50 Types of Pasta and Their Best Pairing Sauce

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Kaye Published: March 11, 2021 Modified: October 1, 2021

To date, there are about 350 different types of pasta noodles in existence. In this article, we’ve gathered some of the most famous ones, and also included recommendations on how to make the best pasta dishes for truly satisfying meals!

Along with spices and pizza, Italian cuisine takes pride in its pasta. Although the standard is commonly made of stretched or molded semolina dough (a basic mixture of water and semolina flour which is made of hard durum wheat), other types of pasta dough are also mixed with ingredients like eggs or potatoes. 

When cooking pasta meals, you can use either dried ones (pasta secca) or those made fresh with extra add-ons (pasta fresca). But whichever type you choose, we’re sure that you’ll never have to settle for the same dish ever again, not with this list in hand! So, continue reading to find out more about the amazing world of pasta.

Best Way to Categorize the Different Types of Pasta

types of pasta

Different types of Italian pasta can be categorized into groups according to their different pasta shapes. This is the most common way of organizing them, as their structure often determines which types of pasta sauce will work best with them. Most of the time, pasta shapes and names are connected.

Here, we have some of the most well-known types of pasta classified as either Strand, Ribbon, Tubular, Soup, Shaped, or Stuffed. 

Strand Pasta

These thin, long noodles are best paired with light sauces, particularly those which are oil-based and tomato-based. These types of pasta sauces will prevent the individual strands from sticking together without weighing them down too much.


Bowl of spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce and herb garnish

The name spaghetti is plural for “spaghetto” which translates to “little twine.” It takes after the pasta’s string-like appearance. Spaghetti noodles are long and cylindrical with a standard diameter of about 2 millimeters. Spaghetti’s thickness is great for cooking al dente, as the pasta will be chewy and firm. They also taste best smothered in classic, familiar types of pasta sauces like tomato or marinara sauce, pesto, and even butter sauces. It’s the most well-known out of all other kinds of pasta noodles around the world.  

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Italian Baked Spaghetti

Fedelini (or Fidelini)

Fedelini is Italian for “little faithful ones.” This strand pasta is also rod-like and very similar to the popular spaghetti. However, by comparison, it’s much thinner, with a diameter of only 1.4 millimeters. It’s also much skinnier than the famously slender vermicelli pasta.

Cook time: 5 to 7 minutes


Plate of vermicelli pasta in tomato sauce with ground meat and cheese

The Italians have a knack for having pasta names inspired by insects, and vermicelli is no different. Its literal translation is “little worms.” In Italy and other European countries, vermicelli is thicker than spaghetti noodles with a diameter of 2 to 2.3 millimeters. On the other hand, it’s produced thinner in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries with a thickness of only one and a half millimeters in diameter. In those places, you’ll find that vermicelli is typically skinnier than spaghetti but wider than fedelini.

Cook time: 5 to 6 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Meaty Pasta Dinner


Bowl of capellini pasta in tomato sauce, with tomato chunks and herb garnish

Capellini translates to “fine hair,” since it’s a very thin pasta. Like spaghetti, it’s also long with a cylinder shape. Usually, dried capellini strands are available in a coiled, nest-like formation. 

Cook time: 2 to 4 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Pasta Pomodoro (Olive Garden Copycat)

Capellini d’angelo (Angel Hair)

Lemon parmesan angel hair pasta with shrimp recipe

This pasta is also famously known for its English name which is “Angel Hair.” Capellini d’angelo is a thinner version of capellini, which makes it the thinnest among the strand pastas. They are also typically available as nests. 

The delicate, thin strands of angel hair pasta make it ideal for pairing with light sauces like oil-based ones. They’re also prepared Primavera-style, tossed with chunks of vegetables, and even used in loose types of pasta sauces such as in soups. They’re also a popular choice for seafood pasta recipes.  

Cook time: 2 to 4 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Lemon-Parmesan Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp

Barbine (or Barbina)

barbine barbina pasta

The name of this pasta translates to “little beards.” In terms of appearance, it’s very similar to Capellini. Much like other thin strand pastas, this type is also sold as coiled nests. Its delicate structure makes it great for smothering in light sauces and broths to make soup.

Cook time: 2 to 4 minutes

Spaghetti alla Chitarra (or Chitarra)

Fresh spaghetti alla chitarra noodles being made on a chitarra

Flickr | fugzu

Unlike other pastas that are named after their appearance, chitarra is named after the guitar-like piece of equipment used to make it. It’s a type of egg pasta that requires adding eggs into the standard flour and water pasta dough mixture. This makes the noodles more rich and flavorful. 

