What’s the Difference Between Pasta and Spaghetti?

TL;DR – the difference between pasta and spaghetti

Spaghetti is a type of pasta, and you can classify all spaghetti in the pasta category. Pasta refers to a general term.  It can refer to spaghetti pasta, orecchiette pasta, angel hair pasta, bucatini pasta, penne pasta, and many others.

Is Spaghetti A Pasta? What’s the Difference Between Pasta and Spaghetti?

The word spaghetti means “little strings” in Italian, so when you ask the question, “What’s the difference between pasta and spaghetti?” there isn’t much of a linguistic difference. Spaghetti is one type of pasta, and the word often refers to the shape.

You might say that it is a particularly long noodle or kind of noodle. But linguistically, the word “spaghetti” is synonymous with “pasta.” When you say pasta, it’s just a general term for any noodles made from grain.

One of the primary differences between pasta and spaghetti is that spaghetti can generally refer to long, thin noodles. In contrast, pasta can refer to any type of noodle, from long and narrow to short and wide noodles.

When you say spaghetti, though, you’re probably referring to an exceptionally long type of noodle. Spaghetti noodles come in various thicknesses, but they can be as light as angel hair pasta or vermicelli at their thinnest. Therefore the difference between pasta and spaghetti is the same as the difference between a dog and a husky. A husky is a type of dog.

If you do plan to make a pot of spaghetti be sure to get a spaghetti pot with strainer to help you make the pasta.

Pasta Vs. Spaghetti

The most popular type of pasta is spaghetti. If you say you are cooking a pasta dinner, your guest might ask what kind of pasta? Then you can figure out if you want to make spaghetti or any of the other ordinary pasta types below. You can call spaghetti “pasta”; however, if you say pasta, you’ll need to clarify which kind of pasta you are referencing. Below are some common types of pasta shapes.

Let’s not forget about the gluten-free pasta that is also popular. During the last 12 years, a surge in gluten-free pasta also hit the shelves. There was a time during the late ‘90s and early 2000, where I went gluten-free. When gluten-free pasta was first introduced, the flavor and texture were far from perfect. As far as gluten-free pasta went back, there were only a few choices, corn pasta, spelt pasta, and rice. There are kinds of pasta made with quinoa, lentils, brown rice, and blends of the above.

Nowadays, though, there is a wide variety of brands that use blends for their products. Making eating this healthy option much more enjoyable than other options such as rice or cornmeal-based pasta!

11 Types kinds of pasta

You can find all of these pasta types in gluten-free or wheat varieties. Some of them are harder to find in a store when you are looking for gluten-free. However, if you do enough searching, you will find all of them available in a gluten-free variety.

brown rice - quinoa spaghetti
Brown Rice-Quinoa Spaghetti is a Kind of Pasta

bucatini pasta is a one type of pasta
Bucatini is a Kind of Pasta
  1. Orecchiette Pasta – means “little ears.”
  2. Bucatini Pasta – means “tubes -pasta with a hole.”
  3. Penne Pasta – means “quill.”
  4. Spaghetti Pasta – means “thin string.”
  5. Cappelletti Pasta – mean “thin hair.”
  6. Cavatelli  Pasta – means “to make hollow/dig out.”
  7. Farfalle Pasta – means “butterflies.”
  8. Lasagna Pasta – derived from the word “laganon,” which are flat sheets of pasta dough cut into thin strips
  9. Fusilli Pasta – means “spindle or spun”
  10. Pappardelle Pasta – means “to gobble up”
  11. Tagliatelle – means “the way you cut the pasta”
  12. Gemelli – means “twins.”
  13. Annolini – means “little ring.”

As you can see from our list of pasta above, the difference between pasta and spaghetti is that spaghetti is one type of pasta. Our favorite easy recipe using bucatini and shrimp is from Feast by Sara Copeland. It’s definitely a go-to meal in our kitchen.

What’s The difference between pasta and noodles?

Noodles and pasta are similar food products, however, the is difference is more a matter of semantics. The word “pasta” means paste/dough. Similar to how you make masa out of cornmeal.

A macaroni noodle is often made from pasta. long ago they were making traditional pasta with durum semolina wheat flour while noodles were using regular wheat flour. There are so many things to learn about pasta and sauce like –

how long is spaghetti sauce good for in the fridge?

Although now with all of the gluten-free pasta varieties coming out the difference becomes less clear. With modern cooking, many kinds of pasta do not use the old traditional durum semolina wheat flour as they did in the olden days of Italian cooking.

The process for making ramen noodles overlaps with the process for making pasta noodles. However, ramen noodles stem from Japan and pasta noodles stem from Italy. Since we now use all kinds of gluten-free flours to create pasta, any noodle can technically be considered pasta.

Another difference is that pasta is usually made al dente, while noodles are not. Although you definitely don’t want undercooked pasta for with one.

Final Thoughts on the Difference Between Pasta and Spaghetti

Spaghetti is a type of pasta and you can classify all spaghetti in the pasta category. Pasta refers to a general term that can refer to spaghetti pasta, Orecchiette pasta, angel hair pasta, bucatini pasta, penne pasta, and so many others. Spaghetti is one type of noodle while pasta are noodles made from grain in general. When someone asks for “pasta” they may be referring to any length or width but when they say “spaghetti,” it’s usually long thin noodles that they want. Today there are plenty of gluten-free options available as well!

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