Types of Pasta

Deciding on what type of pasta to choose and which shape best suits the meal you want to cook, has never been easier. We've created a list of the most popular types of pasta,

Types of pasta

Pasta is one of the most popular ingredients in the world. Supermarkets have shelves stacked full to the brim of the different kinds of pasta that seem to come in every shape and size. Deciding on what type of pasta to choose and which one will be best suited for your pasta dinner can be quite daunting. You may even think to yourself, that all pasta is the same. I mean, it’s all made from the same ingredients, right? While this is true, most kinds of pasta that you buy from the supermarket are made with the same ingredients flour, water, and sometimes eggs.

The real big difference is the shapes and forms that pasta comes in. Each shape is best suited to a different type of dish and serves different purposes. For example, the thickness of your sauce can depend on what shape of pasta is best.

Types of pasta

No wonder why people find it overwhelming to decide which pasta to buy, with over 600 different shapes of pasta to choose who wouldn’t?
To make choosing the right type of pasta for your next pasta dinner easier, we have created a list of the most popular types of pasta with pictures included, and tell you how to cook each pasta and what to serve with the different types.

Pumpkin Pasta in a bowl with Parmesan cheese and rocket

16 Most Popular Types of Pasta


Spaghetti is the most popular out of all pasta by far. It can be found in most supermarkets around the world. To be honest, I would be shocked if you couldn’t find a pack of spaghetti at your local shop. Spaghetti is quite versatile; its long thin strands go well with tomato-based marinara sauces, ragu sauces made with ground beef and vegetables, seafood sauces, and delicious pestos.



Linguine pronounced “Lin-GWEE-nee” is a pasta very similar to spaghetti, but has a much flatter surface. Linguine pasta has extra surface to fill and is usually paired with lighter or oil-based sauces such as pestos, thin cream-based sauces, salad dressings, and seafood sauces. Linguine is perfect for stir fry dishes and mixing in with salads.



Fusilli is a flat pasta that has been twisted into little spring-like shapes. This type of pasta goes well with oil-based sauces such as pestos or salad dressings. The curves of the pasta pieces hold the oil-based sauces well, as the sauce tends to get trapped in the little groves, meaning that you’ll have pasta packed with flavor in every bite.



The word “penne” translates to the English word “pen”, its round shape and pointed edges were said to be inspired by the quill. Penne pasta pairs well with most sauces but is perfect for chunky vegetable and meaty bolognese. The tubes catch and carry the thick sauces guaranteeing filled pasta straight to your mouth.

Penne pasta


The tiny elbow-shaped pasta tubes are normally used in the famous macaroni and cheese recipe. Traditionally, macaroni and cheese are baked in an oven in a casserole dish. However, in more recent times, the cheesy sauce is prepared in a saucepan on the hob and the pasta is stirred in once cooked. Macaroni is the perfect shaped pasta for catching the semi-thick cheesy sauce in its small curved tubes.

Macaroni Pasta


Lasagne or also spelled lasagna is made up of a flat wide sheet of pasta and is usually used in the oven-baked lasagne recipe. Yes, you read that right; the pasta itself is also the name of the dish. Traditional lasagne is made up of four main components; lasagne sheets, a vegetable or meaty-based ragu sauce, white sauce, and then topped with cheese. The lasagne pasta sheets are placed between the different layers to keep everything in place and is then sliced and served in neat squares.

Lasagne Pasta Sheets


Ravioli is a square pillow-like shaped pasta that is normally filled with cheese, vegetables, or meat, and sometimes even combinations of the three. Usually, ravioli is found in the fridge section of the supermarket. It only takes 3 to 4 minutes to cook and is served with a hot tomato or cheese-based sauce.

Ravioli pasta


Tortellini is very similar to ravioli, but instead of two layers of square pasta being filled, and then crimped together, it’s made by folding the filling into almost tiny croissant-like shapes. Tortellini is usually stuffed with meat or cheese and is traditionally served in a broth.

Tortellini pasta


Tagliatelle comes in long flat ribbons and is around 6 millimeters wide. You’ll often see dried tagliatelle pasta twisted into small nests; they are sold this way to prevent the thin and delicate wide flat surfaces from sticking to one another when boiling. Tagliatelle is perfect for both thin sauces, such as thin seafood sauces made with white wine and lemon juice, or chunky veg and meatball-based ragu recipes.

