The Absolute Best Types Of Pasta To Serve With Thick Sauces

While clingy isn't a good word when it comes to your significant other, that descriptor is when it comes to pasta. Ideally, your sauce will hold tight to the pasta, making for a delectable entrée.

How does a cook go about selecting the perfect pair? A walk down the pasta aisle at the grocery store can provide an overwhelming number to choose from. Whether its curly fusilli or straight rigatoni, the options of pastas are dizzying. Before you grab one with the cutest shape or that most familiar to you, consider what type of sauce you will make. Whether you select the pasta or the sauce first, you need to make sure you have the right-shaped pasta to match the sauce in order to have the optimal combination.

Share the Pasta estimates there are more than 600 pasta shapes while Italy Magazine puts the number closer to 350 but with about four times per pasta. Shapes even vary by the region in Italy in which they are from (per Italy Magazine).

Sauce options are also nearly limitless. Sauces are generally placed in two categories: thick or light. Examples of thick sauce include ragù, like in Ragù alla Bolognese, and creamy sauces, like what is used in chicken fettuccine alfredo, while lighter sauces are typically olive-oil based. But wait, there's more: The shape of the pasta itself also determines what kind of sauce it should be paired with. So, which pastas work best with thick sauces?

The best pasta shapes for thick sauces

Two of the most common pasta sauces are tomato and alfredo; both of which are thick and hearty sauces. Heavier, thicker sauces such as Bolognese, need a wider, flat pasta, according to Alpine Bakery. Other popular pasta types used in creamy sauces include fettuccine, linguine and tagliatelle.

Hearty tomato soup, a family dinner staple, is best served with tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or ziti, according to Food & Wine. Tubular pastas are also great when baked with a heavy amount of cheese or when added to pasta sauces, per Food & Wine.

Recipe Tips points out that larger tubular pastas can be filled with cheese or meat. Ones that are short, such as conchigliette, macaroni, and cavatappi, can also be used for sauces with lots of texture, per Chatelaine. If you've crafted a meat sauce, it often complements well with penne and orecchiette pastas (via Real Simple).

Remember when it comes to pairing sauces with the right noodle, size, and shape does matter.