When you’re cooking up a big batch of meatballs and pasta, it’s important to know what kind of pasta to serve with your meatballs.
Pairing pasta with meatballs can be tricky—you want something hearty enough to stand up to the sauce and the meat but not so heavy that it weighs down your stomach before dessert.
You also want something that will soak up some of that delicious sauce so that every bite is full of flavor.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best pastas for pairing with meatballs, so you never have to guess again.
What Pasta to Serve with Meatballs
The most common pasta to serve with meatballs is spaghetti. It’s a classic pairing, and it works well because the sauce clings to the pasta, which helps distribute flavor throughout each bite.
If you’re serving a wide variety of sauces, you’ll want to make sure that your pasta matches the sauce.
For example, if you plan on serving some sort of cream-based sauce with your meatballs, consider using something like fettuccine or linguine as opposed to spaghetti.
These pastas are better able to absorb the fat in heavy sauces and will help keep them from sticking together.
Still looking for the best kind of pasta to serve with your meatballs?
Then keep scrolling!
Here are 20 kinds of pasta that go great with meatballs:
Spaghetti (the most common) is best for light-to-medium sauces such as marinara or pesto.
It’s also good for chunky sauces like Bolognese or arrabbiata (spicy tomato sauce).
Spaghetti comes in two forms: thin and thick.
Thin spaghetti is more delicate than thick spaghetti, which tends to be chewier and more filling.
If you want to try something different than spaghetti, consider trying angel hair or vermicelli noodles—they’re both very thin strands that can be served with light sauces like lemon butter or olive oil.
Fettuccine is a wide, flat noodle that is often used in cream sauces because it can hold up well under those conditions.
It’s also great for more hearty dishes like chicken alfredo or carbonara because it has the ability to absorb flavors from other ingredients without overpowering them.
Linguine is a flat noodle that is typically made with durum wheat flour, water and salt.
It’s best made in a ridged pan so that it can hold itself up while cooking.
This can also be used for other types of pasta like fettuccine or even spaghetti!
When cooking linguine, it’s important not to overcook it or else it will become mushy and sticky when mixed with other ingredients such as meatballs!
4. Lasagna noodles
Lasagna noodles are a classic choice for meatball lovers.
They’re sturdy enough to hold up to the sauce, but they also have enough flavor on their own that you don’t need to drown them in sauce.
Penne is another great choice for serving with meatballs because it’s also thick, which means that it can hold on to more of the flavor in your sauces and help them shine through more easily than they would on thin pastas like spaghetti or linguine.
Rigatoni is a short and fat pasta that works well with meatballs because it can hold the sauce better than other kinds of pasta.
And since rigatoni is thick, it helps make sure your sauce doesn’t get lost in all the other ingredients.
These stuffed tortellini have a hole running through them, which makes them especially good at holding onto that delicious sauce from your plate!
The ziti is the perfect size for holding lots of sauce.
It’s also got a wide surface area, so there are more places for the sauce to cling to the pasta—which means it won’t just run off when you’re eating!
Fusilli is a little bit more subtle in its approach to pairing with meatballs than farfalle is, but it still makes a great match for this classic Italian dish.
The spiral shape of fusilli makes it ideal for wrapping around a meatball and trapping in all those delicious juices as it cooks in the oven or on the stovetop!
This bow-tie-shaped pasta is perfect for serving with meatballs because it has large holes that let the sauce through but won’t clog up on you.
Farfalle also has a nice bite to it, so even if you don’t use the sauce, you’ll still get a nice satisfying chew!
Cannelloni is a tube-shaped pasta that’s stuffed with ground beef, sausage or cheese.
The stuffing is often seasoned with herbs and spices, then baked in the oven until browned on top.
Cannelloni pairs well with meatballs because they’re both comfort foods that make you feel warm inside!
Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that looks like little grains of rice.
It can be served cold or hot (or both!) and works well as a side dish or even as an ingredient in soups and stews.
Orzo pairs well with meatballs because the texture of both items makes them an ideal complement to each other!
Orecchiette is a type of pasta shaped like small ears, which makes it ideal for scooping up those delicious meatballs on top.
It’s also one of the best pastas for absorbing sauce—so if you’re making any kind of sauce or gravy, orecchiette is the perfect choice!
Pappardelle is another great choice.
It’s long sheets of pasta that are wide enough to fit around a big ball of meat—and because it’s so wide, it can really soak up all that delicious sauce from your homemade marinara or gravy!
Bucatini is a thick spaghetti that has a hole running through the middle.
It’s perfect for serving with meatballs because it’s chewy and takes on flavor really well. It also works well when it’s paired with other sauces or hearty dishes like soups or stews.
Plus, it looks cool!
Tortiglioni is another type of pasta that has a hole running through the middle, but this one is shaped like little tubes or scrolls instead of long strands like bucatini is.
It has a similar texture as bucatini but it looks different and feels different in your mouth when you’re eating it—think chewier than bucatini but still soft enough to be enjoyable without being soggy or sticky like angel hair pasta can be if it gets too wet from sauce or water content from boiling too long in hot water before serving (which will happen if you don’t drain it well enough).
This is one of the more versatile pastas out there—it can be used for all kinds of dishes.
Its ridges are perfect for catching sauce, so it’s a great choice when you’re serving something like bolognese or tomato sauce.
It also works well when you want to add other ingredients like garlic, herbs, or veggies like peas or spinach.
18. Angel Hair Pasta
Angel hair is another versatile pasta that’s perfect for catching sauces and other toppings from the bottom up.
It has a smooth texture and a delicate flavor that makes it easy to pair with just about any kind of food or dish!
