Know your bucatini from your ditalini?

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Isn't it amazing that one type of food can take on so many different shapes? Pasta is one of the most versatile pantry staples — simply boil water and dress it up with a little sauce and maybe some protein.

As reliable as pasta is though, we do have a tendency to go for the same types over and over again. Consider this your permission to explore the pastablilities. Some types of pasta make great vehicles for carrying rich and hearty sauces, while others are best suited for soups and salads. Here you'll learn about 27 different types of pasta, along with suggested uses and recipe inspiration.

Assorted uncooked pasta
Credit: Anadolu Agency/Contributor/ Getty Images

1. Angel Hair Pasta

The long, delicate strands of angel hair pasta (aka capellini) are best served in light or creamy sauces. The thin strands can go M.I.A. in chunky, meaty sauces.

Browse our entire collection of Angel Hair Pasta Recipes.

Tomato and Garlic Pasta
Tomato and Garlic Pasta | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

2. Bow Tie Pasta (Farfalle)

Use bow tie pasta to dress up any dish that calls for small pasta shapes, such as penne or shells. Also known as farfalle.

Browse our entire collection of Bow Tie Pasta Recipes.

Bow Ties with Sausage Tomatoes and Cream
Bow Ties with Sausage Tomatoes and Cream | Photo by Elijah

3. Bucatini Pasta

These long, hollow spaghetti-like tubes (aka perciatelli) are unusual and fun! Try them in casseroles or Asian stir-fries, or tossed with a fresh tomato sauce.

Bucatini Pasta with Shrimp and Anchovies
Bucatini Pasta with Shrimp and Anchovies | Photo by Kims Cooking Now
| Credit: Kims Cooking Now

4. Ditalini Pasta

Medium-sized, very short tubes with smooth sides. Like most short pasta shapes, ditali are excellent used in soups, pasta salads, and to stand up to chunky sauces.

Ditalini with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese
Ditalini with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese | Photo by Baking Nana

5. Egg Noodles

These noodles add heartiness to soups, stews, and casseroles, and their flat shape makes them the ideal vehicle for cream sauces.

Browse our entire collection of Egg Noodle Recipes.

Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole
Quick and Easy Tuna Casserole | Photo by dustysun

6. Fettuccine Pasta

Fettuccine is an egg pasta cut into long, narrow ribbons. It is often served with cream sauces, as in the classic Fettuccine Alfredo. You can use fettuccine in any recipe that calls for linguine or spaghetti.

Browse our entire collection of Fettuccine Recipes.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Chef John's Creamy Mushroom Pasta | Photo by Chef John
| Credit: Chef John

7. Fusilli Pasta

This long, thick, spiral-shaped pasta adds an unexpected twist to any recipe that calls for spaghetti. It's crevices are perfect for carrying thick sauces, but it's often also used in pasta salads.

Browse our entire collection of Fusilli Recipes.

Salami Lover's Italian Pasta Salad
Salami Lover's Italian Pasta Salad | Photo by CookinBug
| Credit: CookinBug

8. Gemelli Pasta

A short, spiral pasta, versatile gemelli works well in hearty sauces, baked dishes, and lighter vegetable pasta dishes.

Pasta and Peas
Pasta and Peas | Photo by Tony

9. Gnocchi

These chewy little pasta dumplings — traditionally made from potatoes — are usually boiled and served with rich sauces. Tomato-based or herb and butter sauces also work well.

Browse our entire collection of Gnocchi Recipes.

Chef John's Basil Ricotta Gnocchi
Chef John's Basil Ricotta Gnocchi | Photo by FNChef
| Credit: FNChef

10. Lasagna

The name for this long, wide noodle is also the name for the dish. Lasagna (the noodle) can be both flat or with curly edges. Lasagna (the dish) is amazing.

Browse our entire collection of Lasagna Recipes.

World's Best Lasagna
Photo by TheWickedNoodle

11. Linguine

These long, flat noodles are slightly thicker than spaghetti. The classic Italian restaurant pairing is clam sauce, but you can use in any dish that calls for spaghetti.

Browse our entire collection of Linguine Recipes.

Sweet Italian Sausage Ragout with Linguine
Sweet Italian Sausage Ragout with Linguine | Photo by bellepepper

12. Macaroni

A small, tube-shape pasta, macaroni is terrific in creamy casseroles (like macaroni and cheese) or salads (like macaroni salad). Why? Because the creamy sauce flows into the cooked tubes, giving you flavor in every bite.

