Types of pasta
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Types of pasta

What Is Pasta

Pasta is a type of food created from an unleavened dough of wheat flour mixed with water or eggs, and formed into sheets or other shapes.
It is cooked by boiling and serving with a sauce (eg. Macaroni Cheese) or baking in a sauce (eg. Lasagne).

Pastas are divided into two broad categories: dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca).

  1. Fresh Pasta
    Fresh pasta is traditionally produced by hand, sometimes with the aid of simple machines.
    Fresh pastas available in grocery stores are produced commercially by large-scale machines.

    A fresh pasta is usually made with a mixture of eggs and all-purpose flour or “00” low-gluten flour.

    Since it contains eggs, it is more tender compared to dried pasta and only takes about half the time to cook.

    Fresh egg pasta is generally cut into strands of various widths and thicknesses depending on which pasta is to be made (e.g. fettuccine, pappardelle, and lasagne).
    It is often served simply with a butter sauce or other delicate sauces.

    Once it is cooked, it does not grow in size.

  2. Dried Pasta
    Dried pasta is usually produced in large amounts that require large machines in commercial premises.

    The ingredients normally include semolina flour and water. Eggs can be added for flavour and richness, but are not needed to make dried pasta.

    Dried pasta needs to be dried at a low temperature for several days to evaporate all the moisture .This process gives it a longer shelf life..

    Dried pastas are best served in hearty dishes like ragu sauces, soups, and casseroles.
    Once it is cooked, the dried pasta will usually grow to twice its original size.

The fresh pasta must be refrigerated, but dry pasta will keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight container placed in a cool dry area.

Pasta Noodle Types

There are many different pasta noodle types that have many variations in size, thickness, colour, and shape, available as either dried or fresh pasta.

The names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary depending on the town and region it comes from.
Common forms of pasta include long and short shapes, tubes, flat shapes or sheets and miniature shapes for soup.
See our pasta shape list here.

  • Potato Gnocchi

    gnocchi pasta shape
    Type: Decorative Shaped Pasta Dumpling or Irregular Shaped Pasta.
    This form of Gnocchi is an Italian pasta made of small lumps of dough.
    Potato Gnocchi are various thick and small sizes, and are soft dough dumplings.

    Alternative Names: Gnocchetti, gnocchi alla romana, gnudi, malfatti, strangulaprievete, cavatelli, malloreddus.

    Sauce Pairing: Common accompaniments of gnocchi can include something simple such as melted butter with sage or pesto.
    A cream base sauce or a Carbonara are both great, because of the larger surface area of the dumpling there’s plenty for your sauce to stick to.

  • Linguine

    Linguine pasta type
    Type: Ribbon-Cut Noodle.
    Linguine is Italian for “little tongues,”
    It is elliptical in shape, like flattened spaghetti and is about 4 mm (5⁄32 inch) in width.

    Alternative Names: Bavettine, bavette fini, radichini, linguettine.

    Sauce Pairing: The extra surface area means that it is perfect for pairing with lighter textures, like cream based sauces or seafood.

  • Bucatini

    Bucatini Pasta Type
    Type: Long Noodle.
    Bucatini is Italian for “hollow straws”.
    It is a long pasta that’s similar to spaghetti, but thicker and with a hole running through the center.
    The idea of the hole is to catch that little bit of extra sauce.

    Alternative Names: Bucatini is also known as Boccolotti, perciatellini, foratini, fidelini bucati, fide bucate, agoni bucati and spilloni bucati.

    Bucatini pasta is often served with with pesto sauce, vegetables and parmesan or pasta sauces like cacio e pepe or carbonara.

  • Tagliatelle

    Tagliatelle Pasta Shape
    Type: Ribbon-Cut Noodle.
    The name Tagliatelle comes from the Italian word tagliare, meaning “to cut”.
    They are long, flat ribbons that are similar in shape to fettuccine and are traditionally about 6 mm (1⁄4 in) wide.

    Alternative Names: Also known as tagliarelli, reginelle, fresine, nastri, fettuccelle, fettucce romane, fiadi, tagliolini, tagliatelle smalzade, lesagnetes, bardele, fettuccine, pincinelle, tagghiarini and taddarini.

    Sauce Pairing: Tagliatelle can be served with a variety of sauces, though the classic is a meat sauce or Bolognese sauce.