19. Egg Noodles
Egg noodles are a classic choice for serving with meatballs, and for good reason!
They’re hearty, filling, and easy to make.
Just boil them for about 5 minutes and toss ’em in your sauce or add them to your meatball mixture before frying.
You can even add them directly into the sauce if your sauce is thick enough that it won’t fall apart when you mix it all together.
Gnocchi is a delicious alternative to traditional pasta because they have a soft texture that holds up well against the sauce but still has some give if you bite into them—making them perfect for soaking up the flavor of whatever sauce they’re paired with.
Plus, they have a fun shape that makes them easy to pick up with your hands (and less messy than using a fork).
Tips for Choosing the Right Pasta to Serve with Meatballs
When it comes to making your favorite pasta dishes, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
This can help you make the perfect meal every time.
Here are some tips for choosing the right pasta to serve with meatballs:
1. There Are No Rules
You can serve spaghetti with meatballs, or you can use penne.
You can even make bowtie pasta, which is shaped like a little bow tie and is cut from a long sheet of dough.
Whatever you choose to serve with your meatballs, just make sure it’s something that looks good on the plate and that will complement the flavors of the meatballs.
Pasta is a great way to add texture and substance to a meal, but it’s also an opportunity for creativity.
There are so many different shapes in addition to spaghetti, like macaroni noodles or rigatoni—you can even buy them at the grocery store!
2. Do Your Homework
Before you make any choices, do some research first:
- What kind of sauce do you want?
- Will your guests be eating the pasta right away or later?
- How much time will you have to prepare dinner?
- What kind of flavors do you want?
These questions can help guide your decision-making process when choosing which type of pasta will work best with your dish.
3. Make It Easy on Yourself
We know that planning a big meal is stressful, so don’t make it harder by trying to serve multiple different types of pasta.
Choose one type of pasta, and stick with it.
4. Don’t Skimp on Your Sauce
Pasta and meatballs are a classic Italian-American pairing, but if you’re going to serve them together, the sauce is what will make or break your meal.
Meatballs need a lot of moisture, which is why they’re often served in tomato sauce (which is acidic), but sometimes this isn’t enough moisture for your meatball.
If you find that your sauce is drying out your meatball, try serving it with a more liquidy sauce like alfredo or cream sauces.
5. A Little Goes a Long Way
Meatballs are heavy on the protein, so they’re filling—and it’s easy to overdo it when it comes to serving size.
If you’re serving pasta with meatballs, the best thing to do is to keep the portion size small.
For example, if your recipe calls for 1 pound of pasta, cut that down by half or more before serving it.
6. Go Crazy with Flavored Pastas
If you want to stand out from the crowd, try a flavored pasta—just make sure it complements your meatballs!
For example, if you’re serving meatballs in a tomato sauce and cheese, then go for something like spinach pasta or ricotta tortellini.
If you’re serving them in an Alfredo sauce, try some spaghetti with garlic and herb butter.
And if they’re served over vegetables or greens, we recommend something like whole-wheat spaghetti or potato gnocchi.
7. Try Different Grains and Alternative Flours
If you’re looking for new ways to serve your meatballs, try out some different pasta grains and alternative flours.
Pasta is made from wheat flour, which is a grain.
Other grains that can be turned into pasta include corn, rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.
The pasta made from these alternative grains will have a different texture than regular wheat pasta—and that’s what makes it so great!
You can get creative with serving these kinds of pastas in soups and salads, or even just adding them to the top of your favorite meatballs for an extra layer of flavor.
8. Consider Color Contrast
Pasta is a perfect canvas for color contrast—you can pair dark red tomato sauce with white or green-flecked linguini or try mixing red pesto with yellow fusilli noodles or even layering bright orange squash strands with green spinach noodles.
If you want to go really wild, try mixing in some black squid ink into your white ravioli filling!
9. Consider Using Your Hands
The best way to learn about how certain pastas interact with each other is by getting some hands-on experience by making your own ravioli or tortellini from scratch!
10. Choose Your Shape Wisely
If you’re using store-bought sauce and making your own meatballs, choose a shape that’s large enough to hold plenty of sauce and meatballs without getting too full (think shells or rotini).
However, if you’re using homemade sauce and making large meatballs, go with fettuccine or linguine; these will hold more liquid without getting soggy.
11. Don’t Overcook It
Meatballs should be cooked through completely before serving them over pasta—but after that point, overcooking can cause them to become tough and dry out much faster than normal (which means less flavor!).
Keep an eye on your pasta as it cooks; once the water has evaporated from the pan and it starts sizzling again (you should hear this), turn off the heat immediately!
12. Use Fresh Pasta
The best way to make sure that your meatballs and pasta are the perfect combination is to use fresh pasta.
It has more moisture, so it will soak up the sauce better than dried pasta, which can get soggy and lose its flavor.
If you’re short on time, or just don’t want to make fresh pasta from scratch, try using egg noodles instead!
They’ll still be delicious!
Are Meatballs Served with Pasta in Italy?
So, you’ve heard that spaghetti and meatballs is not a meal served in Italy. But it turns out that the origin of this meal was actually born in Italy—specifically, with Italian immigrants who came to America in the 1880s through 1920s.
They brought their love of pasta and meatballs with them, and once they arrived here, some of them opened restaurants that served these dishes.
In fact, a lot of people thought that spaghetti and meatballs was a new invention—until they took a closer look at the history of it!
What Pasta to Serve with Meatballs (20 Kinds of Pasta)
- Lasagna noodles
- Angel Hair Pasta
- Egg Noodles
- Pick any type of pasta from this list to serve with your delicious meatballs.
- Prepare the rest of your dinner.
- Be ready to munch in no time!