Cavatelli pasta is perfectly shaped to get the most sauce in every bite. Make these melt-in-your-mouth shells for your favorite Italian dishes!
Homemade Italian dishes are always so divine, and they are usually an easy go-to option any night of the week! Fresh pasta beats dried, hands down, and your family will love you for taking the time to make it.
This cavatelli recipe is perfect for a night in! Creating your own chewy, authentic handmade pasta will be so much fun, no matter who you make it with.
- Semolina flour
- Sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Warm water
- Semolina and/or rice flour for dusting
How to make Homemade Cavatelli Pasta
Before getting started, be sure that you have a clean work surface and a list of simple ingredients handy.
Make a mound on a floured baking sheet or clean countertop with the semolina flour. Form a well in the middle of the flour mound.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the water, and swirl them together. While working the flour mixture with one hand, slowly drizzle the water and oil mixture into the middle of the flour. Do this until the water is all combined.
The mixture will be crumbly. Press it into a ball and knead it with the palms of the hands for 6-8 minutes. This will form the dough.
Take the completed dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. Set the wrapped dough into a plastic bag and let it set for 30 minutes.
Once the time has passed, divide the dough into 4-8 pieces and roll each piece into a long rope. Try to keep them consistent in size, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Make sure that you keep the dough covered while you’re rolling all the pieces.
Put the rope of dough into the pasta machine. You will need to have a cavatelli attachment to make the correct texture.
If you don’t have the attachment to create the fresh cavatelli pasta, you can make it by hand. To form the dough by hand, cut the rolled dough into small pieces. Press your finger in the middle of the dough and then drag your finger forward. This will stretch the dough and have the edges curl to make the cupped shape.
Let the pasta dry, and then add it to an airtight container. You can cook this quick pasta recipe later, or add the cavatelli noodles to a large pot of salted water to cook and toss with your favorite sauce.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Use the right flour for homemade pasta: Several types of flour will work for this, but each will yield different results.
00 flour will give you a silkier texture, while semolina creates a chewier bite. You can also use regular all-purpose flour!
- Dust your work surface. Along with flouring the dough, add some to your countertop to help prevent anything from sticking.
- No machine? No problem! It’s so easy to shape cavatelli pasta by hand. Start with a thinner dough rope before cutting it into segments.
After practicing with a few pieces, you can adjust the thickness of the rope and the size of the pieces.
- Less is more. This recipe does not call for eggs – just water and flour. Add a few pinches of salt for seasoning, plus a touch of olive oil to help bind the dough!
Cavatelli tastes incredible with just butter and fresh herbs, but you can serve it with your favorite sauce, and feel free to add meat if you’d like!
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- A cutting board or baking sheet for your flour and water mixture.
- Bench scraper – Makes cutting dough quick and easy. Plus, it won’t tear the dough!
- Pasta machine with cavatelli attachment
- Large pot and strainer for when you’re ready to cook it
To keep this to true typical Southern Italian pasta, there really aren’t variations that can be done.
Instead, think about pairings that you can do with this delicious pasta. You can add classic tomato sauce, or your favorite pasta sauce to these small pasta shells. Thicker sauces pair well with this easy recipe because it covers the type of pasta well.
Cavatelli Pasta FAQ
It is a short, eggless noodle that you make with only semolina flour and water.
The name actually translates to “little hollows” since each piece has a divot that is optimal for capturing sauce and butter.
You sure can! When frozen, this authentic handmade pasta will last for up to 3 months. Simply freeze the pieces on a tray until firm, then transfer them to a ziploc bag for storage.
When you’re ready to boil, you can drop in the noodles straight from the freezer! They will just take a bit longer to cook from frozen.
Absolutely. If you want to make a little bit of the pasta now and save the rest of the dough for later, you can. This is a great way to use the remaining dough on a different day and make it taste new and fresh.
Turnip greens are actually a good pairing for this dish, as is cooked spinach. Any type of vegetable is a wonderful pairing for pasta dishes as it lets the flavor of the dough shine through.
All you need is a little bit of practice to perfect this simple recipe. Start by working on a smaller portion of dough from the dough ball. Once you make the pasta well, you can proceed with the full recipe.
Working a small piece of pasta dough will help you gain the confidence needed to create even more of these little treats. You’ll be amazed that once you get the hang of this simple pasta recipe how fast and quickly you can make even more of the noodles.
If uncooked, store covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If cooked, cool and transfer to an airtight container before refrigerating for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the microwave until warmed through, and add a drizzle of oil to keep it from drying out!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Easy Pasta Recipes
Cavatelli Pasta from Scratch
- 2 cups semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup warm water
- Semolina and/or rice flour for dusting
- Mound semolina flour and salt on a marble countertop or a cutting board/baking sheet. Form a well in the center of the mound.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the water and swirl together briefly.
- While working the mixture with one hand, gradually drizzle the water mixture into the center of the flour. Continue drizzling and mixing the flour into the water until it is all combined.
- Press the mixture (it will be crumbly) into a ball and knead with the palms of your hands for 6-8 minutes until a smooth elastic dough has formed.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place in a plastic baggy and let set for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 4-8 pieces and roll each section into a long rope, about 1/2” in diameter. Keep remaining dough covered while you are working with each section.
- Feed the rope of dough through a pasta machine fitted with a cavatelli attachment (shown here). To form the cavatelli by hand, cut the rope into small sections. Press your finger down into the piece of dough and drag your finger forward – the dough will stretch and the edges will curl over to make a cupped cavatelli shape.
- Leave cavatelli to dry and store in an airtight container.
- Alternately, cook freshly formed cavatelli in a large pot of salted water. Toss with your favorite sauce or butter and freshly chopped herbs.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published January 2022, updated and republished December 2023
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