once the pasta is simmering in the pot, I set a timer for the lowest time stated on the packaging. If it says 8-10 minutes, I set a timer for 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, I use a wooden spoon to try to fish out a noodle. Then I blow on it and then I taste it. If it’s the softness that I like, I drain the pot. If not, I let it go for another minute before testing it again.
One thing though, if you’re doing any kind of recipe where the pasta will be sitting in sauce for awhile, you might want to slightly under cook it. The still-warm pasta will soak up sauce and continue to soften.
If I’m making baked pasta or pasta salad, I’ll typically set the timer for 1 minute less (in the example above, 7 minutes) and then I’ll taste it. If it’s soft but slightly less soft than I like, I drain it then.
How To Make Buttered Noodles
Once you have your drained pasta in the pot, add butter that has been cut into small pieces, like ¼ inch chunks. Smaller pieces melt more quickly. Stir until it has melted all through the pasta.
Taste the noodles and decide if you want to add anything else. I usually add a bit more salt and some pepper. Chopped fresh parsley is nice too. I like flat leaf, Italian-style parsley more than the curly parsley that is often used for garnishes. You can also add a bit of garlic powder, if you’d like.
There you have it. Perfectly cooked, buttery noodles. Now, where did that beef stroganoff go? lol
- 16 oz. wide egg noodles
- 4–6 Tbsp. butter, cut into ¼” chunks
- ⅛ tsp. pepper (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt.
- Add the pasta and stir. Continue to stir every 10 seconds until the water comes back up to a boil. Drop the temperature down to a simmer.
- Set a timer for the lower amount of time listed on the package instructions (if it says to cook for 8-10 minutes, set a timer for 8 minutes).
- Stir the pasta in the water every minute or so until your timer is up.
- Use a spoon to get a noodle from the pot. Blow on it and then taste it. If it’s not ready, try again in a minute.
- Once the noodles are cooked to your desired softness, put a large colander in the sink. Pour the pasta and water into the colander, allowing the water to drain down the sink.
- Put the noodles back into the now-empty pot. Add the butter and stir until it’s melted. Taste and add ¼ teaspoon of salt, if desired, along with the pepper and parsley if using. Stir.