13 Delicious Types Of Pasta & Their Uses

Did you know that there are believed to be over 350 different types of pasta? 

To be honest, this isn’t a surprise as pasta is by far one of the best and most versatile foods we can eat.

Made from eggs, water, and flour, this Italian classic comes in an astonishing array of shapes and sizes and can be used in a virtually endless variety of ways.

13 Delicious Types Of Pasta & Their Uses

It’s also one of the simplest ingredients to use. Boiled in water and dressed up with a sauce and protein, pasta can be the perfect quick dinner or a fine dining delight. 

However, as good as pasta is, we have a tendency to stick to the same types of it time and time again. With endless possibilities at your disposal, we want to help you try a wider range of pasta.

Therefore, we’ve put together a list of 13 awesome kinds of pasta you need to try. If you want some Italian inspiration, keep reading!

1. Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta)

The first pasta on our list is Farfalle, otherwise known as the bow tie pasta (see also ‘23 Bow Tie Pasta Recipes To Wow Your Family And Friends‘).

Despite its exotic-sounding name, farfalle pasta is a simple, yet delicious pasta that you’ll find in a range of different creamy pasta dishes. 

One of the best things about this type of pasta is its shape. Thanks to the grooves on each bow tie, all the tasty sauce the pasta is soaked in is delightfully kept inside. This makes the next bite as good as the last.

Compared to other types of pasta, there isn’t as much you can do with farfalle, however, it does have some strange uses too.

For example, you could see your child’s art project scattered with these charming pieces of pasta.

Our favorite farfalle recipe involves cooking the pasta in a creamy bacon sauce with cheese, veggies, and bacon. For us, you can’t go wrong with a good cheesy, creamy pasta dish. 

2. Elbows

We don’t know what it is about pasta and children’s artwork, but there’s a very good chance that it was in Kindergarten that you first saw the next type of pasta on our list.

Elbow macaroni noodles might make a good art project, but it makes an even better mac & cheese. Small, half-circle shapes, there’s just something special about this pasta when it’s drowned in a stunning creamy, cheesy mixture.

Aside from being a great pasta to use in a range of pasta dishes, elbow macaroni noodles are also a solid choice for anyone looking for a casserole noodle. They soak up flavors brilliantly and don’t fill you up too quickly.

The macaroni and cheese recipe we’ve linked for you is arguably the best one you can use if you want to unleash this type of pasta’s potential.

Gooey, rich, creamy, and extremely cheesy, there’s nothing better than a bowl of this mac & cheese after a long day at work.

3. Spaghetti

Let’s face it, spaghetti is the go-to pasta for most people. It’s super versatile, easy to cook, and most importantly, delicious.

Used in a wide range of pasta dishes, spaghetti is probably the messiest pasta out there. Surprisingly long and thin, this pasta often seems like it’s alive. Battling to keep it on your fork before shoveling it down is quite the challenge.

While spaghetti strands can be extremely thin, they can be cylindrical or flat. 

Interestingly, the history behind spaghetti is unknown. Having said that, many historians believe that the pasta was introduced to Europe by barbarians when they invaded Sicily.

Used in a classic spaghetti bolognese or chili con carne instead of rice, spaghetti is one of the easiest types of pasta to make from scratch. 

By simply combining water, flour, and durum flour, we are left with the pasta dough that can then be flattened and cut into the famous spaghetti shape.

Similar pastas to spaghetti include bucatini, fettuccine, and linguine.

4. Tagliatelle

The next pasta on our list is tagliatelle. Tagliatelle isn’t that much different from spaghetti. Like spaghetti, this pasta is long and thin. However, the main difference is that tagliatelle is always flat.

Sold in tight balls, tagliatelle is better suited to creamy dishes. On the other hand, spaghetti better suits tomato-based dishes.

Very similar to fettuccine, tagliatelle is most commonly used in carbonara. However, it isn’t actually the traditional pasta used for this pasta dish. As you may have guessed, that pasta is once again spaghetti.

Tagliatelle also pairs well with red meats. If we’re using tagliatelle to make tasty pasta, we tend to go with carbonara or creamy mushroom pasta.

We also enjoy our tagliatelle with pork and vegetarian dishes.

When it comes to making tagliatelle, it is arguably the most common type of pasta people make at home. That is because it is much easier to make flat pasta.

This tagliatelle pasta recipe from Great Italian Chefs will help you make your own tagliatelle with ease.

5. Gnocchi

Gnocchi is actually quite a controversial type of pasta that has caused great debate all over the world. The reason for this is that many people don’t believe it should be classed as a type of pasta at all.

