20 Types of Pasta
20 Types of Pasta
Pasta tastes like home. Whatever your background or culture, pasta is most likely a part of it. It is a popular choice around the world, but the tastes, shapes, textures, and sizes are different depending on where you are from and what you like. In fact, there are roughly 350 known pasta types and even more names for them!
With these facts in mind, those of us at DEQOnline became curious about some of the most popular pasta types and how they are best prepared.
Anellini are remarkably similar, just a tad bit smaller. Anelloni has the same ring shape but has grooves on the outside for greater texture. The Anellini are often the first pasta given to Italian children to eat and were originally made in Sicily.
2) Angel Hair
Angel hair pasta has a bad reputation. According to Tampa Bay Times, angel hair is nothing more than “a lank, limp, thin noodle that cooks too fast and practically disintegrates when you eat it. This inferior spaghetti has no place on anyone’s plate” (“A Definitive Ranking of Pasta Shapes, from Worst to Best,” 2019). We can’t say we agree.
Angel hair pasta has its place, just not in hearty dishes. Being a thin elongated noodle, it can’t stand up to harsh temperatures and is easily overpowered by strong flavors. This type of noodle does work well with “light oil-based and cream sauces” (“33 Types of Italian Pasta and Their Uses,” 2020). It is a fine, delicate pasta and can be served with light tomato sauces or seafood.
It is often called “Capellini” and measures between 0.85 and 0.92 millimeters. It is best cooked for 3 to 5 minutes. It will fall apart if overcooked.
3) Bow Tie (or Farfalle)
Versatile in nature, the bow tie pasta is as its name suggests – shaped like bow ties and butterflies (farfalle means “butterflies” in Italian). This whimsical pasta is used in salads and with any type of sauce. In fact, it is often a top choice of chefs because its shape holds sauce and ingredients in its folds, enhancing the flavor of every bite. It is best cooked for 10 to 12 minutes.
For inspiration, Tasty has 17 delicious ideas for how to prepare it.
4) Bucatini (or Parciatelli)
If you’re looking for a noodle pasta that cooks evenly and offers a dependable taste in every bite, Bucatini is the pasta for you! The Tampa Bay Times ranked it as one of the best, writing “Bucatini is not easy to find in local grocery stores, making it that much more special when you can get your hands on it!” (“A Definitive Ranking of Pasta Shapes, from Worst to Best,” 2019).
It has a similar shape to spaghetti but is larger, rounder, and has a hollow center. The hole cut through its middle ensures an even cook in every bite. It holds sauce and ingredients inside itself, increasing the flavor of soups, pasta dishes, casseroles, and whatever you make with it.
Parciatelli is basically the same as Bucatini but is another name for the same shape and design. Bucatini is an Italian word and translates into English as “Hollow straws.” Parciatelli is an old French word and means “pierced.”
Bon Appetit dedicated an entire post to Bucatini and why it is superior to any other long noodle. To quote them, “These noodles fill with sauce. Enough said” ("Bucatini Is the Best Long Pasta There Ever Was or Will Be", 2018).
Cylinder-shaped, the cannelloni has a hollow center as well. It is typically served filled with sauces and ingredients such as ricotta, beef, or vegetables. Prepared this way, it enhances the taste and texture of whatever pasta dish or casserole you’re preparing. It’s a type of lasagna so is often used in baked dishes.
Jessica Gavin describes them as a “mashup of lasagna and manicotti noodles. It’s a tube-shaped pasta (like manicotti) with no ridges (like lasagna)” ("33 Types of Italian Pasta and Their Uses,” 2020). They can come either “flat or pre-rolled into large tubes” (“10 Different Types of Pasta and What Dishes They’re Best Used For,” 2021). It is best cooked for 7 to 10 minutes.
Cavatappi is another tube-shaped pasta. It has a helical or spiral design and is hollow inside. Because of its unique shape, the surfaces of the noodle give plenty of areas for ingredients and sauces to hide. It is commonly used in mac and cheese, baked pasta dishes, or pasta salads. It can also be tossed with various sauces. Tomato-based sauces are ideal, however, you could use an oil or cream-based sauce.