  • Pappardelle

    Pappardelle pasta type
    Type: Ribbon-Cut Noodle.
    The word pappardelle comes from the Italian pappare, which means “to gobble up”.
    This pasta comes in the form of long, broad ribbons similar to wide fettuccine.They can have either fluted edges or straight sides.

    Alternative Names: Pappardelle is also known as; Papparelle, paparele (Veneto); paspardelle (Marche).

    Sauce Pairing: Pappardelle is perfect serving with rich, meaty ragù or bolognese sauces.

  • Cavatelli

    By Luigi Scorcia – cavatelli, CC BY 2.0,
    Type: Decorative Shaped Pasta.
    Cavatelli is Italian literally meaning “little hollows”.
    These small pasta shells are created from an eggless dough and rolled into small shapes that resemble tiny hot dog buns.

    Alternative Names: Other names for Cavatelli are; Cortecce, gnocchetti, manatelli, orecchie di prete, strascinati, truoccoli; capunti, cingule, minuich, rascatelli, zinnezinne (Basilicata); cantaroggini, cavatieddi, cecatelli/cicatelli, cecatidde, mignuicchi, strascenate, tagghjunghele (Apulia and Campania); pincinelle (Marche); cavatielle, ‘ncatenate, cazzarille, ciufele (Molise); cavasuneddi, cavatuneddi, gnucchitti, gnocculi.

    Sauce Pairing: Commonly cooked with garlic and broccoli or broccoli rabe, you can kick things up a notch by adding spicy Italian sausage.

  • Tortellini

    Tortellini pasta shape
    Type: Stuffed Pasta.
    The word tortellini comes from the Italian torta, “cake”.
    Tortellini are ring-shaped pastas that are usually stuffed with a mixture of meat and cheese, they are about 25 x 20mm (1 inch x 0.8 inch) in size.

    Alternative Names: Belly button, Agnoli, presuner or prigioneri (Capri).

    Sauce Pairing: Tortellini are traditionally served in capon broth, which could explain why they make the perfect addition to a variety of soups.

  • Ravioli

    ravioli pasta type
    Type: Stuffed Pasta.
    The word ‘ravioli’ means “little turnips” in Italian dialect,
    Ravioli are a type of pasta featuring a filling enveloped in thin, egg-based fresh pasta dough.
    Raviolis can be square or circular and stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables.

    Alternative Names: Pasta, cappelletti, pelmeni, ricotta, and agnolotti.

    Sauce Pairing: Ravioli is usually served in broth or with a creamy sauce such as a Carbonara.

  • Macaroni

    Macaroni pasta shape
    Type: Short-Cut Extruded Pasta.
    The name comes from Greek for food made from barley.
    Macaroni is a tubular-shaped pasta that comes in different lengths and sizes, but is commonly cut short and can be either bent or straight.

    Alternative Names: Elbow macaroni, Macaroni elbows.

    Sauce Pairing: Cheese, butter.
    This versatile pasta shape is used in a wide variety of dishes such as baked dishes, salads and soups, the most popular being macaroni and cheese.

  • Fettuccine

    Fettuccine Pasta Type
    Type: Ribbon-Cut Noodle.
    Fettuccine literally means “little ribbons”.
    Fettuccine is a long, flat, ribbon-like pasta that’s about 6.4 mm (0.25 inches) wide.

    Alternative Names: Lasagnette, fettucce, ramicce, sagne

    Sauce Pairing: Because it’s a thicker pasta, fettuccine is good paired with heavier sauces, especially creamy Alfredo sauce.

  • Farfalle

    Farfalle Pasta Type
    Type: Decorative Shaped Pasta
    The name comes from the Italian word farfalle (butterflies).
    Farfalle come in several different sizes, but they all have a distinctive “bow tie” shape.

    Alternative Names: Also known as bow-tie or butterfly pasta,

    Sauce Pairing: Farfalle is perfect for cream-based sauces, soups or in pasta salads.

  • Lasagna

    Lasagna pasta sheets
    Type: Long, wide noodle.
    Lasagna is a type of wide, flat, square or rectangle sheets of pasta that can have both flat or with curly edges.
    The square of pasta is lasagna while the dish you normally create from it is lasagne.

