Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | Are They Same Or Different?

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You may have encountered different shapes of pasta. One might think they only differ in their shapes, but that is not true. Let us learn about the two most commonly confused varieties of pasta through an extremely delicious discussion on ziti vs. rigatoni.

Rigatoni Amatriciana

Ziti and rigatoni are very commonly used pasta that originated in Italy. They both are tabular in shape with a hollow center. The edges of both types of pasta are straight-cut, and they go well with different kinds of sauces, meats, and veggies.

However, they also differ in their taste, texture, and cooking usage.

When we talk about ziti, it has a smooth texture and is larger in size than rigatoni, which has ridges throughout the shape.

Ziti holds well sauces, whereas the ridges speak across rigatoni, helping the sauces and chunky parts of meat and veggies mix well, giving you the perfect bite. Ziti goes well with almost any sauce and is the best option if your recipe calls for pasta baking.

Today we will unfold all the information and interesting facts about ziti and rigatoni and learn all the major differences between the both.

I will also take you through some top recipes made with ziti and rigatoni, so why wait for more and let’s dig into the conversion. Before that, have a look at the overall difference table between ziti and rigatoni. 

Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | The Difference Table

Basis Of Differences ZitiRigatoni
TextureSmoothSpiral or straight ridges
Cooking Time 14-15 minutes10-12 minutes
Thickness1.25 millimeters1 millimeter
UsesBaked recipes, red and white pasta sauces, lasagna, etc.Great for pasta meals with light sauces with chunky meat

What Is Ziti?


Ziti pasta, which is also called wedding pasta, is a straight-cut pasta. The word ziti translates to ‘the betrothed’ and is served as the first course at an Italian wedding lunch. Ziti has a smooth texture and looks like pasta logs.

Traditionally, ziti used to be very long in size, which needed to be broken before making it. Still, the packed ziti, readily available in the market, is pre-cut, shorter in length, and ready to cook. Ziti has a straight-cut opening on each side which is cut at an angle.

Compared to the other pasta, it has a thicker cross-section so that the shape of the ziti is not compromised when cooked. On the surface, ziti pasta is very smooth in texture which helps to coat the sauces completely, making a perfect bite of pasta. 

When we look back at the history of ziti, we come to know that, like most pasta, it has originated from Italy only. Also, it is very interesting to note that ziti is a variation of Bucatini, a thick pasta with a hole running in the center.

Bucatini is very famous in Rome and is native to Italy. Ziti pasta takes up to 14- 15 minutes to cook and goes well with pancetta, buttery sauces, cheese, anchovies, eggs, veggies, or sardines.

If you are cooking pasta, ziti is the best option, especially if serving a large crowd. The smooth texture of ziti makes it perfect for baking cheesy pasta as it contracts the thicker consistency and traps the cheese and sauce really well.

As mentioned, ziti pasta is very smooth in texture; however, there are ridged varieties of ziti that will have ridges that are similar to rigatoni or penne. ‘

What Is Rigatoni?

boiled rigatoni

Rigatoni is a large round pasta with ridges. The rigatoni’s ridges help it hold the sauces and cheese well. They are slightly shorter but wider than the ziti pasta, with a similar straight-cut opening on each side.

Rigatoni retains its shape even after cooking and mixing with sauces. Another interesting fact about rigatoni is that sometimes the shape is slightly curved. This variation is rarely available and is mostly found in homemade rigatoni.

As we know, rigatoni’s outer surface has ridges, but the inner surface is very smooth.

Rigatoni means lined, to furrow, or to rule and is majorly associated with Central and Southern Italian cuisines. Like ziti and other varieties of pasta, rigatoni also originated from Italy.

There are shorter versions also available called rigatoncini, as the usual size of rigatoni is larger in length. The length and larger surface area are best with thick sauces and grated cheese. Apart from Italy, they are very popular in Rome.

Rigatoni is used in both white sauce and red sauce pasta. 

