Food & Drink

What Is Capellini Pasta and How Do You Use It?

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 | 0 Comments
Capellini can be used in many pasta dishes

Have you ever had the pleasure of eating capellini pasta? There is no shortage of pasta shapes out there, but capellini is a thin, delicate Italian pasta that’s definitely worth a try if you’re in the mood for a light and tasty pasta dish. 

If you’re not familiar with capellini, we’re here to help unwind the lengthy pasta shape and teach you everything you need to know in order to integrate it into your pasta rotation. Is it possible to have too many delicious pasta shapes at your disposal? Of course not! If you’re interested in capellini, read on and immerse yourself in the world of this popular pasta. 


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What Is Capellini? 

Capellini pasta is a cylindrical Italian pasta that’s similar in shape to classic spaghetti or angel hair. Capellini translates to “little hairs,” which makes sense given the ultra-thin, long nature of the pasta. Like most pasta, capellini is made with a mixture of semolina or flour and salt, and it’s cooked by placing it in boiling water. Due to the delicate nature of the pasta, it’s often served with light, simple sauces or seafood.

dried capellini on a board
via Canva

What Does Capellini Look Like? 

Capellini is a long, thin, cylinder-shaped pasta that’s often compared to angel hair or spaghetti. It’s usually dried in a nest-like formation due to the delicate nature of the pasta. Some varieties are dyed with beets, spinach or squid ink to give it a red, green or black color, respectively. 

What Is Capellini Pomodoro? 

Capellini pomodoro is a pasta dish made with capellini noodles tossed in a fresh Italian tomato sauce. The dish is primarily made with fresh cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil. Some recipes call for canned tomatoes instead of fresh. Others add seafood, though this dish doesn’t typically contain meat. You could also opt for a spicy marinara sauce to give this dish a twist. 

A bowl of capellini pomodoro with basil
via Canva

Capellini vs. Angel Hair 

Is capellini angel hair? The two are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a very minor difference between the two types of pasta. Capellini typically has a diameter between 0.85 and 0.92 millimeters and angel hair has a diameter of 0.78 and 0.88 millimeters. So while the pasta shapes are very similar, angel hair is a slightly thinner pasta. 

However, when it comes to cooking, the two pasta shapes can more or less be used interchangeably. They’re both significantly thinner than typical spaghetti and serve as a delicate base for popular pasta recipes. 

Nest of pasta
via Canva

Capellini vs. Spaghetti

Capellini and spaghetti are similar in shape, but spaghetti is slightly thicker, which means it takes longer to cook and is used with heartier, denser sauces. Despite their minor differences, both shapes are popular and lend themselves to a wide range of easy pasta recipes

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Capellini Recipes

Capellini pasta is a thin, delicate pasta that’s perfect when tossed with a light sauce, as opposed to a thicker, meatier sauce that would work better with a denser pasta shape. For tips on how to cook capellini and other pasta dishes check out cooking classes near you or scroll through online cooking classes to find one that can help you take your pasta game to new levels! 

One popular recipe is capellini primavera, which features pasta tossed with plenty of fresh vegetables in a light sauce that is typically made with broth and cheese. You can also embrace the timeless flavors of fresh tomatoes and basil and make a vibrant capellini pomodoro. Feel free to pair these dishes with a fresh piece of fish, seafood or grilled chicken if you want a bit more protein in your meal. 

The light nature of the pasta also works wonderfully as a base of a salad. Toss chilled capellini with fresh herbs, veggies of your choice, capers and freshly squeezed lemon. You then have a lemon capellini salad that’ll be a popular addition to any potluck. If you need a cozy dinner recipe, you can even add it to a vegetable soup. Or, keep it super simple and toss it with some extra virgin olive oil and grilled shrimp, for a filling meal that’s still light and refreshing. 

Capellini with tomatoes on white plates
via Canva

How Long To Cook Capellini 

Because capellini is so delicate, it doesn’t need a lot of time in boiling water before it’s perfectly al dente and ready to eat. Typically, it only takes about one to two minutes to cook. Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye on your pasta as you’re cooking it so that you don’t leave it in for too long.

A person putting capellini into a pot
via Canva

Where To Buy Capellini

If you want to try this pasta for yourself, you can find it at most grocery stores in the pasta aisle. However, for a more authentic version, you’ll need to head to a specialty shop or gourmet pasta vendor or order the pasta online. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even grab your pasta making tools and try making your own at home. 

Nests of capellini pasta
via Canva

It can be overwhelming to choose a pasta shape for your next recipe, but capellini is a delicious option that is great to have in your wheelhouse due to its versatility and fast cooking time. Hopefully, now you have a solid grasp on the basics of the delicate pasta, and you'll be able to bring it to life in the kitchen and help it shine in the tastiest way possible.

For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.