That is because technically, gnocchi is closer to a dumpling than it is to pasta. However, it still makes our list as most people treat it and use it just like pasta. 

Making gnocchi is very different from other types of pasta. Instead of just needing flour, water, and eggs, you also need salt and potatoes to make gnocchi.

Yes, you read that right, you need potatoes to make gnocchi! In fact, you don’t actually need the eggs either.

The potatoes used to make gnocchi are boiled and mashed. They are then combined with water, salt, and flour until a dough is formed. The dough is then rolled into thick cylinders.

These cylinders are then cut into smaller chunks and rolled with a gnocchi paddle. 

Gnocchi is a very filling pasta that can be stuffed. It is usually served without a filling and goes with any type of sauce (see also ‘What Does HP Sauce Actually Taste Like And Does It Taste Good?‘). It is very common to serve gnocchi with herbs and olive oil.

6. Lasagna

When it comes to family-friendly meals that are filling, packed with flavor, and full of different textures, a traditional lasagna takes some beating. 

Lasagna is a type of pasta that takes the shape of a sheet. Unfortunately, this unique shape makes it one of the least versatile types of pasta out there.

These sheets can be smothered in a sauce like spaghetti, but it would be more awkward due to their shape and size.

As a result, lasagna sheets are specifically designed to be eaten in a lasagna.

There are debates as to whether lasagna sheets should be cooked a little first before being put in a lasagna, but either way, the pasta becomes both soft and crispy.

The crispy texture of the sheets gives lasagna dishes a more unique texture.

Generally speaking, if you decide to cook the sheets first, they will come out of the oven softer and soggier. 

The best lasagna will include beef, pork, crushed tomatoes, a variety of sauces, and an array of different vegetables and cheeses. 

7. Fusilli

Next, we have fusilli. Like spaghetti, fusilli is a go-to type of pasta eaten by millions of people all over the world.

In terms of shape, this pasta features a unique series of twists. It has a similar appearance to a corkscrew. Traditionally, fusilli is made by spinning the pasta using a small rod.

The rod forces the pasta dough to twist into the corkscrew shape.

However, because of its popularity, fusilli is now made on a mass scale using a large industrial machine. 

The pasta is passed through the machine. As the pasta makes its way through, it is twisted and cut into smaller, more manageable pieces.

When it comes to using this kind of pasta, people typically use it in a tomato-based pasta dish. It is also commonly used in a range of pasta bake recipes

Thanks to its versatility, we can also use fusilli with a wide variety of ingredients. Personally, we like to use this pasta with Mediterranean veggies, cheese, and tomato sauce. A fusilli with spinach and asiago cheese is also pretty great.

8. Penne

Despite the differences in shape, penne is very similar to fusilli. Both types of pasta are widely used, both are fairly small in size, and both work well with a wide range of ingredients.

Penne pasta is a short, tubular type of pasta that features small ridges along its sides. Its ends are cut at an angle to give the pasta a more attractive appearance.

Penne pasta is one of the simplest kinds of pasta to use when making a tasty bolognese or ragu. Having said that, it is also incredibly versatile, making it a good choice for a range of dishes.

We tend to make tomato basil penne pasta with our penne, but we also enjoy a deliciously creamy dish too.

Thanks to its plain shape and small size, penne pasta is a great pasta to use when feeding children. You can easily make a plain, tomato-based pasta or pasta bake for your kids, and they’ll always come back wanting more. 

To make a penne pasta bake, add dried penne to a dish with pasta sauce, cheese, and vegetables.

The penne will cook in the sauce, absorbing flavors as it goes.

9. Ravioli

The next pasta on our list is ravioli. Ravioli is a slightly different type of pasta that offers something more unique.

Surprisingly easy to make from scratch, ravioli is made by laying out one wide strip of pasta. After the pasta has been laid out, meat, mushrooms, cheese, or vegetables can be placed on the pasta at different intervals.

A second strip of wide pasta is then added on top. The two strips are then cut into small squares with a special serrated wheel knife. This knife looks a bit like a pizza wheel.

Each square is then sealed by hand and boiled until cooked. 

More often than not, people will only eat ravioli in small amounts. The size of an individual ravioli can also vary in size. Some people will make five or six small pieces, while others will make three big pieces.

A popular ravioli recipe is to make your own homemade four-cheese ravioli. Made in two hours, this type of ravioli is rich, creamy, soft, and flavorful. The ravioli can be served with a dressing or tomato sauce.