Tagliatelle Pasta


Rigatoni is very similar to penne pasta. They’re large round tubes that are smooth on the inside and have ridges over the outside that capture your gorgeous thick meaty sauces. Rigatoni is perfect for using in baked pasta dishes as the tubes of pasta hold their shape and texture well during the cooking process.

Rigatoni Pasta


Farfalle has to be one of the prettiest pasta shapes out there. The Italian word “farfalle” translates to “butterflies” but is more commonly referred to as the bow tie pasta. To make farfalle pasta at home, simply roll out your pasta dough, cut it into small rectangles, and pinch the centers together to create a bow tie shape. This type of pasta pairs well with thick, cheesy, and rich ragu sauces as the flat surface of the bow ties holds the sauces perfectly.

Farfalle pasta


Ruote pasta is one of the most versatile kinds of pasta. Its famous wagon wheel shape adds a fun decorative impact to so many recipes. The small spokes of the ruote pasta are perfect for capturing thin liquids such as soups, oil-based sauces found in salads, and thick meaty ragus. The shape of the ruote pasta is also brilliant to use in both baked and boiled recipes.

Ruote pasta


Cannelloni is usually sold as large pre-made tube-shaped pasta, but can also be bought as a flat pasta that looks similar to lasagna sheets. The large tubes of cannelloni are normally stuffed with fillings such as spinach and ricotta cheese, but can also be filled with meaty bolognese. Cannelloni doesn’t need to be boiled before stuffing with your choice of fillings, as the tubes of pasta soften as they are baked in the oven.

Cannelloni pasta


Manicotti is very similar to cannelloni, but the tubes of pasta are larger, a little thicker, and have ridges over the surface. This type of pasta is usually filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, and sometimes even stuffed with a meaty bolognese; it’s then topped with a simple tomato-based ragu sauce, and baked in the oven. The easiest way to fill a tube of manicotti is to use a piping bag like the ones you would use to frost a cake; you can thank me for that tip later.

Manicotti pasta


Fettuccine is the pasta of choice for the famous Alfredo sauce. Its long flat thick ribbons are perfect for capturing the traditional Italian sauce made with butter, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper. The only way to enjoy this traditional Italian pasta is by eating like the Italians do, twirling the fettuccine around your fork, and only your fork. Fettuccine pronunciation is fay-tuh-CHEE-nee.

Fettuccine pasta


Conchiglie pronounced Con-KEEL-yay, is a seashell-shaped pasta. Its conch shell shape makes for a brilliant all-round pasta, that can be baked in casseroles, boiled and topped with your choice of sauces, used in salads, and is also a perfect addition to hearty homemade soups. The seashell-shaped pasta also comes in two other sizes the large size is called conchiglioni and is usually stuffed with meat or cheese, and the smallest size is called conchigliette, which you’ll normally use in soups or broths.

Conchiglie pasta

Why Fresh Pasta Is Better Than Dried?

Fresh pasta is far superior to dried pasta for a variety of reasons. From its superior texture and taste to its nutritional benefits, there are a multitude of reasons why fresh pasta is the better choice over dried. Its higher water content and lack of preservatives means it is much more delicious and healthier for you than dried pasta. Additionally, the texture of fresh pasta is much smoother and more luxurious than that of its dried counterpart. On the other hand making dried pasta from scratch takes longer. Dried pasta cooks faster and is more shelf-stable, so you can have your favorite Italian dishes ready in less time.

Now that you’ve learnt all there is to know about the most popular types of pasta, it’s time to get cooking. Choose from our pasta recipes and get busy in the kitchen. Pesto pasta and our pumpkin pasta are very popular recipes and are both easy to make, plus they taste absolutely delicious.

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If you tried and like this recipe, let us know in the comments below or on social media using #lovefoodfeed and tag us @lovefoodfeed. We love to read your feedback and see your take on our favorite recipes. Remember, cooking is meant to be enjoyable, so get creative and have fun. If you try and like this recipe, let us know in the comments below or on social media using #lovefoodfeed and tag us @lovefoodfeed. We love to read your feedback and see your take on our favorite recipes. Remember, cooking is meant to be enjoyable, so get creative and have fun.