Mostaccioli Vs Penne: Making Informed Pasta Choices

As pasta lovers, we often encounter a variety of shapes and sizes when exploring the world of Italian cuisine. Two pasta shapes that frequently grace our plates are Mostaccioli vs Penne. Understanding the differences between these two popular pasta shapes is essential for crafting delightful dishes.

In this article, we’ll delve into the origins, physical characteristics, cooking properties, sauce pairings, versatility in recipes, nutritional comparison, and more, providing you with the knowledge needed to make informed choices when it comes to Mostaccioli and Penne.

Mostaccioli Vs Penne

Origins and History

Mostaccioli Pasta:

Mostaccioli, an Italian pasta variety, traces its origins back to the beautiful country of Italy. With its deep roots in Italian cuisine, Mostaccioli has long been cherished as a staple.Traditional Mostaccioli pasta is prepared by crafting elongated tubes of pasta with a smooth or ridged surface, providing a delightful texture that holds sauces well.

Penne Pasta:

Originating from Italy as well, Penne pasta has made its way into the hearts and stomachs of pasta enthusiasts worldwide. The name “Penne” derives from the Italian word for “quills,” which aptly describes the shape of this pasta.

Penne features tubes of pasta with diagonally-cut ends, offering a unique texture and appearance. It comes in variations such as rigate (ridged) and lisce (smooth), providing diverse options for culinary creations.

Mostaccioli Vs Penne

Physical Characteristics

Mostaccioli Pasta:

Mostaccioli pasta is characterized by its straight, tubular shape. It typically measures around two inches in length and features a wider diameter compared to other pasta shapes. Mostaccioli pasta is commonly smooth, but you can also find ridged variations, which help sauces adhere to the pasta more effectively.

Penne Pasta:

Penne pasta, with its distinctive oblique ends, resembles a quill or a fountain pen nib. It shares the same tubular shape as Mostaccioli, but its angled ends set it apart. This shape serves not only an aesthetic purpose but also enhances the pasta’s texture and overall culinary experience.

Penne pasta comes in various sizes, but the most common is the Penne rigate, which has ridges along its surface.

Mostaccioli Vs Penne

Texture and Cooking Properties

Mostaccioli Pasta:

The shape of Mostaccioli pasta significantly influences its texture. Due to its larger diameter, Mostaccioli has a satisfyingly chewy bite, making it a great choice for hearty sauces and robust flavors. Cooking Mostaccioli to an al dente texture is ideal, typically requiring around 9-12 minutes of boiling.

Penne Pasta:

The angled ends of Penne pasta allow it to capture sauces within its tubes, providing a burst of flavor in every bite. Its texture is slightly firmer compared to Mostaccioli, offering a delightful combination of tenderness and firmness. Cooking Penne to al dente perfection typically takes around 10-12 minutes.

Sauce Pairings

Mostaccioli Pasta:

Mostaccioli’s larger size and wider tubes make it an excellent choice for capturing and holding rich, thick sauces. It pairs wonderfully with hearty meat sauces like Bolognese or chunky vegetable-based sauces. The hollow center of Mostaccioli also lends itself well to stuffed pasta dishes, allowing for delicious fillings.

Penne Pasta:

Penne’s tubular shape with angled ends provides the perfect vehicle for trapping and holding sauces. It is often paired with creamy sauces, tomato-based sauces, or chunky vegetable sauces. Penne’s texture complements a wide range of ingredients, making it a versatile choice for pasta salads, baked dishes, and casseroles.

Mostaccioli Pasta:

Mostaccioli’s substantial size and shape make it a versatile pasta option in various recipes. Its large tubes are perfect for stuffing with savory fillings, such as cheese, meats, or vegetables, creating delightful baked dishes.

Mostaccioli also shines in pasta salads, where its structure holds up well to dressings and complementary ingredients. Additionally, it pairs wonderfully with robust sauces like ragù, marinara, or vodka sauce, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.

