Pasta Glossary

Pasta Glossary

Here’s a pasta glossary to help you determine the best choice of pasta to use to make the greatest Italian dishes.



Pasta comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Different pastas are used for different reasons. Pastas that twist are used with meaty sauces, long flat pastas are used in casseroles, and small round pastas are used to add some substance to soups.


  • Acini di pepe – very tiny pellet shaped pasta mainly used in soups.

  • Anellini – medium tube pasta cut into rings also used mainly for soups

  • Bucatini – thick spaghetti like pasta with a hole throughout the middle. Normally this Pasta is used with cheese or pesto sauces.

  • Candele – long tube shaped pasta used with hearty thick sauces.

  • Cannelloni – large tube shaped pasta used for stuffing a variety of different meats and cheeses.

  • Capellini – very thin light pasta great for soups, shrimp or scallop dishes.

  • Conchiglia – tiny shell shaped pasta used in soups.

  • Ditalini – very little tubular pasta used in baked dishes and soups.

  • Elbow Macaroni – small curved shape pasta.

  • Farfalle – pasta shaped like bow ties used with any sauce and great for salads or soups.

  • Fettucini – long flat spaghetti type pasta great with alfredo sauce and seafood dishes,

  • Funchetti – small mushroom shaped pasta for soups.

  • Fisilli – long corkscrew shaped pasta great with meat sauces and baked dishes.

  • Gnocchi – dumpling type pasta normally made with potatoes or ricotta.

  • Lasagne – large flat noodles used in casserole type dishes.

  • Linguine – thin flat past great with oil-based sauces.

  • Manicotti – Thick tube pasta used for stuffing.

  • Mostaccioli – medium sized tube pasta with the ends cut on an angle.

  • Orecchiette – small curved pasta shaped like little ears great for soups.

  • Orzo -small pasta shaped like rice used in soups.

  • Penne – small quill type mostaccioli goes great with sauces, salads or casseroles.

  • Radiatore – a ruffled ridged shaped pasta works well with casseroles, salads and soups.

  • Ravioli – square shaped pasta stuffed with cheese, meats or vegetables.

  • Rigatoni – thick ridged tubes great with chunky meat or cheese sauces.

  • Rotini – twisted shape pasta used with meat sauces.

  • Shells – large shell shaped pasta used for stuffing.

  • Spaghetti – long pasta ranging from very thin to thin.

  • Tagliatelli – very thin flat pasta used with cream sauces.

  • Tortellini – little round pastas stuffed with cheese or meat.

  • Vermicelli – very thin long pasta used in soups or sauces.

  • Ziti – medium sized tube pasta perfect for chunky sauces.

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