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How to Properly Sauce Pasta

How to Properly Sauce Pasta

Follow these proven pairing and plating tips to serve superior, delicious pasta every time.

Which Sauce to Use

The type and size of the pasta should match the size of the ingredients in the sauce.

Rule of thumb: The chunkier the ingredients in the sauce, the larger the hollow or cup required in the pasta to capture them.

Vegetable Sauces

If you have a chunky vegetable sauce, look for pasta cuts with lots of nooks and crannies or deep crevices to catch and hold the vegetables.
Suggestions: rigatoni, orecchiette, rotelle, shells

Cheese Sauces

Cheese sauces adhere best to small pasta cuts with lots of surface area.
Suggestions: fusilli, farfalle, macaroni, mostaccioli, shells

Oil-Based Sauces

Pesto and other oil-based sauces are just right for keeping long, thin cuts from clumping together. They also coat noodles more evenly than they would smaller pasta with lots of crevices.
Suggestions: fusilli bucati, spaghetti, fettuccini

Butter Sauces

Noodles just beg for butter, so a little bit of sauce goes a long way to coat them evenly.
Suggestions: egg noodles, linguini, fettuccini

Meat Sauces

Two completely different pasta cuts are commonly used with meat ragu. In Northern Italy, wide, fresh egg noodles are traditionally paired with meat sauce, while in Southern Italy small cuts of dried pasta are used. Neither will steer you wrong.
Suggestions: macaroni, fusilli bucati, egg noodles, rigatoni


Nearly any small cut will pair deliciously with soup. The size you choose all depends on how many pieces of pasta you prefer in each spoonful.
Suggestions: ditali, acini di pepe, orzo

How to Plate Pasta

  1. Prepare and heat sauces to serving temperature before mixing with pasta.
  2. Mix pasta gently with the sauce to avoid breaking the pasta pieces.
  3. Mix pasta with sauces just before serving.

Note: Sauces which are too warm will begin to cook the pasta again, and may cause the pasta to lose its texture if kept too warm for extended periods.

(High quality pasta from Pasta Montana will not absorb too much of the sauce, but a lower quality pasta will absorb enough sauce to compromise its texture.)

Find the right pasta for any specialty sauce!

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Posted: May 16, 2023

Bring Montana to the Table

We could tell you how our pasta comes head to head with the top Italian imports. But all you need to do is taste it.