Rigatoni takes up to 12-14 minutes to cook, which is less than ziti as they are thinner when compared to ziti. 

Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | Similarities Between The Two 

rigatoni in bowls

1. Origin

Both ziti and rigatoni are believed to have originated in Italy. They are widely used in Italian cuisines and complement many Rome dishes. Italy has a great history with pasta, and the different varieties of pasta make Italy ‘The country of pasta’.

Ziti and rigatoni are used in many recipes, especially those with meat, thick sauces, and cheese.

2. Shape 

Now you may think that we discussed ziti and rigatoni, and we saw that they differ in shape; then why are we discussing the similarities section?

Yes, indeed, they differ in shape but an important fact to note about these two types of pasta is that they both are straight-cut from each side of the opening. They are tabular in shape, and sometimes ziti has ridges similar to rigatoni. 

Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | What Are The Differences Between The Two?

rigatoni pasta in a bowl

1. Shape 

Even though we just highlighted the common similarity between these two kinds of pasta is their shape. However, apart from the straight cut at the end and the tabular shape, you can noticeably see the difference in their shape.

Rigatoni is slightly wider than ziti. They also have a unique ridges pattern on the outer surface which is rarely found in ziti pasta. You will also see that rigatoni has thinner walls, whereas ziti has thicker walls.

When it comes to ziti, they can be straight or slightly curved as well.

2. Surface and texture

Without any confusion, rigatoni has ridges over the surface, which is best for holding the grated cheese and any type of sauce, whereas ziti has a very smooth surface that can easily coat the thick sauces.

Ziti gives a smooth finish and is great for presentation because of its elegant look. Ziti may sometimes have ridges similar to rigatoni, but they are very rare. When it comes to rigatoni, you can even find them in spiral form.

Rigatoni texture is slightly different from ziti and will provide far more complexity than other types of pasta.

3. Cooking usage

Ziti is commonly used in tomato-based recipes as it can easily trap the thick consistency of the sauce, and sometimes you can even find it with white sauces.

The shape and texture of ziti are uniform throughout, making it best for casseroles as it helps to add more layers of ingredients compared to other wider varieties of pasta.

The shape of ziti is longer in length, because of which a few scoops of ziti can fill your plate, so they are perfect for your classy and elegant presentation skills. Ziti also has a perfect shape for baking purposes.

One can experiment with different types of sauces with ziti.

Now, if we look at the uses of rigatoni, it is no less than ziti. Rigatoni is versatile and is used with both white and red sauces.

The wider opening of this pasta complements with thick sauces, and if you love adding pieces of meat and veggies, then rigatoni is the best option for you.

It can hold more sauce than ziti, and for the best bite of pasta, you should complement it with a medium or thick consistency of sauces. Several different types of pasta can easily pair with any type of ingredients.

4. Cooking Time

The total time to cook these two types of pasta does not vary much. However, ziti takes more time than rigatoni because of the thicker walls. On the one hand, rigatoni takes up to 10-12 minutes to cook; ziti requires 14-15 minutes to cook.

However, you should always look at the cooking time and follow as per the package details. 

5. Steps To Cook 

The process of cooking ziti and rigatoni is similar to cooking regular pasta. To cook ziti, boil water in a pot and add some salt and oil. Let the water come to a boil, and then add ziti pasta. It will take up to 14015 minutes for the ziti to cook.

If you make a casserole, you must cook ziti a minute shorter than usual. After the pasta is well cooked then, strain the water. You can also store the pasta water to add to the sauce later. The pasta sauce can help to thicken the consistency of the sauce.

Similarly, if you need to cook rigatoni, bring water to a boil with salt and oil. Cook it for 10-12 minutes and strain out the water.

6. Size 

Obviously, the sizes of ziti and rigatoni are different. If we talk about ziti, then the regular ziti pasta has a length of two inches which can differ if you make it at home. Regarding rigatoni, the regular length would be 1.75, which is slightly shorter than ziti.

