How much water should you really use to cook pasta?

However, some cooks believe that more water is needed to cook pasta decently. According to New York Times, celebrity chef and Italian cooking expert Lidia Bastianich sticks to using 6 liters of water per pound of pasta, but noted that reducing the amount of water to 4 liters still produces an acceptable dish. In general, the amount tends to fluctuate between 4 and 6 liters of water depending on the cookbook, chef or pasta box consulted.

As Smithsonian Magazine notes, pan size also matters when cooking pasta. For best results, cooks should use a 6-8 quart pasta pot filled about ¾ of the way to the top for 1 pound of pasta. This pot size gives the noodles plenty of room to expand through the cooking process without sticking together.

Despite slight variations in the recommended amount of pasta cooking water, there are a few rules that almost all experienced Italian chefs and home cooks agree on: season your water with plenty of water. Wholesale, or “coarse salt”, add your pasta only once the water comes to a rapid boil and cook your pasta just al dente (via Eataly). And never break your noodles in half before cooking them – which is almost guaranteed to spark a passionate reaction Italian in your life.