What Is Tagliatelle?

Cooking and Recipes

Tagliatelle

Joff Lee / Getty Images

Tagliatelle (pronounced "tal-ya-TELL-eh") is a long, flat, ribbon-shaped pasta originating in Italy’s Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions. It's available in both fresh and dried forms, and is traditionally served with meat sauce, such as the classic Bolognese.

Fast Facts

  • Category: Strand pasta
  • Cook Time: 2 to 4 minutes (fresh), 7 to 10 minutes (dry)
  • Main Ingredients: Durum semolina, eggs
  • Meaning: From tagliare: to cut
  • Variants: Taglierini, tagliolini
  • Substitutes: Fettuccine, pappardelle

What Is Tagliatelle?

Tagliatelle is a long, flat, ribbon-shaped egg pasta made from semolina, which is a type of coarse flour made from durum wheat. Its name is derived from the Italian verb, tagliare, meaning "to cut," so the word, tagliatelle, roughly translates to "cut up." The reason for this is that tagliatelle is traditionally made by rolling the dough into flat sheets and then cutting it into ribbons using a kitchen knife. It's available either in straight ribbons or coiled into a nest.

Tagliatelle is thought to have originated in Bologna, which is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northeastern Italy. Bologna is also where the classic Bolognese sauce originated, and this hearty, slow-cooked meat sauce is traditionally paired with tagliatelle. 

Other common tagliatelle preparations include tagliatelle alla boscaiola, made with porcini mushrooms and either a creamy or a tomato-based sauce; tagliatelle al salmone, featuring cream and chunks of smoked salmon; and paglia e fieno, combining green and yellow tagliatelle (the green is made by adding cooked spinach to the dough), and served in a cream sauce along with onions, prosciutto, peas, and olive oil. Uova e formaggio, made with eggs and cheese, and pomodoro e basilico, a simple tomato and basil sauce, are also popular accompaniments for tagliatelle.

According to the Italian Academy of Cuisine, the width of tagliatelle ribbons should be 6.5 to 7 millimeters before cooking, which works out to about 8 millimeters wide after cooking. The thickness of the ribbons is around 1 millimeter. In terms of the texture, because it's made from coarsely ground semolina, the texture of the pasta for making tagliatelle is rather rough, giving the noodles a porous quality that helps thicker, heartier sauces adhere to it. 

Tagliatelle vs. Fettuccine

One similar pasta style that is sometimes compared with tagliatelle is fettuccine. And they are similar, both of them being strand pastas that are cut into long, flat ribbons. The main difference between the two is that while tagliatelle is made with egg along with semolina, fettuccine does not contain egg. Also, the tagliatelle ribbons are a tiny bit wider than fettuccine. Another difference is that you're more likely to find fresh tagliatelle, while fettuccine is almost always dried. Given their similarities, fettuccine would make a good substitute for tagliatelle.

How to Cook Tagliatelle

Cooking tagliatelle is a simple matter of simmering it in salted water until it reaches the al dente stage, and how long that will take depends on whether you're cooking with the fresh version or the dried one. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, and depending on the thickness, it can be done in anywhere from two to four minutes. It's best to check it after two minutes to make sure it doesn't overcook. With dried tagliatelle, the cooking time to achieve al dente is anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes.

Tagliatelle is one of the easiest kinds of pasta to make fresh at home. You can use a pasta machine to roll out the sheet of dough, then simply roll it loosely into short folds, as if you were rolling up a rug, adding a light sprinkling of flour in each fold so that the pasta doesn't stick. Then, once it's rolled, use a sharp knife to cut the roll into ribbons around 1 centimeter wide, or a bit less. Once it's cut, cook it right away, or refrigerate and cook within 24 hours.

Tagliatelle

Yevgen Romanenko / Getty Images

Tagliatelle in pesto sauce

Joff Lee / Getty Images

Tagliatelle with asparagus

Cris Canton / Getty Images

Tagliatelle in Bolognese sauce

Gaelle Beller Studio / Getty Images

Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms

BURCU ATALAY TANKUT / Getty Images

Varieties

There's a narrower version of tagliatelle, which goes by the name tagliolini, or taglierini, or sometimes tajarin, depending on the region of Italy. Like tagliatelle, it's made from semolina and egg, and it's cut into narrower ribbons, around 3 millimeters wide. 

Substitutes

If you can't find tagliatelle, your best substitutes would be either fettuccine or pappardelle, both of which are ribbon pastas. As a last resort, you could try linguine, although this is pretty narrow, and the strands are a bit thicker than tagliatelle. 

Tagliatelle Recipes

Tagliatelle pairs best with rich meat sauces and hearty cream sauces. In addition to dishes that specifically call for tagliatelle, you can use it in recipes that call for fettuccine or pappardelle. Here are a few examples.