When I set out on my career in food, never did I think I would wax poetic about the humble buttered noodles, cooked pasta simply tossed with butter. Then I had kids—though this is not a story about making buttered noodles for them. These days, I’m making it for myself because while pregnant, all I crave is carbs. (I am currently 19 weeks pregnant with my third child—a girl after two boys!)
Sweet, dependable, comforting carbs are a pregnant person’s BFF, and on the very top of that list for me is buttered noodles. I’ve survived on them for the last four months. And as a recipe developer, I’ve made it my job to make the best buttered noodles for myself. I’m here to share four brilliant but easy tips to take this comforting classic to the next level:
1. Use Slightly Less Water To Cook the Pasta
I have a thing for pasta water—it’s the secret ingredient that will thicken any pasta sauce. When making buttered noodles, you want pasta water that is extra starchy so you can use it to create the butter sauce.
To achieve this, just boil about two-thirds of what you normally would. For example, if a pound of pasta calls for four quarts of water, use three quarts. This will ensure the pasta water you are left with is super starchy and can be used to thicken your butter sauce.
2. Use Good Butter
When butter is the main ingredient, you want to make sure it’s the best-tasting butter you’ve got. Cultured European-style butter has a more pronounced flavor than your standard grocery store butter. The cream they use to make cultured butter is fermented, which gives it a pleasant tang.
Lately, I’ve been really into an Italian butter called Delitia—my local Stop & Shop carries it. It’s made using the same milk used to make Parmigiano cheese, so you know it has to be good!
3. Emulsify the Sauce
This genius tip by Hailee Catalano of @chefhailee on TikTok will forever change your buttered noodle game: Instead of simply tossing cooked pasta with melted butter, Hailee slowly adds cubes of cold butter into a pan of simmering pasta water to create a magically creamier sauce that you can throw your cooked pasta into. It’s a brilliant chef move that anyone like you and me can do!
4. Butter + Bucatini = True Love
While almost any shape will do for buttered noodles, my favorite is bucatini, long spaghetti-like pasta. The hollowed inside is the perfect place for all that gorgeous butter sauce to seep into.