Mostaccioli Vs. Penne – What’s the Difference?

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We owe it to the Italians for bringing splendid taste and versatility in our lives by introducing pasta. There are over 300 kinds of pasta, and some are similar to the others. For example, capellini and spaghetti, cavatappi and rotini, mafaldine and lasagna, agnolotti and ravioli, penne and mostaccioli, etc. They all differ from each other in their own ways, but they all have one same feature: excellent taste!

Penne is a tubular type of pasta with an angular cut at the ends, whereas Mostaccioli is a type of penne pasta with smooth finishing and is also called penne lisce. We’ll cover the differences between Mostaccioli and penne in this article, so let’s get to it!

What is Penne?

Penne comes from the Latin word “penna,” meaning feather or quill, as well as a pen. For its cylindrical and pen-like shape, penne is definitely the perfect name for this pasta. It has a variable finish, smooth or rough, elongated body and angular edges much like children’s popular chips known as “slanty.”

Depending on its finishing, penne is of two types; penne rigate and penne lisce (also referred to as Mostaccioli). Penne rigate has horizontal ridges and is commonly referred to as the common penne type. Penne lisce, on the other hand, has smooth finishing and a tubular shape, commonly known as Mostaccioli.

Nutritional Information

100 grams of penne contains:

  • 118 calories
  • 4 g fat (of which 2.3 g is saturated)
  • 6 g protein
  • 17 g carbohydrates
  • 248 mg sodium
  • 12 mg cholesterol
  • 122 mg potassium
  • 7 g dietary fiber


Penna comes from Northwestern Italy, specifically the Liguria region. In 1865, an Italian pasta maker named Giovanni Battista Capurro acquired a license for the machine that would cut pasta dough into the shape we know as penne today. It was a big break for the pasta machine when it started cutting pasta in the shape of a pen. Before such machines, pasta was cute with the help of scissors, but their drawback was that the finished product had rough and uneven edges.

Penne was initially made using durum wheat flour. All this time, it has been considered the ideal flour for making pasta as it contains higher protein and gluten content, but now even whole wheat flour and white flour are used as a substitute.

What is Mostaccioli?

Mostaccioli is a type of penne pasta with a soft texture and smooth finish but has a similar taste to penne rigate. The word “mostaccioli” means little mustaches in Italian. It is made with semolina and comes from Southern Italy, specifically the Campania region. It is noteworthy that mostaccioli pasta doesn’t have ridges compared to penne.

Nutritional Information

1 cup of Mostaccioli contains:

  • 267 calories
  • 3 g protein
  • 3 g total fat
  • 55 g carbohydrate

Benefits and Uses

Pasta generally has plenty of health benefits if eaten in moderation. It is known as a complex carbohydrate, which means it takes time to be broken down into simple sugars and thus, raises blood glucose levels later rather than sooner. In addition, the less amount of fat present in both types of pasta makes it a great meal that satisfies hunger without leading to weight gain.

Tubular kinds of pasta are perfect for holding sauce, and because of their long and thick walls, they are a wonderful component in pasta salads as well as casseroles. Penne pasta goes well with sturdy sauces; that have meat chunks and vegetables. Furthermore, Arrabiata is a rich pasta recipe in which both pasta types (penne and Mostaccioli) go well with the tomato sauce consisting of a hot mix of chili peppers.

As we’ve learned, Mostaccioli has a soft texture and no ridges; therefore, it goes remarkably well with light sauces such as fine tomato sauce and aromatic olive oil. The most popular and common use for mostaccioli pasta is in baked casserole and other baked pasta dishes that are referred to as “pasta al forno.”

Mostaccioli can be baked with any cheese, for example, mozzarella, parmesan, or cheddar. It can also be baked with ground beef, chicken, sausages, and tomato sauce. Creamy salad dressings go surprisingly amazing with mostaccioli pasta as well!

Cook Time and Instructions

Both penne and Mostaccioli require almost the same time for cooking. Penne takes about 10-13 minutes, whereas Mostaccioli takes about 14 minutes. However, instructions for cooking of both kinds of pasta are the same. The typical directions to cook pasta involve filling a pot with required water and salting it with enough salt so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the ends of the pot.

As soon as the water starts to boil, add the pasta and allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes and make sure that the pasta doesn’t get cooked to the point where it has lost its firmness; the pasta should be firm to bite. As the pasta is cooking, remember to keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the pot ends or even stick to each other. A sticky and sloppy pasta is not an attractive look!

Once the pasta has been cooked completely, drain the water and top it off with a sauce of your choice and a light side dish. And there you have it! Easy to make and delicious, and satisfying to consume.

So What’s the Difference Between Mostaccioli and Penne?

To summarize everything we’ve covered so far, here are some key differences between penne and Mostaccioli:

  • Penna has originated from Liguria, whereas mostaccioli comes from Campania.
  • Both come under the category of tubular pasta, but penne has a rough texture, and Mostaccioli has a smooth texture.
  • Penna has fewer calories than mostaccioli.
  • Mostaccioli has more carbohydrate content than penne.
  • Mostaccioli has less fat as compared to penne.
  • Penne is one of the variations of pasta, and on the other hand, Mostaccioli is a type of penne.
  • Penne has ridges, whereas Mostaccioli does not.