What’s Thicker Than Fettuccine? A Comprehensive Guide to Pasta Shapes and Their Uses

Welcome to the world of pasta, a culinary playground where shapes and textures intertwine with flavors and sauces to create endless possibilities. But with over 300 different types of pasta, navigating this diverse landscape can be overwhelming.

This guide aims to demystify the world of pasta, specifically focusing on shapes thicker than fettuccine, and equip you with the knowledge to choose the perfect pasta for your next culinary adventure.

Fettuccine: The Benchmark for Thickness

Fettuccine, meaning “little ribbons” in Italian, serves as our starting point for exploring thicker pasta options. These long, flat ribbons boast a width of approximately 1/4 inch, offering a satisfying bite and a canvas for a variety of sauces.

Stepping Up in Thickness: Pappardelle and Beyond

For those seeking a more substantial pasta experience, let’s venture beyond fettuccine and explore the realm of thicker options.

Pappardelle: These broad, flat noodles, often reaching a width of 3/4 inch, are the undisputed champions of thickness. Their generous surface area makes them ideal for hearty sauces, such as ragù or creamy mushroom sauces.

Tagliatelle: Slightly narrower than pappardelle, tagliatelle boasts a width of around 1/3 inch. This versatile pasta pairs well with both thick and thin sauces, offering a delightful balance of texture and flavor.

Mafaldine: Also known as “reginette,” mafaldaine features wavy edges and a width similar to tagliatelle. This unique shape adds visual interest to your dish and enhances the sauce’s clinging ability.

Lasagna: These flat, rectangular sheets, typically measuring 2 inches wide, are the foundation for the iconic lasagna dish. Layered with cheese, meat, and vegetables, lasagna offers a comforting and satisfying meal.

Penne: While technically tubular, penne’s substantial size and ridged surface earn it a place among the thicker pasta options. Its versatility makes it a popular choice for various sauces, from chunky tomato to creamy pesto.

Rigatoni: These large, short tubes, characterized by grooves running down their sides, are perfect for capturing thick meat and vegetable sauces. Rigatoni’s hearty texture complements bold flavors and robust ingredients.

Orecchiette: These “little ears” boast a unique cup-like shape that effectively traps small vegetables, peas, and chopped greens. Orecchiette’s versatility extends to various sauces, from light tomato to rich ragù.

Rotelle: Meaning “little wheels” in Italian, rotelle features a distinctive wagon-wheel shape with spaces between its spokes, ideal for catching chunks of meat or vegetables. This pasta shines in dishes with chunky sauces and vibrant ingredients.

Macaroni: While commonly associated with elbow macaroni, the term “macaroni” encompasses various tubular shapes, including penne and ziti. In the United States, elbow macaroni reigns supreme, particularly in the beloved macaroni and cheese dish.

Choosing the Right Pasta for Your Sauce

Now that you’ve explored the world of thicker pasta, let’s delve into the art of pairing shapes with sauces.

Thin Sauces: For delicate sauces like olive oil, marinara, or pesto, opt for thinner pasta options like spaghetti, capellini, or angel hair. These shapes provide a balanced textural experience, allowing the sauce to shine without overpowering the pasta.

Thick Sauces: Hearty sauces like ragù, Bolognese, or creamy carbonara demand a sturdier pasta that can hold its own. Pappardelle, tagliatelle, pappardelle, and penne are excellent choices, offering a satisfying bite and a platform for the sauce to showcase its richness.

Chunky Sauces: Sauces brimming with vegetables, meat, or beans require a pasta shape that can effectively capture and complement these ingredients. Orecchiette, rotelle, rigatoni, and penne are ideal partners for these robust sauces, ensuring every bite is a flavor explosion.

Creamy Sauces: For luxuriously creamy sauces like Alfredo or carbonara, consider fettuccine, pappardelle, or tagliatelle. These wider shapes provide a generous surface area for the sauce to cling to, creating a truly decadent experience.

With this newfound knowledge of pasta shapes and their ideal pairings, you’re equipped to embark on a culinary adventure filled with flavor and textural delight. Experiment with different combinations, explore new sauces, and discover the endless possibilities that the world of pasta holds.


  • Fettuccine serves as a benchmark for thickness, with a width of approximately 1/4 inch.
  • Pappardelle reigns supreme as the thickest pasta, boasting a width of up to 3/4 inch.
  • Consider the sauce’s consistency when choosing a pasta shape.
  • Experiment and have fun exploring the diverse world of pasta!

