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20 Types of Pasta & How to Use Them – Guide for World Pasta Day

Get ready to delight your tastebuds on World Pasta Day on October 25! There are roughly 350 different types of pasta, and this October food day is the perfect excuse to try one you hadn’t before.

Keep reading to learn about twenty of the most popular types of pasta and their best sauce pairings. There will be information on their differences, when to use them.

We have also included a list of 35 pasta recipes. There’s one pot recipes, 30 minute meals, as well as recipes suited for everyone from meaty pasta enthusiasts to vegans!

Plus, we will go over the history of World Pasta Day, which is a national food day dedicated to all types of pasta!

National days like World Pasta Day are a fun way to celebrate foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out this national days guide for more information about them.

A maroon background with text that reads "World Pasta Day", where the word "pasta" is spelled with a spaghetti noodle, which is hanging from a fork with a spiral of pasta on it and a little bit of basil and marinara sauce.

History of World Pasta Day

World Pasta Day is one of the many national days of the year dedicated the different types of pasta. Some of these days are dedicated to specific types of pasta like National Spaghetti Day, and others are dedicated to all pasta, like National Pasta Day.

While the origin of pasta itself dates back to thousands of years, World Pasta Day is a more recent development. It was created in 1995, by the World Pasta Congress in Rome. 

World Pasta Day was created to promote worldwide pasta consumption by emphasizing pasta’s delicious taste, health benefits, as well as its convenience and versatility in cooking.

Learn about the types of pasta for World Pasta Day

Even though there are 350 types of pasta, most fit into a few categories. There are long pastas, short pastas and stuffed pastas. Below are some of our favorites!

An overhead view of various different types of pasta in bowls, and loose on a marble counter top to celebrate World Pasta Day.

Stuffed pasta types: Agnolotti vs ravioli vs tortellini

All three of these types of pasta are stuffed and sealed, like a dumpling. However, there are differences between each one, the most noticeable of which is their shape.

Ravioli are usually square, but they can be made in a circular shape too. To make ravioli two sheets of thinly rolled dough are sealed around a filling, and then cut with a pasta cutter.

They are typically filled with spinach and cheese, or just plain cheese. Ravioli are often served with a Pomodoro sauce, or a butter and herb based sauce.

Unlike ravioli which use two sheets of dough, agnolotti use one sheet of dough. The filling is placed on the small circular sheet of pasta, which is folded over into a crescent moon shape and sealed.

Agnolotti hails from the Piedmont region in Italy and features a filling of meat, vegetables or cheese. This type of pasta pairs well with butter and herb sauces, cream sauces, and tomato based sauces.

Various stuffed pasta types including ravioli and tortellini surrounded by typical pasta ingredients like mozzarella, olive oil, salt, tomatoes, basil and a red pepper.

To the west of the Piedmont region, the Emilia-Romagna region is home to the last stuffed pasta type we’re going to discuss: tortellini. 

Tortellini are often filled with cheese, but can also be filled meats and vegetables. They are traditionally served in a broth, or as an addition to soup.

They are similar to agnolotti because tortellini are also made from one circular sheet of pasta. After tortellini is folded into a half moon shape (like agnolotti), the corners are then brought together.

Legend says that this pasta shape was inspired by the goddess Venus’s navel. An innkeeper saw a glimpse her through a keyhole, and struck by this fertility goddess’s beauty, he made a pasta to resemble her navel.

Long pasta types

There are many long types of pasta that are popular in Italian cuisine. They come in varying thicknesses, and each have optimal sauce pairings.

Angel hair is one of the thinnest noodles. They don’t work well with chunky sauces or meat sauces, since they’re so thin. An oil based sauce, cream sauce or Pomodoro sauce works best with these noodles.

Spaghetti is one of the most familiar long pasta types. It’s a round noodle that has a medium thickness so it works well with most sauce types, and is frequently served with marinara sauce.

A rectangular image completely filled with various long pasta types.

Bucatini is similar to spaghetti, except it has a thin hole down the center of the noodle. This hole provides an extra area for sauce to fill. Bucatini noodles are a great choice for dishes like cacio e pepe and carbonara.

Linguini is a thin, flat noodle. It pairs well with creamy sauces and seafood. It is often used in the dish linguine alle vongole, which consists of linguini with clams and a white wine butter sauce.

Fettuccini is slightly wider than linguini and is often paired with cream sauces, like in the dish fettuccini alfredo.

Tagliatelle is a wide, flat noodle (wider than fettuccini and linguini). It and holds up well with chunkier, meatier sauces. A traditional pairing for tagliatelle is a bolognese sauce.

