Types of pasta
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What Is Pasta - Pasta Kinds - Types of pasta

What Is Pasta

Your question “what is pasta?” answered.
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 can also be made from rice flour, cornmeal, buckwheat, or other grains. And it can even come in vegetarian forms.

As a food, it comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be served hot or cold, with sauces or without.
It is cooked by boiling and serving with a sauce (eg. Macaroni Cheese) or baking in a sauce (eg. Lasagne).

Pasta Kinds

Pasta kinds are divided into two broad categories. These would be dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca).

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

    This fresh food 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.

    This form needs to be dried at a low temperature for several days to evaporate all the moisture .
    The 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.

Types Of Pasta Shapes

There are over 600 different types of pasta shapes, these all have many variations in size, thickness, colour, and shape.

The names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary depending on the town and region it comes from.
Common forms would include long and short shapes, tubes, flat sheets, dumplings and pastas with fillings.
Here are 17 popular pasta types in their categories.

Long Pasta Types

Long pasta shapes are your long, thin ribbons and strand pastas.
They’re best when cooked with creamy sauces that only have very small-sized chunky ingredients, if any at all.

  1. Spaghetti

    Spaghetti is a long strand pasta typeType: Long, Strand.

    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.

    A variety of dishes are based on spaghetti, such as spaghetti bolognese.

    Meatballs with tomato sauce is another classic combination.
    It is also frequently served with tomato sauce or meat or vegetables.

  2. Bucatini

    Bucatini is a Long, Tubular Pasta TypeType: Long, Tubular.

    Bucatini is Italian for “hollow straws”.

    It looks a lot like traditional spaghetti, however, it’s more round, and is a little thicker than normal spaghetti.

    There’s a hole through the middle that gives each noodle a hollow centre, making it great for catching that little bit of extra sauce.

    It is perfect when cooked in soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles.
    Bucatini is often served with with pesto sauce, vegetables and parmesan or a pasta sauce like carbonara.

  3. Fettuccine

    Fettuccine is a Long, Ribbon Pasta TypeType: Long, Ribbon.

    Fettuccine literally means “little ribbons”.

    Fettuccine is a long, flat, ribbon-like pasta that’s about 6.4 mm (0.25 inch) wide, it’s a thicker and more dense strip.

    Because it’s a thicker pasta, fettuccine is good paired with heavier sauces, especially creamy Alfredo sauce.
    It also works well with chunky meat sauces.

  4. Linguine

    Linguine is a Long, Ribbon pasta typeType: Long, Ribbon.

    Linguine is Italian for “little tongues”.

    Linguine resembles fettuccine, but it’s not as wide. It is elliptical in shape, like flattened spaghetti and is about 4 mm (5⁄32 inch) in width.

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

  5. Pappardelle

    Pappardelle is a Long, Ribbon pasta shapeType: Long, Ribbon.

    The word pappardelle comes from the Italian pappare, which means “to gobble up”.

    Pappardelle comes in the form of long, broad ribbons similar to wide fettuccine. They can have either fluted edges or straight sides.

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

  6. Tagliatelle

    Tagliatelle is a Long, Ribbon Pasta ShapeType: Long, Ribbon.

    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, making it a little thicker to the bite.

    Tagliatelle can be served with a variety of sauces, though the classic is a meat sauce or bolognese sauce.
    It also pairs well with a cream or tomato sauce.

  7. Vermicelli

    Vermicelli is a Long Strand rice noodleType: Long Strand rice noodle.

    Vermicelli is Italian literally meaning. ”little worms”.

    Vermicelli noodles are skinny and is a traditional type of pasta, similar to spaghetti strands and has a diameter of less than 1.5 mm (0.06 inches).

    There’s Italian and Asian vermicelli. The Italian one is made with semolina and the Asian one is a rice noodle made from rice flour.

    The Asian rice noodle are often used in stir-fries such as Chop Suey, soups, spring rolls, and salads.

Short Pasta Types

Short pasta types come in a variety of shapes that will all catch sauces in different ways.
These work great with thicker and chunkier sauces that have meat and vegetables.

  1. Cavatelli

    Cavatelli is a Short, Shaped pasta typeType: Short, Shaped.

    Cavatelli is Italian literally meaning “little hollows”.

    These small decorative shaped pasta shells are created from an eggless dough.
    They are rolled into small shapes that resemble tiny hot dog buns.

    Because of the shape it holds sauce well.
    Both creamy sauces and thicker meat sauces pair well with this noodle.

  2. Macaroni Elbows

    Macaroni is a Short Tubular pasta shapeType: Short Tubular.

    The name comes from Greek for “food made from barley”.

    Macaroni is a hollow, tubular-shaped pasta that comes in different lengths and sizes, but is commonly cut short and can be either bent like an elbow, or straight.

    This versatile pasta shape is used in a wide variety of dishes such as baked dishes like tuna casserole, salads and soups, the most popular being macaroni and cheese.

  3. Farfalle

    Farfalle is a Short Shaped Pasta TypeType: Short Shaped.

    The name comes from the Italian word farfalle (butterflies).

    Farfalle come in several different sizes, but they all have a distinctive “bow tie” shape.

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

  4. Rigatoni

    Rigatoni is a Short, Tubular Pasta ShapeType: Short, Tubular.

    Rigatoni are a form of tube-shaped pasta of varying lengths and diameters. They are a large, tube-shaped pasta with ridged edges.

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

  5. Orecchiette

    Orecchiette is a Short, Shaped Pasta TypeType: Short, Shaped.

    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 centre than they are on the edges, which gives them a toothsome texture.

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

  6. Penne

    Penne is a Short, Tubular Pasta ShapeType: Short, Tubular.

    Penne is an extruded type of pasta with cylinder-shaped pieces, their ends cut at an angle. They can be either smooth or grooved.

    The shape of Penne makes it particularly good for sauces, such as pesto, marinara, or traditional (no cream) carbonara.

Filled Pasta Types

All filled pasta shapes have one thing in common. They are filled with a variety of delicious, cheese, vegetable, or meat based fillings.

  1. Tortellini

    Tortellini is a stuffed pasta shapeType: Stuffed.

    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.

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

  2. Ravioli

    Ravioli is a stuffed pasta shapeType: Stuffed.

    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.

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

Sheet Pasta Type

Exactly as the name suggests, sheet pasta are thin and flat resembling a thin piece of cardboard.

  1. Lasagna

    Lasagna is a sheet pasta type
    Type: Sheet Pasta.

    Lasagna is a 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.

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

Dumpling Pasta Type

And last but not least, there is only one type of pasta in this category and it is more a dumpling than a pasta.

  1. Potato Gnocchi

    Gnocchi is a dumpling pasta shapeType: Dumpling Pasta.

    The word gnocchi comes from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood.

    Gnocchi is an Italian pasta made of small lumps of dough.
    Potato Gnocchi are various thick and small sizes, and are soft dough dumplings.

    Gnocchi are made from a dough that uses potatoes or ricotta and flour and not really pasta at all.

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

How to cook pasta al dente
Yield: 1 Serve

How Pasta Is Cooked

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes

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 pasta is cooked and getting that perfect bite.


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


  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.


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.

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.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per ServingCalories 158Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 582mgCarbohydrates 31gFibre 2gSugar 1gProtein 6g

"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."

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.

Recipes using pasta

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

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