What's The Best Pasta For Pesto?

Best pasta shapes to pair with pesto

Quick answer
When eating pesto with pasta, our go-to shapes are fusilli, linguine, and farfalle. There are, however, plenty of other, more adventurous shapes that work just as well.

Long answer
Some people get incredibly hung up about what pasta shapes you should pair with which sauces. We’re far more relaxed. If you want to pair our pesto with orzo or ravioli, we’re not going to report you to the pesto police. Having said that, there are some very real reasons why different shapes suit different sauces.

Thick, meaty, ragù-type sauces generally need to be paired with big, hearty noodles such as pappardelle or with traditional tube shapes like rigatoni.

Pesto, on the other hand, flourishes best when paired with thinner noodles, such as spaghetti and linguine, and with shapes that have plenty of twists, grooves, curls, and troughs.

Fusilli is not only one of the most well-known pasta shapes; it’s also the UK’s most popular and our ultimate shape to use with pesto.

Other lesser-known pasta shapes, such as orecchiette and cassarecce, can now be found in some supermarkets, but for some of the lesser-known shapes you're either going to have to take a trip to your nearest Italian deli or, better yet, make them yourself.

Garganelli is a fascinating shape. It's basically penne's badass cousin because it shares the same tube shape, but has lots of little grooves on the outside, making it perfect for attracting and holding onto a herby, oily basil pesto.

Linguine or its flattened cousin, trenette, are both great with pesto, and on occasion you might find us tucking in to a ribbon-shaped pasta like mafaldine.

Ultimately, if you're using our pesto, your dish will taste great regardless of your pairing choices, but experiment with pairing your sauce with different shapes and see how the dish is affected.