Your Guide to Choosing Pasta

Pasta is one of the most versatile and loved ingredients out there and you can create incredible and cheap meals with only a few ingredients. As long as you have some kind of pasta, and I’d be willing to bet that most people have a packet or two in their pantries right now.

But with so many shapes and sizes to choose from, how do you know which is best? Well the answer depends on the kind of sauce you’re serving with it.


Look, I’m not saying that there’s a “wrong” choice. I mean, come on; it’s pasta, it’s going to taste good no matter what! What I am saying is that some types just work better in some dishes.

Pasta shapes often fall into a few simple categories and below is a quick guide to each.

Long Strand Pasta

Long strand pasta shapes such as spaghetti, fettuccine, pappardelle, etc. are designed to be twirled around on a fork. For this reason, they tend to be better with sauces that don’t need to be ‘stabbed’. Creamy sauces, like carbonara or alfredo are great but also oil based sauces and tomato sauces, such as marinara also work well. Finely ground or shredded meat sauces are also better served with flat strand pasta.

two plates of creamy carbonara pasta garnished with fresh green parsley. in the background sits a bulb of garlic and a glass of water.

Short Tube Pasta

Serve short tube pasta shapes such as penne, macaroni, rigatoni, etc. in baked cheese dishes or with chunky vegetable sauces. Bolognese or ragu are also great options.

Shell Pasta

Shell shaped pasta is best served along with chunky sauces. The pieces of meat and vegetables tend to get trapped in the shells and make it easy to get every last bit. Large shells are perfect for stuffing and baking.


Spiral Pasta

Serve twisted spiral pasta like fusilli in smooth and light sauces like pesto. The smoother sauces are perfect because it clings to the crevices of the twists.

Mini Shapes

Mini shapes like orzo or fregola are ideal for soups, stews and pasta salads.

Stuffed Pasta

Stuffed pasta such as ravioli or tortellini are best served with simple butter or oil based sauces as the fillings are where most of the flavours should come from.

Well, there you have it – my guide to choosing the best pasta shapes! But just remember, this article is designed to help you get the best experience; it’s not a set of rules so just have fun! Enjoy!

What are your best pasta tips? Share your thoughts below or tag me on social media! @kjsfoodjournal


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