Spaghetti hung to dry
Place of originItaly
Main ingredientsSemolina or flour, water

Spaghetti (Italian: [spaˈɡetti]) is a long, thin, solid, cylindrical pasta.[1] It is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine. Like other pasta, spaghetti is made of milled wheat, water, and sometimes enriched with vitamins and minerals. Italian spaghetti is typically made from durum-wheat semolina.[2] Usually the pasta is white because refined flour is used, but whole wheat flour may be added. Spaghettoni is a thicker form of spaghetti, while spaghettini is a thinner form. Capellini is a very thin spaghetti, sometimes known colloquially as "angel hair pasta".

Originally, spaghetti was notably long, but shorter lengths gained in popularity during the latter half of the 20th century and now it is most commonly available in 25–30 cm (10–12 in) lengths. A variety of pasta dishes are based on it and it is frequently served with tomato sauce, meat or vegetables.


Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning 'thin string' or 'twine'.[1]


Main article: Pasta § History

The first written record of pasta comes from the Talmud in the 5th century AD and refers to dried pasta that could be cooked through boiling,[3] which was conveniently portable.[4] Some historians think that Arabs introduced pasta to Europe during a conquest of Sicily. In the West, it may have first been worked into long, thin forms in Sicily around the 12th century, as the Tabula Rogeriana of Muhammad al-Idrisi attested, reporting some traditions about the Sicilian kingdom.[5]

The popularity of spaghetti spread throughout Italy after the establishment of spaghetti factories in the 19th century, enabling the mass production of spaghetti for the Italian market.[6]

In the United States around the end of the 19th century, spaghetti was offered in restaurants as Spaghetti Italienne (which likely consisted of noodles cooked past al dente, and a mild tomato sauce flavored with easily found spices and vegetables such as cloves, bay leaves, and garlic) and it was not until decades later that it came to be commonly prepared with oregano or basil.[7][8][9]


Spaghetti is made from ground grain (flour) and water.[10] Whole-wheat and multigrain spaghetti are also available.[2]


Fresh spaghetti

Fresh spaghetti being prepared using a pasta machine
Fresh spaghetti being prepared using a pasta machine

At its simplest, imitation spaghetti can be formed using no more than a rolling pin and a knife. A home pasta machine simplifies the rolling and makes the cutting more uniform.[11] Although, of course cutting sheets produces pasta with a rectangular rather than a cylindrical cross-section and the result is a variant of fettuccine. Some pasta machines have a spaghetti attachment with circular holes that extrude spaghetti or shaped rollers that form cylindrical noodles.[citation needed]

Spaghetti can be made by hand by manually rolling a ball of dough on a surface to make a long sausage shape. The ends of the sausage are pulled apart to make a long thin sausage. The ends are brought together and the loop pulled to make two long sausages. The process is repeated until the pasta is sufficiently thin. The pasta knobs at each end are cut off leaving many strands which may be hung up to dry.[12]

Fresh spaghetti would normally be cooked within hours of being formed. Commercial versions of fresh spaghetti are manufactured.[citation needed]

Dried spaghetti

The bulk of dried spaghetti is produced in factories using auger extruders. While essentially simple, the process requires attention to detail to ensure that the mixing and kneading of the ingredients produces a homogeneous mix, without air bubbles. The forming dies have to be water cooled to prevent spoiling of the pasta by overheating. Drying of the newly formed spaghetti has to be carefully controlled to prevent strands sticking together, and to leave it with sufficient moisture so that it is not too brittle. Packaging for protection and display has developed from paper wrapping to plastic bags and boxes.[13]


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Fresh or dry spaghetti is cooked in a large pot of salted, boiling water and then drained in a colander (Italian: scolapasta).

In Italy, spaghetti is generally cooked al dente (Italian for "to the tooth"), fully cooked but still firm to the bite. It may also be cooked to a softer consistency.

Spaghettoni is a thicker spaghetti which takes more time to cook. Spaghettini is a thinner form which takes less time to cook. Capellini is a very thin form of spaghetti (it is also called "angel hair spaghetti" or "angel hair pasta") which cooks very quickly.

Utensils used in spaghetti preparation include the spaghetti scoop and spaghetti tongs.


Italian cuisine

Classic spaghetti alla carbonara
Classic spaghetti alla carbonara

An emblem of Italian cuisine, spaghetti is frequently served with tomato sauce, which may contain various herbs (especially oregano and basil), olive oil, meat, or vegetables. Other spaghetti preparations include amatriciana or carbonara. Grated hard cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Grana Padano, are often sprinkled on top.[citation needed]

International cuisine

Spaghetti bolognese, very common outside of Italy, but not customary in that country
Spaghetti bolognese, very common outside of Italy, but not customary in that country

In some countries, spaghetti is sold in cans/tins with sauce.[citation needed]

In the United States, it is sometimes served with chili con carne. Unlike in Italy, in other countries spaghetti is often served with Bolognese sauce.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, a popular variant is the Filipino spaghetti, which is distinctively sweet with the tomato sauce sweetened with banana ketchup or sugar. It typically uses a large amount of giniling (ground meat), sliced hotdogs, and cheese. The dish dates back to the period between the 1940s to the 1960s. During the American Commonwealth Period, a shortage of tomato supplies in the Second World War forced the development of the banana ketchup.[14][15][16] Spaghetti was introduced by the Americans and was tweaked to suit the local Filipino predilection for sweet dishes.[17]

Sapaketti phat khi mao (Spaghetti fried drunken noodle style) is a popular dish in Thai cuisine.[18]

Spaghetti is a main part of laksa Johor, a specialty from Johor, Malaysia.[19]

Spaghetti dishes

For a more comprehensive list, see List of pasta dishes.


