Mostaccioli vs Penne-What Are The Differences?

To get into the details of which one is better than which one, first you need to know what Mostaccioli is and what Penne is. They are pretty much identical to one another, but are these the same? The answer is a bit complicated since they are the same but also they are different in their own way. 

Feeling confused? Well, don’t be, because we will take you on a tour of the difference between this two delicious pasta through our article. 

Penne is an actual pasta variation. It is made in either ridged variety or smooth variety and these look pretty similar to actual pasta. However, mostaccioli is a type of penne pasta that has a smooth type texture in it. The main basic difference between these two is their shapes and sizes, other than that they are made from almost similar processes and ingredients. 

People who are familiar with penne pasta, will also be familiar with the mostaccioli pasta as among the two types of penne pasta is made, mostaccioli is the second type.

Keep reading to find out more about these two types of pasta.  

Penne – What Exactly Is It?


Origin: Genoa, Italy

Shape: There is an angle cut in the bottom side of Penne, which has horizontal ridges on the surface. The ridges are the same length as the size of the pasta. 

Among all the tubular-shaped pasta, Penne is one of the most famous typed of pasta. When you see this pasta, one thing may come to your mind a pen has been cut into angels and put in a bowl.

Well, the shape of this pasta actually got its inspiration from a quill. The translated name of penne means “pen” and now you understand why it also looks like a pen. Even though there are a lot of varieties of pasta, Penne is one of the most popular variations in the history of pasta records. 

Penne pasta is made of safe-to-eat products such as there are no GMO ingredients included while making this pasta. There are two versions available for penne pasta, one is whole wheat and another is white wheat. A gluten-free version of penne pasta is also available, but that’s not sold in a wide variety of shops.

The best penne pasta types are actually durum wheat penne pasta. This is basically a cultivar that is famous for its resilience and hardness. There are also different types of flavors for it, you can get them according to your recipe need. 

Mostaccioli – What Is It?

uncooked Mostaccioli

Origin: Southern Italy

Shape: These are almost identical to Penne pasta, except for these being cut into larger sizes. Italians sometimes describe it as “Little Mustaches”. 

You may think mostaccioli is something different, but it is not. In fact, it is actually a variation of penne pasta. In Italy, mostaccioli is commonly known as penne lisce. From its name, you can get the clear idea that penne pasta is related to this pasta since penne is present in the name.

In a simple way, it is a smooth variation of the penne pasta that you eat regularly. Mostaccioli textures are smoother than penne pasta. Durum wheat flour along with semolina is used to make this pasta. But the main ingredient is durum wheat.

If you are looking for the rigid version of penne pasta, this is the one for you. 

Penne VS Mostaccioli – The Differences In Detail

Penne bolognese
Penne bolognese

Just because Mostaccioli is like Penne pasta, it’s not entirely like penne pasta. Between them, there are some significant differences that make these tubular pastas stand alone from each other.

Also, their taste isn’t the same which differs them more from one another. Some people may like softer pasta, but some like rigid ones.

Depending on the US and other places, we tried to figure out the differences between these two. Hope this table will guide you to make better choices on this pasta.    