Browse our entire collection of Macaroni Recipes.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas | Photo by lutzflcat

13. Manicotti

These large-tube shaped noodles are usually filled with cheese or meat filling and baked. The surface of the pasta can be either smooth or ridged.

Browse our entire collection of Manicotti Recipes.

Microwave Mexican Manicotti
Microwave Mexican Manicotti | Photo by bd.weld
| Credit: bd.weld

14. Orecchiette Pasta

A small, bowl-shaped pasta usually combined with vegetables and oil rather than hearty sauces. The tiny indentations in the pasta will catch tasty bits of meat and veggies.

One Pan Orecchiette Pasta
One Pan Orecchiette Pasta | Photo by Linda T

15. Orzo Pasta

A tiny, rice-like pasta thats used to add heartiness to soups and salads.

Browse our entire collection of Orzo Recipes.

Parmesan Garlic Orzo
Parmesan Garlic Orzo | Photo by KGora

16. Penne Pasta

A two-inch long, tube-shaped pasta that is cut diagonally at both ends. Great with chunky meat or vegetable sauces, as bits of the meat or veggies will slide into the pasta tubes. Also sometimes called mostaccioli.

Browse our entire collection of Penne Recipes.

Penne with Chicken and Asparagus
Penne with Chicken and Asparagus | Photo by CookinBug

17. Radiatore Pasta

Short, squat, ruffled pasta similar to rotini. They look like radiators, hence the name. Like other sturdy pasta shapes, radiatore stand out in hearty sauces or tossed with veggies in a pasta salad.

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad
Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad | Photo by GodivaGirl

18. Ravioli

These little square pillows of dough are packed with finely ground or chopped fillings--from cheese to meat to pureed veggies. Serve ravioli with sauce, in soups, or just drizzled with olive oil.

Browse our entire collection of Ravioli Recipes.

Beet and Goat Cheese Ravioli
Beet and Goat Cheese Ravioli | Photo by Kim

19. Rigatoni Pasta

Short, grooved, tube-shaped "riggies" can be used in pretty much any setting, from sauces to salads to baked casseroles.

Browse our entire collection of Rigatoni Recipes.

Rigatoni alla Genovese
Rigatoni alla Genovese | Photo by Chef John

20. Rotelle Pasta

Shaped like wagon wheels (and also sometimes called by that name) these small, round pastas are fun for the kiddos. Use them to liven up goulash or mac and cheese.

Browse our entire collection of Rotelle Recipes.

Hot Wheels Pasta
Hot Wheels Pasta | Photo by Chef John

21. Rotini Pasta

These kid-friendly pastas looked like smooshed corkscrews. Often used for pasta salad since bits of vegetables will cling to the grooves in the rotini.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad | Photo by CookinBug

22. Shells

Shell pasta comes in many different sizes. Stuff large shells with cheese and bake, like you would with manicotti, use medium-sized shells in casseroles and with meat sauces, and use the smallest shells in soups and stews. Also known as conchiglie and cavatelli.

Browse our entire collection of Shell Recipes.

Stuffed Shells I
Photo by LYNNINMA

23. Spaghetti Pasta

The classic long, thin, cylindrical tubes you know and love. Spaghetti is just thick enough so it doesn't get lost in that hearty family meat sauce recipe, but thin enough to serve with cream sauce, or even with just a light dressing of olive oil and garlic.

Wedding Gift Spaghetti Sauce
Wedding Gift Spaghetti Sauce | Photo by Melissa Goff

24. Tagliatelle Pasta

A long, flat, thin noodle, similar to fettuccine. The classical pairing is with meat sauces, but you can use with light sauces as well.

Tagliatelle with Coriander Pesto
Tagliatelle with Coriander Pesto | Photo by

25. Tortellini

Stuffed rings of pasta you can eat with sauce, put in soup, or just drizzle with olive oil. Sometimes sold in different colors, with the addition of beets, tomatoes, or other dyeing agents.

Browse our entire collection of Tortellini Recipes.

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini
Photo by Allrecipes
| Credit: Allrecipes

26. Vermicelli Pasta

These long strands of pasta are thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair. You can use just as you would either of those. Also known as spaghettini.

Browse our entire collection of Vermicelli Recipes.

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl
Vermicelli Noodle Bowl | Photo by Dave Musumeci

27. Ziti

A slender, tube-shaped pasta, ziti stands up to hearty sauces and is great in baked pasta dishes.

Browse our entire collection of Ziti Recipes.

Baked Ziti I
Baked Ziti I | Photo by cookin'mama


Check out our collection of Pasta and Noodles Recipes.