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Have you ever stared at the pasta aisle and wondered how many different pasta shapes are there? What are the differences between them? And what purpose each shape serves? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

When you are in hurry and hungry at the same time, the first meal that pops into your mind is pasta. Pasta is an incredibly versatile, wholesome, and delicious ingredient enjoyed all over the world

There are many kinds to choose from, some of which are familiar. Stick around to learn all the secrets that behold the pasta world.

A Variety of Pasta Shapes

Variety of types and shapes of dry pasta.
Interesting noodles to choose from.

The Origin and History of Pastas

Initially, pasta is a traditional Italian staple made from a handful of basic ingredients. This tremendously luscious food dates back to the 14th century. However, there are some pieces of evidence that prove the existence of pasta in that region way before that time.

Besides, the fact that it was a staple food enjoyed by both the poor and the rich is what makes pasta really special. For it was considered a major source of energy for the poor. Since they used to have it plain when they could not afford the meat. While the nobles used to have it with a variety of bizarre combinations of ingredients.

Moreover, pasta had traveled throughout the continents, spread all over the world, and became an obsession. Various recipes were altered and new shapes and types were created. And those different pasta shapes are going to be our main focus. So let’s dive right into it!

Why Do We Have Different Types of Pasta?

Every one of us has encountered, cooked, or even tried different types of pasta. Whether you had it as a fancy dish or a quick on-the-go meal we all are somehow familiar with a variety of this luscious food.

Starting from the most famous pasta dishes that stole our hearts which are mac and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, and other unique dishes.

Basically, we believe that to cook a specific pasta dish we are granted the absolute freedom to grab any kind of pasta to do the trick. But that is not quite right. For as mentioned before, there are many pasta shapes to decide on.

Even though pasta is simple and made from few ingredients, that doesn’t mean that all types of pasta have the exact same components. For example, some noodles include eggs to increase the elasticity, while others don’t. Hence each type serves a specific dish and sauce density.

Different Types of Italian Pasta to Love

Mix of pasta on an old wooden table.
Short, long, or flat, they are all delicious.

Different Pasta Shapes

Different pasta types may give you the impression that the only difference between them lies in the shape. However, they differ in the ingredients, texture, and their tendency to handle the right sauce.

It is really important to get to know different pasta shapes and their uses to produce the best dish. For that specific reason, we categorized them into three main groups to help you master the world of pasta.

Long Pasta

This is probably the most common pasta category. The group’s name is derived from its long-ribbon shape.

Angel Hair

Angel hair pasta is a thin, long, and delicate type of pasta. Therefore, it does not handle thick sauces. So it better be served with light\creamy sauces, oil, or butter. Try out these two delicious recipes Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti and Wine-Free Hassle-Free Shrimp Scampi for the best angel hair pasta experience.


This long flat noodle is frequently served with the famous alfredo sauce like the one in this Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo recipe. Since it is a thick type of pasta that works perfectly well with dense sauces.


If you had seafood pasta before then you most probably have tried out linguine. It is similar to fettuccine, but it is famous for serving it with seafood. Linguine pasta also works pretty well when paired with creamy sauces.


Who is not obsessed with spaghetti? This thicker-than-angel-hair pasta is not thick or thin enough, it is somehow between these two categories. Hence it can be paired with cream sauce as in this 10 Minute Cream Cheese Pasta or absolutely thin oil-based dressing like in this amazing Tomato Parmesan Spaghetti recipe.

Short Pasta

No, penne pasta is not the only type of short noodles. There are so many and they come in various shapes and cuts.


This type of pasta is famously used in the most mouth-watering pasta dish, Best Mac and Cheese Recipe, and other cheesy casseroles like Béchamel Pasta Bake (Macaroni Béchamel). But, don’t you ask yourselves this question? Why is it always included in cheesy dishes? Well, it is because of the small curved noodles that allow the sauce to seep into it.


Farfalle aka bowtie pasta is known for its solid texture, which makes it perfect for cream-based pasta dishes or salads.


Fusilli noodles have an exotic shape ideal for pasta salads as in this Effortless Greek Pasta Salad! . It is thick, spiral, and has many twisted layers that makes it ideal for handling creamy sauces.


Penne pasta everyone! Hands down the most practical and common type of pasta. It is a tube noodle diagonally cut at the ends. Penne’s not-so-smooth texture allows the sauces to cling to the noodles. One of the best penne recipe is Gigi Hadid’s Viral Pasta Recipe (without the vodka. You must try it!


Rotelle noodle looks exactly like a wheel. These fun noodles can replace the macaroni in the mac and cheese recipe. And thanks to its shape, rotelle pasta perfectly catches the sauces and dressings you choose to pair it with.

Other Shapes


This is the name we call the wide and thin sheets of noodles. Plus, it is also the name of the dish that uses this particular pasta. The dish is a heavenly combination of ground meat, cheese, sauce, and lasagna sheets baked into perfection. Go ahead and try The Best Homemade Lasagna Recipe out to know exactly what I’m talking about.


Ravioli is a stuffed pasta dough. You can find this noodle in different sizes (large or bite-sized). Its dough has eggs which make it more flexible to fill with ground meat, cheese, or even vegetables. You can choose to either pair it with light dressing or tomato sauce.

Jumbo Shells

Jumbo shells or conchiglie, are basically large pasta shells. You can stuff them with cheese or meat before adding the sauce and baking them into the juiciest pasta dish.

The World’s Most Popular Food

Top view of a rustic wooden table filled with a large Italian pasta variety. The types of pasta included are spaghetti, orecchiette, conchiglie, rigatoni, fusilli, penne and tagliatelle.
Each type of pasta is eaten in a different way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between fresh pasta and dried pasta?

They both have different ingredients and textures. For instance, fresh pasta is smoother and more tender than dry pasta.

How to store freshly made pasta?

You can place the fresh dough in an air-tight container kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.

More Delicious Pasta Recipes to Try:

About Lama

I'm Lama, welcome to my blog where you will find simple and diverse recipes your entire family will enjoy. I am honored to connect with you through the recipes I prepare!

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