    Alternative Names: bardele, lasagnoni (Veneto); capellasci (Liguria); sagne (Salento)

    Sauce Pairing: Lasagna sheets are typically layered with sauce and cheese to form the popular casserole dish of the similar name “Lasagne”.

  • Rigatoni

    Rigatoni Pasta Shape
    Type: Short-Cut Extruded Pasta.
    Rigatoni are a form of tube-shaped pasta of varying lengths and diameters.
    They are a large, tube-shaped pasta with ridged edges.

    Alternative Names: Bombardoni, cannaroni rigati, cannerozzi rigati, rigatoni romani, trivelli, tuffolini rigati

    Sauce Pairing: These thick tubes are strong enough to take on heavier sauces like Bolognese, they are perfect for capturing both sauces and grated cheese.

  • Orecchiette

    Orecchiette Pasta Type
    Type: Decorative Shaped Pasta
    Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian, which makes a lot of sense when you consider their shape.
    These round, dome-like pasta shells are thinner in the center than they are on the edges, which gives them a toothsome texture.

    Alternative Names: Little Ears, strascinate; recchini (Rome); recchietele (Campania, Molise and Basilicata); orecchie di prete (Abruzzo and Basilicata); cicatelli (Apulia); recchie di prevete (Foggia); cagghiubbi/fenescecchie (Bari); chancierelle/pochiacche (small/big versions; Taranto); stacchiodde (Lecce)

    Sauce Pairing: Pair orecchiette with any rich, creamy sauces.
    It is typically served with a meat such as pork, capers and a crisp white wine.

  • Spaghetti

    Spaghetti pasta type
    Type: Long Noodle,
    Spaghetti is a long, thin, solid, cylindrical pasta shape that’s easily recognizable.
    It is most commonly available in 25–30 cm (10–12 in) lengths.

    Alternative Names: Fide/fidi, fidelini, ristoranti, vermicelloni, filatelli, vermicelloni giganti.

    Sauce Pairing: A variety of pasta dishes are based on this noodle, such as spaghetti bolognese.
    It is frequently served with tomato sauce or meat or vegetables.

  • Penne

    penne pasta type
    Type: Short-Cut Extruded Pasta.
    Penne is an extruded type of pasta with cylinder-shaped pieces, their ends cut at an angle.
    They can be either smooth or grooved.

    Alternative Names: Pennine, mezze pennette lisce, mezze penne, mezzani, pennettine, pennuzze, penne regina,[9] mostaccioli, penne a candela, penne di natale/natalini, penne di ziti/zitoni.

    Sauce Pairing: The shape of Penne makes it particularly good for sauces, such as pesto, marinara, or arrabbiata.

How Long Do You Cook Pasta?

You want perfect al dente pasta noodles.
The term “al dente” originates from an Italian phrase that translates to “to the tooth.”
Al dente refers to the overall firmness of your cooked noodle.
When your recipe calls for al dente pasta, it calls for your pasta to be tender yet still a bit firm in the center.

When you’re trying to figure out the right timing for al dente pasta, note that there is a significant difference based on the type of pasta you’re using.
You’ll find that dried pasta takes a bit more time, whereas freshly-made pasta only needs to be in the water for a couple of minutes.
Shape plays a role, too.

  • Elbow Macaroni
    Elbow macaroni is a favorite, especially in families with children who love a classic macaroni and cheese recipe.
    Most dry boxes of pasta will include specific cooking instructions on the box for cooking al dente elbow macaroni.
    This particular pasta takes between 7-15 minutes to reach al dente—some brands may be larger than others, so adjust accordingly.

    The easiest way to check if you’ve got it right is to take a bite of a single noodle. If it’s stiff and chalky in the center, then it’s likely undercooked.
    If it’s excessively soggy and limp instead, you’ve overcooked it.

  • Pasta Shells
    Pasta shells are another tricky one when it comes to learning how to cook perfect al dente pasta.
    And, that’s because of the variety of unique shapes that these shells come in.

    While the outer edges of your shell may look done, the inner-most parts of the pasta may need some additional cook time.
    Generally, you want to cook pasta shells for 8-9 minutes to achieve the right firmness.

  • Fettuccine or Spaghetti
    While fettuccine and spaghetti may seem similar, there are some key differences to consider when determining the proper cooking time.
    Fettuccine is a thicker, denser noodle, while spaghetti is smooth and round noodles.
    Spaghetti also comes in various sizes, such as thick and angel hair, affecting its cook time.

