The 11 Best Ziti Substitutes

Ziti is a long, tubed pasta that makes a wonderful baked pasta. Its origins come from Naples, Italy, and it is perfect in baked dishes like casserole. Ziti is hollow on the inside with straight-cut edges, making it absorb sauces and meats wonderfully.

The name of ziti pasta comes from the word “zita,” which means bride. Baked dishes using ziti are immensely popular for weddings, so this is how the pasta got its name.

If you have run out of ziti and can’t find any more, you aren’t out of luck. There are plenty of sufficient substitutes for ziti pasta that can be just as fulfilling. Some of the best ziti substitutes are penne, rigatoni, macaroni, mostaccioli, sedani, ditali, elicoidali, bucatini, and manicotti. 

What is Ziti Pasta?

Ziti is a tubular pasta that is medium in size. The noodles are hollow, making them perfect for chunky sauces and meats. Many turn to ziti as their first option for baked dishes like casserole, because of the noodles’ ability to absorb so many flavors and ingredients at once.

It comes from Naples, Italy, and is a classic for Italian weddings and big events. It has a large capacity to hold sauce and the most popular dish to make ziti with is baked ziti.

What Can You Eat Ziti With?

Some of the most popular dishes that ziti does well in are pasta al forno, ziti and cheese, and eggplant ziti. Pasta al forno simply translates to “pasta in the oven,” and is usually a type of casserole packed with cheese and tomato sauce, as well as some type of meat.

Typically, pasta al forno is made with Italian sausage or ground beef. The most common cheeses in pasta al forno are mozzarella or ricotta. As you could assume, ziti pairs well with cheese, and can be great instead of macaroni for a unique ziti and cheese.

Eggplant ziti is another popular form of consuming ziti. It’s perfect for vegetarians, as it contains no meat. For eggplant ziti, baking cubed eggplant and mixing it with boiled ziti and sauce is an easy way to go. To finish it off, try using Parmesan cheese as a topping to make a perfect vegetarian casserole.

What’s the Difference Between Ziti and Penne Pasta?

Ziti Pasta 

Ziti is a pasta with a smooth texture that is hollow on the inside and somewhat short in shape. It originated in Naples, Italy, and is best known for its short ends. The ends of ziti pasta are cut sharply at ninety degrees. 

Ziti can be bought at the grocery store pre-broken, as well as unbroken.Unbroken ziti comes in tubes that are ten inches long and are meant to be broken by hand prior to cooking. 

Ziti is best for dishes that include sauces that are thick and creamy in texture, as its hollowness lets sauce in, giving you equal flavor in each bite. Many chefs prefer ziti for baked dishes like casserole, because the ziti becomes smooth in the oven.

Penne Pasta 

The shape of penne is short and thick, and its ends are cut at an angle, unlike the straight cut of ziti. In Italian, “penne” translates to “quill,” and the angled cut of the pasta lives up to its name. Like ziti, penne is an excellent choice for recipes that have thick sauces.

Penne is also hollow, allowing sauce to enter every noodle it’s around. It is not a typical choice for dishes like spaghetti or carbonara, though, because penne does not do as well with thinner sauces. It adds a firm texture to recipes.

What is a Good Substitute for Ziti?

1. Penne

Penne is another pasta that is tube-shaped, its main difference from ziti is how it’s cut. Ziti is cut at a straight angle, while penne is cut at a sharp acute angle. Like ziti, the name for penne is meant to describe how the pasta is shaped (penne = quill).

Penne is the perfect substitute for ziti when you are baking. The noodles of penne are usually wider than ziti, so with penne you’ll have more room for the ingredients to pile in.

2. Rigatoni

The name rigatoni comes from the word “rigato,” which means ridge. The size of rigatoni can vary greatly, but they are always tube-shaped, like ziti. Rigatoni’s diameter is larger than that of ziti, and can be up to five centimeters. It’s best to use rigatoni for dishes where it will be roasted or consumed raw.

3. Macaroni

Macaroni is easily the most popular type of pasta used for cooking and combining with sauces. Sometimes macaroni can bear a striking resemblance to ziti, down to its size and shape as well as its cut.