This strand pasta is long and its features are mostly similar to spaghetti. However, chitarra stands out thanks to its unique square shape. Compared to round strand pastas, chitarra is more suited for thicker sauces like meat-based ones.

Cook time: 10 to 13 minutes


ciriole pasta, types of pasta noodles

The name of this pasta translates to “little fingers.” Ciriole is like a slightly thicker version of Chitarra because of its squared corners. Its thickness is double that of spaghetti. It differs from chitarra since ciriole pasta doughs don’t have eggs.

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes

Ribbon Pasta

These long and flat noodles generally have better structural integrity compared to strand pastas. They also have a larger surface area. As such, these thinner ribbon pastas tend to work best with cream-based types of pasta sauces like alfredo and carbonara, and broader ones can handle meat-based sauces like ragùs or the popular bolognese used in lasagna. 


Delectable Mushroom Fettuccine Recipe

Fettuccine is one of the most popular types of ribbon pasta. Aptly, the name of this pasta translates to “little ribbons.” It is generally ten inches long and ¼-inch wide. Fettuccine noodles are narrower ribbon pastas, which is why it’s ideal for solely creamy or tomato-based sauces. You’d rarely see meat-based fettuccine recipes because the chunks of ingredients would only slide off the noodles, making it a struggle to enjoy all parts of the dish together.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes 

Recipe for Inspiration: Delectable Mushroom Fettuccine


Bowl of tagliatelle pasta in with bits of meat, grated cheese, and bits of herbs as garnish

The name of this pasta is derived from the Italian word tagliare which means “to cut.” Tagliatelle is long, flat, and typically has a width of ⅓ to ⅜ inches. This type of pasta looks similar to fettuccine, only slightly thicker. There are versions of tagliatelle that are made with eggs, while others are eggless. 

Because it’s broader than fettuccine, it can generally handle a wider range of meaty sauces like the popular bolognese. The meat options for tagliatelle ranges from the more basic pork or beef to the more exotic rabbit recipes. Although, tagliatelle also works well with meatless recipes. Tagliolini pasta is a great alternative for this variant.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes.

Recipe for inspiration: Tagliatelle with Chestnuts and Sausage

Lasagne (or Lasagna)

Lasagne or lasagna pasta casserole slices with meat, red sauce, bechamel, melted cheese, and garnished with greens

Did you know that lasagne came from a Greek word that means “cooking pot”? Lasagne stemmed from “laganon” which was the earliest form of pasta that originated in Greece. This famous ribbon pasta is ten to 13 inches long. It is also flat with a very wide surface of around two to three and a half inches. The edges of lasagne can either be flat or wavy.

To make the classic lasagna, boil the noodles before stacking them with meat and bechamel. Baking is then in order to achieve that scrumptious and lightly-caramelized casserole dish we all love. However, there are also varieties of lasagne that don’t need to be pre-cooked. Always check the packaging to know which kind you have before making a delicious, homemade pasta dish.

Cook time: 11 to 13 minutes.

Recipe for inspiration: Italian Chicken Lasagna

Linguine (or Linguini)

Bowl of linguine noodles with broccoli and chunks of meat coated in creamy white sauce

The literal translation of linguine is “little tongues.” This ribbon pasta is like a flattened version of spaghetti. Linguine noodles are long and have a ⅛-inch width on average, much narrower than fettuccine. Because of its slim structure, linguine works best with creamy white sauces or lighter ones such as the classic pesto or tomato-based sauces. Seafood and other fishy types of pasta sauces are other great pairings for linguine noodles.

Cook time: 6 to 9 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Turkey & Broccoli Alfredo 

Mafalde (or Mafalda)

Dried mafalda or mafalde noodles

Wikimedia Commons | Popo le Chien

Also known as “little queens,” the name of this pasta honored Princess Mafalda of Savoy, the second daughter of the king who ruled Italy at the time. Mafalde, as we know it today, has a width of ½ to ¾ inch, and can either have a length of around an inch to ten inches. Mafalde stands out thanks to its ruffled edges.

