Can You Name All of These Pasta Shapes?


By: Jennifer Post

7 Min Quiz

Image: FerhatMatt / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Pasta is very much a staple food in Italian cuisine. It's eaten hot, cold, stuffed, baked; you name it, and pasta can handle it. There are some shapes of pasta that are better for heavier sauces because the pasta is hearty itself, but then there are those delicates pieces of dough that dare only be touched by olive oil, cheese and fresh herbs. Getting hungry yet? Just wait.

Walking down the pasta aisle of your grocery store can be daunting if you don't know much about the different shapes of pasta. There are short ones, long ones, thick ones, twisted one and ones that look like rice. Are you sure it's not rice? Where to begin! Begin with what you know, and you can work your way up to the ins and outs of the most intriguing pasta shapes.

Maybe you fancy yourself a little bit of a pasta expert? We bet there's one in this quiz even you haven't heard of. And how could there not be? New pasta shapes are being created so frequently as new generations of pasta makers take over and experiment with the soft egg dough. Whether you're a novice, expert or just like eating pasta, do you think you can name all the pasta shapes in this quiz? Take it now to find out!

Layer this flat pasta in between meat, cheese and herbs and you've got yourself a classic Italian dinner. Which pasta shape is it?

While people think lasagna is the completed dish, it's actually just the pasta that's used to layer. It's rolled out thin and can have the classic curled edges or be completely flat. It's perfect for layering or even rolling.


Serve this long pasta with red sauce and meatballs and enjoy Sunday dinner with the family. Which is it?

Spaghetti is one of the most common types of pasta. It's long, somewhat thing compared to other types and soaks up sauce perfectly. Whether you spin it in your spoon or slurp it up, there's no wrong way to eat spaghetti.


Stuff this tube-shaped pasta with ricotta cheese and spinach or meat and sauce, bake and serve! Which is it?

Cannelloni is kind of the rolled version of lasagna. It starts out flat and then gets rolled into a tube shape perfect for taking on any kind of filling you can imagine. Then cover them all in cheese and bake them in the oven for melty goodness.


Whether you find this in the blue box with powdered cheese or get it fresh from a shop, this elbow-shaped pasta goes by another name. Can you find it?

Macaroni and cheese is hands down the most loved pasta dish. It can be doctored up with gourmet cheese and a bread-crumb topping or you can keep it plain with the boxed stuff. Either way, you'll be satisfied.


Which pasta shape gets stuffed, boiled and smothered in sauce and sometimes even fried?

If you've never had fried ravioli, you're missing out. But having it the way it was meant to be eaten is just as good! It can take on red sauce, pesto, Alfredo sauce or just plain old butter.


These long, flat ribbons of pasta are wider than spaghetti but not as wide as lasagna. What are they?

Tagliatelle is the perfect pasta for a meatier and heavier sauce like a bolognese or a mushroom sauce. They're wide and thick, so they take a bit longer to cook, but you won't miss the time at all once you sit down to eat it.


Another tube-shaped pasta with thin divots running down the length means it can hold on to sauce. Which shape is it?

A lot of pasta has holes in the center, but this one takes it to a new level. The hole makes it look more like a paper-towel tube than pasta, but it's shorter. The actual pasta is thin, so it cooks in no time.


This particular shape can be hard to master because it's kind of like a triangle but folded like a fortune cookie. Which one is it?

If you know how to fold a tortellini, then you're doing something right in this world. It's notoriously hard to do, which is why the frozen and prepared ones sell so well. There's folding and tucking and stuffing. It's a lot!


This pasta is most commonly paired with Alfredo sauce, and its shape is long, flat and slightly thick. Which is it?

Fettuccini is an egg pasta, as are most traditional Italian pastas, and it's slightly more narrow than tagliatelle but along the same lines. It's the most common pasta used for Alfredo, though the reason why isn't really known.


This pasta shape has some harsh angles but will be nice to you in the mouth. It's also great for pasta salad! Which shape is it?

Penne is another super common pasta shape that you'll see on grocery store shelves. It's tubular but has ends that look almost sharp. It's great for a sauced pasta because the sauce gets caught in the tube and is a burst of flavor in your mouth.


While it's similar to the plain version of the same name, this shape has indentations running lengthwise to help cheese and sauce stick to it. What shape is it?