By 1955, annual consumption of spaghetti in Italy doubled from 14 kilograms (31 lb) per person before World War II to 28 kilograms (62 pounds).[21] By that year, Italy produced 1,432,990 tons of spaghetti, of which 74,000 were exported, and had a production capacity of 3 million tons.[21]


Spaghetti (enriched, dry)
Nutritional value per 70 g (2+12 oz)
Energy460 kJ (110 kcal)
Dietary fiber1g
Vitamin A equiv.
0 μg
Vitamin C
0 mg
0 mg
4 mg
0 mg

Source: USDA[22]
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Pasta provides carbohydrates, along with some protein, iron, dietary fiber, potassium and B vitamins.[23] Pasta prepared with whole wheat grain provides more dietary fiber[23] than that prepared with degermed flour.


The world record for the largest bowl of spaghetti was set in March 2009 and reset in March 2010 when a Buca di Beppo restaurant in Garden Grove, California, filled a swimming pool with more than 6,250 kg (13,780 lb) of pasta.[24]

In popular culture

The term Spaghetti Western was used by American critics and those in other countries because most of the Western movies made in Europe were produced and directed by Italians.[25]

The BBC television program Panorama featured a hoax program about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland on April Fools' Day, 1957.[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b spaghetti. Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: 3 June 2008).
  2. ^ a b "How to Make Spaghetti". Better Homes and Gardens. Retrieved on 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Pasta is Not Originally from Italy". 3 June 2011. Retrieved on 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ "History and Origin of Pasta". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  5. ^ Kummer, Corby (1 July 1986). "Pasta". The Atlantic.
  6. ^ Whiteman, Kate; Boggiano, Angela; Wright, Jeni (2007). The Italian kitchen bible. Hermes House. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-1-84038-875-6.
  7. ^ The Settlement Cook Book: Tested Recipes from the Settlement Cooking Classes, the Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, The School of Trades for Girls, and Experienced Housewives. Settlement Cook Book Company. 1921.
  8. ^ Mazdaznan encyclopedia of dietetics and home cook book: cooked and uncooked foods, what to eat and how to eat it ... Mazdaznan associates of God. 1909.
  9. ^ Levenstein, Harvey (2002). Counihan, Carole M. (ed.). Food in the USA: A Reader. Routledge. pp. 77–89. ISBN 0-415-93232-7.
  10. ^ Gisslen, Wayne; Griffin, Mary Ellen; Le Cordon Bleu (2006). Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs. John Wiley & Sons. p. 635. ISBN 0471663778.
  11. ^ "Homemade Spaghetti". 16 October 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  12. ^ Luke Rymarz (24 June 2008). "How To Make Hand-Pulled Noodles: Part 2 of 2, Pulling". YouTube. Archived from the original on 11 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Pasta Manufacturing" (PDF). August 1995. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  14. ^ Halpern, Sue; McKibben, Bill (May 2015). "Filipino Cuisine Was Asian Fusion Before "Asian Fusion" Existed". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  15. ^ "The Origin of the Filipino Style Spaghetti". Juan Carlo. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  16. ^ Estrella, Serna (30 July 2014). "The Origins of Sweet Spaghetti: A Closer Look at the Filipino Sweet Tooth". Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  17. ^ "How to make Sweet Filipino Spaghetti with Meat Sauce". Asian in America. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Drunken Noodles » Real Thai Recipes » Authentic Thai recipes from Thailand". 12 June 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  19. ^ Durai, Abirame Anne. "Laksa Johor". Kuali. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  20. ^ Zanini De Vita & Fant 2013, p. 68.
  21. ^ a b Salerno, George (13 December 1956). "Spaghetti consumption up as national dish in Italy". Wilmington Morning Star. Vol. 90, no. 52. Wilmington, North Carolina. United Press.
  22. ^ "Spaghetti, Enriched, Dry" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. October 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  23. ^ a b Ridgwell, Jenny (1996). Examining Food and Nutrition. Heinemann. p. 94. ISBN 0435420585.
  24. ^ KTLA News (12 March 2010). "Restaurant Sets World Record with Pool of Spaghetti to be used as animal feed". KTLA. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ Gelten, Simon; Lindberg (10 November 2015). "Introduction". Spaghetti Western Database. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  26. ^ "1957: BBC fools the nation". On This Day. BBC. 1 April 2005.


Further reading