The 9 Best Substitutes for Cavatappi Pasta

When it comes to pasta, cavatappi is one of the favorites.

Its corkscrew shape is perfect for capturing delicious sauces and its hollow center holds flavor like no other noodle.

But what do you do when you run out of cavatappi?

Luckily, there are plenty of tasty options that can fill in as substitutes!

From ziti to rigatoni and beyond, I have rounded up nine of the best substitutions for cavatappi pasta.

Whether you need a gluten-free alternative or just don’t feel like making a special trip to the store, I’ve got your back with this list!

Keep reading to discover all the delicious possibilities for replacing your beloved noodles.

Your taste buds will thank you later!

What is Cavatappi Pasta?


Cavatappi pasta, also known as cellentani, is a type of macaroni with a helical shape.

Its name comes from the Italian word “cavatappi,” which means corkscrew.

This unique form of pasta has many twists and turns that create ridges on the surface, allowing sauces to cling to it easily.

It’s perfect for baked dishes like macaroni and cheese because it holds its shape well during baking.

Cavatappi pasta can be found in any grocery store in both dry or fresh forms and is available in multiple sizes.

It pairs best with creamy sauces such as alfredo or pesto but can also be used for cold salads or soups.

It’s an excellent way to add some extra texture and flavor to your favorite dishes!

The 9 Best Substitutes for Cavatappi Pasta

Cavatappi is a classic shape of pasta – it’s similar to macaroni but with a more unique spiral shape.

It works incredibly well in casseroles and cheese-based pasta dishes, but sometimes you may want a different noodle that does the same job.

Or maybe cavatappi isn’t even available at your local store!

That’s where this list of 9 delicious alternatives comes in handy.

Here are 9 great substitutes for cavatappi pasta:

1. Fusilli


Fusilli is a type of pasta that is shaped like a corkscrew.

It has ridges on the outside and a hollow center, allowing it to hold sauces well.

Fusilli can be made from either durum wheat semolina or egg-enriched dough.

This pasta is great for dishes with light sauces or soups since its shape allows it to capture all the flavors.

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It also works well in salads and casseroles because of its firm texture.

Fusilli can be served hot or cold, making it a versatile option for any meal!

2. Penne


Penne is a type of pasta that is shaped like short tubes with ridges on the outside.

The ridged surface helps to hold sauces, making it perfect for dishes such as baked pastas and casseroles.

Penne can be made from various grains, including wheat, rice, corn, and quinoa.

It comes in different sizes and shapes – from traditional penne to mini penne or even gluten-free options.

When cooked properly, it has an al dente texture that makes it ideal for light pasta salads or creamy carbonara sauces.

Penne works especially well with tomato-based sauces because its shape holds the sauce within its crevices. It also goes great with vegetables like mushrooms or spinach squash in a veggie dish.

Penne is a great alternative to cavatappi pasta when you want something more substantial than spaghetti but not quite as bulky as macaroni elbows or shells.

3. Farfalle


Farfalle is a type of pasta shaped like bow ties or butterflies.

It is also known as “butterfly macaroni” or “bow-tie pasta.”

Farfalle works well with cream sauces, pestos, light tomato sauces, and other dishes that benefit from the shape. It can also be used in salads and soups.

Unlike cavatappi pasta which has ridges designed to hold sauce within it, farfalle’s flat surface makes it better suited for lighter sauces that won’t get stuck in the ridges.

Farfalle pairs well with creamy sauces such as alfredo or carbonara but can also be used to make cold salads such as a classic Italian caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, basil leaves and mozzarella cheese.

This dish looks especially beautiful when served using farfalle due to its unique shape!

4. Rotini


Rotini is a type of corkscrew-shaped pasta that is perfect for making dishes with rich sauces or chunky vegetables.

It has a ridged surface, which helps to hold onto the sauce and makes it easier to twirl on your fork.

Rotini can be used in place of cavatappi pasta in many recipes.

It works well in baked casseroles and as a substitute for macaroni and cheese.

The ridges also help to capture the flavor of the ingredients, making rotini a great option for cold salads like pasta salads or greek salads.

Rotini also pairs nicely with chunky vegetable dishes such as ratatouille, and it’s an ideal base for hearty meat sauces like Bolognese or ragùs.