Penne rigate is a variety of penne that is furrowed or has those thin lines in it. It's cut on the bias the same as regular penne and is the same length. Literally, the only difference is the lines. But you definitely need to try both.


Pair which long, flat pasta that's similar to fettuccini with a clam and white-wine sauce and you've got yourself a classic dish. Can you name the pasta shape?

Linguini in a clam sauce is something you'll find on many Italian restaurant menus. And for good reason: It's salty and creamy, and the smooth pasta compliments those flavors extremely well.


It's large. It's flat. It's wide. It's not an airplane, but which shape of pasta could almost be used to make lasagna?

Pappardelle is maybe the widest of the long pasta before you get into lasagna sheets and other layering pasta. It's still meant to be eaten in its long strands like spaghetti or fettuccini. but you might just get fuller faster due to its size.


This pasta shape is confusing because it looks exactly like rice. Which is it?

Orzo is pasta, we promise. It might look exactly like rice, but it's made out of eggs, flour and other traditional pasta ingredients. It works well in soups or cold salads because of its small size.


Which spaghetti look a like is hiding a secret in the form of a small hole running through the middle of the noodle?

Bucatini is essentially the same shape as spaghetti, albeit a tad thicker. It also has a very small hole running through the pasta. It's not considered tubular because you can't stuff anything inside of it, but you will definitely want to stuff your mouth full of it.


In Italy, this pasta is slightly thicker than spaghetti, but in the United States, it's slightly thinner. Can you identify it?

This is also a general term for types of noodles in Asia. It can be cooked, sauced and eaten the same way as spaghetti but also opens itself up for many other dishes like Pho or noodles in a peanut or coconut sauce.


It might translate to "rifle" but looks more like a corkscrew. What's this pasta shape's name?

This twisted pasta is a favorite among pasta salads and hot sauces alike. Mix-ins and sauces get caught in all the crevices that you'll almost never get a full bite that's just pasta.


Which pasta shape means "little ears" and kind of does look like the inner part of your ear?

This is a small pasta but not quite small enough to be a soup pasta. It can still hold its own against a hearty sauce or a light one. It can be used in place of macaroni for a cheesy meal or tossed with olive oil and fresh herbs.


The shape of this pasta means "butterfly" but also looks like a bowtie, which is what it's commonly called. What's its given name?

You'll also see this shape used a lot in cold salads because it's the perfect size to go with things like cherry tomatoes and small balls of fresh mozzarella. You'll also find it baked in tomato sauce and a heaping amount of cheese and then baked to perfection.


These toasted balls of pasta are used mostly in soups, as the hard shell can stand up to lots of liquid. Which is it?

Fregula is a semolina dough that is rolled into little balls that then get toasted in the oven. It's an interesting process for pasta, but for one that gets used almost only in soups, it makes sense.


It's long like spaghetti and ribboned like fettuccini but thinner. Can you name it?

Taglierini is yet another long pasta that is flat and a bit wide, but the wideness can vary based on where it's produced. It can be boiled and eaten just like any of the other long and ribboned pasta varieties.


Your mom probably made this meal for you growing up, but did you know it's actually just the name of the big, tubular pasta and not the cheesy baked dish?

What is there to say about manicotti other than it's best used a vessel for herby ricotta cheese, red sauce and lots of mozzarella and parmesan melted on top? It's the perfect almost one-pot meal.


Think of this small, shell-like pasta as a cave for all your sauce, cheese and meat. What is it?

It's not the shell pasta that you would get in a shell-and-cheese boxed pasta, but it does have a cavity in the middle more like a Puka shell. You can use this in soups, as well as pasta salads or baked pasta dishes.


Which pasta shape below combines a twisted look, a hole in the center and thin lines running down the length?

Cavatappi may be the trifecta of pasta shapes. It's got the hole in the center for trapping sauce, the twisted shape for catching the good mix-ins like olives or cheese and the thin lines to give it a hearty mouthfeel.


It's thinner than spaghetti and also known as angel hair. Which long pasta shape just begs to be balled up on your fork and eaten?

Capellini is used the same as spaghetti, as it's almost the same thing as both with some slight differences in thickness. You'll often find it sold in a nest shape to keep the strands from completely drying out.


Which short pasta shape was inspired by a famous volcano and starts large and gets smaller, spiraling into a thin tip?