10. Tortellini

Ravioli has a sibling in tortellini. Very similar to ravioli in the way it is made, tortellini is another parcel-like pasta. The main difference between the two is that tortellini has a different shape.

While ravioli is cut into basic squares, the shape of tortellini is more complex. Tortellini is a circular type of pasta that twists around the filling. Once twisted, the pasta is pinched together using your fingers.

The end result is a ring-shaped pasta. One side stays thin, while the other is loaded with the filling. 

In terms of what you can fill your tortellini with, the options are endless. You could put cheese and ham, chorizo and spinach, spinach and cheese, or just cheese in your tortellini to name just a few combinations.

The most traditional types of tortellini are filled with meat, egg, nutmeg, and cheese.

When ready, tortellini is most commonly served with a tomato or cream sauce. Others like to serve it with a broth too.

11. Gemelli

Next up, we have Gemelli pasta. At first glance, this type of pasta looks like two thin, small pieces of pasta rope twisted together. However, upon further inspection, you’ll realize that it is in fact, just one piece of pasta.

The pasta noodle is simply twisted in a way that makes it look like two pieces of pasta.

In many ways, this type of pasta actually looks like a miniature version of fusilli. Much smaller in size, Gemelli is a versatile pasta that can be used in a wide range of dishes and served with a variety of sauces, vegetables, and meats.

It is amazing at absorbing sauce and can be cooked quickly. Most people use the pasta to make a leafy pasta salad, or tomato and basil pasta bake. However, we love this tomato and mascarpone Gemelli recipe.

Made in just 25 minutes, this pasta dish is fresh, light, sweet, creamy, and super-rich. The lightness of the Gemelli makes it a great summer dish.

Make sure you use a variety of Mediterranean veggies to take the recipe to the next level.

12. Shell Pasta

We’re pretty sure you know exactly what shell pasta is. Hugely popular, shell pasta is exactly what its name would suggest. It’s a type of pasta that is shaped like a seashell. 

Shell pasta can be incredibly small or very large, there never seems to be an in-between. It also happens to be another pasta that will probably feature a lot in your child’s kindergarten art projects.

When it comes to cooking with shell pasta, we can use it in the same ways we use penne and fusilli. Having said that, it isn’t really the best choice of pasta for a pasta bake.

Large shell pasta is typically more versatile as it can be stuffed and baked in a variety of sauces. The shells taste best when a little al dente. 

The recipe above shows you how to stuff your shell pasta with four different kinds of cheese before baking them in a tomato sauce.

The most common ingredients used to stuff shell pasta are usually spinach and ricotta.

13. Rigatoni

The final kind of pasta on our list is rigatoni. Rigatoni looks like a sibling to the more popular penne. However, it would have to be a big brother or sister as it is much bigger. 

Also cylindrical in shape, rigatoni has curved ridges and a slightly stumpier shape. Much wider than penne, rigatoni isn’t cut at an angle at the ends either. 

The gaping center of rigatoni gives us the chance to stuff the pasta with ingredients. It also makes this type of pasta much better at trapping in flavors. 

As a result, we have come to expect every bite of rigatoni to be filled with a creamy and cheesy mouthful of flavor. 

If we’re in a rush and need a quick and easy dinner, we love nothing more than a tomato cream rigatoni recipe. Rich, full of flavor, and super easy to make, this dish is a great quick dinner that can be made for the whole family.

Rigatoni also goes well in a butternut squash pasta recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Is The Most Popular Type Of Pasta?

There are a handful of different types of pasta that could be considered the most popular. This includes penne, fusilli, and spaghetti.

However, out of the three, spaghetti is generally considered the most popular.

What Is Pasta Made Out Of?

Most pasta is made out of water, eggs, and flour. However, some kinds of pasta like gnocchi are also made out of potato, water, salt, and flour.

How Many Pasta Dishes Are There?

Unbelievably, there are approximately 600 different pasta dishes out there at the moment. One thing for certain is that you won’t run out of any recipes any time soon.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our list of delicious kinds of pasta you need to try.

Pasta is incredibly versatile, going well with just about anything. However, some types of pasta are better than others depending on the recipe. For example, lasagna sheets are much better for a lasagna recipe than penne.

On the other hand, lasagna sheets don’t work in spaghetti bolognese. In this article, we’ve shown you what you can use different types of pasta for. We’ve also shown you the different types of pasta you can try.

Sticking with the same types of pasta time and time again is easy, but now, you have no excuse but to try something new.

We’ve given you everything you need to try something new, so get out there and give a new type of pasta a try. You have over 350 to choose from!

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