Acini Di Pepe Substitute

Acini di pepe is an Italian pasta with a name that translates to “seeds of pepper”. It is categorized as a soup pasta and is popularly used in Italian wedding soup. There are several suitable alternatives if you are looking for an acini di pepe substitute. 

What Is Acini Di Pepe?

Acini di pepe is a small round pasta that resembles peppercorns. It is, however, smaller than peppercorns and is one of the smallest types of pasta. Made from semolina flour like most pasta, this couscous-sized pasta is typically served in light soups and pasta salads.

Due to the belief that acini di pepe is a symbol of fertility, this pasta is used in wedding soup, an Italian vegetable-based dish. And it has a cooking time of about 4-9 minutes.

You can purchase dry acini di pepe from the local grocery store, which can last indefinitely in your pantry.

Substitutes For Acini Di Pepe

Below, you will find suitable acini di pepe alternatives that match its shape, texture, and size. There is an option for whatever recipe you may want to try out.

1. Orzo

Orzo, also known as risoni, is a type of short-cut pasta that resembles a grain of rice. Like other types of pasta, orzo is often made from semolina but can be made from whole grain flour. 

Originating from Italy, orzo can be served in soup, salad, pilaf, casserole, or alone. It’s sometimes colored with natural food colorings such as those from saffron, chilies, or black beans

Orzo is also a soup pasta and an excellent substitute for acini di pepe. They are similar in size and can be used in similar recipes. However, orzo is slightly bigger than acini di pepe and needs a little longer to cook. The mild flavor and firm texture make it a great ingredient in cold pasta salads.

2. Tubettini

Tubettini is a type of pasta made of short little tubes. They are the smaller variety of tubetti pasta, which have bigger tubes. This pasta is typically used in light soups, stews, and pasta salads.

These little pasta tubes are an excellent substitution choice due to their small size. Tubettini comes in two varieties: smooth textured or containing ridges (tubettini rigati).

This pasta requires a longer cooking time, needing to cook for about 9 to 11 minutes. When substituting acini di pepe, less tubettini will be needed. 

3. Orecchiette

raw uncooked orecchiette pasta

Orecchiette is a shaped pasta resembling an ear. Originating from Southern Italy, this pasta is made from durum wheat and water. Orecchiette is shaped to resemble an ear in line with the English translation of its name, “small ear”. 

It is typically served with meats and tomato sauces. This pasta is also ideal for vegetable dishes like wedding soup, making it a good substitute in many recipes. The cooking time for acini di pepe and fresh orecchiette is about 5 minutes.

4. Pastina

Pastina is a type of pasta that consists of tiny irregular shapes (typically round). This is the smallest type of pasta, with a diameter of only 1.6 millimeters. Like some other pasta, it is made from durum wheat, water, and sometimes egg.

Originating in Italy, pastina is used in Italian cuisine as an ingredient in desserts, salads, soups, or served alone. It is excellent for light soups like minestrone and Italian wedding soup. Pastina, as a substitute for acini di pepe, is an excellent choice due to its small size. The cooking time is very short, about 5 minutes. When substituting in meals, pastina should be incorporated in more significant amounts because of how small it is.

5. Angel Hair Pasta

a nest of raw uncooked angel hair pasta on a chopping board shot from above

Angel hair pasta, or capellini, is a very thin variety of pasta. It is categorized as a strand pasta and is not exactly a perfect fit as an acini di pepe substitute. However, it works fine in a pinch, especially when broken into smaller pieces.

The delicate broken pasta would go perfectly in light soups and pasta salads. It will also cook quickly, so using this as a substitute will take some skill and finesse.


Perhaps you can’t find acini di pepe in the supermarket, or you’re just looking for something different. Either way, this list offers some fantastic options for an acini di pepe substitute.