If you add raw pasta to a pot that’s too small, the uncooked pasta will lower the water temperature too much, too quickly, Food & Wine says, and the suddenly cooled water temperature will increase the cooking time needed to achieve these noodles perfectly al dente. The lower pasta-to-water ratio also makes for a starchier, gummy bite because that starch that’s supposed to boil noodles hangs around instead of dissolving, according to Reluctant Gourmet. For even cooking, Smithsonian recommends using a 6- to 8-quart pot three-quarters full with 4 to 5 liters of cold water per pound of pasta.
Like most things in life, adding the right amount of water to your pasta is a balancing act. Although too small a pot can be a linguine noodle hamartia, be sure not to add too much water either. As the pasta cooks, its natural starches boil in the water, creating that starchy solution that makes your pasta sauce stick to the noodles. The Daily Meal explains that boiling your pasta in too much water dilutes that starch into oblivion as your pasta continues to cook. Some people skip the water altogether and boil their pasta directly in the sauce.
But, whatever pan you choose, make sure it’s compatible with your stovetop; According to Food Network, many popular pasta pots available on the market do not work with induction cooktops.