The width of rigatoni is 0.6 inches which is a little more than ziti with 0.4 inches. As we know, ziti has a thicker wall of 1.25 mm, whereas rigatoni has a thickness of 1 mm. So we can clearly see how they differ in size with distinct lengths, widths, and thicknesses.

Top Recipes To Make With Ziti 

1. Roasted Vegetables Baked Ziti


Roasted vegetables baked ziti is a very comforting pasta recipe for cold winters. For this recipe, you need to prepare your vegetables and then bake them with ziti and a lot of cheese. Firstly, in a large bowl, combine your vegetables.

Cut mushroom caps and chop bell peppers, fennel, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Combine all the vegetables and toss some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Coat the vegetables well and spread them veggies in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a preheated oven, bake the vegetables for about 45 minutes. Do not make them crispy.

Let it cool down until then, and prepare your pasta. In another bowl, mix together cooked pasta, ricotta, provolone, egg, egg yolk, basil, oregano, cayenne, mozzarella, Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Now in the baking tray, spread marinara sauce. Add one layer of pasta and then spread the vegetable mixture on top. Again add marinara sauce over the vegetable mixture and add pasta as the next layer.

Add one more layer of marinara sauce. Now sprinkle some mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake the pasta at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes and serve it hot.

2. Meatball And Ziti Bake 


The meatball and ziti bake recipe is rich in cheesy and saucy flavor. For this, you will need whole wheat ziti. Cook your pasta as per the package instruction. Strain the pasta and store some of the pasta water. Mix panko, garlic, salt, pepper, beef, and egg in a bowl.

Shape the mixture into meatballs. Heat the skillet with oil and add meatballs to the pan. Cook the balls for 5 minutes. Add garlic to the pan and pour the stored pasta water, tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook and let it simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat.

Stir the pasta into the tomato mixture and spread the pasta evenly. Sprinkle some cheese and broil it for a minute. Now enjoy your meatballs with ziti.

3. Skillet Baked Ziti With Andouille, Tomatoes, and Peppers 

Skillet Baked Ziti With Andouille, Tomatoes, and Peppers 

Skillet baked ziti andouille, tomatoes, and peppers may sound complicated, but it is an easy recipe you can try at home. As we are baking the pasta, remember to boil the pasta for 8-9 minutes only.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and until then, prepare the ingredients. In a pan, cook your sausage, peppers, onion, and garlic over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, so the vegetables are soft and a little brown.

Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce with salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add parmesan cheese.

Now cook it until the cheese melts. Now remove it from the heat and sprinkle the mozzarella and some parmesan. Bake the pasta in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Let the pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.

4. Greek Baked Ziti Pasta

Greek Baked Ziti Pastitsio

Greek baked pasta is very easy and delicious pasta recipe. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onions and sauté them for a few minutes. Now add some garlic and cook it for a minute. Add lamb and beef. Cook them until brown. Now toss some tomatoes with oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon.

Simmer the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes. While the sauce cooks, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, and mix with a whisker. Add milk and stir it until smooth. Add more milk and salt. Bring it to a boil. Gradually add milk to eggs and stir them well.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir half the pasta in tomato sauce and half in white sauce. Scoop the red sauce pasta and transfer it to the ceramic baking dish. Top it with white sauce pasta. Sprinkle it with cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add some oregano and serve.

5. Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Lasagna-style baked ziti is another tasty substitute for lasagna when you don’t have lasagna pasta. Cook your ziti as per the package instructions. In a large pot, heat the oil, onion, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the onions are softened.

Now add the beef and cook it over medium-high flame for 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the pasta sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss it properly.

Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the mozzarella melts for about 15 minutes. If you are making it to serve later on, you can even freeze the pasta just before the baking step and reheat it whenever you want to serve it.

