How Do You Pick the Perfect Pasta?

By Colleen McTiernan

Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes, but do you know what each shape is called? And do you know which type is best for different dishes? Check out this quick guide to some of our favorite so you can pick the perfect pasta!


These wide egg pasta strands are reminiscent of thin lasagna noodles. They are often used with heavy meat sauces.


Also known as bowties, this type of pasta is often used in pasta salad, but can also be used in saucy dishes.


These spaghetti-like noodles are hollow in the middle, meaning they hold sauce well.


Gnocchi are soft dumplings made of potato that do well with hearty sauces.


Cut on an angle to resemble the nib of a quill (“penne” means pen in Italian), the ridges of this pasta allow it to hold onto sauces well.


This oddly shaped pasta is designed to look like a radiator. The increased surface area of this pasta allows it to absorb flavor and hold sauces well.


The rough shape of this twisted pasta holds olive oil and other sauces beautifully.


Ravioli is a stuffed pasta that can be filled with anything from meat to cheese to veggies to seafood.


This corkscrew-shaped pasta pairs well with just about any sauce and can be used in pasta salads as well.


Also known as shells, the larger versions can be stuffed and baked for a delicious result. 


This small pasta resembles rice in shape and can be baked, incorporated into soups, or even served with a light sauce as a main course.


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