Skip to Content

Vermicelli Pasta: Everything About the Shape

Pasta is often associated with Italy and Italian cuisines, but it’s well-loved anywhere in the world. Asian countries also have similar noodles used in Asian cuisine. One pasta type that transcends regions and cooking styles is vermicelli.

Vermicelli is a long Italian pasta with a rounded shape that’s very similar to spaghetti. It’s often claimed to come from Campania in the southern region of Italy. Vermicelli also goes by various names depending on the area inside or outside Italy.

In this article, you’ll learn about the origin and meaning of vermicelli. I’ll also explain the difference between this pasta and other similar pasta types, such as spaghetti and capellini.

Vermicelli: Origin and Meaning

Vermicelli fact sheet:

Pasta Shape:Vermicelli
Pasta Type:Thin Pasta
Length:30 cm (11.81 in)
Width:2.1–2.3 mm (0.08–0.09 in)
Thickness:2.1–2.3 mm (diameter)
Meaning:Little worms
Similar Shapes:Spaghetti, capellini

This table shows important information about vermicelli.

Where Did Vermicelli Originate?

Vermicelli originated from Campania in Southern Italy. Other towns in Italy developed similar pasta around the same time or much later. These different pasta types were called orati, fermentini, and minutelli. Now, they’re all called vermicelli, although they have slight differences.

In addition to spaghetti, vermicelli is one of the most widely used pasta in numerous cities or towns in Italy, including the following:

  • Campania
  • Tuscany
  • Reggio
  • Venice
  • Puglia
  • Bologna
  • Mantua

Some people will argue that the origin of vermicelli is Tuscany, but many sources claim that it’s from Campania. Still, this pasta is widely used in central and southern Italian cuisines.

What Does Vermicelli Mean?

Vermicelli means “little worms.” The name comes from its rounded shape and length. Despite being called little, Italian vermicelli is typically long and thick, measuring approximately 30 cm (11.81 in) in length and up to 2.3 mm (0.09 in) in diameter.

What Is the Difference Between Vermicelli and Spaghetti?

Original Italian vermicelli is slightly thicker than spaghetti. A vermicelli strand is no less than 2.1 mm (0.08 in) in diameter. In contrast, spaghetti is typically only between 1.5 and 2 mm (0.06 and 0.08 in) in diameter.

What Is the Difference Between Vermicelli and Capellini?

Vermicelli is a thick pasta, while capellini is very thin. Capellini is often less than 1 mm (0.04 in) in diameter. As such, this thinner pasta type is sometimes called “angel hair pasta.”

Remember not to confuse Italian vermicelli with Asian rice vermicelli. Although the Asian varieties have adopted the Italian name, they still have significant differences, such as:

  • Italian vermicelli is made from durum wheat. Conversely, Asian vermicelli is made from rice flour.
  • Italian vermicelli is thicker than spaghetti. On the other hand, Asian vermicelli is much thinner — sometimes even called “angel hair.” The Asian variety also more closely resembles capellini.

Best Recipes for Vermicelli

Considering the slight difference in diameter, it’s easy to substitute spaghetti dishes with vermicelli and vice versa. You can do so because the two pasta types are made from durum wheat and are usually the same length.

One recipe I particularly like using vermicelli instead of spaghetti is aglio e olio. Vermicelli also tastes well with tomato sauce with shrimp or meat sauce.

Final Thoughts

Vermicelli is a popular pasta type, but it’s easy to mistake it for other noodles with the same name. Remember that authentic Italian vermicelli is always thicker than spaghetti and made from wheat. In contrast, American and Asian versions of this pasta are much thinner.


Sharing is caring!