18 Pasta Varieties (The Wide Varieties of Pasta)

Fresh pasta, focused shot.

Pasta comes in all shapes, sizes, and tastes. It is thought to have been brought to Italy by Marco Polo from his journey to china. It is made from rice flour, wheat flour, water, and eggs, and it was also a part of the food of ancient Asians.

These kinds of pasta can be divided into four groups;

  1. Long pasta that includes Spaghetti, Lasagna, Vermicelli, Fettuccine, Linguine, and others.
  2. Tube pasta. In this group belong Bucatini, Penne, Pipe rigate, Riccioli, Rigatoni, Tubini etc.
  3. Soup pasta. Pastina, Orzo, Ditalini, Alphabet, Orecchietti are soup pastas.
  4. Stuffed Pasta. The tortellini and the Ravioli are stuffed pasta.
  5. Specially shaped pasta. The names that come under this group are Gigli, Rotini, egg noodles, cavatelli, route, tripoli, and a few more.

Picking the right pasta for your pasta recipes is extremely important. The wrong choice of pasta for a particular dish will most certainly ruin it. Knowing about a few basic kinds of pasta will help you choose the one you require for your dish, which in turn will elevate the flavor and texture of your great pasta dish.

So here we mention some varieties of pasta and their characteristics that will hopefully help you to decide on which type of pasta to pick for which kind of dish and sauce.

Types of Pasta

Angel Hair or Capellini D’angelo

These are very delicate and fine noodles that take about three to five minutes to cook. They go best with sauces, olive oil, seafood, butter and cream.

Elbow Macaroni

These are small tubes in the shape of a ‘C’. Their cooking times range between six to eight minutes. Salads, soups and baked dishes are what this pasta is best used for. The ideal sauce to go with this pasta is cheese and butter.

Farfalle (Bowties)

The word Farfalle means butterflies, and these resemble bowties. They require 10 to 12 minutes to cook. They are best for tossing with salads and sauces.


Little ribbons, as they are also called, are flat egg noodles, only one-fourth of an inch wide. And as long as spaghetti. They also need 10 to 12 minutes to cook. These are best coupled with seafood, chicken or alfredo sauce. In addition, it can also be paired with cream sauces and thin ones as the pasta easily gets soaked with the flavors of the sauce.

Fusilli or Rotini

A bowl of raw rotini pasta.

The word fusilli means little spindles, and rotini is the word for twists or spirals. These are about one and a half inches long and require 8 to 10 minutes of cooking time. It is also called corkscrew pasta. Mix the fusilli with sausages in a hot chili sauce and get the perfect combination of flavor and taste. Use them for baking and salads.

Jumbo Shells

The name is self-explanatory. They are shell-shaped and large and take a little longer, around 11 to 13 minutes, to cook. They are best for baking and stuffing!


With a cooking time of between 10 to 12 minutes, these are flat spaghetti-length noodles and are about one-eighth inch wide. The linguine pasta is longer and narrower than the spaghetti pasta. It can be partnered with many different kinds of sauces.


Pasta orecchiette , small, ear shape pasta type.

Meaning little ears; these are disc-shaped, small, and concave. It takes about 10 to 12 minutes to cook.


This pasta is in the shape of rice grains. It needs 9 to 11 minutes of cooking time and is good for soups and salads.


Long and flat, these noodles are ⅝ inch long and take 7 to 10 minutes to cook. These are the largest of the ribbon-shaped pasta.

Spaghetti or Little Strings

The most popular of all types of pasta is spaghetti. Kids love it, and it’s the most cooked food at home. And of course, almost all restaurants serve varieties of this pasta. The traditional red sauce or the tomato sauce goes best with this pasta, together served with meatballs.

Penne Pasta

These come in a small cylinder shape. The two most popular flavors it comes with are spinach and egg. They stand out in shape due to their diagonal holes at both ends. They are recommended for dishes and sauces that are a bit heavier on the side.


The Lasagna is a flat and large rectangular sheet. The sheets are boiled before being baked. The lasagna sheets are put in between sauces as layers prior to baking in foods like beef, spinach, onions and cheese, and whatever else you can think of. Lasagna is one of the oldest pastas in the world, and its origin can be traced back to ancient Greece.


Usually a component of soups, this is the smallest type of pasta available.


This is thinner than the Lasagna, and the word fazzoletti means handkerchief. It has wavy ridges at its ends and is best served with butter, parmesan, or simply olive oil with garlic.


Prepared from semolina dough and colored by adding saffron. These are tiny dumplings and have an elongated, elegant conch shape.


Cannelloni pasta with tomato sauce and spinach stuffing on a white plate.

This is usually used for stuffing meat or cheese. These kinds of pasta are large and hollow, which makes it easy to stuff things in them.


Americans call these pasta wagon wheels. This pasta is the perfect choice for a pasta salad. Also, it can be paired with light tomato sauces, oil-based sauces, or even dairy-based ones.


Whether Marco Polo brought pasta from China to Italy or not, the fact is that the pasta is pride and symbol of their kitchen for the Italians. No Italian kitchen is complete without the pasta in it.

From the fresh and dried pasta come more than 400 exclusive varieties – Long, thin, in sheets, in strips, in cylindrical, and other unique shapes; there are more kinds of pasta in the world than a person can possibly remember.

Contrary to public belief, pasta is not at all harmful to health and does not cause obesity. In fact, pasta provides fuel to your muscles and brain because they contain glucose. It gives you sustained energy, and it is a good source of several essential nutrients like B Vitamins and Iron. It is low in Sodium too and is free of cholesterol.

For a completely healthy meal, combine your pasta with vegetables and proteins and stop that feeling of guilt that comes to your mind while consuming that delicious-looking bowl of pasta!

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