Ziti vs Penne: What’s the Difference?

5/5 - (1 vote)

We can all agree that pasta is one of the tastiest dishes available, regardless of whether or not you are of Italian descent. The customary long strands of spaghetti or the macaroni that may be found in mac & cheese are probably the first things that come to mind when most people think of pasta.

Ziti and penne are both wonderful options to consider if you’re trying to broaden your horizons in terms of the types of pasta you consume. However, there is significant disagreement over the appropriate settings and circumstances for the consumption of these two types of pasta.

Even though different kinds of pasta might have quite different textures and appearances, it is crucial to remember that each has its own distinct worth. When cooking macaroni and cheese, you can’t just replace the elbow macaroni with spaghetti, can you?

Having said that, being familiar with different types of pasta is an essential skill to have if your goal is to become an experienced cook. In this piece, we’ll be concentrating on the two types of pasta that were described before and that are staples in many other sorts of dishes: ziti versus penne.

Difference Between Ziti and Penne


The flavor profiles of ziti and penne are, in their very essence, remarkably comparable to one another. However, if you combine them with the sauce for a certain meal, it reshapes the taste and differentiates it from the other in a way that was not possible before.

Even though they are both different types of pasta, you cannot just substitute one for the other in recipes that call for cooking or baking. When it comes to matching sauces, each of these foods has its own best-suited companions due to the fact that their sizes and forms are distinct from one another.

Because of its size and form, ziti works well with thinner types of pasta sauce, such as marinara. Ziti may also be prepared in a delicious baked dish, which is very helpful when you want the pasta to be coated with grated cheese. Baked ziti goes particularly well with both meat and veggies as toppings.

On the other hand, the internal structure of penne does not mesh well with sauces that are not very thick. This kind of pasta is ideal for dishes that call for sauces that are more substantial, such carbonara or pesto.

Penne is an excellent choice of pasta to use when you want to include some fresh cheese into a meal since different varieties of cheese adhere to it more readily than they do to ziti. When it comes to meat pairings, it may be used with shrimp, Italian sausage, or chicken to create a robust dish that is full of protein. Other possible meat partners include pork.


The size of ziti and penne is relatively comparable, however there is a marginal difference between the two. Penne pasta is often shorter than ziti pasta, although both types of pasta have a diameter that is around one quarter of an inch or less. However, if you look very carefully, you’ll see that ziti has a tighter diameter than penne does. Penne, on the other hand, has a broader diameter.

During the normal phases of manufacture, ziti pasta is cut short and measures around 10 inches in length. However, there are situations in which the longer version may be purchased and prepared. Ziti typically measures around 3 inches in length and is available both in restaurants and in packaged form to be cooked at home.

Physical Appearance

Aside from reading the label on the container, being familiar with the contents of each kind of tubular pasta and how they physically seem is the most effective method for distinguishing between the two types. How do you differentiate one sort of pasta from the other when they both have a tubular form and are almost the same length?

The most straightforward approach is to search for texture and. In contrast to the ridged surface of the penne, the ziti has a smooth texture all the way through. Penne often comes in two types: one that is fluted and has sharp differences, and another that is smooth and has smooth variations. The variant of the penne with the ridges is the one that is used the most often.

In addition, you may differentiate between the two types of pasta by looking at the form of the pasta. Penne earned its name from looking like a pen with a diagonal point on both ends, which is how it was first described.

Because it is cut at an angle, the end of a penne pasta strand resembles a quill pen in appearance. This is because of the angle at which it is cut. Ziti, on the other hand, has a square cross-section that gives it the impression of a hollow tube.

Preparation Methods for Ziti

Ziti is often prepared with a somewhat al dente consistency. While it is being baked in the oven, the pasta will be cooked thanks to the moisture and steam produced by the sauce and the extra ingredients. Because of this, ziti is an excellent alternative for casseroles that are baked in the oven, and it’s also the reason why there are many different baked ziti recipe choices available online.

Preparation Method for Penne

The majority of the time, penne is cooked and served “al dente.” According to the recommendations made by the Barilla brand of pasta, the appropriate amount of time for boiling al dente pasta is eleven minutes with the lid off.

Penne is a kind of pasta that is sometimes used for baking, however most baking experts do not suggest using it. The ideal method for cooking penne is to begin by boiling the pasta before adding the pasta sauce and any other ingredients.

How are You Going to Use It?

Now that we’ve covered the key distinctions between ziti and penne, you should have a better sense of when and how to include each of these pasta shapes into your next culinary adventure.

Ziti works particularly well in dishes that call for thin sauces that are high in water content, as was mentioned before. After being cooked, ziti pasta takes on a buttery texture and becomes soft. As a result, it is an excellent option for dishes using pasta that is cooked in the oven.

On the other hand, you may use penne for dishes that call for sauces that are more substantial. Because to its robust structure and ridged texture, penne is able to endure the weight and thickness of sauces without becoming brittle or falling apart. Penne is an excellent choice for situations in which you will need to cook the pasta in a stew and mix it with the other ingredients.

Final Thoughts

Is there a kind of pasta that is superior than the other? In my opinion, ziti and penne are both suitable alternatives to one another. Even if penne is more adaptable because to its strong shape, it still can’t compete with the miracles that ziti, when baked, is capable of delivering.

At the end of the day, the decision is entirely yours to make! Try different things, get to know your pasta, and then match it up with the method of cooking or baking that you like. You won’t need much time to become an expert cook.