The biggest difference between macaroni and ziti is their lengths. Macaroni is an ideal pasta for almost all purposes, though. It can be great for boiling, baking, experimenting with different sauces, and of course, cheese.

4. Mostaccioli

Mostaccioli is a type of pasta that comes from Southern Italy. It is beloved in many parts of Italy, including Sorrento, Capri, and Napoli. Sometimes mostaccioli is confused with penne because of their similar length, diameter, and shape.

But, mostaccioli does not have the ridges along its side that penne does. It works well as a substitute for ziti pasta in recipes where it will be baked. Mostaccioli can even be more advantageous for baking than using ziti, as there is more surface area on the pasta for ingredients to be absorbed.

5. Sedani

Sedani is most often considered to be medium-sized in length. Its noodles are slightly curved and have ridges, like rigatoni. It looks very similar to macaroni, with a five centimeter long length and a one centimeter diameter.

It can be used as a ziti alternative for any purpose, but does best when it is baked. With sedani, meats and sauces should be added directly before serving. It requires a considerable amount of sauce, because without enough sauce the noodles will stick together. 

6. Ditali

The shape of ditali is in small rings which are five centimeters in both length and diameter. The most common use of ditali is for soups, but it can also be baked perfectly. Ditali in Italian means “little thimbles.” 

The noodles are much smaller than ziti, so if that is a concern for you there are some other variants of ditali that exist. One that is most similar to ziti is ditalini.

7. Elicoidali

Elicoidali, the word, roughly means helix shaped. The shape of elicoidali pasta is similar to rigatoni, but its ridges wrap around themselves to form a helix instead of being straight-shaped. They are still hollow noodles, so they can cook and bake wonderfully. 

8. Bucatini

Bucatini is sometimes also called perciatelli. It is thick and straight, with a gap in the middle. The word buco means hole, and perciatelli means pierced. Both of these words are names for the pasta because of the hole going through the shape of the noodle.

Bucatini is typically served with sauce instead of baked, though it can be baked. The reason it’s served with sauce, like spaghetti, is because the noodles are naturally very long. Bucatini is about 30 centimeters long and has a diameter of three millimeters.

9. Manicotti

The name manicotti means “sleeves,” so you can assume it is yet another type of pasta that is hollow, pretty straight in shape, and has ridges. It is pretty large, making it ideal for baking with multiple other ingredients like thick sauces, cheeses, and meats.

If you are looking for a ziti replacement that’s almost a replica, go with manicotti.

10. Chifferi

Chifferi pasta is short and tubular, curving into a partial circular shape. Because of its shape, chifferi works best in soups, and is designed for lighter sauces. Adding extra cheese is also customary for chifferi. It can be used as a salad topping or baked as well.

11. Cannelloni

Cannelloni is another popular type of pasta, you’re likely to spot it on a menu at a restaurant. It is wide, hollow, and has an ideal length for baking. Adding extra flavoring and sauces, or even filling the noodles with ingredients, can make a perfect meal out of cannelloni.

Related Questions

Do you put an egg in baked ziti?

It is common practice to include egg in a recipe for baked ziti. It doesn’t have to be done, of course, but can be a great binding agent for the rest of the ingredients. For example, popular baked ziti recipes include mixing two eggs with ricotta cheese.

In the final dish, you won’t really be able to taste the egg. Its purpose is to make the cheese a bit stronger so that it doesn’t come spilling out when you cut the casserole.

What is the most popular pasta in the world?

The most popular pasta in the world is spaghetti. It’s easy to make and can give you a dinner with just one or two other ingredients, like a vegetable and tomato sauce. It isn’t on our list for ziti replacements because spaghetti is long and string-like.

Is ziti bigger than rigatoni? 

Rigatoni is larger than ziti. It is also bigger than penne. Compared to many other popular types of pasta, rigatoni is still considered small. It’s rather large in diameter, with ridges that can grip onto sauce perfectly.


Ziti is a great pasta for making baked dishes, like casserole. If you don’t have any more ziti and can’t seem to find any, there are plenty of other options that are just as versatile as ziti. Ziti is beloved for its hollowness that allows other ingredients to seep into it, but it’s not the only pasta that possesses this trait.