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8 Similar Substitutes for Ditalini Pasta

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

Ditalini and other small pasta cuts became popular thanks to industrial pasta production in Apulia, Italy. Today, ditalini pasta and other small pasta varieties are mass-produced and sold worldwide.

Ditalini pasta is shaped like a little tube. It’s also known as “little thimbles” and is frequently used in salads, soups, and stews due to its tiny size.

Ditaloni, a bigger variation of ditalini, fulfills the same function as its smaller sibling. Tubettini, on the other hand, is the smaller counterpart of ditalini pasta. Other alternatives are anelli, risoni, stelline, faralline, and conchigliette.

Let’s learn all about them.

Ditalini Pasta
Ditalini Pasta

What Can I Use in Place of Ditalini Pasta?

1. Ditaloni


Ditaloni is the bigger and more versatile sibling of ditalini pasta. It has the same shape, only bigger.

Ditaloni works well in baked dishes, rich salads, and thick beef stews, as opposed to the smaller, more common ditalini used mainly in soups.

There are two types of ditaloni: smooth and grooved. Smooth ditaloni is typically served in soups or with milder sauces, whereas grooved ditaloni is typically eaten with heavier sauces — tomato, bolognese, and cream.

2. Tubettini


Tubettini is a pasta that resembles ditalini in form but is just a little longer. Compared to ditalini, it is more readily available in shops.

You can use tubettini rigati that feature ridges or standard smooth tubettini. Both types are excellent alternatives to ditalini, but the one with ridges holds more sauce.

Tubettini adds a satisfying thick consistency to soups and broths. You can also make a mean traditional macaroni and cheese with it. It’s perfect for macaroni salads too.

3. Anelli


Anelli, small rings in Italian, is a ring-shaped pasta that’s widely used in soups, salads, and oven-baked pasta recipes. You can also use anellini, a smaller version of the anelli pasta. You can find anelli in canned soups and children’s stews. This pasta is perfect for soups thanks to its smaller size.

Anelli can be a great addition to a creamy pasta salad with mayonnaise and vinegar. You can use it to add a little depth and texture to tomato soup. Alternatively, if you want to keep things simple and basic, serve your anelli with pesto sauce.

4. Risoni


Another tiny kind of pasta that can be found in any grocery store is risoni, known as orzo. It has an oval shape with pointed ends.

Risoni does not catch pasta sauce as well as ditalini, but it’s great in soups, stews, and casseroles. Just add it to the pot 10 minutes before the meal is done cooking. Due to its petite size, risoni also works well in salads and appetizers.

5. Stelline


Stelline belongs to the family of pasta known as “pastime.” It’s a type of pasta that resembles a little star.

It’s widely used in children’s soups because of its adorable shape. It can catch kids’ eyes as it reminds them of stars or flowers, something that can make them like soups more.

Thanks to its small size and the hole in the middle, stelline cooks quickly. This pasta pairs nicely with any stew, soup, or salad.

6. Farfalline


Farfalline, meaning “butterflies” in Italian, is a smaller, rounder version of farfalle pasta, usually formed like a bow tie or a butterfly. It initially appeared in the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia regions of Northern Italy in the 1500s.

This lovely noodle type can be cooked in many ways. It may be roasted in the oven, stir-fried on the stove, or used as a complementary ingredient to pasta salads or soups.

Farfalle recipes typically call for creamy sauces, especially for the classic Eastern European pasta recipe known as kasha varnishkes.

7. Conchigliette


Conchigliette is proof that not all sea shells are discovered at the coast. This pasta looks like a little conch shell, and it’s as adorable as it is delicious.

There are three types of shells: conchigliette is the smallest, conchiglette is middle-sized, and conchiglioni is the biggest shell.

In Italy, there are numerous delicious dishes that call for this shell-shaped pasta. They are frequently added to soups at the end of cooking due to their tiny size and ease of preparation.

The little conchigliette is used in fresh salads, veggies, or meat soups. It can also be combined with pesto sauce or as a side dish with meat, sea bass, or roasted veggies.

8. Elbow Macaroni

Elbow Macaroni
Elbow Macaroni

Elbow macaroni is one of the most common tube pasta shapes. It’s short, semicircular, and comes in a variety of sizes.

ElboMacaroni and cheese, a beloved classic enjoyed by all ages, usually uses elbow macaroni. You can use it in other recipes thanks to its propensity to hold sauce well.

It complements just about every sauce, baked product, creamy soup, and salad. You can also serve it alongside fried foods like fish sticks.

Tips to Enhance Your Pasta Meals

Now that we know about the different pasta varieties, it’s time to learn better ways to prepare them.

For starters, cook pasta “al dente” for the perfect texture. Al dente pasta is firm but still has a bit of a bite to it, whereas overcooked pasta is soft and mushy. Cooking al dente also results in better flavor since the pasta will be less starchy.

Also, consider adding fresh herbs and spices. They enhance the flavor of the pasta and add important nutrients to your meal.

Adding olive oil, sauce, and parmesan cheese can instantly elevate your dish. Olive oil and sauce improve the taste and texture of your pasta, while the parmesan will give it a savory quality that takes the dish to the next level.

Serve the pasta alternatives with a side salad or roasted vegetables for a healthy and delicious meal.

Last but not least, experiment with different cooking methods like boiling, baking, and frying. Each one produces a different outcome. Boiling is the standard; baking will create a crispy crust, while frying adds a layer of flavor and crunch.


No food is more fun and versatile than pasta. This Italian specialty comes in many shapes and sizes — if a pasta variety doesn’t work out or isn’t available — it can easily be replaced with an alternative.

We hope you enjoy our choice of ditalini substitutes. In terms of shape and size, Tubettini is most similar to Ditalini. If you want something bigger in size, then ditaloni is the right choice.

Plus, it will be better for holding thicker sauces like bolognese. Conchiglette is also great for heavy sauces.

Anelli, stelline, and farfalline are the winners in appearance. If you want something to lure your kiddos to eat a nutritious soup, they won’t disappoint.

Rissoni and elbow macaroni are the old-time classics everyone can enjoy, whether in mac and cheese or as a side dish with roasted veggies and meat.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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