Cooking 101: Pasta Types

(image courtesy of HungryCravings)

Did you know that there are over 100 different types of pasta? Most of us recognize our go-to dinner choices, like spaghetti, bow-tie, or the “spiral” one. But each and every type is unique in it’s own origin and make. Pasta Recipes Made Easy breaks them down:

Ancini de Pepe: Translated to peppercorns in English, these tiny pasta shapes cook in just a few minutes time and are commonly used in soups, or scattered across salads for texture.

Amori (also known as Spirali and Cavatappi): This pasta, sometimes called “pasta spirals”, are tubular shaped pasta spirals that originated in Southern Italy. This pasta’s shape and texture also makes it very adaptable to different pasta sauces.

Anellini: Translated to small rings, this pasta is also commonly used in soups. Like Ancini De Pepe, short cooking time is needed.

A long, thin stranded pasta that is usually sold in coiled bunches, like a small nest.

Basically, a flattened version of spaghetti, similar to linguine.

Bigoli: This pasta takes a long shape, slightly thicker than spaghetti and traditionally made with buckwheat flour. In more modern times, whole wheat flour is more commonly used and perceives a darker hue in color. In parts of Italy, this pasta is sometimes referred to as Pici.

Bucatini: This pasta gets its name from the Italian word buco, which means hole. Like spaghetti, this pasta is long and tubed, like a drinking straw.

Busiata Trapanese: This is a type of corkscrew pasta, slightly longer than Fusilli. This pasta originated from a small town in Sicily named Trapini.

Caccavelle (Sing. Caccavella): Currently the world’s largest pasta shape, this pasta can measure a diameter of 11cm. Usually stuffed and baked, this makes for a great meal in under 20 minutes!

Calamari (also known as Calamaretti): Calamari hails from the city of Naples in Southern Italy, and is shaped into small rings that are dyed with black squid ink to resemble the sliced squid dish. Great in seafood pasta recipes!

Campanelle: A unique pasta in its shape, this pasta is formed into a bell shape and great for catching yummy sauce!

Candele: Translated into candles, this pasta shape is long, hollowed and made to look like real candles!

Cannelloni: Translated into large reeds, this flat, rectangle shaped pasta is usually filled and rolled into tubes. Delicious when filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, and smothered in a sweet tomato sauce.

Cannerrozzetti: This rare pasta is tubed with ridges down the side.

Cappelletti: Originating from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, this pasta is basically a smaller version of Tortellini. It is usually filled with meat or cheese and served over broth.

Capellini D’Angelo: Also known as Angel Hair, it literally translates to “hair of the angels”. This pasta is very long and very, very fine; works best with light sauces and cooks in only a few minutes.

Capellini: Basically, a thicker version of Capellini D’Angelo.

Capunti: An unusual shape of pasta, usually an inch or two long resembling a small canoe or open pea pod.

Cassuli: A curved, almost-tubed pasta with long raised edges.

Cavatelli: Some may describe this type of pasta being in the shape of a hot dog bun, it is folded over and originated from the Southern region of Puglia.

Cellentani: Translated in “whirls”, this pasta is tubular, spirals, and lined with ridges great for pasta salad recipes.

Cencioni: Oval-shaped pasta with a slight curve, perfect for holding heavier pasta sauces like Bolognese or heavier creams.

Chocolate Pasta: If there ever is a pasta that is the weirdest of the weird, it is this! Made with a small percentage of cocoa, it is usually served with dessert, cream sauce and walnuts, or with game (wild bird). Definitely something I want to try!

Conchiglie: (pronounced con-kee-lee-ay), this small shell-shaped pasta is very popular and commonly used in recipes with heavy pasta sauces to sop up all the delicious taste!

Corzetti: A unique pasta, it is circular, flat and stamped to resemble and ancient coin. Originating from Liguria.

Ditali: Translating from the Italian word Dita, which means fingers, this pasta resembles just that. Small, tubed pasta that can fit around your finger and is great in hearty soups.

Elbow Macaroni: A small, curved, tubed type of macaroni resembling a smile : ) Usually used traditionally in America in cheese recipes.

Eliche: Small, spiraled pasta resembling Fusilli.

Farfelle: Also know as bow-ties, translate into butterflies. This pasta is small, rectangular shaped and pinched in the middle.

Fettuccine (or Fettuccini): Originating from the Italian word fettuce, meaning string, this pasta refers to flat, long pasta. Wider than linguine, and great to catching heavy sauces.

Filini: Meaning “small threads” in Italian, this pasta is thin and only about an inch long. Perfect for soups, this pasta would be classified as Pastina, or tiny pasta.

Florentine: A pasta originating from Tuscany, it looks like an open-ended version of Rigatoni.

Fioriettini: A ridged, flower shaped pasta made from joined pasta circles.

Foglie D’Ulivo: Olive-leaf shaped pasta originally from Southern Italy.

Fusilli: The Italian word for “little spindles”, this corkscrew pasta is more tightly wound than Spirali and wonderful for catching scrumptious sauces!

Fusilli Bucati: Similar to Fusilli, except it is hollowed out like a drinking straw.

(image courtesy of

Garganelli: Shaped like Penne, except look more rough and home-made. Effectively, rectangle pasta rolled into a Penne shape.

