If you’re a fan of Barilla pasta just like me, you’ve probably noticed that every pasta shape has its own number. Spaghetti are no. 5, bucatini no. 9, linguine no. 13, and so on.
Those numbers are more prevalent and printed on the front of the package of Barilla’s European pasta. Whereas in North America, they’re harder to spot and they’re printed on the side of the package.
Have you ever wondered what those numbers on Barilla’s boxed pasta shapes mean?
The numbers on boxed pasta in grocery stores are unique identification numbers given to each pasta shape by its manufacturer. There’s no shared numbering system between brands; each brand tends to have a system of its own.
Barilla’s long pasta shapes seem to have numbers that represent the thickness of the noodles. The thinner the noodles, the lower the number. The thicker the noodles, the higher the number.
I don’t think that this was intended. The more likely explanation is that Barilla introduced these shapes to its product line one after another, which is why they have sequential numbers.
Barilla started making pasta in 1877, starting with the most classic shapes below. Newer shapes of similar thickness have much higher numbers (like Spaghetti Rigati No. 304).
Understanding Barilla Pasta Numbers
This is how Barilla’s numbering system for long pasta shapes looks like:
- Capellini no. 1
- Spaghettini no. 3
- Spaghetti no. 5
- Spaghettoni no. 7
- Vermicelli no. 8
- Bucatini no. 9
- Linguine no. 13
Though I won’t be covering them in my post, Barilla also give numbers to their short pasta shapes. Three of the most popular shapes are:
- Penne rigate no. 73
- Tortiglioni no. 83
- Fusilli no. 96
In the rest of this post, I’m going to help you find out what each of these pasta shapes is best for.
Capellini No. 1 (Angel Hair)
Capellini no. 1, also known as “angel hair” or “fine hair,” is the thinnest pasta shape made by Barilla. It cooks in 4-5 minutes (or 3-4 minutes al dente) and is sold in 16 oz boxes (8 servings) from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range.
In pasta dishes, capellini noodles pair well with light tomato sauces made with fresh or canned tomatoes, light dairy sauces like parsley crème. In zuppa dishes (Italian for “soup”), angel hair goes with beef broth, chicken consommé, and spring vegetable soups.
Spaghettini No. 3 (Thin Spaghetti)
Spaghettini no. 3 pasta is essentially thin spaghetti. They’re slightly thicker than angel hair, but thinner than the staple spaghetti no. 5. They cook in 6-7 minutes (or 5-6 minutes al dente) and are sold in 16 oz boxes (8 servings) from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range.
Use spaghetti for pasta dishes with simple oil-based sauces like Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic), Aglio Olio e Peperoncino (pasta with olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes), as well as seafood pasta like canned tuna pasta or Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams).
Spaghetti No. 5
Spaghetti no. 5 is the pasta that everyone likes. It cooks in 9-10 minutes (or 8-9 minutes al dente) and is sold in two sizes: a 16 oz box (8 servings) and a 32 oz box (16 servings) from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range. The big box is great if you’re cooking for a crowd or have a big family.
The name comes from the word spaghi in Italian, which translates as “lengths of cord.” Spaghetti pairs with any sauce or ingredients you could possibly think of. It’s an especially good choice for pasta dishes with chunky Marinara, hearty Carbonara, and herby pesto sauces.
Spaghettoni No. 7 (Thick Spaghetti)
Spaghettoni no. 7 is in essence thick spaghetti. The noodles from this pasta shape are still long and round, but thicker in diameter than conventional spaghetti. They cook in 11-12 minutes (or 10-11 minutes al dente) and are sold in one size, 16 oz box (8 servings) from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range.
Spaghettoni adds a wheaty aroma and starchy flavor to your pasta dishes. Pair them with heavy and complex meat-based sauces like Bolognese sauce and Ragù sauce. You can also use them for making contemporary pasta dishes with vegetables like broccoli pasta and pea pasta.
Bucatini No. 9
Bucatini no. 9, also known as “perciatelli” are very thick spaghetti with a hole running through the center. The name of these noodles comes from the Italian word buco, which means “hole.” They cook in 8-9 minutes (or 7-8 minutes al dente) and are sold in a 12 oz box (6 servings) from Barilla’s “Collezione” range.
Pair bucatini with rich tomato-, cream-, and dairy-based sauces enriched with cured pork (guanciale, pancetta, bacon) or ground beef. They’re ideal for Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Pasta alla Carbonara, and Cacio e Pepe. The sauce will run through the hollow noodles and small bits and pieces of it will get stuck in the center, turning every bite into an explosion of flavor.
Linguine No. 13
Linguine no. 13 is a pasta shape that’s right in-between spaghetti and fettuccine. They’re made of long strands of dough, just like spaghetti, but are flat, just like fettuccine. They cook in 7-8 minutes (or 6-7 minutes al dente) and are sold in 16 oz boxes (8 servings) from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range.
Linguine means “little tongues” in Italian. Serve with pasta with pesto sauces or use it to make seafood pasta dishes like Linguine Vongolle (linguine with clams) and garlic parmesan shrimp pasta.
Barilla “Classic Blue Box” vs. “Collezione” Pasta Ranges
The pasta shapes that I’ve listed above come from two of Barilla’s pasta ranges: “Classic Blue Box” and “Collezione.” As you were reading this post, some of you were probably asking, “What’s the difference between the two?”
Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” pasta range is made with 100% semolina flour. Semolina is a coarse flour made from durum wheat that’s traditionally used for Italian pasta. Noodles made with this type of flour have a golden color, wheaty aroma, and hold on to their shape well.
Compared to its counterparts from Barilla’s “Classic Blue Box” range, the pasta shapes from the “Collezione” range have a more imperfect surface that helps the sauce to cling to the pasta.
For the six artisanal pasta shapes in its “Collezione” range, Barilla goes one step further. The noodles in this range are made with semolina flour. They’re also made in machines with traditional, bronze-plated dies that give them a rougher, more porous surface.
How Do You Make Barilla Pasta?
The best way to make Barilla pasta is the traditional way:
Whether you go for a tomato-, cheese-, or cream-based sauce, cook your noodles until al dente in a pot of generously salted pasta water.
You know that Barilla pasta is cooked al dente when you fish out a strand and taste it—and it’s cooked through on the inside, yet firm to the bite and with a hardly noticeable crunch on the outside.
Personally, I know it’s there when there no white stuff on the inside, and when I bite a strand, it kind of sticks to my teeth (there’s a reason why al dente translates literally to “to the tooth”).
Sauce the pasta while the noodles and the sauce are still hot. If you’re cooking tomato pasta, you can do this directly in your pan. When making cream or cheese pasta, it’s better to do this in a large bowl (the residual heat is enough) as the dairy could curdle in the excess heat of your pan.
Plate, garnish, serve, and eat. Pasta is best enjoyed while hot!
What’s your favorite Barilla long pasta shape? And how do you like to serve it? Share your thoughts with me and the rest of this post’s readers by leaving a comment in the form below.
If you liked this post and you’re wondering what to read next, check out my lists for the best pasta brands in grocery stores (yes, Barilla is on it) and the more expensive pasta brands worth the money.