Cooking pasta should be as easy as, well, boiling water. But alas, it’s more complicated than that. The quantity of cooking water, timing and amount of stirring all play important roles in how things turn out. So what do you do when you get yourself into a sticky situation? Here’s how to unglue sticky pasta and rice, without becoming unglued yourself.

How to Stop Sticky Rice

For Pasta

If your noodles are clumping, your best bet is to dump them into a colander and run cold water over top. They’ll loosen up and then you can rewarm them gently in the sauce. Your other choice is to toss or sauté the pasta with a bit of oil or fat to coat it — slippery noodles will slide apart from one another.

For Rice

If a pot of basmati rice is a sticky mess, it’s usually because, like pasta, it was cooked with too little water. To unstick it, dump the rice into a larger saucepan, add about a 1/2 of water and heat on low. Gently break up the clumps with a fork. Simmer, covered, for a few minutes and the clumps should start to relax. At this point, remove the saucepan from heat and let it stand with the lid on for at least 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Drain, if any water remains in the bottom.

If this doesn’t work, the rice might have either been too far gone, or sticky for a different reason — either because it over-stirred or overcooked. At this point, you can rinse it in cold water, like with pasta, to remove as much excess starch as possible and break up the clumps, but it won’t be perfect. To rewarm, gently sauté in a bit of oil. Better yet, repurpose it into creamy Cinnamon Raisin Rice Pudding.

Looking for recipes? Try these 14 Delicious Pasta Dishes from Giada De Laurentiis.