Ziti vs Penne: The Difference Between Penne And Ziti

Have you ever wondered why there are so many types of pasta out there? After all, aren’t all pastas supposed to be made with the same ingredients? Is there a difference between ziti and penne? How about between spaghetti and linguini?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

In this article we’ll cover the difference between penne and ziti, but this information applies pretty much to any other kind of pasta, so keep reading!


What’s the Difference between Penne and Ziti?

Difference between Penne and Ziti

The shape!

Both penne and ziti are cylindrical, hollow pastas that can be used for all types of dishes. However, they look very different from each other, which makes it easy to tell them apart.

Size: While both pastas are medium in size, ziti is visibly longer than penne, as well as narrower. This gives ziti a tube like appearance you won’t mistake.

Ends: Penne is well known for how the pasta is cut at an angle, giving each piece a diagonal cut. Ziti is cut straight, which adds to the tube-like appearance.

Texture: Penne can be smooth or rigged, although the rigged variety is the most popular and the one you’re more likely to find. Ziti is always smooth, which adds to its peculiar appearance. Almost like a miniature hose.

If homemade / purchased from the same brand, both penne and ziti will have the same exact taste. It’s only when you’re trying different pasta recipes or buying from other brands that you’ll notice the difference.

So What’s the Point?

If the flavor is the same and the only thing that matters is the texture, you may be wondering what’s the point of using different types of pasta? Are they actually different or you can use them interchangeably?

Well… it’s a tricky subject.

In simple terms, yes, you can use penne instead of ziti and ziti instead of penne without altering much about your dish.

However, there’s a difference that can change how you enjoy your dish. A difference so small you may not have thought of it before.

Texture Matters

Penne vs Ziti - Texture Matters

Different pastas have different textures because it affects how the sauce interacts with them.

Cool, uh?

Thick, lumpy sauces need thick pastas that won’t break easily as you move them around the plate. Oily sauces can separate otherwise “sticky” pastas, such as spaghetti, allowing them to move more easily around your fork.

Watery sauces go well with rigged sauces, as the sauce clings to the pasta’s surface more easily; Creamy sauces work best with smooth pastas for the same reason and hollow pastas are perfect for thick and creamy sauces as they’ll be “filled” by it, providing you with a whole different experience.

And the list goes on and on.

Penne vs Ziti

Penne vs Ziti

As you can see, the type of pasta you use matters because the sauce will react differently to each kind, making each mouthful more enjoyable than if you had used any other type.

How does this translate to penne and ziti?


- Penne: This pasta is thick, hollow and can be found in both rigged and smooth varieties. This makes it perfect for thick and creamy sauces, but it can be used for thin sauces just as well.

- Ziti: This type of pasta is considerably narrower, which means that thick pastas might not go in as easily as with penne. Because of this, ziti is better saved for thinner sauces.

As you can see, the differences are small but obvious once you learn the basics.

True, you can use any kind of pasta you want, but the right pasta will make the dish taste better.

If you don’t believe us, try cooking the same dish with both the “right” and the “wrong” pasta so you can see firsthand how the sauces act completely different depending on the pasta you’re using.

Other Considerations:

Penne vs Ziti - Other Considerations

- Thicker pastas, such as penne, are easier to bake without overcooking.

- Narrower pastas, such as ziti, will cook faster so you should pay attention to them and follow the cooking instructions.

- Cheese clings to rigged pastas much better

But the biggest difference between these two?

Penne can be cooked or baked, which makes it a more versatile pasta, while ziti can only be baked, making it a perfect pasta for oven based dishes.

Emma Claire

I’m Emma, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of 3 kids, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way.

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