Homemade Cavatelli Pasta Recipe (from Scratch)

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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.

cavatelli pasta in white serving dish


Cavatelli Pasta

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.

Use your freshly made shells in a variety of recipes – just swap it in wherever there’s penne or rotini. It would be divine with vodka sauce or in this sun-dried tomato chicken dish.

semolina flour in bowl next to olive oil, water and salt


  • 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. 

kneading authentic handmade pasta

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!
rolling dough for cavatelli

Serving Suggestions

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!

For a fully home cooked meal, I have easy to follow directions for making marinaraalfredo, and roasted tomato sauces.

Any one of these would pair wonderfully with this authentic handmade pasta!

making homemade Italian pasta dough

Kitchen Tools You Will Need


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

What is cavatelli?

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.

Can I make this cavatelli recipe ahead of time?

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.

Can I cook some of the dough pieces and save the rest for later? 

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. 

What foods pair well with homemade pasta recipes?

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. 

Is it hard to make homemade cavatelli noodles? 

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!

cavatelli prepared on floured surface

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handmade italian pasta, close up

Other Easy Pasta Recipes

homemade shell pasta on spoon

Cavatelli Pasta from Scratch

Donna Elick
Cavatelli pasta is perfectly shaped to get the most sauce in every bite. Use our recipe for melt-in-your-mouth shell pasta, from scratch!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Mixed
Servings 4


  • 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.

Donna’s Notes

There are lots of different types of flour that can be used for pasta dough. All-purpose flour works perfectly well. 00 flour is great if available for a more silky pasta. Semolina flour, as used here, makes a chewier pasta with a bit more body.
If forming the cavatelli by hand, you will need to roll the dough rope thinner. After practicing with a few pieces of dough, you can adjust the thickness of the rope and the size of the pieces.
Dust your work surface and the formed pasta with semolina flour to prevent sticking.
This pasta does not use eggs; it’s formed simply from flour and water – add salt for some seasoning. We added just a touch of olive oil to help bind the dough.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 333cal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 584mg | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 4mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled collage for cavatelli recipe

Originally published  January 2022, updated and republished December 2023

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love making homemade pasta, but have stuck to fehttuchini, and linguini because I’m afraid of trying new shapes. These were surprisingly easy!

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