How to Pair Pasta & Sauce Like a Pro

Oct 16, 2020

Tossing pasta with sauce may seem like an easy task; simply pour your sauce on whatever pasta you have in the pantry. However, pasta pairing is a culinary art, and there are endless creative pasta-bilities. Below, learn how to marry different shapes of dried pasta with savory sauces.

Long & Narrow

Although spaghetti Bolognese is an Italian-American staple menu item, thin pasta isn’t best paired with this heavy, meaty sauce. Instead, serve spaghetti, linguine, bucatini, and angel hair with light seafood, tomato, egg, or oil-based sauces. Such sauces coat the long strands, boasting flavor in every bite. Try out our Linguine and Clams, Spaghetti Carbonara, or Cacio e Pepe on the CHEF iQ App. 

Long & Wide

Pasta varieties in this family include pappardelle, fettuccine, and tagliatelle. These noodles are best served with creamy sauces like fettuccine Alfredo, or meaty sauces, such as a classic Bolognese. Their ribbon-like shapes help bind to the thicker textures of these sauces. Try out our Bolognese Sauce on the CHEF iQ App. 


Orecchiette, farfalle, fusilli, and gemelli are main members of this pasta group. They’re especially tasty paired with sauces that feature nuts like pesto, or sauces with minced meat or rustic, chopped vegetables. Those stocky ingredients stick in the nooks and crannies of the pasta, guaranteeing textured and tasty bites.


Tubes allow for double the sauce as it coats both the exterior and interior of the pasta. Ridged tubular shapes, like rigate, add even more sauce-grabbing goodness. Tube-shaped pasta types include penne, rigatoni, and ziti. They pair perfectly with hearty meat-based sauces like ragù or sauces with larger veggie chunks. Try out our Penne With Pancetta Vodka Sauce on the CHEF iQ App.


Shells come in a wide array of sizes. Some are large enough to stuff and bake, while others are best served with rich and creamy sauces. This shape can collect the gooey melted cheese in your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.


These micro kinds of pasta are best used in seasonal soups, stews, risottos, and light pasta salads. Mini shapes include orzo, pastina, and tubetti. Try out our Minestrone and Italian Wedding Soup on the CHEF iQ App. 

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