Features: These long, flat ribbons are thinner than tagliatelle but wider than linguine. Pasta dough is rolled out to form a sheet and then cut into strips to make them. Most people probably know the most famous recipe that uses noodles: fettuccine Alfredo. The Alfredo sauce, which bears the name of a Roman restaurateur, lavishly coats the strands in a mixture of cream, butter, and cheese.

Features: Orecchiette, or “little ears,” are perfect for holding ragus or any sauce made with chopped spinach or peas because of their cup-like shape.

Features: The most common kind of pasta in the US is these long, rounded strands. A spaghettini is a thinnish pasta, a spaghettini is a thicker pasta, bucatini is a thicker pasta with a hollow center, capellini is an extremely thin pasta, and angel hair is the thinnest pasta. Spaghetti means “little twine.” Traditionally, thin, basic sauces like marinara (tomato sauce) or olive oil are served with spaghetti.

Features: These “little tongues” are long, spaghetti-like strands that have been flattened on both sides. Linguine is narrower than fettuccine. It’s very adaptable and goes well with spaghetti when served with sauces like this one made with herbed clams.

Though noodles are popular around the world, from Japan to Hungary, Italy seems to have cornered the market with more than 300 different types of pasta; we chose the nine most common, shown below. Each shape has a story, one that usually reflects its place of origin. The shape also indicates what kind of sauce works best: Thin strands such as spaghetti are especially good with thinner sauces; tube-shaped pastas are well suited for thicker sauces, as are pastas with deep ridges. Looking to enliven your standard pasta dish? Try colored and flavored pastas such as those made with squid ink, spinach, lemon, or beets or, for a healthier option, use whole-wheat pasta. For specialty shapes and flavors that may be harder to find, try an online source like igourmet.com.Lasagna (lasagne, pl.)

What is the difference between spaghetti noodles and fettuccine?

In contrast to spaghetti, which is cylindrical and round (the Italian word “spaghi” means “length of a cord”), fettuccine is wider and flatter, more like a ribbon. While fettuccine is a great match for creamy sauces like alfredo, its wide texture also makes it work well in recipes that call for other robust sauces that incorporate ingredients like meat, seafood, or vegetables. Both fettuccine and spaghetti are incredibly adaptable when it comes to the types of sauces that the noodles can withstand. Most recipes can be made with either spaghetti or fettuccine, depending on what you have on hand.

What Are Linguini & Fettuccini? : Italian Cooking


Is linguine or fettuccine thicker?

The ingredients themselves make fettuccine a thicker batter and denser pasta, and the long noodles are cut into significantly wider strips than linguine, giving each fettuccine noodle a greater surface area.

What is the really thick pasta called?

Fettuccine is a long, flat, tape-like pasta that’s popular in Roman and Tuscan cuisine. Because it’s a thicker pasta, fettuccine is good paired with heavier sauces, especially creamy Alfredo sauce. Try it in Fettuccine with Sautéed Peppers, Zucchini, and Smoked Mozzarella.

What noodle is thicker than fettuccine?

3. Pappardelle: Much wider than fettuccine and tagliatelle, pappardelle is a Tuscan pasta often served with a chunky sauce.

What type of pasta is thick?

It’s called the fettuccine, wider, heartier, pasta. Made with egg—approximately one egg per 3.5 ounces of flour. Often people confuse it with linguine but fettuccine is flatter, thicker, and wider than linguine. It’s substantial pasta that can support a heavy, creamy sauce.

What is the difference between linguine and fettuccine?

Linguine: Strands of pasta with rounded edges that are wider than spaghetti. Tagliatelle: Often made of egg-enriched dough, this medium-wide and toothsome noodle can stand up to meaty sauces. Fettuccine: Flat, thick noodles with a name meaning “little ribbons” in Italian. Pappardelle: Large, broad, flat noodles, wider than fettuccine.

What is the difference between tagliatelle and fettuccine?

Tagliatelle and fettuccine belong to the category of long pasta. Other pastas with long strands include linguine, spaghetti, and bucatini. Availability: Fettuccine is easier to find in dried form at the grocery store, while tagliatelle is usually sold as fresh pasta. Can You Substitute Tagliatelle for Fettuccine?

Are linguine noodles healthier than fettuccine?

Linguine is healthier because it contains light oils and thin causes. Due to their difference in weight, linguine Fettuccine and linguine noodles pair better with different types of sauces. Here are some tips for serving these kinds of pasta.

What is fettuccine pasta?

Fettuccine is a type of pasta that means “little ribbons” in Italian. This flat pasta is popular in Rome and Tuscany in Southern Italy. Fettuccine pasta is commonly served with alfredo sauce in fettuccine alfredo, a Roman dish with a creamy sauce. It also pairs well with ragù, or tomato sauce with meat.

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