The Many Types of Dried Pasta: Ribbon/String-like Pasta

Spaghetti

“Little strings” is the literal translation of Spaghetti. These pasta noodles are long and thin strands. The word spaghetti is plural for “spaghetto” which is the Italian word for one piece of the pasta. “Spaghetto” literally means “twine” or “thin string” Spaghetti is quite popular and can be found just about anywhere in the world.

Vermicelli

When eating this pasta, try not to think about it, but its name literally means “little worms” in Italian. It is long and round and thinner than spaghetti. There is a version that is thicker and called Vermicelloni but is it still thinner than spaghetti and it is harder to find.

Capellini

This long and round pasta is thinner than spaghetti and vermicelli and its name literally means “thin hair.” In fact, you may have more commonly heard of this pasta referred to as Angel Hair pasta.

Fettuccine

The name of this pasta literally means “little ribbons” in Italian and it looks like just that. Fettuccine is made from flour and eggs and it is a thick, very flat noodle. In authentic Italian dishes, fettuccine is often made fresh. You can find it dried in your local grocery store and the dish made with this pasta that is most common in fettuccine alfredo.

Linguine

This long strand of pasta is thin and flat, like a cross between spaghetti and fettucine. In Italian, linguine literally means “little tongues.” A popular dish with this pasta is linguine and clams, or linguine al vongole

The Many Types of Dried Pasta: Tube-like Pasta

Elbow Macaroni

This pasta is a small and hollow tube that is curved into a semicircle. It somewhat resembles the shape that your elbow makes when you bend it. You will likely see this pasta used in macaroni and cheese and other casseroles.

Cannelloni

Also known as manicotti, these are usually about three to four inches long and rolled to be about one inch in diameter. Cammelloni, or manicotti, is generally boiled then stuffed with cheese and meat, or sometimes cheese and spinach, and finally covered in marinara sauce.

Penne

Penne is a type of pasta that comes from Italy. It is a tube or cylinder shped pasta with ends that are cut at an angle. If you ever hear anyone say “penna,” they are referring to more than one piece of the popular pasta. Penne comes in two styles, smooth which is known as “penne lisce” and with ridges which is known as “penne rigate.” Penne Rigate is also the kind that is generally seen in grocery stores.

Rigatoni

This pasta has a tube-like shape and is bigger than penne but it’s ends are not cut at an angle. It’s surface has ridges in it which are good for holding sauce whether it is creamy or chunky. The tube is even eide enough that it can be stuffed with soft foods like cheese or ground meats.

Cellentani

Cellentani is tube-shaped pasta that is thinner than penne but thicker than elbow macaroni, and it is formed into a spiral.

The Many Types of Dried Pasta: Decorative Pasta

Campanelle

This pasta is also referred to as gigli or riccioli at times and is shaped like a flower or a bell. It is small and commonly used in a thick sauce and is a nice way to dress up any casserole.

Conchiglie

This pasta is shaped like a shell and its name even comed from the Italian word that literally means seashell.

Conchiglioni

This is a larger version of conchiglie, the shell-shaped pasta.

Farfalle

This is a fun pasta commonly used to make attractive dishes. It is known as “bow-tie pasta” and is shaped just like a bow tie! The word “farfalle” comes from farfalla, an Italian word meaning butterfly.

Radiatori

Radiatori is pasta that is shaped like a radiator. It is small and squat shaped and sometimes they somewhat resemble rotini but this pasta has a frilly, ruffled edge and is shorter. This is another type of pasta that is used best in a thick sauce.

Rotelle

“Little wheels” is what this word literally means and the pasta is shaped like its definition. Some people even call this pasta “wagon wheels.” It looks like the wheel off of an old horse drawn carriage, the kind that has spokes

Rotini

This spiral shaped pasta is similar to Fusilli but had a tighter spiral. The word rotini comes from the Italian word that literally means twists. The twists on this pasta help it hold sauce very well and it is commonly used in pasta salads.