The Best Type Of Pasta For Light Sauces

You can find dried pasta in countless shapes and sizes, ranging from chunky, hearty rigatoni to ultra-thin noodles like capellini. But did you know that the pasta you choose can have a huge effect on your dish's final outcome?

According to Bon Appétit, it's important to remember that certain kinds of pasta and sauces make better pairings than others. Choosing a pasta shape that works with your sauce ensures that each bite is balanced, with neither element overpowering the other.

"It's important to pair the correct type of noodle with a particular type of sauce so that the sauce can bind to the pasta or allow the pasta to absorb the sauce dependent on its style," explains chef Barry Tonkinson, Director of Culinary Research & Development at the Institute of Culinary Education, to Delish. In addition to creating a balanced flavor, the right pasta shape can add an interesting textural component to the meal.

What pasta shape pairs best with light sauces?

Choosing the wrong pasta shape won't ruin your dish, but as a rule of thumb, experts suggest pairing lighter sauces with thin noodles rather than short, chunky, or tubular shapes. According to Italian specialty store DeLallo, thin, long pasta is best when paired with sauces that don't overwhelm their delicate taste and texture — meaning that lighter, oil- or butter-based sauces are always a safe bet.

It's also important to consider how a given pasta shape is eaten. Because pasta like spaghetti, fettuccine, and angel hair is typically twirled on a fork, they do best in smooth sauces, reports Bon Appétit. On the other hand, chunky, short additions — like beans, for example — can weigh down the dish and interfere with the overall eating experience.

Food Network echoes this point, noting that thin noodles like spaghetti or angel hair are perfect for light tomato-based sauces. These shapes also work if you include small additions that will meld into the sauce, such as fresh, chopped herbs.