How to Pair Pasta with Sauce

Related To:

Before you pick out a pasta for dinner tonight, think about what sauce you're craving. Different pasta shapes lend themselves better to different pasta sauces, and these perfect pairings will ensure the perfect bite.

1. Flat Long Noodles

Think of fettuccine, linguine and tagliatelle as the flat, ribbon-like pastas that pair well with creamy sauces. The surface area of a flatter noodle means that it can stand up to a rich sauce. The wider the noodle, the heartier the sauce. A meaty Bolognese is best for wide pappardelle while an Alfredo pairs perfectly with fettuccine.

2. Thin Long Noodles

Think of spaghetti, angel hair, capellini and spaghettini as the thin strands that go well with light sauces such as tomato or olive oil, since they'll coat easily. Chopped fresh herbs or diced tomatoes won't overwhelm the pasta sauce but will add a little something extra.

3. Short-Tube Pasta

Penne, rigatoni, ziti, cavatappi and campanelle  comprise many of the short-tube pasta options that go great in soups, casseroles and other pasta dishes. The tubes can hold creamy sauces filled with meat or vegetables. Tube pastas that include the word "rigate" have ridges so the sauces can stick more easily.

4.  Short Shaped Pasta

Farfalle, conchiglie, fusilli, orecchiette and other structured pastas with ruffles or curls can easily hold rich sauces--or ones with texture. Use a short shaped pasta when making sauces with meats or veggies.

Next Up

6 Tips for Better Pasta That Everyone Should Know, Plus Fall's Best Gnocchi

Ensure that all of your pasta dinners are successful with these go-to tips from The Four Seasons of Pasta.

Easy Pasta with No-Cook Sauce — Meatless Monday

Ideal for Meatless Monday dinner, Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian prepares a simple, fresh summer pasta with a no-cook sauce of tomatoes and olives.

Basic Parmesan Pomodoro—Most Popular Pin of the Week

Don't let of the name of this recipe fool you: The flavor in Food Network's Most Popular Pin of the Week is anything but "basic."

Giada's Cheesy Pasta with Peas and Sausage — Most Popular Pin of the Week

It's no wonder that Giada's pasta is this week's Most Popular Pin of the Week. It's a hearty meal that's on the table in only 15 minutes.

Grilled Lasagna — Meatless Monday

Food Network Magazine's Grilled Lasagna is an easy-to-prepare meatless meal that can be made quickly on the grill.

Basil Pesto — Meatless Monday

A fresh, no-cook sauce that takes just moments to prepare, Food Network Magazine's Basil Pesto is a must-have summer sauce.

Macaroni and Cheese Two Ways — Meatless Monday

For Meatless Monday dinner this week, try these family-friendly bake and no-bake macaroni and cheese recipes from Food Network.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Barefoot Contessa

10:30am | 9:30c

Barefoot Contessa

11:30am | 10:30c

Giada in Italy

12:30pm | 11:30c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

9pm | 8c

Burgers, Brew & 'Que

4:30am | 3:30c