Pasta is the home cook’s best friend. It’s as perfect of dinner for 1 as it is for 8. It can be a 15-minute meal or a Sunday labor of love. It can take so many forms that, honestly, you could make it day after day without boredom. Affordable, accessible, what’s not to love? Yes, pasta is the home cook’s very best friend, but there are always ways to improve a relationship.
Leveling up your pasta game is really all about technique, and there’s no bigger jump than learning how to finish your pasta. There’s nothing “wrong” with saucing your pasta on the plate, but it pales in comparison to a properly finished pasta. Pasta and sauce combine in a pan on the stove - coating each noodle in sauce, emulsifying starchy water with the flavor-filled fats, and allowing the pasta to absorb some of the sauce itself. The end result is so much more magical than topping boiled noodles with sauce. The pasta becomes saucy, glossy, and each bite is balanced and complete.
To properly marry your pasta and sauce, the proper pan guides the technique. A pan with tall, sloped sides and a proper handle allows you to stir with one hand and toss with the other without fear of spilling noodles all over the range. Stainless steel is desirable, so you can stir vigorously without fear of scratching a non-stick coating or blast the heat to reduce the sauce to the right consistency.
There is no unequivocally “best” pan for finishing your pasta. Different scenarios may call for different needs. There are also simply endless options when shopping for new cookware. Fortunately, we have selected some of our favorite pasta pans for various situations and compiled them in a list for you.
Last tip? These pans are great for finishing pasta but are great all-around tools for any dish that requires a lot of tossing or stirring. Get cooking!
This pan is simply a beast. With 3-ply stainless steel, high sides that slope at the bottom, an ergonomic handle, and unbeatable quality, it doesn’t get much better than this. The shape of this pan makes it perfect for tossing and stirring pasta but is also just incredibly versatile. Good cookware should last you a lifetime, and this pan from Hestan will definitely live up to that expectation. The essential pan comes in two sizes: 3.5-qt and 5-qt, the larger boasting a beautiful “helper handle” for ease of maneuverability.
If you often find yourself cooking for four to five (or more) hungry bellies, it may not be feasible to be tossing around that much pasta like an acrobat. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from serving everyone a plate of well-sauced pasta! This 6-quart saute pan from All-Clad has enough room for that large serving of pasta and sauce to meld together for the family dinner. Tossing may pose a challenge, but the high walls give plenty of room to stir everything together and get that sauce nice and emulsified.
Maybe there’s absolutely no reason for you to buy a pan that can sauce and finish 4 servings of pasta. You still deserve a delicious and comforting meal, right? Misen has your back with these smaller saucier pans. They have high, sloped sides and enough room to serve 1 (or 2 on occasion) people. Easily maneuverable and tossable, you’ll be feeling like a pro line cook in no time. These saucier pans are also great for making sauces, as their namesake may imply. If you’ve also been in the market for a new saucepan, this is the one for you. The Misen Saucier comes in 2-quart and 3-quart sizes.
Despite the benefits of using stainless steel, nobody can argue against the convenience of a nonstick pan. This nonstick wok from Smeg might be one of the most versatile nonstick pans you can buy, and the shape is perfect for tossing pasta in some savory sauce. With a flat bottom, sloped sides, straight handle, and 3 color options, it makes a great choice for any nonstick lover looking to level up their pasta game.
The Frugal: Winco Aluminum 11” Stir Fry Pan
Whether you’re a new Pro Home Cook, on a conscious budget, or simply hesitant to pull the trigger on new cookware, this pan is a great option. It checks all the boxes for the shape of pan we like to finish pasta in: high sides with a nice slope. It’s small enough to be maneuverable and is sure to get the job done in coating all of your pasta in sauce. While it may not boast the fancy features and looks of the other pans on the list, it’s sure to be a great workhorse in your home kitchen.