What do you call the water that has been used to boil something?

French speakers would say "eau de cuisson".

Even though it is a by-product, it is often re-used, for instance in the case of water that has been used to boil Japanese soba. Wikipedia:

After the noodles are eaten, many people enjoy drinking the water in which the noodles were cooked (sobayu)


  • Interesting! I've never used this word before. If I had to talk about it, I would probably use noodle soup. :) Jan 1, 2014 at 6:24
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    Instinctively, my first thought would be to call it the broth, as in: "I'm going to drain these noodles now; do you want me to save the broth?" If I wanted to avoid confusion about the liquid being, say, a chicken or beef stock, I might call it noodle broth; however, in recipes like this one, terms like noodle broth and pasta broth usually refer to liquids that are well-seasoned. If there's an English word for this, I don't think it's very common.
    – J.R.
    Jan 1, 2014 at 11:11
  • Nicolas Raoul, saying How do you call is awkward and unnatural. A common and natural wording would be What do you call.
    – Tristan
    Jan 1, 2014 at 15:13
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    The French phrase "eau de cuisson" translates to "cooking water", and sure enough there are several articles that come up in Google that use this term. I've never heard of it, however, and neither has my wife, and she's a pretty experienced cook.
    – godel9
    Jan 2, 2014 at 5:09
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    You might try asking for some Seasoned Advice on this. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


I think it depends on what was boiled in them. For many things (meats especially) it is the broth, but I know when my father boiled potatoes, the water left over was just called potato water. I don't think there is a universal word in English for it.

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    I've seen a lot of chefs refer to this as cooking water; my uncle-in-law (a chef of 30 years) also calls it this. Broth for meats is indeed correct. Occasionally, "soup" is also permitted, but a chef would correct you.
    – Amelia
    Jan 2, 2014 at 23:46

Regarding a "sobayu" equivalent pasta water is definitely a "thing" ( example ) where one adds some of the pasta water to a red sauce. Cooking water is the closest general term.

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