Pasta Types Article -
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Pasta Types

You can't go too wrong with pasta; but some types pair better with certain sauces.

In a pinch, you can use most any kind of pasta with most any kind of pasta sauce. Would you turn down meaty, cheesy lasagna sauce poured over bow tie pasta? Of course not. But some types of pasta do pair better with certain types of sauce. Read on for the full scoop.

Angel Hair (photo): The long, delicate strands of angel hair pasta (a.k.a. capellini) are best served in light or creamy sauces. The thin strands can go M.I.A. in chunky, meaty sauces. Recipes.

Bow Tie Pasta (photo): Use bow tie pasta to dress up any dish that calls for small pasta shapes, such as penne or shells. Also known as farfalle. Recipes.

Bucatini (photo): These long, hollow spaghetti-like tubes (a.k.a. perciatelli) are unusual and fun! Try them in casseroles or Asian stir-fries, or tossed with a fresh tomato sauce. Recipes.

Cannelloni (photo): Large, tubular pasta with a smooth texture. Cannelloni is usually boiled, stuffed with a cheese or meat filling, and baked in a sauce, like its cousin manicotti, which is slightly smaller. Recipes.

Capellini: See angel hair.

Cavatelli: See shell pasta.

Conchiglie: See shell pasta.

Ditalini (photo): Medium-sized, very short tubes with smooth sides. Like most short pasta shapes, ditali are excellent used in soups, pasta salads, and to stand up to chunky sauces. Recipes.

Egg Noodles (photo): These noodles add heartiness to soups, stews and casseroles. Recipes.

Farfalle: See bow tie pasta.

Fettuccine (photo): An egg pasta cut into long, narrow ribbons. It is often served with cream sauces, as in the classic Fettuccine Alfredo. You can use fettuccine in any recipe that calls for linguine or spaghetti. Recipes.

Fusilli (photo): This long, thick, spiral-shaped pasta adds an unexpected twist to any recipe that calls for spaghetti. Recipes.

Gemelli (photo): A short, spiral pasta, versatile gemelli works well in hearty sauces, baked dishes, and lighter vegetable pasta dishes. Recipes.

Gnocchi (photo): These chewy little pasta dumplings--traditionally made from potatoes--are usually boiled and served with rich sauces. Tomato-based or herb and butter sauces also work well. Recipes.

Lasagna (photo): The name for this long, wide noodle is also the name for the dish. Lasagna (the noodle) can be both flat or with curly edges. Lasagna (the dish) is amazing. Recipes.

Linguine (photo): These long, flat noodles are slightly thicker than spaghetti. The classic Italian restaurant pairing is clam sauce, but you can use in any dish that calls for spaghetti. Recipes.

Macaroni (photo): A small, tube-shape pasta, macaroni is terrific in creamy casseroles (like macaroni and cheese) or salads (like macaroni salad). Why? Because the creamy sauce flows into the cooked tubes, giving you flavor in every bite. Recipes.

Manicotti (photo): These large-tube shaped noodles are usually filled with cheese or meat filling and baked. The surface of the pasta can be either smooth or ridged. Recipes.

Mostaccioli: See penne.

Orecchiette (photo): A small, bowl-shaped pasta usually combined with vegetables and oil rather than hearty sauces. The tiny indentations in the pasta will catch tasty bits of veggies. Recipes.

Orzo (photo): A tiny, rice-like pasta thats used to add heartiness to soups and salads. Recipes.

Penne (photo): A two-inch long, tube-shaped pasta that is cut diagonally at both ends. Great with chunky meat or vegetable sauces, as bits of the meat or veggies will slide into the pasta tubes. Also sometimes called mostaccioli. Recipes.

Radiatore (photo): Short, squat, ruffled pasta similar to rotini. They look like radiators, hence the name. Like other sturdy pasta shapes, radiatore stand out in hearty sauces or tossed with veggies in a pasta salad. Recipes.

Ravioli (photo): Little square pillows of dough, packed with finely ground or chopped fillings--from cheese to meat to pureed veggies. Serve ravioli with sauce, in soups, or just drizzled with olive oil. Recipes.

Rigatoni (photo): Short, grooved, tube-shaped "riggies" can be used in pretty much any setting, from sauces to salads to baked casseroles. Recipes.

Rotelle (photo): Shaped like wagon wheels (and also sometimes called by that name) these small, round pastas are fun for the kiddos. Use them to liven up goulash or mac and cheese. Recipes.

Rotini (photo): These kid-friendly pastas looked like smooshed corkscrews. Often used for pasta salad since bits of vegetables will cling to the grooves in the rotini. Recipes.

Shells (photo): Shell pasta comes in many different sizes. Stuff large shells with cheese and bake, like you would with manicotti, use medium-sized shells in casseroles and with meat sauces, and use the smallest shells in soups and stews. Also known as conchiglie and cavatelli. Recipes.

Spaghetti (photo): The classic long, thin, cylindrical tubes you know and love. Spaghetti is just thick enough so it doesn't get lost in that hearty family meat sauce recipe, but thin enough to serve with cream sauce, or even with just a light dressing of olive oil and garlic. Recipes.

Spaghettini: See vermicelli.

Tagliatelle (photo): A long, flat, thin noodle, similar to fettuccine. The classical pairing is with meat sauces, but you can use with light sauces as well. Recipes.

