Difference Between Pasta and Macaroni (with Table)

“All macaroni is pasta but not all pasta is macaroni.” Macaroni is a type of pasta that is shaped like an elbow. Pasta is a dish that originated in Italy but has now spread all over the world.

Pasta vs Macaroni

The difference between pasta and macaroni is that macaroni is a sub-category of pasta. It is a pasta shaped in a particular manner that makes it macaroni.

Pasta is said to have been invented as early as the 4th century A.D. but the first concrete information regarding its existence is seen in 13th century Italy. The macaroni was invented later after pasta began taking different shapes in different areas of the country. Macaroni wasn’t even considered a pasta in the early ’80s.

A similar dish has existed in Asian countries for a long time and is called noodles. Every country has its ways and recipes for eating macaroni and pasta. The dishes differ in the method of cooking and the ingredients used in the preparation.

Comparison Table Between Pasta and Macaroni

Parameters of ComparisonPastaMacaroni
Shape and AppearanceVarious shapes and sizes.A short bent tube that is hollow.
Production TechniqueCan be made manually as well as by machines.Can only be made by machines due to its distinct shape.
PopularityPasta is more popular in Italy.Macaroni is a staple food in America and some other countries.
Shelf Life Dry pasta has a long shelf life while fresh pasta has a short shelf life as it is made with ingredients that can easily go bad in a longer period.Macaroni is commercially produced and has a long shelf life.
IngredientsFresh pasta dough is made from wheat flour, eggs and water. Eggs make the pasta perishable.Macaroni is made from flour and water. Eggs are not added to make the dough which makes it last longer.

What is Pasta?

Pasta is a dough that is rolled out and cut into different shapes. There are more than 300 types of pasta in the world. Some types of pasta are Fusili (spiral-shaped), Lasagna (thin rectangular sheets), Penne (thin tubes with sharp ends), etc. It can be made by wheat flour or semolina based on what kind of pasta you want.

Based on the ingredients used in making the dough for the pasta and it’s shelf life, pasta can be divided into two categories: dry pasta and fresh pasta. 

The dough used for making fresh pasta contains eggs. Eggs give a moist consistency to the dough and they can go bad quite easily as moisture is a breeding ground for microbes. The dough used for making dry pasta does not contain eggs and hence they can be stored for a longer period of time.

Pasta is usually prepared manually and in small batches. Fresh pasta can be either baked or boiled and then tossed in some sauce for flavour.

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What is Macaroni?

Macaroni is a type of dry pasta that is shaped like a bent elbow. It is also known as elbow macaroni. They are hollow in the middle and look like small tubes. They are made from wheat flour.

Macaroni is widely popular in the United States of America. The most popular macaroni dish is macaroni and cheese.

The dough for making macaroni is made using flour and water. The dough is then passed through a machine which gives the macaroni it’s unique ‘C’ shape.

Macaroni has to be boiled before eating. It can be baked and mixed with other ingredients afterwards.

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Main Differences Between Pasta and Macaroni

  1. Pasta comes in various shapes and sizes while macaroni has the shape of small bent hollow tubes.
  2. Macaroni is mass-produced and can only be made by the marvel of modern technology while the pasta is traditionally made by hand in Italy and some other European countries.
  3. Fresh pasta can either be boiled or baked to cook it but macaroni has to be boiled first.
  4. Pasta has different names around the world, it is called noodles in Asia and spaghetti in Europe and America. Macaroni has only one name.
  5. Pasta dough can have eggs in it but macaroni dough does not contain eggs.
  6. The main consumer and producer of pasta are Italy while the main consumer and producer of macaroni are the United States.
  7. Pasta can be stored for varying lengths of time depending upon the ingredients used in making it. Macaroni can be stored for a long time.
  8. Some kinds of pasta can be very hard to come by and are not available easily but macaroni is available everywhere.
  9. Fresh and dry pasta can both vary in their costs as they both use very different ingredients. Fresh pasta is usually more expensive as it’s hand-made. Macaroni is cheap as it is commercially produced.


Pasta is a versatile dish that is enjoyed by many people all around the world. Simple ingredients combine to make something delicious. People eat many different types and variations of pasta which develop after a country adapts the dish in its way. It is rich in carbohydrates and provides energy.

Macaroni is a type of pasta that is available easily and is inexpensive. It is one of the main reasons why macaroni is more popular than pasta. 

As pasta can be made of semolina unlike macaroni (that is made only using durum wheat flour), it is also a healthier alternative to macaroni. Pasta can also be made using rice flour or legumes which are even healthier options.

Both kinds of pasta as well as macaroni have their merits and demerits, but what matters is whether it meets the requirements you want. 

Many people confuse them with each other due to their similarities in using most of the same ingredients for preparation. But seeing the various parameters and their differences, it can be quite easy to spot the pasta and macaroni apart.


  1. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US823872
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1984.tb12446.x

Last update on 2021-09-07 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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