Cavatappi is an Italian word meaning “corkscrew.” It was invented by scientists in the 1970s.
Like most kinds of pasta, Ditalini was first introduced to the world by Italy. The word means “little thimbles,” fitting for its short size. It has a round, tube-like shape and is hollow inside. It is best prepared in soups and pastas such as Fagioli. It should only be cooked for 8-10 minutes.
8) Egg Noodle (or Fettuccine)
Frequently tossed with sauce and served with meat, vegetables, and cheese, the egg noddle or fettuccine is a long flat pasta. It is the same length as spaghetti and is ¼” wide. It needs to be cooked for 10 to 12 minutes. We recommend using it in soups, stews, casseroles, or with cream sauce.
9) Fusilli (Rotini)
Resembling a corkscrew, Fusilli is a short, spiralized pasta. It is long with a lot of grooves and crevices for sauces and ingredients to sneak their way into. It is hearty enough to use with thick, chunky sauces and is sometimes used in baked dishes and pasta salads. The Fusilli is known to be served with tomato sauce, pesto, or seafood.
The noodle is 1-1/2” long. The word “Fusilli” means “little spindles” and “Rotini” means “twists” or “spirals.” Either word perfectly describes the shape of this pasta.
When you think of Gemelli pasta, imagine an S shape twisted around itself or two pasta strands spiraled around one another. While that is how Gemelli appears, it is a single piece of pasta. Italians call it “Gemelli,” which translates into “twin,” because of this shape. It “looks like a double helix or double corkscrew, though it’s still one piece” (“A Visual Guide to Every Type of Pasta,” 2020). It is best cooked for 12 to 13 minutes.
Real Simple says it is ideal for “light tomato sauces, dairy-based sauces, or oil-based sauces” ("21 Types of Pasta Every Carb-Loving, Comfort-Food Craving Noodlehead Should Know", 2020). This makes this noodle incredibly versatile and a must for chefs and home cooks to have on hand. We would recommend trying it with leafy vegetables and herbs or in pasta salad instead of just with sauce. The shape holds flavor well so can stand up to chunky sauces and hold its own when mixed with other ingredients.
Gnocchi are unique! Unlike other types of pasta, it is made with semolina, ordinary wheat flour, eggs, cheese, potatoes, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and similar ingredients. It is dumpling-shaped and has ridges on the top. It can be found in a variety of pasta dishes with cream-, tomato-, or oil-based sauces.
It traces its origins back to you guessed it- Italy. As a dumpling instead of traditional pasta, it is softer and offers chefs and home cooks more opportunities for experimentation. Chefs and cooks can make it themselves (Damn Delicious has a good recipe for how to make it from scratch) or it can be bought from packages or frozen.
To prepare, boil it in water. Once it has been wholly cooked, it will float to the top. After 10 to 15 seconds of letting it float, scoop it out with a slotted spoon. We recommend slotted so none of the hot boiling water is transferred over into another dish.
Lasagna is ideal for baking! Fitting perfectly into pans, chefs and cooks can easily use it to layer sauces, vegetables, cheeses, and more. It is perfect for, well, lasagna, but this dish is not limited. You can make it with practically any sauce, vegetable, or cheese you desire. It is sometimes used in soups.
Pure Wow explains that Lasagna is “thought to be one of the oldest types of pastas, dating back to the Middle Ages” ("Types of Noodles", 2020). It’s rare to find one not tracing its origins back to Italy. In fact, it is believed to come from ancient Greece (“A Visual Guide to Every Type of Pasta,” 2020).
The lasagna pasta is a long, wide, flat noodle and has medium thickness.
About 4 millimeters in width, Linguine noodles are the same length as spaghetti. Unlike spaghetti, it is completely flat instead of round. The linguine pasta is slimmer than fettuccine but is prepared similarly. It originates from Italy – big surprise! – and the word translates into “little tongues.” It is a plural form of the word “linguina.”
Other names for it include “bavettine, bavette fini, radichini, trenette, and linguettine” (“A Visual Guide to Every Type of Pasta,” 2020).
