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Cavatappi Vs. Fusilli: What’s The Difference?

Pasta dough is typically made from a mixture of semolina, water, or eggs. 

The pasta dough is then molded into several shapes producing different varieties of pasta.

There are hundreds of pasta varieties shaped in so many exciting ways. These pasta varieties may be long, short, thick, thin, tubular, or have a combination of different properties

It could be quite difficult to keep track of the different pasta varieties considering that they are a lot and because some of them tend to have a similar shape.

Cavatappi and fusili are pasta varieties that have a number of things in common. Both are short-cut pasta shaped like a spiral, and they are often known as corkscrew pastas.  

However, despite the similarities that we have mentioned about these two types of pastas, they are very different structurally.

Cavatappi is a hollow or tube-like pasta that usually has multiple ridges running down its surface, while fusilli is usually solid and has a smooth surface but forms grooves as it is bent into a spiral shape. Fusilli also has more turns than cavatappi.

This post discusses some more of the structural differences between cavatappi pasta and fusilli pasta.

What is cavatappi pasta?

Cavatappi is an Italian word that literally translates to mean “corkscrew” in English.

This pasta is a type of macaroni. It is short and tubular just like elbow macaronis, but unlike the elbow macaroni, cavatappi is shaped like a helix.

Cavatappi pasta is often referred to as double elbow pasta because of its shape.

The surface of cavatappi is usually lined with multiple longitudinal ridges.

Like other pasta varieties, cavatappi is yellow in color. However, it may have a red color, green color or multiple colors when different food colorings are added.

You may also find cavatappi pasta in the refined or whole wheat varieties.

Since cavatappi pasta is made using similar ingredients as other shapes of pasta, its taste is similar to the other varieties of pasta.

It is used together with thick creamy sauces where it holds the thick sauces very well because of its hollow shape as well as the ridges on the surface.

Cavatappi can be used in dishes such as mac and cheese, soups, salads, and casseroles.

What is fusilli pasta?

The name fusilli is said to be derived from the Italian word “fuso” which means spindle in English.

Fusilli is another type of pasta that is known for its spiral shape.

Traditionally fusilli is shaped using a short rod. The pasta dough is first cut into stands and then spun multiple times around the rod to give it its helical shape

Fusilli pasta is short, solid, with a helical shape and with a smooth surface. Fusilli also features grooves formed with each turn of twisting the pasta dough on the rod.

There are other variants of fusilli with a few differing properties. Fusili bucati is a variant that has a tubular shape while another variant with long strands is fusilli lunghi

This pasta could be made with whole wheat and could feature different colors as in other types of pasta.

Fusilli pasta goes well with both thick and thin sauces, and it could be used for salads and soups.

Differences between cavatappi and fusilli

There are a few ways to tell cavatappi from fusilli.

Cavatappi is always hollow while fusilli is solid except for fusilli bucati which is a variant that is tube-like

Cavatappi usually has ridges running down its surface as it spirals, these ridges also help hold creamy sauces.

Fusilli has a smooth surface but forms grooves as a result of the twisting of the pasta

A strand of cavatappi has about two turns on average hence the name double elbow macaroni, fusilli has multiple turns greater than the number of turns in cavatappi pasta.

Can fusilli be substituted for cavatappi?

Cavatappi pasta and fusilli are both used with thick sauces.

They can both be substituted for each other in a number of recipes since they are able to hold the sauce within their surfaces, the cavatappi with its tubes and ridges and the fusilli with its groves

A particular variant of fusilli known as fusilli bucati is actually tube-like and twisted into a corkscrew shape just like cavatappi although thinner. It could be used just like cavatappi in dishes.