10 Incredible Cavatappi Pasta Substitutes

Did you know that there are loads of different pasta shapes out there?

These pasta styles are not just aesthetically pleasing, but different styles are used for different purposes. For instance, many larger pasta shapes are commonly paired with thicker sauces.

One such pasta shape is Cavatappi, which is renowned for its distinctive spiral shape. Cavatappi is an outstanding option for making mac and cheese.

If you are following a pasta recipe that requires Cavatappi, there are several sensational substitutes that you can use instead of it. Let’s check out some of the best alternatives for Cavatappi pasta.

10 Incredible Cavatappi Pasta Substitutes

Cavatappi Pasta: What Is It?

Cavatappi pasta is a form of macaroni with a spiral shape. This macaroni is known by many names, including spirali and serpentini. Many people refer to this pasta as “corkscrew”, referring to its unique spiral.

Cavatappi is often confused with fusilli. The main difference between these two pasta shapes is that the fusilli is flat, while Cavatappi is a hollow tube in the shape of a spiral.

This pasta style is incredibly versatile. It works exceptionally well in casseroles and salads. It also pairs phenomenally with creamy sauces, which makes it an ideal candidate for macaroni and cheese recipes.

Thanks to the hollow shape, some sauces may run through the hollow interior of the macaroni.

In terms of texture, Cavatappi tends to be chewy and firm.

1. Rigatoni

Rigatoni is an extremely popular pasta shape in Italy, particularly in Sicily. If you wish to make an Italian-inspired dish, rigatoni is a great choice.

This pasta has a cylindrical shape but tends to be bigger than penne. Traditionally, it is decorated with ridges on the outside. It is these ridges that give this pasta its name.

Rigatoni has a similar feel to Cavatappi, which is partially due to its hollowness. It’s advised that you use rigatoni when making a dish with a heavy sauce.

This is because it will effectively absorb the sauce to create flavorsome pasta dishes.

2. Fusilli

It’s easy to get mixed up between fusilli and Cavatappi. Both of these pasta shapes have been compared to corkscrews. Fusilli has a similarly chewy texture, making it an apt replacement for Cavatappi.

Fusilli is fantastic for absorbing sauces. The shape of this sauce means that it can easily mop up whatever flavorings have been utilized. This pasta shape is extremely adaptable.

Fusilli is much more widely sold in stores than Cavatappi. Therefore, this is an ideal substitute if you have been unable to find Cavatappi in your local supermarket.

3. Campanelle

Campanelle is perhaps the most unique pasta shape to choose from. The appearance of this pasta is like no other. Translating to “little bells”, Campanelle is formed of a tube.

This tube features a spiraled edge, which twirls around the tube in a flower-like shape. Specifically, the shape is akin to a bellflower.

The main reason why Campanelle is a valid substitute for Cavatappi is that they both feature spurs.

As a result, they have a similar silhouette. Plus, they are both tubular, giving these two types of pasta a similar shape and texture.

This pasta is designed to be covered in a thick sauce. Aside from this, Campanelle is widely utilized in casserole recipes.

4. Penne

Penne is a rather basic pasta style. Nonetheless, penne is incredibly popular and is widely available.

This pasta shape is well-liked because it works wonderfully when served with thicker sauces. Not to mention, it has a pleasantly chewy texture.

Penne is made up of a cylindrical tube. The name of this pasta hints at its shape, which has been compared to a dip pen.

Like Cavatappi, penne is a hollow pasta. It can be used in the same quantity as Cavatappi. Both of these pasta shapes are incredibly flexible, making them an ideal substitute for one another.

5. Conchiglie

Dubbed the “seashell pasta” is a pasta variety that looks akin to a conch shell. The Italian name for this pasta shape is a reference to this shell-like shape.

Like Cavatappi, conchiglie is a hollow shape that will become filled with sauce.

The elegant shape of the conchiglie makes it one of the best styles for sauce soaking. This style is one of the most aesthetically pleasing pasta shapes, so it’s great for making appealing meals.

Conchiglie is commonly sold in grocery stores. Therefore, you should easily be able to find this pasta shape in your local grocery store.

6. Cavatelli

Cavatelli is an Italian pasta that is made from semolina flour dough. This pasta shape has a hollow curved shell shape. The shape of this pasta has been compared to hot dog buns.

Cavatelli and Cavatappi don’t just have similar names. Thanks to its mild flavor, cavatelli is as versatile as Cavatappi.

It can be served with a lot of different sauces, including tomato sauce. Just bear in mind that it will have a slightly chewy texture.

A variety of different seasonings can be paired with cavatelli, including ricotta cheese, broccoli rabe, and garlic.

7. Farfalle

Up next, farfalle is a popular pasta shape. It is commonly referred to as “butterfly pasta” or “bow-tie pasta”, both of which refer to the characteristic shape of this pasta. The Italian word farfalle means butterfly.

Farfalle is amazingly versatile. It can be paired with both heavy and light sauces. It can easily soak up these delectable sauces. Farfalle will add a bit of whimsy to your meals and is especially popular with children.

Though the shape of farfalle is noticeably different from Cavatappi, it can nonetheless make a marvelous substitute. This is because these two forms of pasta have firm textures.

8. Paccheri

Paccheri is a type of macaroni that is formed from a large tube. The main benefit of this pasta is that it can be stuffed, allowing chefs to fill these pasta shapes with a range of flavorsome fillings.

The primary reason why paccheri can make an effective substitute is because of its hollowness. Like Cavatappi, the tubes can easily be filled with sauce.

Often, paccheri can be quite bland-looking. This is because the exterior is regularly plain.

On the other hand, you may be able to get your hands on paccheri that have been decorated. The exterior may have grooves and ridges to enhance the aesthetic appeal.

9. Tortiglioni

Tortiglioni is often confused with rigatoni. After all, these two different types of pasta are remarkably similar in appearance.

The main difference between these two tubular pasta is that tortiglioni is larger with deep grooves in a spiral pattern around the macaroni.

The main reason why this makes an effective replacement is that, like Cavatappi, it is hollow. However, it has a significantly straighter silhouette than Cavatappi.

The name of this pasta shape refers to a Latin word, which is translated as “to twist”. This refers to the twisted grooves on the tortiglioni.

10. Macaroni

Last but not least, you can also use macaroni as a substitute. Like Cavatappi, this pasta is hollow. Elbow macaroni will work particularly well, as it tends to be slightly curved while traditional macaroni is straighter.

These tubes tend to be a little narrower and less curved than Cavatappi.

One of the benefits of using this replacement is that it is widely available. As a result, you should be easily able to get your hands on it.

Macaroni will work particularly well when made with its namesake dish, namely mac and cheese. As with Cavatappi, the sauce will likely fill this hollow pasta.

Final Thoughts

When making a pasta dish, it’s important to consider the shape of the pasta. Though Cavatappi is a versatile type of macaroni, the substitutes that will work best will share a similar shape.

If you are unable to get your hands on Cavatappi, it’s worth using some of these sensational stand-ins to make a delicious pasta dish.

10 Incredible Cavatappi Pasta Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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  • Rigatoni

  • Fusilli

  • Campanelle

  • Penne

  • Conchiglie

  • Cavatelli

  • Farfalle

  • Paccheri

  • Tortiglioni

  • Macaroni


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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