Tortellini (photo): Stuffed rings of pasta you can eat with sauce, put in soup, or just drizzle with olive oil. Sometimes sold in different colors, with the addition of beets, tomatoes, or other dyeing agents. Recipes.

Vermicelli (photo): These long strands of pasta are thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair. You can use just as you would either of those. Also known as spaghettini. Recipes.

Ziti (photo): A slender, tube-shaped pasta, ziti stands up to hearty sauces and is great in baked pasta dishes. Recipes.

Jul. 4, 2009 3:38 pm
All these pasta types. Wow. I mostly eat Spaghetti, Angelhair, and egg noodles.
Jul. 12, 2009 10:05 am
Great info. The only thing I would add is picture of each pasta. Thank you for info. terri
Aug. 17, 2009 1:30 pm
I agree with Terri. The info. is great, but a picture is worth a 1,000 words!
Oct. 9, 2009 11:15 am
This is only the tip of the iceberg folks!! Go to Wikipedia and type in "shapes of pasta" and you will have over 100 different types of pasta, and most HAVE PICTURES
Jan. 6, 2010 3:19 am
What about tomato pasta. I can't find one recipe with actual tomato pasta in it.
Jan. 25, 2010 9:16 am
I like the idea of Pasta Types, but I agree with the others, we need pictures. Also I have advertisements over the top of the chart. I would like to print and keep a copy in my kitchen cabinet.
Feb. 21, 2010 8:44 am
I agree with all that a picture should accompany each shape. It would also help to know how long to cook each type.
Feb. 22, 2010 10:15 pm
looking for the recipe Eake's Nana's Pasta Sauce-I use the box KRAFT spaghetti mix since the 50's and can.t find it anywhere.
Mar. 7, 2010 4:54 am
substitutions for different pasta would be a great idea
Apr. 8, 2010 4:22 am
Marsha, cooking times are usually given on the pasta package.
Apr. 8, 2010 11:58 am
A picture of each type would be great and useful!! NOTE TO ALL: I love Allrecipes!!!! Aloha !
Apr. 9, 2010 5:02 am
Great list and good suggestion about the Wikipedia article. I missed the definition of "al dente." I have become a fan of Shirataki noodles. They are not pasta, I guess, but low low calories makes them worth a mention to those of us who can use less carbs but love pasta. This is from a maker: "Shirataki Konjac has been known and used in Asia for over two thousand years. It is known as Moyu or Juruo in China, and Konnyaku or Shirataki in Japan." I know it as "delicious!"
Apr. 10, 2010 9:33 am
Being Italian, I love all of the pastas listed! Pix would be great though!Just learned I have to start eating glueten free pastas. Tried cooking a couple of different ones but they come out gummy and clinging together or partly not cooked. Added a little oil in water, while cooking but it didnt help either.Nor did more water bigger pot didnt work. Any suggestions?
Dave f&B 
Nov. 5, 2010 2:51 pm
Well its a great thing to know abt all pasta types i can help u with all types of pasta pictures u can email me at i will revert u with the pics thanks
Feb. 27, 2011 2:10 pm
InventorNC, thanx for the info...those of us who have to be gluten free, sugar free, carb free thank u as well...
Gen Gatch 
Mar. 24, 2011 1:00 am
This is a very helpful list! For those who wants to see more photos of the different kinds of pasta, they can read
Jun. 16, 2011 5:56 pm
I know that different types of pastas are recommended for different types of sauces -- a list of sauce suggestions with each pasta type would be great.
Jul. 26, 2011 12:44 am
thanks alot u ave just saved my day
Jean Stephens 
Sep. 22, 2011 7:07 am
I don't see spaghetti listed or pictures.
The Merrier 
Sep. 24, 2011 12:37 am
I don't see Tagliatelle mentionned in your list. It is quite common in France. It is wider than Fettuchine. Or, is Tagliatelle another name for one of the other pastas in the list ?
Jan. 11, 2012 9:28 am
mmmm ... I love all kinds of pasta! No body makes it like my Italian mom Daniella though -- miss her!
Jan. 14, 2012 3:04 pm
There is a picture of each one of these in a dish. Just click on the blue word (Photo). Hop this helps. Nonna
Feb. 24, 2012 8:50 am
Planning a spaghetti feed for lots of folks. Any tips on how to cook and serve pasta ? Thanks!
May 1, 2012 2:25 pm
I would not consider capellini angle hair pasta. Capellini is a little thicker. But thanks for the lists, very informative.
Sep. 2, 2012 5:31 am
I was wondering about "rice" pasta noodles. I just had Thai food for the first time a few weeks ago, and am crazy about the noodles. I tried to find a recipe about how to make them, but all started with packaged noodles. I have friends who can't have the gluten in regular flour, so it seems that there would be a call for such a recipe.
Oct. 28, 2012 7:13 pm
A great source for the curious and adventuresome chef! Thanks! I love to try different pastas to get a fresh look at the table!
Sep. 18, 2013 6:41 am
Hi, Rachael Ray has a great tagliatelle pasta recipe. I have a very hard time finding this pasta for less than $5 US a box. Any suggestions for a substitute. I guess the South (US) just is not that diversified in pasta types? Thanks!!
Mar. 9, 2015 10:56 am
Where is the Pappradelle?
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