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes


Pappardelle pasta cooked in cream sauce with chunks of meat and herbs

The name of this ribbon pasta comes from the Italian word pappare which means “to gobble up” or “eat with joy.” Pappardelle is long and flat, with a width of ⅝ to one inch. Some variants of this pasta have flattened edges, while others are wavy. The wide noodles of pappardelle absorb thick sauces well, which is why it’s also popular to use this pasta type in stews and pot roasts.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Sausage Pasta with Cream Sauce


This ribbon pasta is unique thanks to its short, rectangular shape with fluted edges. It’s usually 1¾ to 2 inches long. This type of pasta is usually enjoyed with a cream sauce.

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes  

Trenette (or Trinette)

Dried trenette or trinette ribbon pasta noodles

Wikimedia Commons | Popo le Chien

Trenette is the plural form of the Genoese (an Italian city) word trenetta which means “string.” This is a long ribbon pasta that’s similar to mafalda but slimmer. Trenette has a width of around a fourth of an inch. In terms of sauce pairing, it’s commonly served with pesto.

Cook time: 6 to 9 minutes

Tubular Pasta

Long and short pastas with a hollow center make up this group. This unique feature makes tubular pastas ideal for smothering in loose types of pasta sauce as they will be able to penetrate the empty spaces in the middle of each of these Italian noodles. Soups, salads, and casseroles are other great ways of preparing tube pastas.

Macaroni (or Maccheroni)

Bowl of elbow macaroni or maccheroni pasta salad in cream sauce with bits of herbs and vegetables

This pasta type is named after the word maccheroni from southern Italy which used to pertain to different kinds of pasta made of semolina. Nowadays, macaroni has become synonymous with the short tubular pasta we have come to know and love. 

Some types of macaroni are thick with a length of 1¾ inches, while others are comparatively shorter. Some pasta types can also either have a smooth or a ridged surface. Elbow macaroni is a popular variant.

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes (long version), 9 to 11 minutes (short version)

Recipe for inspiration: Confetti Macaroni Salad


Bowl of penne pasta in tomato sauce, garnished with grated cheese and herbs

The name of this pasta translates to the plural form of the Italian word penna which means “quill” or “pen.” These tubes of pasta are around 1¼ to 1½ inches long and cut diagonally, giving them pointed ends which look like tips of said writing material. The two types of pasta are smooth (lisce) or ridged (rigate).

Its hollow cylinder shape, as well as the ridges on the penne rigate, hold sauces better, giving you a flavorful taste with every bite. It follows that penne is more suited for thicker meat or tomato sauces This tubular pasta is also widely used in baked pasta dishes and salads.

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Spicy Penne


Satisfying Italian Ziti With Pesto Recipe

Ziti translates to “bride and groom” as it is typically served in Sicilian wedding celebrations. It’s similar to penne in terms of size. It is ¼ inch wide and can either be 1½ to three inches or ten inches long. Ziti is best enjoyed when smothered in light sauces such as those which are oil-based or tomato-based or in baked pasta dishes.

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Italian Ziti with Pesto


Cacio e Pepe Recipe

The name of this tubular pasta translates to “little straws.” Bucatini resembles a thicker spaghetti with a hollow center. They’re a popular pasta noodle in Rome, and its raw, uncooked version is even used as a biodegradable, nature-friendly drinking straw!

Thanks to its uniquely long and tubular form, bucatini is ideal for loose sauces. One of the favorite ways of preparing bucatini is cooking it in butter sauce with traditional Italian ingredients: cured meats such as in the popular Amatriciana sauce which uses guanciale or pork jowl, cheese, veggies, and/or seafood. 

Cook time: 9 to 13 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Cacio e Pepe


Cannelloni pasta noodles stuffed with a cheese filling, with tomato sauce and cheese on top

Cannelloni is Italian for “big pipes or reeds.” It looks like a tube of pasta with a smooth surface, a width of about an inch, and a length of four inches. The usual way of preparing cannelloni is by stuffing it with meat and cheese fillings. 

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Cheese Cannelloni 


Dried cavatappi pasta noodles

Wikimedia Commons | Popo le Chien

This pasta was named after a corkscrew, with the combined words of cava meaning “extractor” and tappi which means “cap.”  Corkscrew pasta is similar to the popular macaroni, but it is short and has a unique s-like shape similar to the tool which it’s named after. 

Cook time: 9 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Baked Cavatappi with Italian Sausage


Manicotti Recipe

The name of this pasta is the plural form of “manicotto” which translates to “little sleeve.” Manicotti is a large tube pasta that is usually stuffed. It is similar to cannelloni, but with a ridged surface. 

