Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to Basic Pasta Shapes and What Sauces to Pair Them with

Pasta is an essential pantry staple and a well-loved dish all over the world. What’s great about it is that there are so many pasta combinations to try out; making every dish unique and delicious, depending on how you use it. To help you maximize your pasta and satisfy your carb cravings, here’s our cheat sheet to learning the basics about pasta and what sauces you should pair it with.


Pasta Lunga (long pasta)

This is the type of pasta most of us are familiar with. It is often commercially made and dried and is suited to olive oil and tomato sauces.

Examples: Angel hair pasta, spaghetti, linguini

Fettuce (ribbons)

This is best paired with rich and creamy sauces. The thinner types like fettuccine are better suited to cream-based sauces, while sturdier and wider types like pappardelle can go with meatier sauces.

Examples: Tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, tagliolini

Tubi (tubes)

The cavities of tube-type pasta are great for trapping bits and pieces of sauce, and those with ridges (such as penne) also hold sauce well.

Examples: Penne, garganelli, rigatoni, cavatappi

Forme Speciali (special shapes)

There are a wide variety of pasta shapes, from shells to ribbons, and even a pope’s hat! They generally go well with chunkier sauces, since the grooves and crevices can hold meat and sauces.

Examples: Conchiglie, gnocchi, farfalle, fusilli

Pasta per minestre (soup pasta)

These tiny pastas are adorable, and come in all shapes, from letters, stars, rice kernels, to mushrooms. One of the more popular shapes is orzi, but most of the soup pasta shapes are geared towards amusing children.

Examples: Stelline, funghetti, risoni, semi di melone

Pasta Ripiena (stuffed pasta)

Pasta can be stuffed with seafood, vegetables, meat, and cheese. Since it’s already flavorful on its own, it can simply be paired with a light butter sauce.

Examples: Ravioli, tortelloni, cannelloni

Related reads: 7 Super Easy Pasta Dishes For Those Lazy Weekday Dinners