While Italians aren’t ones to mess with their authentic dishes, they have a much more relaxed attitude towards pasta. The saying ‘va bene cosi’ means “it’s okay like that”; and it’s your ticket to substituting pasta without feeling like the dish won’t work.
If you’re looking for a ditalini substitute, then keep reading to get nine of the best options. Replacing this small, tubular-shaped pasta in the kitchen is simple.
What can I use to replace ditalini in cooking?
To replace ditalini in your next recipe, your best options are to use ditaloni or tubettini. Although you'll find them both a little larger, they’re a similar shape and have the same uses in cooking. While risoni is a different shape, it’s an easy-to-find pasta that’ll work fine in soups and stews.
Ditaloni pasta makes an excellent alternative to ditalini. It is the same tubular shape, only a little larger and longer. Use this if you’re making a dish with pasta sauce. The larger diameter of the tube will carry more sauce.
Expert tip: For heavier sauces use ditaloni rigati (grooved pasta) and for lighter sauces and soups use the smooth variety (lisci).
Are you making pasta e fagioli, the classic pasta and bean soup? Try tubettini, a pasta that is very similar in shape, only a little longer.
Recipes that call for ditalini use it to add bulk to the dish. It also helps absorb the water, resulting in a delicious thick consistency. Tubettini will work just as well.
Risoni (aka orzo) is another small variety of pasta, but it has a very different shape. Rather than tube-shaped, it is oval with pointed ends. Risoni is not as effective at catching pasta sauce. However, it is well-suited to soups for bulking and thickening the food.
We added risoni high up on this list as it is a readily available ingredient found in any grocery store.
Related reading: What are the best orzo substitutes?
Conchigliette is a type of pasta shaped like a conch shell. It is another small pasta that is useful for catching the sauce. Use conchigliette in soups like minestrone or toss them into pasta salads when you don’t want to overwhelm the dish with pasta.
Corallini, or little corals, are another minute pasta variety that's an excellent ditalini substitute. They are a similar size with a tube shape; the most obvious difference is that the inside of a corallini’s tube is smaller.
Corallini is ideal for adding to consommé or broth that’s been added to a traditional Italian soffritto. It also pairs well with a creamy soup. Although the shape of this pasta appeals to kids and is used in baby food, adults will also love it added to dishes cooked in liquid.
If you’ve ever eaten SpaghettiOs, made by Franco-American, then you’ll have tried anelli pasta. They are small, thin rings of pasta, delicious in tomato sauce. Anellini are a smaller version of these spaghetti hoops and they make a great ditalini replacement.
Use anellini in pasta salads, soup, or to make a classic baked Timballo. They can also be used in pies topped with a mouth-watering golden crust.
If you’re looking to make Mac and Cheese or a pasta salad, then elbow macaroni will work fine. It’s also easy to find in store which is why we wanted to include it on this list.
This pasta is bigger than ditalini, so you’ll need to cook it longer. We don’t recommend it for pasta fagioli soup (pasta fazool).
8. Acini di pepe
You can use acini di pepe pasta as a useful thickener for soups. They are much smaller than ditalini and are shaped like tiny peppercorns. Acini di pepe aren’t our favorite choice as a replacement, but they’ll work in a pinch if no other options are available.
9. Alphabet pasta
Are you cooking for younger children? Why not sub out the ditalini for every kid’s favorite, alphabet pasta. It’s made for soup and you can be more confident it’ll get eaten. What child can resist eating letters!
What is ditalini?
Ditalini is a type of tiny, tube-shaped pasta that is ideal for pasta salad or pasta and bean soup. Its Italian name can be translated to mean “little thimbles” and it is also referred to as salad macaroni. Unlike many larger pasta types, ditalini can be cooked in under 10 minutes.
Where can I buy ditalini pasta?
Ditalini is available from large stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Target and some other well-stocked supermarkets. You can also visit your local Italian grocery store or buy online.
What brands make ditalini?
There is a range of different major brands that produce ditalini pasta. The more popular ones include Barilla, Goody, De Cecco, Delallo, and Pasta Reggia.
Ziti Vs Penne – what’s the difference?
Ditalini is one of those pasta varieties that does a wonderful job of soaking up liquid and thickening soups. It’s also super-convenient because it cooks so quickly.
If you need to replace ditalini in your next dish, then look for similar-shaped pasta from the minute or pastina family. Varieties like ditaloni or tubettini are very similar and can be used interchangeably.
If you don’t have a big pasta range to choose from at the store, then choose a common type like risoni or macaroni. Although they have different sizes and shapes, both will work fine in almost any recipe calling for ditalini.