7+ Tasty Substitutes for Orecchiette

People who enjoy comfort food see pasta as the ultimate go-to ingredient. And one of the most popular is orecchiette pasta. 

Orecchiette pasta comprises a shell-like shape with a deep hollow and a pleasant texture. This unique shape comes from pushing the pasta dough through a latterina. The hollows offer a vital advantage as they enable the pasta to scoop up heaps of sauce. 

Therefore, it’s best to pair this pasta with saucier dishes instead of thick creamy ones. You can even serve the orecchiette pasta with delicious meaty sauces and stew.

However, different varieties of pasta could easily be used as a substitute for orecchiette. Our list of orecchiette substitutes will guide you when you find yourself in need of alternatives.

Try our 7 best substitutes for orecchiette if you can’t find this special pasta one in your local store. These alternatives will delight your family or guests with a delicious meal. 

1. Gnocchi

Gnocchi is a good substitute for orecchiette and comes from the Tuscan region of Italy. Semolina flour and potatoes are the primary ingredients for this pasta. Other ingredients include egg, white pepper, and salt.

There are several ways to enjoy gnocchi. One of which is by incorporating it into meat or vegetable dishes with a tomato-based sauce. That said, it should be noted that gnocchi contains wheat gluten from the semolina flour in it. Therefore, people sensitive to gluten should avoid this option and opt for another orecchiette substitute on this list.

2. Tubettini

Tubettini shares many similarities with orecchiette, as it has a similarly long and round shape. Food vendors can make this pasta variety using different flours, though they typically use durum wheat flour. And tubettini is often served in hearty Italian dishes with thick sauces.

Tubettini is a tasty substitute for orecchiette. And, aside from its similar shape, it has a firmer texture than orecchiette.

3. Farfalle

Farfalle shines as another excellent substitute for orecchiette. This pasta option comes from a similar geographical origin as orecchiette. And it’s a healthier and lighter type of pasta produced with larger pieces of dough.

The bow-tie shape of this pasta has made it popular among Italian food lovers. While its shape is different, it has similar hollows to orecchiette. And that makes it an excellent substitute for orecchiette. Farfalle can be enjoyed with either creamy or thinner sauces.

4. Fusilli

Fusilli is believed to have come from two distinct areas in Italy, namely Tuscany and Abruzzo. The shape of fusilli pasta resembles a corkscrew or spring. This shape incorporates large groves, which are great for scooping up the sauce, similar to the hollows in orecchiette. 

The long, spiral nature of fusilli makes it a good substitute for orecchiette. You can serve this pasta with almost anything, and it’s great for both thick and runnier sauces. However, it’s crucial to note that fusilli must cook for a few minutes longer than orecchiette to soften sufficiently.

5. Corallini

The people of Naples in Italy created short, firm pasta tubes with durum wheat flour. This creation has become the corallini pasta we know today. And it’s an ideal substitute for orecchiette.

Corallini pasta looks similar to macaroni but is a much shorter tube. As such, one must be careful when selecting a sauce to go with a corallini pasta meal. This pasta is most often used in dishes with a thinner sauce. But it’s also perfect for pasta bakes.

6. Conchiglie

Conchiglie pasta is the fancy name that describes the seashell or shell pasta. You’ll typically find it made with plain durum wheat flour. But a tri-colored version is also sometimes available. The tricolored variety comprises plain, red made from natural tomato extract, and green derived from spinach extract.

One thing that makes conchiglie a good substitute for orecchiette is that it’s almost identical in shape. It also comes in different sizes, namely conchigliette and conchiglioni, which refer to the small and large conchiglie, respectively.

7. Penne

Penne pasta is a hollow pasta in a cylindrical shape. The interior wall of the penne tube has a smooth texture, while the exterior is furrowed.

There are also various sizes of this pasta shape under different names. Still, the traditional penne pasta is the most common. Penne pasta is an ideal substitute for orecchiette when coupled with marinara and pesto sauces.


Orecchiette pasta might not always be available in stores. Hence, you need to arm yourself with other options that can serve as good alternatives. And when a substitute for orecchiette is needed, any one of the above will do the job.