It is best cooked for 2 to 3 when fresh, but 10 to 12 minutes if already dried. It is normally combined with lighter foods such as cream sauces, seafood, or pesto. We enjoyed Taste of Home's Linguine with Garlic Sauce.
The name for this pasta is so unique! It basically means little ears which makes sense since their shape looks like, well, little ears. With a curved, round design, the center is thinner than its edges. This enables it to have a unique texture, ideal for use in soup or paired with meat and vegetables in pasta dishes. It is best cooked for 10 to 12 minutes.
The Orecchiette was first made in Apulia, a small region of Southern Italy.
15) Orzo (or Risoni)
Orzo is small noodles, possibly the smallest one of all! The word is an Italian word meaning “barley” but it more closely resembles a large piece of rice. They are made from white or whole grain flour and are used in soup or salad to add texture. You can also bake it into dishes, made into a pilaf, or served alone.
When preparing fresh Orzo, cook it for 4 to 6 minutes. If it has been dried, boil it for 10 to 12 minutes.
Having a similar chewy bite to bow tie pasta, Radiatore is a smaller noodle. With a unique shape, it has versatile uses. It can be paired with a variety of sauces, vegetables, and meats.
They were invented between the first and second world war and their name literally means “radiator.” They are best cooked at 9 to 13 minutes only and are used to substitute farfalle, conchiglie, rotelle, and totini.
It has a cut-out slot on one side, no middle, and a circular, rounded shape on its other side. The rounded side has tiny slits in it, enabling the pasta noodle to grab a hold of other ingredients and provide extra texture to any dish.
Many people’s favorite, this pasta is a rounded, tube-shaped noodle that comes in varying lengths and widths. Invented in Italy, Rigatoni translates to “ridged” or “lined,” a perfect description of its outer texture. The ridges hold sauces and cheeses, improving the flavor of every bite.
When preparing fresh rigatoni, cook it for 5 to 6 minutes. When preparing dried noodles, double this amount of time. Ten to 13 minutes is enough time to cook it thoroughly.
Made in the region of Emilia, Italy, Tortellini is sold stuffed with cheese or meat. The word translates to “small little pies.” The shape of Tortellini is compared to belly buttons or doughnuts. It is interchangeable with similarly shaped pastas – tortelli, tortelloni, and cappelletti. Cappelletti means “little hats” and tortelloni is the same shape but is approximately two times larger.
Tortellini is best cooked for 5 to 11 minutes. If you are preparing it fresh, we recommend cooking it for 5 minutes but if the noodles have been dried, they will need 10 to 11 minutes to cook.
Like traditional pastas such as spaghetti, Vermicelli is long and rounded. What makes it different is its thickness. In Italian-speaking countries, it is thicker while in English cultures it is thinner than spaghetti. The word itself translates from Italian to English as “little worms.” It is regularly used in Asian countries and recipes as well. In fact, when we think of it, we think of food from Vietnamese restaurants.
The difference between Italian and Asian Vermicelli is what the noodles are made of. Italian Vermicelli is made from semolina and Asian Vermicelli is made of rice noodles. Both are ideal ingredients for salads and stir-fries.
Yummly has multiple Italian, Asian, and American variations of Vermicelli dishes worth trying. If nothing else, they might inspire you with an idea for menu revisions.
A tube-type pasta, Ziti is “straw-shaped” ("From Agnolotti to Ziti: A Picture Guide to Pasta Types", 2018) with a hollow center. It is like penne noodles, except without any ridges and it has straight edges instead. It is most famous in America for being included in Baked Ziti but it originates from Campania, Italy. The Italian word translates to “bride and groom,” reminiscent of the Italian tradition of serving it at one’s wedding. This custom is still practiced at Sicilian wedding feasts.
Ziti is frequently included in baked dishes such as casseroles or stuffed before preparing. It takes 9 to 15 minutes to cook. It is a substitute for rigatoni, but it should be noted it has a smoother texture and is narrower so does not create the same taste. For variety, use it instead of penne in a creamy pasta salad sometimes.