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Stelline Vs. Pastina: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to pasta, shapes are a defining quality.  

Pasta shapes serve not only aesthetic but also functional purposes.  

Different pasta shapes are designed for various uses.  

Small pasta shapes, such as pastina and stelline, are versatile and suitable for salads, soups, or side dishes.  

Their small size allows for even cooking and easy incorporation into a variety of recipes.  

They also absorb sauces well, enhancing the overall flavor of the dish.  

stelline is a pasta shaped as tiny stars which is commonly used in Italian cuisine, especially in dishes for children. 

These tiny star-shaped pastas are sometimes labeled as ‘pastina.’  

If you are confused about these two names, here’s a simple explanation: Stelline is simply a type of pastina. 

Pastina is a general term for tiny pasta shapes, and stelline specifically refers to pastina shaped like tiny stars.  

In this post, we’ll learn more about stelline and pastina. 

What is pastina?

Pastina refers to various small pasta shapes, typically made from durum wheat semolina or a combination of semolina and wheat flour.  

These tiny pasta shapes are often used in soups, broths, and other dishes to add texture and substance. 

The origin of pastina can be traced back to Italy, where it has been a staple in traditional Italian cooking for centuries.  

Different regions might have their own variations of pastina. The size and shapes of pastina can vary, but they are generally very small, ranging from tiny spheres to small stars, letters, or shells.  

Popular examples include acini di pepe which are tiny bead shaped pasta, stelline which is shaped like a star, or orzo.  

Pastina is commonly used in Italian cuisine, especially in soups like chicken noodle soup or minestrone.  

It is appreciated for its ability to absorb the flavors of the broth while providing a satisfying texture.  

The versatility of pastina allows it to be used in various dishes beyond soups, such as salads. 

What is stelline?

Stelline is Italian for ‘little stars.’ It refers to small star-shaped pasta.  

These pastas measure around 8mm in size.  

Stelline is versatile and often used in soups and broths due to their small shape and ability to hold onto liquids.  

The texture is similar to other pasta, with a smooth surface.  

The uses of stelline extend beyond soups; they can also be used in pasta salads or as a side dish. 

 Substitutes for stelline include other small pasta shapes like orzo or small shells, depending on the recipe’s requirements. 

How to prepare pastina 

Preparing stelline is simple.  

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the stelline, and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until al dente. 

 Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  

Once the stelline is done, drain the water. Stelline can be served in soups, salads, or with a sauce. 


Stelline are tiny star-shaped pasta, while pastina refers to a variety of small pasta shapes, which can include stars but also other shapes like tiny ball or grains.