Comparison ParameterPenneMostaccioli
 FoundationThe origin of Penne pasta is Liguria. In the northwestern part of Italy, where Liguria is located, it’s pretty popular. The entire Italian peninsula recognized this pasta from that part of the country.  Even though Mostaccioli is a modified penne pasta, It was born in Campania. Campania is a region located in southern Italy and from there it went into other places of the world.      
Sides and Outlook As you already know, penne pasta looks like a pen and since pens are rigid, this pasta also is rigid on the outside. Due to its rigid texture, it is used in different types of soft cooking such as cream cheese, pasta tender, or pasta dough. Some Penne pasta also has straight outer lines to make it look appealing. The top and the bottom of the pasta have been cut into angels. Mostaccioli Pasta is anything but rigid. It was actually made in the shape of penne pasta because chefs can use this for a solid pasta meal.Mostaccioli has a smooth texture on the outside and is very soft. Due to its softer surface, it is made slightly larger than penne.  
     Best for        If you are planning to make a dish with thick pasta sauces, then Penne is the right pasta choice for you.Since its rigid, thick pasta sauces work really great with it. Sauces such as·        Meat sauce·        Alfredo sauce·        Mariana sauce·        Pesto sauce·        Cheese sauce·        Mushroom sauce·        Bolognese Sauce are the sauce that works best with it.These creamy sauces make the dish more appealing with penne pasta.As you can already tell, mostaccioli works best with lighter sauces.Its smooth surface gives an ideal recipe treat for people who are not interested in thick flavors. Even it works great with casserole dishes and different salads. Some light sauces that work great with mostaccioli are,·        Basic tomato sauce·        Olive oil Sauce·        Pumpkin sauce·        Vegan pasta sauce
ReputationAmong the most popular pasta dishes, Penne pasta is a fan favorite dish. There are many people in the world who make different dishes using penne pasta.The reason penne pasta is my favorite is it can be mixed with fusilli, lasagna, macaroni, and many other different types of recipes. Mostaccioli pasta is more popular among people who make thick dishes more often. Traditionally mostaccioli pasta is a US popular pasta.Because people in the US have s food habit of eating smooth dishes and like baked recipes more, mostaccioli is often found in different dishes. In the US, they know that it’s a type of penne pasta. 
Cooking TimesEven though it’s rigid, penne pasta won’t take much time to cook. If you cook penne pasta in the traditional way, it will take less time than many traditional kinds of pasta.Penne pasta may take about 10- 13 minutes to be prepared for a good recipe. You need to put the perfect water level to boil it. If the measurement mismatches, it may not boil fast or you may find raw pasta after boiling. In general, mostaccioli takes longer time than Penne pasta. The reason behind this is, it’s a bit thicker than penne pasta.In total, mostaccioli pasta takes about 10-13 minutes total, from boiling to cooking. The cooking instructions are the same as penne, it’s just the thickness that takes all the time. 

Can You Substitute Mostaccioli Pasta For Penne Pasta?

Mostaccioli with red sauce
Mostaccioli with red sauce

Yes, you can. It’s not an impossible task as long as you are not dead serious about the texture and thickness of the pasta. It may taste a bit different than the regular pasta recipe you were planning to have but that won’t be noticeable if you are not that much picky. The sauces you use for penne pasta can fix the taste of mostaccioli.   


Mostaccioli vs Penne, which one is good for health?

Ans: While both kinds of pasta are good for health, there is little to compare between these two. Mostaccioli pasta can serve 200 calories with 0% sodium which is great for health. You can get nourishing energy from it. Penne pasta has more fiber and is a good source of vitamin B. So both of this pasta can serve nutrition in their own nutritious way. 

Mostaccioli vs Penne, which one tastes better?

Ans: Both of these pasta tastes great in their own way. Usually, penne pasta tastes a bit saltier than mostaccioli pasta because penne pasta is served with different kinds of delicious sauces. Mostaccioli pasta also tastes great, but it’s widely popular for Chicago, US people as they find its taste to match their local food. 

Mostaccioli vs Penne, which one has more recipe variation?

Ans: As penne came from a place in Italy that was famous for pasta cooking, there are more variations for Penne pasta than mostaccioli. According to our survey, there are almost over 35 variations of recipes for penne pasta. For mostaccioli, it cuts to less than half, making only 15 different recipe variations.


There are two varieties of penne pasta and one of them is mostaccioli.

Both of these pasta is great for any kind of fresh, thick Italian sauce but if you follow our comparison chart, you will understand which sauce will work best with which pasta. Even though this pasta has different shapes, it can be interchangeable as long as you know how to make the dish tasty by mixing it with different sauce variations. 

Keep in mind that penne can hold more sauce than mostaccioli since it’s rigid. Mostaccioli is more relatable when it comes to salad-type dishes. In many restaurants, they put mostaccioli pasta with cashew nuts to make a delicious type of salad.  

Enjoy your delicious pasta with your favorite side dish!

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