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What do you serve with mostaccioli?

Mostaccioli is a tube-shaped pasta that is very similar to penne, but larger. It has ridges on the exterior that are designed to hold more sauce. Mostaccioli can be served with a variety of sauces and other ingredients as a main dish, side dish, or even baked into a casserole.

What is mostaccioli?

Mostaccioli, also known as penne lisce, is a type of pasta that originates from southern Italy. It features a tube shape with angled ends. The tubes have ridges along the exterior to allow sauce to adhere to the pasta noodles.

Mostaccioli is one of the largest shapes of penne pasta. It is about 2 inches long and 0.75 inches wide. The large shape and ridges make mostaccioli an excellent choice for holding chunkier sauces or mixing with vegetables, meats, and cheeses.

Simple sauce options

Mostaccioli is very versatile and pairs well with a wide variety of sauces. Here are some of the most common and simple sauce options for serving with mostaccioli:

  • Marinara – A classic tomato-based sauce that also often includes garlic, onions, herbs, and olive oil.
  • Arrabbiata – A spicy tomato sauce made with chili peppers.
  • Bolognese – A meat-based ragù made with ground beef, pork, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and red wine.
  • Alfredo – A creamy white sauce made from butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese.
  • Pesto – A green sauce made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan.
  • Vodka – A pink cream sauce made with tomato sauce, heavy cream, and vodka.

These simple, classic sauces all pair deliciously with mostaccioli. The ridges and tubular shape allow the pasta to grab and hold onto the sauces.

Heavier meat sauces

In addition to lighter sauces, mostaccioli’s large shape and texture make it an excellent match for heavier, chunkier meat sauces. Here are some examples of hearty meat sauces that complement mostaccioli:

  • Bolognese – As mentioned above, a meaty ragù with ground beef, pork, tomatoes, and red wine. The chunky texture pairs nicely with mostaccioli.
  • Ragu – Similar to Bolognese but can also contain ground veal and lamb along with beef and pork.
  • Sunday gravy – An Italian-American meat sauce typically containing Italian sausage, pork ribs, meatballs, and sometimes other meats like beef and veal.
  • Short rib ragu – Made with braised, shredded short ribs in a rich sauce.
  • Beef stroganoff – Tender slices of beef in a creamy, mushroom sauce.
  • Rustic sausage sauce – Chunky tomato sauce with sliced Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and garlic.

The large ridges and tube shape of mostaccioli stands up well to these hearty, meat-based sauces. The pasta tubes collect and hold the meat and sauce in each bite.

Vegetable-based sauces

Mostaccioli also pairs nicely with vegetable-based or primavera sauces. The vegetables add color, nutrients, and flavor. Examples include:

  • Primavera – Mixed fresh vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and peppers in a light cream, oil, or tomato sauce.
  • Sun-dried tomato sauce – Tomato sauce made with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and white wine.
  • Roasted red pepper – Red peppers roasted until sweet and made into a creamy sauce.
  • Pumpkin sauce – Puréed pumpkin with sage, garlic, onion, and nutmeg.
  • Mushroom sauce – Sautéed mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, white wine, and thyme.
  • Spring pea sauce – Fresh or frozen peas made into a light creamy sauce.

The vegetables provide extra nutrients, fiber, and color on the plate. Their texture and flavors complement the shape and texture of mostaccioli.

Cheese sauces

Cheesy sauces are a classic pairing with any pasta, and mostaccioli is no exception. The large tube shape and ridges support thick, rich cheese sauces nicely. Ideas include:

  • Cheddar – A creamy cheddar cheese sauce, often with added garlic, mustard, or beer.
  • Blue cheese – Made from crumbled blue cheese, cream, and chicken stock.
  • Gorgonzola – Pair mostaccioli with the bold flavor of gorgonzola blue cheese sauce.
  • Fromage – A sauce made with a mixture of soft cheeses like Brie, goat cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  • Queso – Cheesy Tex-Mex queso sauce made with cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, and sometimes Velveeta.
  • Nacho cheese – Similar to queso but also includes chopped pickled jalapeños for heat.

Cheesy sauces make a rich, creamy coating for mostaccioli. Feel free to add cooked broccoli, shrimp, or chicken to the pasta and cheese sauce for extra flavor and nutrition.

Salads and veggies

In addition to sauces, mostaccioli can be served mixed with fresh vegetables for more nutrition and crunch. Options include:

  • Greek salad – Toss mostaccioli with cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Dress with a red wine vinaigrette.
  • Antipasto salad – Mix mostaccioli with provolone cheese, salami, pepperoni, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, and Italian dressing.
  • BLT pasta salad – Toss mostaccioli with cooked bacon pieces, grape tomatoes, shredded romaine, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing.
  • Broccoli slaw salad – Combine cooked mostaccioli with shredded broccoli slaw mix, sunflower seeds, red onion, and poppyseed dressing.
  • Italian herb salad – Combine mostaccioli with tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, grated Parmesan, sliced red onion, fresh basil, oregano, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Mixing in crunchy, fresh vegetables and herbs adds more nutrients, flavors, colors, and textures to complement the mostaccioli.

