What Is the Difference Between Ziti and Penne?

Ziti and Penne are two forms of pasta that are often confused. With over 350 distinct varieties of pasta, it’s no surprise that there’s some misunderstanding! Both are extruded pasta forms that are short and hollow.

Both are fantastic sauce transporters. Both may be used in a number of cuisines. So, how do you tell them apart? How should you prepare each one?

Difference Between Ziti and Penne

End Shape

The primary distinction between Ziti and Penne is the form of their tips. Ziti has square-cut ends, while Penne has an angled cut. Penne’s angled end form increases the surface area for sauce and aids in directing the sauce within the tube.


The texture is another distinction between Ziti and Penne. Ziti is often a silky pasta. That is, there are no ridges or crinkled edges. Penne, on the other hand, is often ridged. The ridges stretch longitudinally from one end to the other.

Ridges are critical to achieving the desired taste in foods. Sauce adheres to ridged noodles more effectively, resulting in more sauce per mouthful.

If you include cheese in your pasta meal, the cheese will remain more linked to your mouthful since sauce functions as a glue for the cheese and any extra toppings—including meat and veggies, if your recipe asks for those items.


In general, ziti is more often seen in baked recipes. The pasta may be finished in the oven with the rest of the meal. This gives the Ziti a new depth of taste.

Penne is more usually seen in fresh recipes, when it is blended with other fresh ingredients rather than being baked or broiled further in the oven.

Penne is also often served al dente, while ziti is fully cooked.

Sadly, texture is not the greatest method to differentiate various types of pasta. Ziti might have ridges and Penne can be smooth. Penne Lisce is smooth Penne, whereas Rigate is ridged Penne. Similarly, smooth Ziti is known as Ziti Lisce, whereas ridged Ziti is known as Ziti Rigate.

The Lisce varieties are often less popular than others owing to their smooth texture—many consider them meaningless since the noodle cannot hold sauce!

When you go out to buy pasta, make sure you check the box labels carefully to ensure you get the right kind.

Overall, the simplest method to discern the difference between Ziti and Penne is to look at the ends of the pasta. If they are uniformly rounded, you have Ziti on your hands. Penne is when they are angled and tapered to a point.

Ziti vs Penne Comparison Table

The table below compares Ziti with Penne by the cut, texture, length, breadth, and usage of each distinct pasta.

Pasta Type Cut Texture Length Width Uses
Ziti Square ends Smooth texture with no ridges Longer More narrow Casseroles and other baked dishes such as macaroni and cheese
Penne Angled ends with a tapered point Has ridges that run length wise Shorter Wider Fresh dishes, such as pasta salads.

Can You Substitute Ziti for Penne?

Yes! Ziti may simply be substituted for Penne. Many individuals do this on a regular basis without even recognizing it.

There is no problem using Ziti when a recipe asks for Penne, and there is no problem using Penne when a recipe calls for Ziti. They will taste identical since they are prepared from the same components.

Because of the physical variances between these two varieties of pasta, you may notice some texture differences in your dish. No concerns if you’re not concerned about the texture of your meal being affected.

Cook both Ziti and Penne according per package directions. They both need the same quantity of water and cook time. If you’re using Penne in a baked dish that asks for Ziti, you should cook the Penne for a little longer before placing it in the oven.

You may not want to swap them after you’ve learned more about each variety of pasta. Penne and Ziti have distinct shapes for a purpose.

The little changes in form may seem insignificant at first. These tiny variances, though, make each one ideal for a different recipe.

What is Ziti?

Ziti hails from Naples, Campania, Italy. It’s a hollow, extruded pasta with square-cut ends and a smooth texture, as previously stated.

Ziti is around an inch in diameter and may range in length from 1 to 3 inches.

Ziti was created via an extrusion method. This is the stage at which the pasta goes before it is ready to be cooked. To cut the dough into a form, it is pressed through a tool known as a die. All hollow varieties of pasta, including the majority of dry pastas sold in supermarkets, are extruded.

In Sicilian, ziti may imply either bride or groom, and it is customarily served as the first dish at a wedding feast. Because of its particular flavor, it is a popular menu choice for many catering businesses in both Italy and other nations across the globe.

Semolina flour, eggs, and water are used to make ziti. Ziti is either pre-cut or in long tubes that must be broken into tiny pieces by hand before cooking. If you purchase the tubes, they will be around 10 inches long, allowing you to acquire roughly five pieces of Ziti from each.