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Sausage Manicotti 


Dried paccheri pasta noodles

Wikimedia Commons | Popo le Chien

Compared to the other tube pastas mentioned, paccheri isn’t as firm. Its name is taken from the Neapolitan word “paccharia” which means “slaps” as it “slaps around” when eaten. Paccheri is a tubular pasta with a hole that’s about an inch in width. In terms of length, it ranges from 1½ to 1¾ inches. This pasta type can also be stuffed and is usually eaten with rich, heavy sauces or even seafood.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes


rigatoni with mushrooms, rosemary and parmesan

The name rigatoni comes from the word Italian word riga which means “line”. This is thanks to the ridged surface of the pasta. Rigatoni pasta is around 1½ inches long, and half an inch wide. Unlike penne, rigatoni is larger and slightly curved, with its ends cut straight. Remember ziti, the pasta served in Sicilian weddings? It is cut straight like rigatoni, but its surface is smooth.

Cook time: 10 to 13 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Rigatoni with Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Parmesan

Shaped Pasta

This group is composed of pastas that are like no other in terms of appearance. These fun, uniquely-shaped pastas are generally firmer compared to other pasta varieties which make them ideal for creamy and meaty types of pasta sauce


Plate of campanelle pasta noodles with mushrooms and vegetables in cream sauce

Campanelle translates to “little bells,” since each noodle resembles the shape of the instrument. This pasta has frilly, ruffled edges and a fun cone-like structure where sauces can seep into.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Campanelle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


Fresh cavatelli pasta

Flickr | Dennis Wilkinson

The name of this pasta comes from the Italian action word cavare, which means “to hollow.” Cavatelli pasta noodles look like small shells or tiny hollowed-out hotdog buns. They have the shape of an elongated oblong with an indentation in the middle. Sometimes, the surface of cavatelli is also ridged. Fun fact: cavatelli is one of the oldest pastas in the world, and is typically served with a hearty pork sausage ragu. 

Cook time: 13 to 16 minutes

Recipe for inspiration:  Summer Cavatelli with Corn, Tomatoes and Zucchini


Conchiglie or shell pasta with white sauce and bits of vegetables

Conchiglie are also popularly known as “shells” because these shaped pastas look like one. They’re made of a small piece of flattened dough that caves inward, with two pointed ends at each pole. The structure of these shells makes it excellent for scooping up rich types of pasta sauces with meaty bits. They also work great when used in pasta salads!

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad 


 Farfalle or bow tie pasta in light sauce, garnished with an herb

Farfalle translates to “butterflies”, and in English-speaking countries, it is also dubbed as bow tie pasta. These names are inspired by the pasta’s special shape. Farfalle is made of flattened square or round pieces of pasta dough that have been pleated in the middle. It may also have ruffled edges. These pleated centers are great at pocketing creamy tomato or white sauces, as well as tiny ingredients.  

Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Buttery Garlic Bow Tie Pasta


Fusilli pasta in red sauce, with chunks of grilled vegetables on top

The name fusilli comes from the Italian word fuso, which means spindle. To form this type of pasta, each noodle is coiled to form a twist. This spiral pasta has pockets for sauces (from simple to creamy) and chunky veggies or meat

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Grilled Vegetables


Two pieces of dried gemelli pasta

Wikimedia Commons | E. Michael Smith (Chiefio)

Gemelli means “twins” in English. It is a type of pasta that looks like a double helix. Gemelli looks like two short cylindrical strands of loosely twisted noodles, even though it’s actually made of only one. Like fusilli, these spaces are great for holding sauces and morsels of food. 

Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes


Bowl of gnocchi with cheese and herbs

Fresh gnocchi is a popular pasta type that is uniquely made with eggs and potatoes, in addition to the usual semolina mixture. The usual shape of gnocchi is rounded, and sometimes with a ridged surface. Dried gnocchi, on the other hand, does not contain potatoes and looks like shells. 

Cook time: 2 to 4 minutes or until gnocchi rises to the surface (fresh), 8 to 12 minutes (dried)

Recipe for inspiration:  Chicken Gnocchi in Pesto Sauce 


Bowl of orecchiette with meat and broccoli

The name of this pasta translates to “little ears,” inspired by the pasta’s cupped structure. The outer surface of orecchiette is ridged, while the inside is smooth. Much like conchiglie, it has an optimal form for scooping food and liquid sauces. 