Baked mostaccioli dishes

Mostaccioli works great in baked pasta casserole dishes too. The ridges help the pasta hold on to the other ingredients and sauces. Try these baked mostaccioli ideas:

  • Mostaccioli with Italian sausage – Toss mostaccioli with tomato sauce, Italian sausage, spinach, and a blend of Italian cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  • Cheesy chicken mostaccioli bake – Mix mostaccioli with chopped cooked chicken, broccoli, cheddar cheese sauce, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs.
  • Vegetable lover’s – Layer mostaccioli with your favorite veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, onions, peppers, and zucchini. Top with mozzarella and bake.
  • Meat lover’s – Make layers of mostaccioli, meat sauces, Italian sausage, meatballs, ground beef, ham, salami, bacon, and cheese.
  • Seafood lover’s – Create a baked dish with mostaccioli, shrimp, scallops, crab meat, lobster meat, creamy seafood sauce, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs.

From classic Italian flavors to cheesy comfort to seafood, mostaccioli bakes well with all types of ingredients.

Meats to serve with mostaccioli

In addition to mixed into sauces, various meats also pair nicely served alongside a mostaccioli entrée. Options include:

  • Meatballs – Classic beef and/or pork meatballs simmered in tomato sauce.
  • Italian sausages – Mild or spicy sausages, cut into slices and sautéed.
  • Chicken – Boneless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders cooked in olive oil with garlic and herbs.
  • Shrimp – Sautéed, grilled, or broiled shrimp seasoned with lemon, garlic, and parsley.
  • Beef tips – Sirloin steak tips seared and served with mushrooms and onions.
  • Pork chops – Broiled, breaded pork chops make a nice accompaniment next to mostaccioli.

Pairing mostaccioli with any of these meat options creates a hearty and satisfying meal.


Mostaccioli also works nicely with a variety of seafood. The tube shape and texture stands up well with firmer, meatier fish and shellfish. Ideas include:

  • Shrimp – Sautéed, broiled, or grilled shrimp, seasoned with garlic, lemon, and parsley.
  • Scallops – Seared or grilled scallops with lemon-butter sauce.
  • Halibut – Pan-seared or baked halibut fillets, often topped with breadcrumbs or a sauce.
  • Salmon – Grilled or baked salmon, topped with a creamy sauce or fresh mango salsa.
  • Crab cakes – Broiled Maryland-style crab cakes made with lump crab meat, Panko breadcrumbs and Old Bay seasoning.
  • Lobster – Steamed lobster tail with drawn butter or chunks of lobster meat added to a creamy pasta sauce.

The firm texture of most seafood contrasts nicely with the softer pasta. Grilled fish or shrimp also add fun colors and flavors to a mostaccioli meal.

Complementary sides

What are some delicious side dishes that pair well with mostaccioli entrées? Here are some recommendations:

Side Dish Pairing Notes
Garlic bread A classic! Garlic bread helps soak up any sauce left on your plate.
Garden salad A simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing adds freshness.
Caesar salad Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and croutons pairs nicely.
Broccoli Roasted, steamed, or sautéed broccoli makes a healthy side.
Asparagus Quickly roast or grill asparagus spears for a tasty side.
Green beans Sauté green beans with olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms.
Mushrooms Grilled portobello mushrooms add robust umami flavor.

These vegetable sides as well as salads and garlic bread can round out a delicious mostaccioli dinner.

Dessert pairings

End your meal on a sweet note by pairing mostaccioli with Italian-inspired desserts like:

  • Tiramisu – Ladyfingers dipped in coffee and layered with sweet mascarpone cream.
  • Cannoli – Fried pastry dough filled with sweetened ricotta and chocolate chips.
  • Biscotti – Twice-baked almond cookies perfect for dunking.
  • Panna cotta – Sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and topped with fruit sauce.
  • Italian cheesecake – Dense, ricotta-based cheesecake flavored with lemon and Sambuca.
  • Profiteroles – Cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and toasted almonds.

Any of these Italian classics make for a sweet way to finish off your mostaccioli dinner!


With its versatile tube shape that grabs sauce so nicely, mostaccioli can be served with everything from simple tomato sauce, to rich meat sauces, to fresh veggies and salads. Bake it into a cheesy casserole, or serve it with hearty meats or seafood. Round out the meal with classic Italian sides and desserts. However you choose to sauce it up, mostaccioli makes for a satisfying pasta dinner!