33 Types of Pasta, Their Shapes and Specific Uses

33 Types of Pasta, Their Shapes and Specific Uses

Whether you're in the mood for a quick lunch or a fancy dinner, pasta comes to the rescue with its versatility and deliciousness. Before you dive into the world of pasta and its numerous varieties, let's explore the different types of pasta and their specific uses.

When it comes to pasta, the options seem endless, ranging from well-known types like elbow macaroni and fettuccine to lesser-known varieties such as rotelli and orzo. Pasta is a culinary wonder that can be prepared in a matter of minutes at home or enjoyed as a gourmet dish in high-end restaurants. It's savored worldwide in various forms, from classics like spaghetti and meatballs to comfort foods like mac and cheese, as well as creative dishes like Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad and Potato Gnocchi.

However, despite pasta's popularity, many people struggle to remember or pronounce their Italian names, causing confusion when ordering or buying pasta. Let's put an end to that confusion and take a crash course on the different types of pasta, their uses, and even see pictures of each type. You'll discover that the world of pasta is not as overwhelming as it seems; it's actually quite incredible. So, let's dive in!

Types of Pasta:

Pasta can be categorized into several groups, including short pasta, long pasta, sheet pasta, stuffed pasta, and dumpling pasta. In this list, we'll explore 33 types of pasta, each belonging to one of these categories. These are the types commonly found on Italian restaurant menus and in grocery stores.

Long Pasta: Long pasta consists of thin, ribbon-like strands. It pairs well with creamy sauces and dishes that have minimal ingredients. Here are some examples:

1.     Spaghetti: Long and cylindrical, often used in classic dishes like spaghetti with meatballs.

2.     Angel's Hair: Thinner than spaghetti, perfect for light oil and cream-based sauces.

3.     Bucatini: Similar to spaghetti but hollow, great for soups and sauce-based dishes.

4.     Fettuccine: Flat and wide, ideal for pairing with chunky meat gravies and sauces.

5.     Linguine: Similar to fettuccine but slightly narrower, often served with seafood dishes.

6.     Pappardelle: Wide and flat, excellent with rich meat-based dressings and bolognese sauce.

7.     Tagliatelle: Flat and similar to fettuccine, commonly used with tomato and meat-based sauces.

8.     Vermicelli: Thin pasta is either made from semolina or rice and is perfect for olive oil-based dishes or soups. 

Short Pasta: Short pasta comes in various shapes and works well with thick, chunky sauces. It's often paired with meat and vegetables. Here are some examples:

9.    Elbows: Small, curved pasta used in macaroni, cheese, or casseroles.

10.  Penne: Hollow and cylindrical, great for holding flavorful sauce.

11.  Fusilli: Spiral-shaped and ideal for grabbing extra sauce or dressing, often used in pasta salads.

12.  Campanelle: Cone-shaped with ruffled edges, perfect for mac and cheese with a twist.

13.  Casarecce: Tubular and twisted, holds sauce well due to its hollow shape.

14.  Cavatappi: Corkscrew-shaped, great for trapping sauce and adding excitement to dishes.

15.  Radiatori: Resembles radiators, adds a unique touch to soups and casseroles.

16.  Rotini: Spiral-shaped, similar to fusilli but with a tighter spiral, versatile for various sauces.

17.  Farfalle: Bow tie-shaped, adds charm to pasta salads or creamy bowls of pasta.

18.  Gemelli: Twisted strands that resemble DNA strands, a great alternative for sauce-based pasta recipes.

19.  Rotelli: Bite-sized, wheel-shaped pasta suitable for soups and sauce-based recipes.

20.  Rigatoni: Cylindrical with straight edges, similar to penne but without slanted edges.

21.  Orecchiette: Shell or ear-shaped, pairs well with creamy sauces or oil-based pasta recipes.

22.  Ziti: Cylindrical with straight edges, commonly used in baked ziti or tomato-based dishes.

23.  Conchiglie: Shell-shaped pasta, available in different sizes, ideal for thick or meaty gravies.

24.  Orzo: Rice-shaped pasta, adds texture to soups or tastes great in salads.

25.  Ditalini: Small cylindrical pasta, perfect for recipes like minestrone soup or pasta fagioli. 

Sheet Pasta: Sheet pasta refers to thin and flat pasta sheets, commonly used for layering in dishes like lasagna.

26.  Lasagne: Flat sheets layered with cheese and meat sauce, a classic comfort food.

27.  Filled Pasta: Filled pasta is stuffed with various fillings and adds an element of surprise to dishes.

28.  Tortellini: Donut-shaped pasta filled with cheese or meat, often served with broth or tomato soup.

29.  Ravioli: Square-shaped pasta with various fillings, perfect for both store-bought and homemade options.

30.  Manicotti: Large-sized penne noodles, ideal for filling with cheese and sauce or baking in casseroles.

31.  Cannelloni: Tube-shaped pasta with no ridges, great for stuffing with cheese, spinach, or other fillings.

32.  Jumbo shells: Large shell-shaped pasta, perfect for stuffing with cheese or other delicious fillings.

33.  Mezzelune: Crescent-shaped pasta, hand-rolled and filled with the filling of your choice.

With these 33 types of pasta in your culinary repertoire, you can now explore a vast array of exciting recipes. From simple classics to innovative creations, pasta offers endless possibilities to satisfy your cravings. So, grab your favorite pasta shape, get creative with sauces, and enjoy the delightful world of pasta!


What is the best way to cook pasta?
Cooking pasta involves boiling it in a pot of salted water until it reaches the desired tenderness, which can vary based on personal preference. It's recommended to follow the cooking instructions on the pasta package for guidance. Generally, pasta should be cooked al dente, meaning it is firm to the bite. This ensures a pleasant texture and prevents it from becoming mushy.
How much pasta should I cook per person?
A typical serving size of pasta is around 2 ounces (56 grams) per person for dried pasta or 4 ounces (113 grams) per person for fresh pasta. However, individual appetites can vary, so you may adjust the portion size accordingly. It's always a good idea to prepare a bit more than necessary to account for seconds or leftovers.
How do I prevent pasta from sticking together?
To prevent pasta from sticking together, make sure to use a large pot with ample water. The general guideline is to use 4 to 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta. Stir the pasta occasionally during cooking to keep it separated. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water can also help prevent sticking, but it may affect the texture and make it more difficult for sauce to adhere to the pasta.
How long does cooked pasta last in the refrigerator?
Cooked pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. It's essential to cool it down quickly after cooking by rinsing it with cold water to prevent bacterial growth. Store the pasta in an airtight container or sealed bag to maintain freshness. When reheating, you can do so in a microwave or by briefly tossing it in a pan with some sauce or oil.
Are there gluten-free pasta options available?
Yes, there are gluten-free pasta options available for those with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions. These pasta alternatives are typically made from ingredients like rice, corn, quinoa, or legumes. They can be found in many grocery stores or specialty health food stores. It's important to check the packaging and labels to ensure they are certified gluten-free if it's a requirement for you.