What’s Your Type? Pasta, That Is.

Know your bucatini from your ditalini? Find the perfect pasta for your sauces, soups, and salads with our illustrated guide to pasta types. Because shape matters.

angle hair pasta capellini

Angel Hair
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.

Angel Hair Recipes

bow tie pasta farfalle

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

Bow Ties Recipes

bucatini pasta

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.

Bucatini Pasta with Shrimp and Anchovies

ditalini pasta

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.

Ditalini with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese

egg noodle

Egg Noodles
These noodles add heartiness to soups, stews and casseroles.

Egg Noodles Recipes

fettuccine pasta

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.

Fettuccine Recipes

fusilli pasta

This long, thick, spiral-shaped pasta adds an unexpected twist to any recipe that calls for spaghetti.

Fusilli Recipes

gemilli pasta

A short, spiral pasta, versatile gemelli works well in hearty sauces, baked dishes, and lighter vegetable pasta dishes.

Pasta and Peas

gnocchi potato dumplings

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.

Ricotta Gnocchi

lasagna pasta noodles

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.

Lasagna Recipes

linguine pasta

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.

Linguine Recipes

macaroni pasta

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.

Macaroni Recipes

manicotti pasta

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.

Make Ahead Manicotti

orecchiette pasta

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.

One Pan Orecchiette Pasta

orzo pasta

A tiny, rice-like pasta thats used to add heartiness to soups and salads.

Orzo Recipes

penne pasta

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.

Penne Recipes

radiatore pasta

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.

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad

ravioli pasta

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.

Ravioli Recipes

rigatoni pasta

Short, grooved, tube-shaped “riggies” can be used in pretty much any setting, from sauces to salads to baked casseroles.

Rigatoni Recipes

rotelle pasta

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.

Rotelle Recipes

rotini pasta

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.

Rotini Pasta Salad

shells pasta conchiglie cavatelli

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.

Shells Recipes

spaghetti pasta

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.

Spaghetti Recipes

tagliatelle pasta

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

Tomato Basil Tagliatelle

tortellini pasta

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.

Tortellini Recipes

vermicelli noodles

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.

Vermicelli Recipes

ziti pasta

A slender, tube-shaped pasta, ziti stands up to hearty sauces and is great in baked pasta dishes.

Ziti Recipes