Penne Pasta:

Penne’s versatility extends to a wide range of recipes, making it a beloved choice among home cooks and chefs alike. Its shape and texture make it an excellent candidate for sautéing, as it captures sauces and ingredients within its tubes.

Penne is a fantastic choice for classic dishes like Penne alla Vodka, where the sauce clings to its ridges. It also excels in pasta bakes, gratins, and stir-fries, providing a satisfying texture and presentation.

Mostaccioli Vs Penne

Nutritional Comparison

Mostaccioli Pasta:

When considering the nutritional profile of Mostaccioli pasta, it’s important to note that it can vary slightly depending on the brand and specific ingredients used. On average, one cup of cooked Mostaccioli contains approximately 200 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein.

It also provides essential nutrients such as iron and B vitamins, contributing to a balanced diet.

Penne Pasta:

Similar to Mostaccioli, the nutritional content of Penne pasta can vary based on specific brands and preparation methods. One cup of cooked Penne typically contains around 200-220 calories, 40-45 grams of carbohydrates, and 7-8 grams of protein.

It is also a good source of dietary fiber and offers important nutrients like folate and niacin.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between Mostaccioli and Penne is key to selecting the perfect pasta shape for your culinary creations. Mostaccioli’s larger size, chewy texture, and ability to hold robust sauces make it an excellent choice for hearty dishes.

On the other hand, Penne’s unique shape, angled ends, and versatility lend themselves well to various sauces and recipes.Experimenting with both pasta shapes is encouraged, as personal preferences and specific recipe requirements play a significant role in choosing the ideal pasta.

Whether you’re looking for a pasta shape to stuff, pair with creamy sauces, or showcase in a pasta salad, both Mostaccioli and Penne offer delightful options to elevate your cooking.

Remember to embrace the diversity of Italian cuisine and explore regional variations of pasta dishes that feature Mostaccioli and Penne. By incorporating these pasta shapes into your cooking repertoire, you’ll expand your culinary horizons and create memorable meals for yourself and your loved ones.


Q: Can I use Mostaccioli instead of Penne in a recipe?

A: Yes, you can! Mostaccioli and Penne are similar pasta shapes, and while they may have slight differences in texture and appearance, they can generally be used interchangeably in recipes. Just keep in mind that the final texture and sauce adherence may vary slightly.

Q: Are Mostaccioli and Penne suitable for gluten-free diets?

A: Traditional Mostaccioli and Penne pasta are made from wheat flour and are not gluten-free. However, there are gluten-free alternatives available in the market made from rice, corn, or other gluten-free grains. Always check the packaging to ensure it is labeled as gluten-free if you have specific dietary restrictions.

Q: Can I prepare Mostaccioli and Penne ahead of time?

A: Yes, both Mostaccioli and Penne can be cooked in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. When ready to use, simply reheat them by boiling them briefly in salted water until heated through. Be sure not to overcook them during reheating to maintain their desired texture.

Q: Which pasta shape is better for pasta salads?

A: Both Mostaccioli and Penne are suitable for pasta salads. Mostaccioli’s larger size provides a hearty and satisfying bite, while Penne’s ridges and angled ends help capture dressings and flavors. Ultimately, the choice depends on personal preference and the specific texture and appearance desired for the pasta salad.

Q: Can I freeze cooked Mostaccioli or Penne?

A: Yes, you can freeze cooked Mostaccioli or Penne pasta. Allow the cooked pasta to cool completely, then transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags. Make sure to remove any excess air to prevent freezer burn.

When you’re ready to use it, thaw the pasta in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it by boiling briefly until heated through.

Q: Are Mostaccioli and Penne suitable for kids?

A: Mostaccioli and Penne are popular choices for kids due to their fun shapes and versatile nature. They are easy to eat and pair well with a variety of kid-friendly sauces such as tomato sauce, cheese sauce, or simple butter and Parmesan.

Adjust the cooking time to ensure a softer texture for younger children, if desired.



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