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli


Rotini pasta topped with cheese and bits of meat, and garnished with herbs

The name rotini literally translates to “little wheels.” This curly pasta type is not to be confused with fusilli, which is another pasta type with spiral noodles. Unlike fusilli wherein the noodles are arranged into a spring-like form, rotini is a twisted noodle pasta that’s extruded or formed in the shape itself. 

Cook time: 10 to 13 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Cheesy Alfredo Rotini Pasta

Rotelle (or Ruote)

Rotelle pasta or wagon wheels in tomato sauce, with chunks of tomato, ground pepper, grated cheese, and garnished with an herb

Also known as route, the name of this pasta means “little wheels” in Italy. In the US, you’ll find rotelle pasta as “wagon wheels.”  Individual pieces of rotelle look like tiny wheels with spokes that hold chunks of food well. The “wheels” have a ridged outer surface, creating an additional mechanism for carrying sauces better. 

Cook time: 9 to 12 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Rotelle Pizza Pasta with Mozzarella 


Strozzapreti is one of the oldest types of pasta. Its name sounds rather mischievous, as it translates to “priest strangler” or “priest choker.” The exact origin of this is unclear, but some accounts claim that its name reflects how ancient friars would gobble up the said pasta. This may just be a testament to how good this pasta is. 

The process of making this famed pasta varies depending on the region. However, the standard strozzapreti usually looks like a longer cavatelli with a twist. It’s about 1¼ inches long with rounded edges and a dent in the middle from both ends. Pasta makers achieve the signature slightly-spiraled shape of strozzapreti by rolling the ends of each noodle across its width.

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Stuffed Pasta

These pasta types are always freshly-made using pasta sheets and fillings. Stuffed pasta noodles come in different shapes and sizes, with a wide array of filling options. By themselves, stuffed pastas are already packed with flavor, so it’s best to cook them in light or delicate-tasting types of pasta sauces. However, they are also great to use in other pasta dishes like soups and casseroles.


 Plate of ravioli pasta with tomato sauce, garnished with cheese, herbs, ground pepper and fine salt

This is the most popular type of stuffed pasta. Two flattened pasta sheets loaded with filling in the middle form a ravioli. The usual ravioli filling is made of cheese like mild-tasting ricotta, meat, and veggies. The sheets are pressed together to seal the stuffing and then cut into the signature square ravioli shape. You’ll have a lot of sauce options for ravioli as it works well with anything from butter sauces, cream sauces, tomato sauces, to even meat broths.

Cook time: 4 to 9 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Chicken, Herb and Cheese Ravioli


Tortellini pasta in red sauce with bits of ingredients, and garnished with herbs

Tortellini is another well-known stuffed pasta. The origins of the name tortellini are unclear, but some claims state that it’s nicknamed after navels. This pasta looks similar to pansotti pasta or the “big bellies.” Tortellini is made of round or square pasta sheets that have been stuffed, and then folded into rings. Although, compared to pansotti, tortellini filling doesn’t protrude as much. 

Popular choices for tortellini fillings include pork, cured meats (like prosciutto) and sausages (mortadella), cheese (specifically Parmigiano Reggiano), herbs (rosemary and sage), as well as vegetables (carrots and snap peas). Eggs and nutmeg are also common add-ons. 

The hearty filling of fresh tortellini makes it great for a simple stock or broth soup, specifically vegetable, capon or neutered chicken stock for traditional recipes. However, other beef and poultry-based stock will do. Leftover tortellinis are not an issue, because you can cook them in a creamy cheese sauce, made specifically from Parmigiano Reggiano.

Cook time: 4 to 9 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Beef with Cheese Tortellini


Plate of stuffed agnolotti pasta

Wikimedia Commons | LukeWiller

Agnolotti works great with stuffings made of roasted meats, vegetables, cheeses, or a combination of the said ingredients. Both the sheets and ingredients are then pressed together. This stuffed pasta comes in various forms, but the most popular ones are half-circles or square-shaped. 

Cook time: 4 to 7 minutes


This pasta type is native to the north-central part of Italy. Casoncelli can be either made of one circular pasta sheet folded in itself, or two half-circle pasta sheets pressed together. Compared to agnolotti, the folds of casoncelli are much looser. 

It can be filled with different kinds of ingredients, but the most famous way of preparing this pasta is alla bergamasca (Bergamo style). This is a combination of meat, breadcrumbs or biscuit, eggs, sausages or salami, garlic, and cheese.


