What Is The UK's Most Popular Pasta Shape?

Fusilli, the UK's favourite pasta shape

Short answer
Spaghetti is the world's most popular pasta shape by a considerable margin, but UK pasta lovers have more of an appetite for fusilli, with 19% us all calling it our favourite shape to indulge in.

Long answer
We tend to take "most popular" lists with a pinch of salt, but in 2020 YouGov surveyed 1648 pasta eaters between the ages of 18 and 99 to produce one of the most definitive lists we've seen yet.

The UK's favourite pasta shapes

Pasta shape Popularity*
Fusilli 19%
Spaghetti 15%
Penne 11%
Tagliatelle 10%
Tortellini 7%
Conchiglie 7%
Farfalle 4%
Macaroni 4%

* The percentage of people who voted this shape their favourite.

One of the most interesting things about the survey is how different age groups have very different preferences. For example, twice as many adults between 18-24 consider conchiglie their favourite pasta shape compared to the general population. Similarly, the over 65s don't have as much love for filled pasta as the younger generations, with just 3% declaring tortellini to be their favourite shape compared to 14% of those under 24.

Predictably but somewhat disappointingly, the results largely just reflect what shapes are most readily available in supermarkets. It's surprising that lasagne sheets didn't make the cut. Surely lasagne is one of the nation's favourite dishes, and even if it's flat and rectangular it's still a shape, right? Similarly, it's a shame to not see linguine feature on the list as we will choose this shape over spaghetti any day of the week.

One thing we find particularly heartwarming is how many of the shapes are perfect for pairing with pesto. Fusilli, penne, and farfalle are all great choices, and even if orecchiette is a far superior shape to conchiglie, it's good to see this style of shape make the list.

We'd like to think that if YouGov were to run the same survey in a few years' time some lesser known shapes might make it onto the list. Cassarecce for example, is a spectacular shape to eat pesto with, as is trofie which is arguably the most traditional shape of all as it originates from Liguria, the spiritual homeland of pesto.

The most popular pasta shapes worldwide
The ultimate foodie encyclopaedia, Taste Atlas, offers a worldwide context on pasta shapes. Their list shares plenty of similarities to YouGov's list but features some shapes like bucatini that may not be familiar to UK consumers.

1.) Spaghetti
2.) Lasagne
3.) Penne
4.) Macaroni
5.) Ravioli
6.) Tortellini
7.) Tagliatelle
8.) Bucatini
9.) Vermicelli
10.) Farfalle

Spaghetti, the world's most popular pasta shape

It's no great surprise that spaghetti tops the list of favourite pasta shapes. Over the years it has become an icon of Italian-American culture and makes a guest appearance in dozens of Hollywood blockbusters including Se7en, Elf, Eat Pray Love and Lady And The Tramp.

The Americans' love of "mac and cheese" helps explain why macaroni is a shape that has a higher proportion of fans globally than it does in the UK, but the most interesting thing about Taste Atlas's list is the absence of our beloved fusilli.

When Time Out asked 13 top chefs for their favourite shapes, fusilli didn't get an honourable mention there either. Perhaps its ubiquity means that high-brow foodies shun it for more cheffy sounding shapes like paccheri, mafaldine or su filindeu. We don't mind though; it just means there's all the more for us.