Gemelli: Translating into twins, a truly unique pasta that is rarely duplicated; it is essentially two short strands of pasta wrapped around each other.

Girasole: Meaning sunflower in Italian, it is a sunflower shaped pasta.

Gozzini: A type of mini-tubular Pastina.

Gramigna: A short, curled type of pasta with one end more curled inward than the other.

Lasagne (Sing. Lasagna): Flat sheets of pasta, usually layered with minced meat and vegetables.

Lasagnette: Unlike Lasagne, these are flat wide pieces of pasta broken up and boiled, not baked, and served messy on a plate.

Linguine: Meaning “little tongues” in Italian, linguine is a long flat pasta slightly thinner than Fettuccine and originated from Northern Italy.

Lumache: The Italian word for snails, this pasta resembles small snail shells.

Maccerroni (Maccaroni): Made from Semolina and water, instead of flour and egg like most pasta, it is small curved tubular pasta that can come in different variations and sizes.

Mafalde: Similar to Tagliatelle, only with ruffled edges.

Maltagliati: Deriving from the Italian words mal and tagliati, this pasta translates to “badly cut”; essentially, this pasta is usually just random chopped pieces of pasta and takes no particular shape or form. It is often made from leftover pasta dough.

Mandilli De Sea: Translating into “silk handkerchiefs”, this pasta is roughly cut into squares and stuffed with full parsley leaves.

Manicotti: Translated as “sleeves” in Italian, this pasta is a type of baked pasta in the form of large, tube-shaped noodles.

Mezzalune: Sometimes referred to as Ravioli, this half-moon shaped pasta is usually stuffed with cheeses or meat.

Mezzi Rigatoni: Deriving from the Italian word mezzi, meaning “half”, this pasta type is essentially half the size of *or shorter version) or Rigatoni.

Mostaccioli: Originating from the Campania region of Southern Italy, this is a short 2-inch pasta resembling Penne, without the ridges.

Orecciette: Meaning “small ears”, this pasta hails from Puglia, Italy and is great for sopping up heavy pasta sauces and creams.

Orzo: This is a small pasta tiny enough to look like a grain (Orzo means “barley”), so it is sometimes used in the place of rice.

Paccheri: Basically an over-sized version of Rigatoni, minus the ridges.

Pappardelle: Long, wide egg noddle great for heavy pasta dishes. Originates from Tuscany, Italy.

Pansotti: Referred to as Mezzalune in some parts of Italy, this pasta is usually a more triangular-shaped form of Ravioli.

Pasta Al Ceppo: Pasta that is essentially shaped like a cinnamon stick!

Pastina: Literally meaning “little pasta”, this type is usually associated with tiny pasta stars but also serves as a category for smaller pasta used in soups (like Ditali).

Penne (Also known as Maltagliati): Meaning “quill” in Italian, this popular pasta is tubular shaped and cut diagonally at the ends to resemble the end of a quill pen!

Piccage: Piccage means “strings” in Italian, and refers to this pasta is that it is long, ribbon-like strands that are usually frilled on the edges with dried herbs inside.

Pipe: Pronounced (Pee-Pay), this tube-shaped pasta resembles a small smoking pipe.

Pizzoccheri: This pasta type is similar to tagliatelle in shape, but unlike most pasta is made with TWO different types of flour – white and buckwheat. This gives it a more chewy and dense texture; originated from Valtellina, Italy which is very close to the Swiss border.

Puntalette: A rice shaped pasta often used in soups.

(image courtesy of

Quadrafiore: This unique pasta, hard to describe, is a small short pasta with 7 waved-ridges coming out of a central tube. It can resemble a flower “end-on”.

Ravioli: Probably the most popular type of pasta, this type of stuffed and square shaped with ruffled edges.

Rigatoni: Popular is the South of Italy, Rigatoni are a large, tubed and ridged type of pasta.

Risoni: Meaning “big rice”, this pasta is essentially a larger version of Orzo.

Rotini: A shorter version of Fusilli.

Ruote: Also known as Wagon-Wheel pasta. Great for kids! But useless at catching pasta sauce.

Saccheti: Meaning “beggars’ purses” in Italian, a sack-shaped ravioli.

Scialatielli: Originating from the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy, this pasta type are short, wider versions of Tagliatelli and are sometimes pinched in the middle.

Spaccatelli: Like Bucatini, but split down the side.

Spaghetti: One of the most popular types of pasta, it is long, thin and round in shape.

Spaetzle: Derived from a German word, Spaetzle are very small noodles (or dumplings) that are rolled or squeezed through a colander.

Tagliarini: Thinner version of tagliatelle.

Tagliatelle: Classic thin and wide egg noddle originating from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Torchieti: Meaning “little torches”, that is exactly what this pasta shape resembles.

Tortellini: Small, square-shaped stuffed pasta that looks like little hats!

Trenne: Traingular version of Penne.

Trotolle: These are pasta rings that are curled around a central column.

Tuffoli: A ridged version of Rigatoni.

Ventagali: An uncommon type of pasta, Ventagali are wide, short ribbons of pasta with ruffled edges.

Ziti: A medium, thin size tubed-pasta (like a hose). Traditionally served at weddings.


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