This is a more modern pasta shape with lots of spirals and lots of character. Named after Mt. Vesuvius, it mimics the shape by getting narrower as the pasta shape goes up. It holds onto sauce extremely well, until it explodes in your mouth.


This stuffed pasta takes on the shape of a small candy wrapper as it's pinched at the ends and has a sealed flap running down the middle. Which is it?

A lot, indeed. It's an intricate shape but from the naked eye, it doesn't look it. You have to get the right amount of stuffing inside so that the seams don't burst while it's cooking and cause the filling to leak out.


Usually baked, which pasta shape has smooth sides, evenly cut ends and is a similar size to penne?

It's an extruded pasta shape, which means it gets formed and pushed out of a machine that cuts in with a rotating blade. Baking it with sauce and cheese is probably the most common way of consuming this pasta shape.


It's short and tubular and has smooth sides perfect for taking on melted butter and parmesan cheese. Which pasta shape translates to "common slaps"?

Not sure what "common slaps" has to do with this pasta shape, but it's delicious, so don't spend too much time thinking about it. It's almost like a shorter version of rigatoni but with a bigger hole in the center.


Which pasta shape is an elongated form of cavatelli and hand rolled so it takes on a slight curve but not as drastic as elbow macaroni?

It's as if the pasta makers took cavatelli and wanted to get the most out of it, so they made it longer and a bit thinner. It still has that classic hand-rolled look to it where the pasta almost starts to fold and curl into itself.


Which pasta shape originated in Sicily and is short in size but not short on twist or character?

This pasta shape appears to roll into itself much like strozzapreti and cavatelli, but it's much shorter than both. It's a great substitute for macaroni in a pasta and cheese dish, as the cheese sauce gets stuck inside the little crevices.


This pasta shape is what you'll find if you buy boxed cheese and shells because it looks like, well, a seashell. What's its formal name?

Such a complicated name, which is why it's most commonly just called "shells." If part of the name sounds familiar, it's because it is shaped to look like the bottom part of a Conch shell. You might even hear the ocean!


The exact shape is likened to a screw or a helix but actually comes from an Italian word meaning "small wheels." Can you name the shape?

Rotini looks a little bit like fusilli, but the twisted shape is much more exaggerated with rotini. The spirals are tighter, meaning closer together, which is perfect for trapping sauce. The two shapes can be used interchangeably, though.


These are so small that if you drop one, you might lose it! They have a tubular look and actually resemble small thimbles, which is what the name translates to. Which shape is it?

Ditalini is the quintessential soup pasta because it's so small you can fit them on your spoon along with the other ingredients. Pasta e fagioli is probably the most common soup you'll find this pasta shape in.


Which pasta shape comes to us from Liguria and is short, thin and twisted to tapered ends with irregular thickness throughout?

This pasta kind of looks like it was made from scraps of leftover dough from making other pastas. It's very rustic, which makes sense for the Liguria region. The shape is achieved by rolling small pieces of dough on a flat surface.


Which very penne-looking pasta shape differs in that the biased ends are facing the same direction and caused by rolling, and not cutting, the pasta?

Its length and thickness is very similar to penne, but Garganelli is made by rolling a thin square of pasta until it's a complete cylinder. It can be smooth or rigid; it just depends on what type of surface you roll it on.


This pasta shape is two strands of thin pasta twisted together until they become one, and its name means "twins." Can you name it?

It's two separate pieces of pasta coming together, hence the "twins" translation. You can still see their individual strands of pasta, but they create one twisted shape. It's definitely a spiral, though, as opposed to a corkscrew shape.


Which ruffle-edged pasta is said to look like a bell-shaped flower or hand bells?

There's a lot going on with this pasta shape. There's the ruffled edges, there's the little folds where the pasta has been rolled slightly and there's the little crevice in the middle for holding sauce.


Which stuffed pasta, shaped like a half moon, is also what the name means?

This pasta starts out as a full circle, but unlike other stuffed kinds of pasta where another piece of circular pasta gets placed and sealed on top, this one gets folded over to create a half circle, or half moon, shape.


Which shape is an extruded pasta originally made with buckwheat flour as well as long and cylindrical like spaghetti but thicker?

It definitely gets its name from the extruder used to shape it, the bigolaro. Since it's so similar in size and shape to spaghetti, it can be used in exactly the same way. It's thicker, though, so it will take longer to cook.


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