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Overall, rotini is an incredibly versatile pasta that can be used in place of cavatappi to create delicious meals!

5. Rigatoni


Rigatoni is a classic Italian pasta.

It is shaped like large, hollow tubes with ridges along the outside and usually measures between 2-3 inches long.

Rigatoni is perfect for hearty sauces as the ridges help to hold onto chunky ingredients such as meatballs or sausage.

The shape of rigatoni also helps to keep it from becoming too soft when cooked, making it an excellent choice for baked dishes such as lasagna and other casseroles.

When using rigatoni instead of cavatappi pasta in your recipes, it’s important to adjust the cooking time accordingly since the larger tubes will take longer to cook through.

Rigatoni can also be used in lighter dishes such as pesto or tomato sauce-based pastas, but its unique shape makes it ideal for creamier sauces where texture matters most.

6. Macaroni

Macaroni Pasta

Macaroni is a type of pasta that is shaped like small, curved tubes.

It is made from durum wheat semolina or flour and water. Macaroni has a smooth surface and can hold sauces well.

Macaroni is an excellent choice for dishes like macaroni and cheese, casseroles, soups, baked pastas, salads, and more.

Its shape allows it to absorb more sauce than other types of pasta such as cavatappi and its ridges help the sauce cling better.

When preparing macaroni dishes, you should use less liquid than you would with cavatappi because the smaller size of the macaroni will allow it to cook faster.

You may also want to add additional seasonings or herbs to enhance flavor since the smaller size means there’s less space for flavorings in each piece of pasta.

7. Shells

Pasta Shells

Shells are a type of pasta that have rippled edges and a deep grooved shape.

They come in various sizes, from small to jumbo shells.

Shells are great for recipes that require a lot of sauce or filling because the concave shape can catch and hold them.

Shells are also perfect for baked dishes like macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and casseroles as they keep their texture when cooked slowly in the oven.

They can also be used in cold salads such as tuna or chicken salad since their ridges help keep all the ingredients together while you mix them up.

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When substituting shells for cavatappi pasta, it’s best to use smaller shells if possible so that they cook at the same rate as traditional spaghetti noodles.

The ridges on shells will also help your sauce cling better than with other types of pastas, making it ideal for dishes like Alfredo or pesto sauces.

8. Radiatore

Radiatore Pasta

Radiatore is a type of pasta shaped like ridged cylinders with curved edges.

The ridges on the outside of the noodles help to hold sauces, making them ideal for use in dishes such as macaroni and cheese or casseroles.

Radiatore also works well in salads, soups, and cold pasta dishes where they can absorb flavors from other ingredients.

This type of pasta is perfect for creamy sauces because it will cling to the sauce rather than slipping off like some other types of noodles.

It has a sturdy texture that holds up well during cooking, so it’s great for baked pastas and casseroles where you don’t want your noodles to break apart too easily.

It gives dishes an al dente texture that won’t become mushy when cooked too long.

9. Ditalini


Ditalini is a type of small, tubular-shaped pasta originating from Italy.

The name “ditali” translates to “small thimbles”, which is an accurate description of the shape.

Ditalini pasta is commonly used in soups and salads, as well as casseroles and hot dishes. It’s perfect for absorbing flavor and texture when cooked properly.

Because it has a smaller surface area than cavatappi, ditalini holds onto sauces better without becoming soggy or mushy.

This makes it ideal for dishes that require multiple ingredients with different consistencies such as minestrone soup or macaroni salad.

Additionally, ditalini can also be used in place of rice in recipes like risotto or paella for added texture and flavor – just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly!


The 9 Best Substitutes for Cavatappi Pasta

When you're looking for a change from traditional pasta dishes, it can be hard to know where to turn. That's why I'm here to help! In this article, I'm sharing my top 9 substitutes for cavatappi pasta, which will help you add variety to your meals. From macaroni and cheese to egg noodles, I've found the perfect alternatives to traditional cavatappi, so you can enjoy delicious, unique dishes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 365 kcal


  • Fusilli
  • Penne
  • Farfalle
  • Rotini
  • Rigatoni
  • Macaroni
  • Shells
  • Radiatore Pasta
  • Ditalini


  • Choose your favorite substitute from this list.
  • Prepare the rest of your tasty meal.
  • Enjoy in no time!