    Once your water is boiling and you’ve placed your noodles into the pot, you’ll want to cook between 10-15 minutes.
    But, as always, make sure to give it a test before you start saucing up.

  • Pasta From Scratch
    Now, cooking fresh pasta is a lot different. The primary factor is the fact that fresh pasta is already hydrated, whereas dry pasta rehydrates as it cooks.
    Freshly-made pasta only takes a few short minutes to cook thorough.
    2-3 minutes is enough to reach al dente.

Pasta Cooking Time Chart

To cook your noodles to al dente you can always check the pasta package for the pasta cooking time.

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time as it is only a guideline.

If no estimated time is given, follow these rules-of-thumb in our pasta cooking time chart, but be careful to check the pasta often for doneness as it cooks:
Remember to start timing when the water returns to a boil after you have added your pasta.

PastaPasta TypeCooking Time
Fresh pastaEspecially egg pasta (fettucine, tagliatelle, lasagna).Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
ThinDried durum wheat (eggless) pasta (spaghettini, shells, rotini).Cook for 6 to 9 minutes.
Dried spaghettiIs generally 8 to 9 minutes, depending on the brand and thickness.
Thick drieddurum wheat (eggless) pasta (penne, ziti, tortigioni, trofie).12 to 15 minutes.

How Pasta Is Cooked

How to cook pasta al dente
Rating :★★★★★
prep time: 2 Minutes – cook time: 10 Minutes – total time: 12 Minutes – Calories: 158 – Yield: 1 Serve

Cooking pasta al dente is as easy as boiling water, but cooking pasta correctly is about paying attention to detail.

This guide will teach you how to cook the perfect pasta and getting that perfect bite.


  • 100 grams pasta noodles
  • 1 litre (4 cups) Water
  • Salt

Pasta Cooking Instructions

  1. Fill a pot with 4 cups/1 litre of water per 100 grams serving of pasta, cover it, and set it to Boil over high heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, remove the cover and add 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt (a little less if it’s fine-grained) per litre of water.
    In terms of saltiness, it should resemble sea water.

    This will season your pasta — and it’s the only chance in your cooking process to do so.

  3. When the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon or tongs to separate the pieces.
  4. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks, this will keep the pieces from sticking to each other or to the pot.
  5. A minute before the estimated pasta cooking time is up, remove a piece of the pasta to check for doneness.
    You want an al dente, or chewy “to the tooth” texture — not soft, limp pasta.
    Bite the pasta to check.
  6. Test again every 30 seconds or so, and as soon as the broken piece is a uniform, translucent yellow, drain the pasta.
  7. Toss the pasta in your sauce and serve.

Gordon Ramsay cooking pasta al dente

Cooking pasta al dente with Gordon Ramsay’s top tips on how to how to cook angel hair pasta.
These principles can be applied to cooking any pasta.

Pasta Cooking Tips

Cooking perfect pasta is easy — here are 6 easy pasta cooking tips to get you there.
Get perfect, al dente pasta every time.

  1. Get lots of salted water boiling;
    Make sure the pasta has enough room to move around while cooking. You need a big pot.
  2. DON’T put oil in your water or on your pasta;
    Adding oil to the water, or to cooked pasta to keep it from sticking will cause your sauce to slip off the noodles.
    You’ll also end up with greasy pasta, yuck.
  3. Add the pasta and stir;
    You don’t have to stir the whole time, just enough to keep it from sticking.
    Tongs work well for this task.
  4. Slightly undercook the pasta;
    Cook it until the noodles are still a tiny bit hard in the centre, just before al dente.

    It’s generally 2 minutes less than the packages’ recommended cooking time.
    You will have to taste the pasta as it is being cooked to know when it is al dente.

  5. Drain in a colander and shake just until dry;
    Once the noodles are no longer slick with cooking water, return them to the pot you cooked them in.
  6. Keep cooking with the sauce;
    Add whatever sauce you’d like to the pasta in the pot.
    Cook them together over medium heat, tossing all the while, until the noodles are coated and have absorbed some of the sauce.
    That extra cooking time will get them perfectly al dente too.

Recipes using pasta

Easy Pasta Recipes | Creamy Pasta Recipes | Homemade Pasta RecipesEasy Pasta Recipes

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