From Bolognese to Pesto: Picking the Perfect Pasta Sauce

I have just about every generic noodle type in my pantry (no, I do not make pasta from scratch… congrats to those of you who do), but I can never decide which pasta sauce to use. I thought I was the only one, but apparently, it’s a common problem. Fortunately, there are food experts who know the best practices for pasta and sauce pairings.

Check out some helpful tips for picking the perfect sauce for every type of noodle below:

  • Consider the shape of your pasta: Different pasta shapes are best paired with certain sauces. For example, chunkier sauces like Bolognese work well with ridged pasta like rigatoni or fusilli. In contrast, a smoother pasta sauce like Alfredo pairs well with smoother noodles like linguine or fettuccine.
  • Think about the flavors you enjoy: Do you prefer a bold and spicy pasta sauce, or are you more of a fan of something creamy and mild? Choose a sauce that aligns with your flavor preferences.
  • Consider the occasion: Are you looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, or are you trying to impress guests with a gourmet meal? Choose a sauce that fits the occasion.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up: While traditional pasta and sauce combinations can be delicious, don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and ingredients. For example, add a few spoonfuls of pesto to your tomato sauce or mix some creamy goat cheese into your vodka sauce.
  • Choose high-quality ingredients: The quality of the ingredients you use can make a big difference in the flavor of your pasta sauce. Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients whenever possible. Consider using homemade sauces or specialty ingredients like truffle oil or sun-dried tomatoes to add depth and complexity to your dishes.
Pro chef Adrienne Cheatham returns to Epicurious to break down which pasta best complements the sauce of any recipe. From the tiny dimpled surface of orecchiette and rice-like orzo to long layered sheets of lasagna, learn when, why, and how to pick the right pasta your next time in the kitchen.

I hope these tips help you choose the perfect pasta sauce for your next meal!

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