Top Recipes With Rigatoni 

1. Five Cheese Rigatoni 

Five Cheese Rigatoni 

Five chesse rigatoni is very cheesy pasta recipe. Cook the rigatoni as per the package instructions. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Now in a large pan, melt some butter. Add some flour and stir it with a whisk. Sprinkle salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Slowly add milk and let it boil.

Add Swiss, fontina, mozzarella, parmesan, and Romano cheeses to the boiled milk. Cook it until the cheese melts. Add the boiled pasta and combine it well. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle more parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Cover and bake it for 20 minutes and then bake it uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Now serve it hot and enjoy.

2. Four-Cheese Sausage Rigatoni

Four-Cheese Sausage Rigatoni

Four cheese sausage rigatoni is a very delicious pasta recipe. Cook your pasta as usual and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the pasta and keep it aside in another bowl. In the same pot, cook the sausages with red pepper and onions.

Let it cook over medium heat until the sausages turn pink in color. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Keep this aside and in the same pot, again add cream. Cook the cream for five minutes. Now add tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and pepper flakes.

Cook it for 5-8 minutes and until then, in another bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, goat cheese, egg, and seasonings. Now add the boiled rigatoni. Spread the pasta in baking dishes, add the cheese mixture and again top it with the pasta.

Bake it for 25 minutes. Now, bake it for another 5 minutes uncovered. You can sprinkle more cheese before baking it uncovered. Serve and enjoy the cheesy sausage rigatoni.

3. Greek Pasta Bake 

Greek Pasta Bake 

Greek pasta bake is a very easy and tasty recipe to try. Simply cook beef and lamb over medium heat. Remove it and keep it aside in another bowl. Now stir some onions, garlic, and pepper in the same pot. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and lemon juice.

Let the mixture boil. Simmer it for 20 minutes and add sugar along with a pinch of cinnamon. Simmer for 15 minutes. Mix your cooked pasta and transfer it to the baking dish. Sprinkle cheese and bake it at 325 degrees by covering it for about 45 minutes.

Now, bake it for 15 minutes more after removing the cover. Your Greek pasta is ready to eat. 

Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | Which is tastier?


When we compare ziti and rigatoni, then we can clearly conclude that rigatoni is tastier. Rigatoni has thinner walls, and the surface’s ridges help trap the sauce and pair well with meat and vegetables.

The texture of rigatoni is denser as compared to ziti and other types of pasta as well.

 Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | Which is More Versatile?

creamy rigatoni

Regarding versatility, we can easily say that ziti is more versatile than rigatoni. The best thing about rigatoni is that they can combine well with any sauce and are the best option for making baked pasta.

Ziti also has ridges similar to rigatoni, although this variation is rare to find. 

Ziti Vs. Rigatoni | Which is Better?


I would say that rigatoni is better than ziti. We have compared them on many levels, like taste and texture, and clearly, rigatoni is denser and more tempting. They combine well with sauces and make great pairs with veggies and meats.

Rigatoni has a hollow tube wider than ziti, and the walls are also thinner because the ingredients mix well and give the best bite every time you try.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is rigatoni better than ziti ?

Yes, on a personal view I would prefer rigatoni over ziti.

Which takes longer to cook – ziti or rigatoni?

 Rigatoni takes up to 10-12 minutes to cook whereas ziti requires 14-15 minutes to cook.  Rigatoni takes less time than ziti.

Can we find ziti with ridges?

Ziti usually has no ridges with a smooth texture. However homemade ziti can have ridges.


After such a delicious discussion, we have concluded that ziti and rigatoni are not the same types of pasta, and rigatoni is a better option when compared to ziti. Ziti and rigatoni may look similar, but they have distinct characteristics.

They are from the same country but possess unique flavors and textures. Whichever one you try, you will love it. That is why I have shared some best recipes using ziti and rigatoni. I hope you try them at home and let me know in the comment section.

Now we can call ourselves the pasta expert at some level. We will be back with more tempting discussions. Until then, bake some pasta and enjoy it with your loved ones.

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