Decoding the Distinctions: Capellini vs. Spaghetti

Capellini vs. Spaghetti – Exploring the differences

Pasta is a beloved staple in many cuisines around the world, and Italy is particularly famous for its wide variety of pasta shapes and types. Among the many options available, capellini and spaghetti are two types of pasta that often confuse people due to their striking similarities in appearance. In this article, we will delve into the nuances that set capellini and spaghetti apart, examining their characteristics, cooking methods, and ideal pairings. By understanding the differences between these two types of pasta, you can enhance your culinary skills and create delicious pasta dishes.

All about spaghetti

Spaghetti is undoubtedly one of the most popular and widely consumed pastas in the world. The name “spaghetti” translates to “little string” in Italian, which accurately reflects its long, cylindrical shape. Its affordability and ease of preparation contribute to its popularity.
Spaghetti is characterized by its medium density and thickness. This characteristic allows it to be cooked al dente, resulting in a tender yet slightly firm texture. Spaghetti’s thin cut allows for an optimal sauce-to-pasta ratio, ensuring a harmonious blend of flavors in every bite.
Spaghetti is traditionally served with simple sauces such as olive oil, marinara, fresh pesto, or wine and butter sauces. These sauces complement the shape and texture of the pasta and provide a satisfying eating experience.

How to Cook Spaghetti

Cooking spaghetti to perfection requires attention to detail and a few essential steps. Here is a concise guide to cooking spaghetti:

  1. Put water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water.
  3. When the water comes to a rolling boil, carefully add the spaghetti.
  4. Gently stir the pasta to prevent clumping.
  5. After about 8 minutes, test the spaghetti for doneness. It should be al dente, tender with a slight bite.
  6. Drain the cooked spaghetti in a colander and toss lightly with salt and olive oil to prevent sticking.

By following these steps, you will have perfectly cooked spaghetti, ready to be tossed with your favorite sauce.

All about capellini

Capellini, also known as angel hair spaghetti, is a type of pasta characterized by its ultra-thin and delicate strands. With a diameter ranging from 0.85 to 0.92 mm, capellini has a unique texture and taste. However, it requires careful attention during the cooking process as it can easily be overcooked and turn into a mushy mess.
When cooked properly, capellini offers a delicate and soft texture, making it an ideal choice for light and simple sauces. Traditional pairings include pesto sauce or incorporation into a primavera dish, where the pasta can shine alongside fresh ingredients.

How to cook Capellini

Cooking capellini requires a special approach to prevent the strands from sticking together. Here is a quick guide to cooking capellini pasta:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add salt and a small amount of olive oil to the boiling water.
  3. When the water comes to a rolling boil, carefully add the capellini pasta.
  4. Gently toss the pasta to avoid breaking the delicate strands.
  5. For al dente capellini, cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the pasta from the heat and rinse.
  7. Serve the capellini immediately with your favorite sauce.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your capellini pasta retains its delicate texture and separates beautifully, enhancing your overall dining experience.

Other types of pasta similar to spaghetti and capellini

In addition to spaghetti and capellini, there are several other types of ribbon pasta with distinct characteristics. Becoming familiar with these pasta types can expand your culinary repertoire and help you choose the perfect pasta for different sauce pairings. Here are a few notable examples:

  1. Vermicelli: Similar to spaghetti but slightly thicker, vermicelli means “little worms” in Italian.
  2. Linguine: Wider than spaghetti, linguine has rounded edges and pairs well with pesto or seafood sauces.
  3. Tagliatelle: Made with an egg-rich dough, tagliatelle is a medium-width pasta that complements meatier sauces.
  4. Fettuccine: Known as “little ribbons” in Italian, fettuccine is a flat, thick pasta.
  5. Pappardelle: These broad, large, flat noodles are wider than fettuccine and often have extra eggs in the dough.
  6. Bucatini: Similar to spaghetti, bucatini noodles have a hole running through the center for a unique texture and ability to absorb sauce.

Familiarizing yourself with these pasta varieties can help you navigate the menu in Italian restaurants or experiment with different sauces in your own kitchen.


While capellini and spaghetti may appear similar at first glance, their subtle differences in thickness and texture have a significant impact on the overall dining experience. Spaghetti’s medium density and versatility make it a popular choice for a variety of sauces, while capellini’s delicate strands require special attention to avoid overcooking.
Understanding the characteristics and ideal pairings of these pasta types will allow you to create exquisite dishes that showcase the unique qualities of each. Whether you prefer the comforting simplicity of spaghetti or the delicate elegance of capellini, both types of pasta offer endless possibilities for culinary exploration.
Expand your pasta repertoire, experiment with different sauces, and embrace the nuances of both capellini and spaghetti. With a little practice and a little creativity, you can take your pasta dishes to new heights and delight yourself and others with the rich flavors and textures these pastas have to offer.


What is the main difference between capellini and spaghetti?

Capellini is noticeably thinner than spaghetti, making it a delicate pasta option compared to the slightly thicker strands of spaghetti.

Can capellini and spaghetti be used interchangeably in recipes?

While both capellini and spaghetti are long, thin pasta options, their different thicknesses can affect the texture and overall result of a dish. It is best to use each type of pasta in recipes specifically designed for them to achieve the desired results.

What sauces work best with spaghetti?

Spaghetti goes well with a variety of sauces, including olive oil, marinara, fresh pesto, wine and butter-based sauces. Its thin shape allows for a balanced sauce-to-pasta ratio, which enhances the flavour profile of the dish.

What are the ideal sauces for Capellini?

The delicate texture of capellini lends itself well to light and simple sauces. Traditional pairings include pesto sauce or incorporating them into a primavera dish, allowing the pasta to shine alongside fresh ingredients.

How do you cook spaghetti to get the perfect texture?

To cook spaghetti to perfection, bring a pan of water to the boil, add salt and a drizzle of olive oil, then gently add the spaghetti and cook for about 8 minutes. Check that it is cooked al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain the cooked spaghetti in a colander and toss lightly with salt and olive oil to prevent sticking.

How long does it take to cook Capellini?

Capellini has a short cooking time due to its thin strands. Boil the capellini for about 4 minutes to achieve an al dente texture. Be careful not to overcook as capellini can become mushy if left in boiling water for too long.