Quickly Cool Pasta Salad With A Chilled Sheet Pan

Whether you're making it for a potluck or as a side for dinner, pasta salad is typically a crowd-pleaser. There's a pasta salad recipe for practically every taste; like this Mediterranean pasta salad recipe or a southwest pasta salad recipe. Most people prefer their pasta salad chilled but that can present a problem if you don't have time to make the pasta in advance. On average, pasta takes about two hours to cool.


Making pasta salad can test your patience, especially if you're a hungry chef and want to dig in right away. Not only does pasta salad taste better when it's chilled but it also often tastes better after it can rest for a while because the flavors have time to blend and the pasta has time to absorb the dressing. If you don't have time to let your pasta salad sit, however, you can quickly cool it down by putting the cooked pasta on a cool sheet pan before adding the other ingredients.

How to cool pasta salad with a sheet pan

If you're in a pinch and need to find a way to cool your pasta for pasta salad quickly, try putting a sheet pan in the refrigerator. Once the sheet pan is cold, spread your pasta out on the pan and put it back in the refrigerator. It's a good idea to toss it in some oil first to prevent it from sticking together, too. This will help each piece of pasta hit the cold surface, thus cooling it off more quickly.


Of course, this method does require a little bit of prep work because you still need to get that sheet pan into the refrigerator long enough for it to get cold. If you don't have the time, put your sheet pan in the freezer to cool it off more quickly. You can also add the pasta to a room-temperature sheet pan and then put that in the refrigerator. It will cool off more quickly than if you put the pasta in a bowl because each piece of pasta will be exposed to the cooler temperature. Left to cool in a bowl, the pasta in the middle will be insulated by the pasta around it and will take longer to cool.

Other ways to cool pasta salad

One easy and common technique to cool your pasta salad is to rinse it with cold water as soon as it's done cooking. This is a good technique to use because the cool water stops the pasta from continuing to cook so you don't end up with a mushy mess. Alternatively, you can give your pasta an ice bath and then drain it once it's cool.


Rinsing pasta is controversial, however. When you rinse pasta, it removes a lot of the starch that makes the noodles stick together. When you're making a hot pasta dish, this starch can help the sauce stick to the pasta, which is why most chefs would agree that you shouldn't rinse your pasta for a hot dish. When your culinary plans call for cold pasta, however, that's no concern. Rinse and let those noodles rest individually. A cold sheet pan can be the perfect vessel to achieve the desired temperature.