How to Use Ziti

Ziti is a kind of cooked pasta that is widely used in casseroles and lasagnas. Zitis softens in the oven because to its smooth, thin walls and hollow form. Pennes, on the other hand, has ridges that make it less soft when cooked. That is why Ziti is preferred in baked foods.

Cook the pasta until it is al dente before baking it in a casserole. Put it in the bottom of a casserole dish, then top with the other ingredients. Finish cooking the meal in the oven.

The steam and moisture released during the cooking of the other ingredients will complete the pasta.

Ziti has a tendency to dry out. While baking pasta, be careful not to overcook it. When pierced with a fork, ziti should not be crunchy. Instead, it should be delicate but with some give. Note that ziti is best used in baked recipes.

What is Penne?

The term penne stems from the word for quill, and it’s simple to understand why when you look at Penneit’s form, which resembles a pen or quill!

Penne is one of the few pastas with a specific origin tale. Giovanni Batista Capurro, a pasta maker from San Martino dAlbaro, created a diagonal cutting machine in 1865. His creation shaped the spaghetti into a pen without crushing it.

Penne, like other pasta, is produced from semolina flour, eggs, and water. It is typically accessible in grocery stores as bagged or boxed dry pasta.

You’ll need an extruder to manufacture it yourself. Penne is not available in tubes, however depending on the shop, you may be able to locate fresh cut penne for sale.

How to Use Penne

Pennes, with its ridges and shorter, broader form, is superior than Ziti for fresh foods with rich sauces. The ridges help the sauce adhere to the pasta, while the short, broad form keeps it stable on a fork. Also, the angled ends aid in scooping sauce into the tube.

Penne allArrabbiata, Penne Alla Vodka, and Pasta Alla Norma are some of the most well-known Penne recipes. Because of its firm, solid form, penne is also an excellent option for cold meals such as pasta salad.

Let Penne to cook until al dente in a fresh pasta dish or pasta salad before serving with the sauce. Letting the pasta slightly uncooked maintains the taste while also allowing the pasta to retain its structure. Remember that penne is best served fresh.


Can I substitute penne for ziti in baked ziti?

Ziti substitutions

Ziti is a fairly common pasta form in most locations, but if you can’t locate it, penne pasta may be substituted. You’ll need a robust short pasta form with pockets for the sauce and meat.

Are ziti and penne interchangeable?

The flavors of ziti and penne are quite similar at their foundation. Nevertheless, when you combine them with the sauce for a certain meal, it forms the taste and distinguishes it from the other. Even though they are both types of pasta, you cannot just substitute one for the other while cooking or baking.

What is the difference between ziti and penne and mostaccioli?

Penne vs. Ziti

Mostaccioli is a form of penne lisce with a smooth texture and square-cut edges, while ziti are hollow long wands with a smooth texture and square-cut edges.

Is ziti closer to penne or rigatoni?

Well, how about ziti? Ziti is similar to rigatoni in shape but smooth on the exterior. It’s more popular in the United States than in Australia, and it’s often used in “Baked Ziti” pasta bakes. It’s interchangeable with rigatoni and penne, much like these other pasta forms.

Do Italians eat Baked Ziti?

Although Baked Ziti is an Italian American meal, it has Italian roots – pasta bakes like this have been around for generations in Italy!

What type of pasta is best for ziti?

Ziti is a medium-sized tubular pasta that pairs well with thick sauces and meat dishes that may get stuck in the empty cores. It’s also the go-to pasta for baked ziti, a spaghetti casserole dish loaded with cheese and sauce.

Is ziti just lasagna?

So how do they vary, and which is the best? Baked ziti is made with extruder-style pasta, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella, and then baked. Lasagna is produced by stacking pasta sheets, sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese and baking it.

Is Baked Ziti just lasagna?

The noodles are formed like curves and have ridges on the edges to help the pasta grab onto the sauce. This is the most significant distinction between ziti and lasagna. Instead of being stacked, ziti noodles are often combined with a variety of cheeses, sauces, and other ingredients.

What is the closest noodle to penne?

Since they are all forms of macaroni, any tube-shaped pasta may be substituted for penne rigate. Mostaccioli are 2-inch-long smooth or ridged tubes that resemble penne; rigatoni are wider than penne and cut straight rather than diagonally; and ziti are long thin smooth or ridged tubes with blunt ends.

Is ziti better than penne?

When it comes to smaller pasta forms – ziti vs. penne – one may be replaced for the other in a hurry. Since ziti has a smooth pasta form, it won’t retain as much sauce as penne, but that doesn’t mean supper will be a catastrophe.

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