Pasta is a classic, timeless dish for any occasion and a staple item for beginner home chefs wanting to experiment. But has what we have known about pasta this whole time been a lie? Does pasta shape really matter for each type of sauce? Obviously it is more important to choose a sauce you like rather than picking it because you think it is the "right" one. Ultimately, it is going into your mouth and not mine so do what makes your taste buds happy! Each pasta and sauce has its own delicate balance of compatibility, from pasta being a strong foundation for the savory and the complementation of a succulent sauce that must top it. So, here are some recommendations on which pasta style pairs perfectly with each decedent sauce to help make your decision a little easier! Let's get saucy!

After doing centuries of research, it has been found that there are one of two goals to be assessed when deciphering what sauce to choose for your type of pasta. You must look at whether the style of pasta will trap the sauce allowing for every bite to be full of flavor or simply be coated in it allowing ever lasting fluidity. Pastas that are able to hold more filling with a variation of dimension are ideal for baked pastas such as baked ziti. Pastas that are sleek, allowing the sauce to just roll off them are ideal for lighter, less viscous sauces. 


Pastas that are more textured or tubular, such as fissile, gemelli or penne, are best for thicker, chunkier sauces like bolognese or garden vegetable tomato sauce. These shapes allow trapping between their crevasses and have the stability for heavier sauces. With a penne, each noodle is able to be filled with the delicious, decadent sauce that is paired with. 

vegetable, pasta, sauce, rice
Gabby Phi


Thinner, slicker pastas, such as linguine or spaghetti, work best with lighter sauces that will coat the pasta with out weighing down its delicate structure. Pestos and creamy sauces like Alfredo are most ideal. Smooth, rich sauce will only add to the fluidity of a long and slender noodle. 

vegetable, carbohydrate, tagliatelle, fettuccine, sauce, macaroni, basil, pasta, spaghetti
Jocelyn Hsu


Lastly, there are some pastas that fall between these categories and can virtually be used for all types of sauces. Farfelle, or bow tie, is a textured lets smooth pasta that is study enough for heavy sauce yet pairs perfectly with creamy smooth sauces. You cannot go wrong with farfelle as a fun shape and an even better partner to each creamy, savory, and rich sauce that has ever topped a pasta dish.

sweet, wheat, pasta
Amy Henson

Does pasta sauce really matter for each type of sauce? It most definitely does especially when you are wanting to mix things up and get the most out of your meal! This basic guide will help you up your pasta game and feel like a real Italian guru. Paring your style of pasta with any of these recommendations can take a regular Wednesday night dinner up a notch. But, it ultimately boils down to what your preferences are and just enjoying what you are eating!

For more ideas on how to use noodles, check out some more noodle recipes here!