Lasagne are wide sheets of pasta, which create the dish called lasagna when layered together with tomato sauce, cheese and sometimes meat. Since they are so long, they can also be rolled around fillings and baked.

Short pasta types

Penne is a tubular pasta with the ends cut on a diagonal. It’s a versatile type of pasta, and goes well with most sauces, including chunky sauces like meat sauces and marinaras, and thinner sauces like cream sauces.

Rigatoni is another tube shaped pasta, which is larger than penne. Unlike penne, however, it is cut straight across the noodle, instead of on the diagonal. It’s often paired with a vodka sauce (consisting of tomato sauce, vodka and cream).

Rigatoni has grooves down the side, like penne. Ziti is very similar to rigatoni with the exception of the grooves. Ziti is a smooth pasta and holds sauce well. It’s often paired with a marinara or meat sauce, topped with cheese and baked.

Ditalini is one of the shorter pasta types. Similar to ziti, it doesn’t have grooves. However, unlike ziti, ditalini is a fraction of the length. This type of pasta is great in soups like minestrone and pasta e fagioli.

Five wooden spoons lined up in a row, with a different medium sized pasta types on each one, including penne, fusilli, macaroni, farfalle and heart shaped pastas.

Macaroni is another tube shaped pasta, but the tube is much thinner than the others mentioned above. Elbow macaroni refers to the curved version of this pasta. Its most obvious sauce paring appears in the dish macaroni and cheese.

Fusilli is a spiral pasta. The grooves of the spiral are great at holding thinner sauces like pesto sauce and pomodoro sauce. Rotini is also a spiral pasta, with a tighter spiral than fusilli. Both of these types of pasta are great in cold pasta salads.

Farfalle is known as the bowtie pasta, because its shape resembles a bowtie. Farfalle translates from Italian to mean butterflies, which is another description of this pasta’s shape. This pasta type goes well with tomato and cream sauces.

Like farfalle, our next pasta type’s name describes its shape: orecchiette means little ears. This pasta holds sauce well, making it a good candidate for pesto sauce. Orecchiette dishes often include meat and vegetables.

Conchiglie, also known as shells, come in three sizes. Their shape holds filling well, and while the smaller ones don’t hold as much, the larger ones are great for stuffing with cheese and tomato sauce and then baking.

Orzo is a short type of pasta, which is only slightly larger than rice. It’s delicious when cooked in broth and flavored with lemon and parmesan. It’s also an ideal pasta type for soups.

How to celebrate World Pasta Day

Would you like to celebrate World Pasta Day in a special way? Try one of these ideas.

A white square on a black background with various types of pasta on top of it, and the world "World Pasta Day" in the center.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.  

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If you enjoyed learning about the different pasta types don’t forget to share this guide and corresponding recipes with your friends. Here’s a tweet to get you started:

Celebrate World Pasta Day with a list of 35 pasta recipes that utilize the optimal sauce and pasta pairings. 🍝🍅 #WorldPastaDay #TypesOfPasta Share on X

More October 25 national days

Did you enjoy learning about World Pasta Day? Well you’re in luck, October 25 is host to more than just one national day! 

A blue background with a globe made of pasta on the left side, and text that reads "October 25 World Pasta Day" on the right, with a fork beneath it.

Here is a complete list of all the October 25 national days:

  • World Pasta Day
  • Chucky, the Notorious Killer Doll Day
  • National Greasy Food Day
  • Sourest Day
  • World Pizza Maker’s Day
  • National Cartoonist Against Crime Day
  • Punk for a Day Day
  • International Artist Day

More national days in October like World Pasta Day

There are close to 2000 national days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in October.

To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more national days in October. Are you a fan of puzzles? If so, be sure to also check out the October word search printables which features many of the national days hidden in a word find puzzle. 

The word "October" surrounded by wheat and leaves.

Is food your thing? Each day of the month has a food or drink associated with it, too. You’ll find all the October food holidays here.

Be sure to also check out these national days in October:

Pin this post on World Pasta Day for later

Would you like a reminder of these types of pasta with sauce recommendations for World Pasta Day? Just pin this image to one of your national day boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Make sure to watch our YouTube video about the other October food days.

A black background with various pasta types on it surrounding text that reads "World Pasta Day - celebrate this national day by learning about the different types of pasta, when to use them and their best sauce pairings".

Pasta Recipes for World Pasta Day

If you want to celebrate World Pasta Day in a fun way, check out the 35 recipes below to get some inspiration.

They pair various types of pasta with complementary sauces. There's everything from red wine infused marinaras, and creamy garlic parmesan sauces.

Some of the pasta recipes have meat, while others are more vegetable focused. There's even vegan options for meatless Mondays.

No matter what you like, you're bound to find a pasta recipe below that suits your taste. Happy cooking!

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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