Plate of fagottini pasta garnished with grated cheese and herbs

The name fagottini translates to “purse,” as this pasta resembles small bundles or purses. The square or circular pasta sheets cradle the fillings at the center. If the sheets are circular, the edges are lifted upward and pinched close to the filling. On the other hand, square sheets form a pyramid-shaped fagottini. Vegetables like onions, beans, and carrots are among the most common fillings for this pasta type. However, ricotta cheese and pears are just as regularly used.  

Mezzelune (or Mezzaluna)

Batch of stuffed mezzelune pasta

Flickr | Stijn Nieuwendijk

Mezzelune, or “half-moons,” is a semi-circular egg pasta that’s around 2½ inches in diameter. Like most stuffed variants, you’ll have different filling options for this pasta. Mezzelune is a single sheet circular or oval-shaped pasta sheet, folded and crimped into a half-circle. This step seals the stuffings inside.

Cook time:  14 to 16 minutes


The name of this pasta translates to “big bellies.” Pansotti looks like a stuffed, square pasta sheet formed into a triangle. Afterward, the two opposite ends of the triangle are attached to each other, so that the pasta achieves a ring-like form. The stuffed center bulges outward, hence the name.

Cook time: 4 to 9 minutes.

Soup Pasta

This pasta group is composed of short and small pasta noodles which are typically used in soups, stews, and salads.

Acini de Pepe

Bowl of acini de pepe soup, with bits of vegetables and greens

The name of this pasta translates to “seeds of peppers.” Acini de pepe looks like small round beads that almost resemble couscous. 

Cook time: 4 to 6 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Chicken and Pasta Soup


Anelli is Italian for “rings.” This soup pasta is small and ring-like, hence its name. You’ll find this variant of pasta in pre-made canned soups. Every December 11th, we celebrate anelli pasta as part of the National Noodle Ring Day celebration.

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes 

Ditali (or Ditalini)

Bowl of ditalini tomato-based soup with vegetables

The name of this ring-like pasta translates to “thimbles,” and ditalini are “little thimbles.” Ditali is wide and short, with a length of only 0.38 to 0.45 inch and 0.35 inch in diameter. Ditalini is even smaller since its length is only 0.19 inch on average with a diameter of 0.18 inch

Cook time: 9 to 11 minutes (Ditali), 8 to 10 minutes (Ditalini)

Recipe for inspiration: Instant Pot Turkey Meatball and Ditalini Soup


The name of this pasta translates to “little mushroom,” since the individual pieces resemble the shape of said fungi. Funghini has pleated edges, a ridged surface, and ruffled edges. These physical qualities make it ideal for pocketing small amounts of soup with each spoonful.  

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Grattoni (or Grattini)

Grattoni, or “grains” in English, is another soup pasta that’s made of small pasta pieces. Compared to acini de pepe, the pieces of grattoni are pellet-like and irregularly shaped. Grattini is a smaller version of this type of pasta.

Cook time: 5 to 8 minutes


Dried orzo pasta noodles

Flickr | Steven Jackson

The name orzo literally translates to “barley.” Similar to acini de pepe, orzo is a grain-like pasta.  Its small size makes it ideal for soups, as well as for sides and salads. Each piece of orzo resembles a grain of rice which is wider in the middle with pointed ends. A larger kind of orzo is known as risoni. 

Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes

Recipe for inspiration: Orange Orzo Salad

Stelle (or Stelline)

Chicken and Stars Soup, bowl of stelle noodles in chicken broth with meat and vegetables

The meaning of this pasta’s name is “star.” Stelle pasta pieces are small and resemble the shape of said heavenly body. Its unique shape sets it apart from other soup pastas. Stelline is an even smaller form of stelle.  

Recipe for inspiration: Chicken and Stars Soup

The Pasta-bilities are Endless

With pasta, you’ll never run out of options. From choosing which type to deciding which recipe to use, the possibilities are endless! Feel free to sample our suggestions. You may also want to try experimenting by mixing your favorite types of sauce with its ideal pasta shape pairing, or vice versa! Just make sure to keep our tips in mind, and you’re all set for a flawless pasta dinner.



Kaye is a writer and a recent oat milk convert. With a background in Language Studies, she has founded a deep appreciation of cultures, traditions, and the power of words. In her spare time, she enjoys testing some of the trendiest and most accessible recipes on the internet.

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