The Best Pasta Bowls (Arguably, They Make Pasta Even Better)

The ones we reach for at home and in the Serious Eats kitchen.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

two servings of pasta ai funghi in Jono Pandolfi ceramic bowls

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The idea of a "pasta bowl" never really occurred to me until our team started to prepare for Starch Madness 2021. "Isn't every bowl a bowl that can hold pasta?" I wondered aloud in one of our meetings. And the answer was, well, "Yes." However, I learned that some bowls are better for serving pasta than others.

What makes a good pasta bowl is just as much a matter of aesthetics (the bowl itself, the way pasta looks inside it) as it is about utility. A good pasta bowl should be easy to eat out of, but it also has to help make your pasta look beautiful. As was pointed out to me, the goal of pasta presentation is a kind of effortless beauty, and a good pasta bowl will make it unnecessary to fuss a lot with your pasta; you can just gently place the pasta in the center of it, garnish it as necessary, and be done.

To that end, a good pasta bowl should have a wide bottom that's flat in the center and slopes gently upward along the sides, a perfect platform for noodles with space for sauce to pool around the edges. The guiding principles here are that pasta needs an ample amount of space—to look nice, sure, but also to give the person eating it enough room to comfortably maneuver their utensils—but it also needs to be contained (anyone who's stabbed at rigatoni knows they can go everywhere, if given the space).

Finally, a well-made pasta bowls will be relatively thick, which helps with heat retention; a beautifully prepared sauce can seize up if the bowl it's been spooned into cools down very rapidly, in much the same way as a sauce spooned onto a cold plate.

Since we've been making and eating pasta in the Serious Eats kitchen for quite some time, we've come up with a pretty large collection of bowls we like to use when serving and eating pasta. Here are some of our favorites—both at work and at home.

  • A White Porcelain Set

    AnBnCn Porcelain Pasta Bowls (Set of 6)

    Price at time of publish: $28.

    We use these affordable porcelain bowls quite a lot in the Serious Eats kitchen, like to photograph Daniel's beautiful shrimp scampi. They're lightweight but substantial, a perfect 9 inches wide, and are microwave- and dishwasher-safe. That navy blue rim adds a pleasing pop of color to an otherwise classic white design.

    a bowl of shrimp scampi pasta with a fork sitting beside it

    Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

  • A Wide Porcelain Bowl

    Price at time of publish: $6.

    This elegant bowl from Crate & Barrel features a super dramatic rim that'll make you feel like you're sitting at a restaurant, eating Sasha's pasta with spicy 'nduja-tomato sauce, perhaps. You can order it as a single or a set of eight, depending on how many people you're looking to feed. What's more, these bowls are warm oven–safe, so you can easily heat them up just a bit before plating your pasta.

    two bowls of pasta with a skillet full of pasta off to the side

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  • Gray Ceramic Bowls

    a set of 4 grey pasta bowls

    Price at time of publish: $31.

    We love the contrast these dark gray ceramic bowls provide when they contain a heap of spaghetti, in this case Daniel's spaghetti alle vongole. However, if you aren't into glossy gray, you can pick one up in a blue, matte grey, white, or black. We also like these grey, fluted bowls that have a stoneware look to them.

    spaghetti with clams in a grey bowl with a skillet full of pasta beside it

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  • A Plain White Set

    Sweese Pasta Bowls, Set of 6

    Price at time of publish: $38.

    When you want your food to shine—imagine you just made Daniel's penne with melted vegetables—you'll want to choose a classic white pasta bowl. The polished, no-frills design will put all the focus on the star. We love this particular set because the bowls are sturdy, attractive, and dishwasher-safe. For about $38, you'll get a set of six bowls.

    A white bowl filled with penne and vegetable and topped with grated cheese

    Serious Eats / Liz Clayman

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • An Affordable Stoneware Set

    Star Moon Stoneware Pasta Bowls

    Price at time of publish: $30.

    If you love the speckled, dusty look of stoneware, this set of two is a great affordable option. With 30-ounce capacity, they're on the larger end of pasta bowls, but we only see that as a plus—especially when we make Kenji's ricotta salata–topped pasta alla norma. The bowls are available in beige and green.

    A light brown bowl filled with rigatoni and topped with grated cheese

    Serious Eats / Liz Clayman

  • A Stoneware Set with a Little Flair

    A set of four white bowls stacked on top of one another

    Price at time of publish: $78.

    Serious Eats commerce editor, Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, has owned these Social Studies bowls for over a year. "These pasta bowls are slightly pricey, but still not unreasonable for a set of four. They're the perfect size for a substantial serving of pasta, are nice and thick for heat retention, and are very durable (they're survived accidental drops in the sink and many, many dishwasher trips)," she says. "I also love their slightly wavy edge, which is subtly stylish."

  • A Handmade Stoneware Upgrade

    a beige coupe bowl

    Price at time of publish: $48.

    We'll always have a soft spot for Jono Pandolfi dishes. Designed originally for restaurants, these pieces are at once sturdy and elegant. The bowls come in a variety of colors, though we love the toasted clay with white glaze, pictured with Sasha's pasta ai fungi. And unlike many handmade dishes, the bowls are dishwasher-safe, so you don't need to feel guilty about tossing them in after a night of cooking.

    Just a note: This model is Jono Pandolfi's coupe bowl. They actually do make a pasta bowl but we prefer the coupe's sloped sides for our nightly scarpetta.

    Pasta with mushrooms in a white bowl

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  • A Really Durable, Very Inexpensive Set

    A set of 4 green pasta bowls

    Price at time of publish: $15.

    If you're looking for a super budget-friendly set of pasta bowls, these ones from IKEA fit the bill. They're available in a variety of colors (though we're partial to the green and light grey) and as a set of four. Our commerce writer, Jesse Raub, is a big fan of them. "The Fargklar bowls are 1. really cheap and 2. have a nice really flat bottom with only mildly sloped sides so everything rests in its sauce well while maintaining a consistent pasta bed depth, that keeps everything warm and centered," he says.

FAQs

What is the best size bowl for pasta?

A good pasta bowl should be seven inches (or larger) in diameter. However, the more important part is the shape: as we explained above, it should have a wide bottom that's flat in the middle and then slopes gently upward along the sides. This is so that the sauce pools around the edges of the pasta.

Do you need a pasta bowl?

Sure, you could eat pasta out of any bowl. However, a good pasta bowl will make your pasta look beautiful, encourage sauce to pool around the noodles, and be relatively thick, which will help keep pasta sauce from seizing up. Plus, a lot of pasta bowls are fairly affordable.

What's the difference between a pasta bowl and a soup bowl?

A pasta bowl should have a wide bottom and gently sloping, shorter sides. A soup bowl has a narrow bottom and sides that curve more steeply upwards and are taller, which will contain soup. A pasta bowl won't be able to hold a substantial amount of soup, as you risk liquid sloshing over the sides,