Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli are a delicious, authentic Italian dinner. Made with only 4 ingredients they’re light, fluffy and perfect with sauce. A must try! Learn how to make the best homemade pasta with this easy recipe!
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Growing up in an Italian family, pasta on Sundays was a staple. My mom or grandparents would always have a pot of sauce filled with meatballs, sausage and braciola simmering for hours.
We still have Sunday sauce every week (this is the sauce recipe we use!) and it’s still something I look forward to!
Cavatelli have always been my favorite pasta, and today I’m showing you how to make them at home!
What is Cavatelli?
Cavatelli are a small shell shaped that look similar to a hot dog bun. The pasta is typically made from ricotta, flour and water. The name comes from the verb ‘cavare’ which means to hollow.
Cavatelli is pronounced ‘Cah- vah-tell -eee’, or can sometime be said ‘cah-vah-dels’.
These homemade cavatelli are pillow-y soft and so simple to make. Once you try them – you’ll never want to eat boxed pasta again!
Ingredients for Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli:
How to make Ricotta Cavatelli
Step 1: In a bowl mix together flour, salt, and ricotta with hands. At first the dough may seem sticky, but work the dough squeezing it together for about 2 minutes.
Step 2-4: After 2 minutes the dough should be relatively formed together – enough that you can make a big ball.
Step 5: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for another 1-2 minutes. This helps the dough to become much smoother.
Step 6: Set the dough aside and add more flour to your surface.
Step 8: Take about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a thin strip (about ½ inch thick)
Step 9: Using a scissor or knife cut the strips into small balls (smaller than a dime)
Step 10: Toss the balls with flour and then use the pasta tool or fork to shape (see above for step by step tutorial.
We use the pasta block and press firmly with our pointer or thumb, rolling the pasta downward.
Be liberal with the flour when rolling/shaping.
Step 11: Place the cavatelli on a floured baking sheet (you can also use parchment paper) as you’re making them – shaking the sheet every few minutes to make sure they’re not sticking to one another
Put the cavatelli in the freezer for 1 hour
Step 12: When the cavatelli are frozen, pour them into a mesh strainer. Shake the excess flour off of them.
Store in a ziploc bag or container in the freezer until ready to eat.
When ready to cook – boil for about 4-5 minutes, or until cavatelli float to the top of the pan.
Serve however you like!
Do you need to use a pasta tool?
Technically – no you do not need the pasta tool. You can make the cavatelli with a fork, but they’re much more difficult to make with a fork and do not come out as well. This pasta board is less than $6 on amazon and ships via Prime!
When you make the cavatelli with a fork, the dough sometimes gets stuck in the prongs and does not roll off easier. It will take you longer to make. You can see the difference in the images above. The left are the cavatelli made with the pasta board, the right are the ones made with a fork.
The cavatelli made with a pasta board curl much nicer and have more ridges, which soak up whatever sauce you’re going to toss them with.
How to make cavatelli with a machine
It’s more fun to make by hand! You can also get this two pack of blocks if you have a family and want to make them together!
See how all the ridges soak up the sauce? YUM.
Tips for Making Homemade Cavatelli
- Adding Water: You may need to add a little more water depending on your ingredients. If your dough is not coming together at all after a minute, add 1 tablespoon at a time until it starts to stick together. DO NOT add more than this at a time, you can always add more water, but once you’ve added it to the bowl you can’t take it away.
- Adding Flour: Conversely, if your dough is super stick – you can add a little bit more flour. I’d add 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
- Consistency: The dough should almost feel a little thicker/dried than play dough. It shouldn’t be so soft that it turns to mush in your hands, but it also should be pliable enough that you can easily roll it/shape it.
- Use a lot of flour when rolling/shaping. Having the little balls coated thickly in flour will help them to slide down the pasta tool.
- Make sure you freeze the cavatelli before you cook them. If you put them directly in the pot after shaping they will lose their form.
- Make sure to shake off excess flour after you have frozen the cavatelli. If you do not shake off the excess flour you will wind up with gunky/cloudy pasta water.
- Stir frequently when boiling so that they don’t stick together
- Serving: This recipe makes about 2.5 lbs of cavatelli – 4 large servings or 6 smaller servings. It depends on how hungry you are!
Substitutions for homemade cavatelli
This is a family recipe so we’ve only ever made it one way! I can’t speak to how substitutions will work in this recipe.
- Salt – Any salt will work. We just happened to have pink himalayan salt in our spice cabinet
- Ricotta – Any whole milk ricotta will work. We do not recommend using low fat ricotta.
- Gluten Free/Dairy Free – We have not tested this with any other flours or without ricotta. This is a family recipe and we’ve only ever made it one way!
- Flour – Some people make their cavatelli with semolina flour. I have never tried this.
Cavatelli Sauce Recipe
Cavatelli will go with pretty much any sauce you like!
Freezing the cavatelli helps to keep them from sticking together and also helps keep them fresh.
Once you’ve sifted the cavatelli to remove excess flour, freeze them in ziploc bags or a container. They’ll last for 6 months in the freezer.
You cook the cavatelli from frozen, so there is no need to thaw before you cook them.
These cavatelli are worth the extra time it takes to make them. They’re absolutely delicious and simply the best homemade pasta! We hope you love them as much as we do!
Other classic Italian dishes:
- Italian Cream Pie
- Vegan Penne Alla Vodka
- Rosemary Chicken Sauce
- Homemade Tomato Sauce
- Healthy Turkey Meatballs
- Vegan Pasta Fagioli
- Healthy Baked Ziti
Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli
- 4 cups all purpose white flour plus extra for shaping
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 lb whole milk ricotta
- 2/3 cup water
- In a bowl mix together flour, salt, and ricotta with hands. At first the dough may seem sticky, but work the dough squeezing it together for about 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes the dough should be relatively formed together - enough that you can make a big ball.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for another 1-2 minutes. This helps the dough to become much smoother.
- Set the dough aside and add more flour to your surface.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a thin strip (about ½ inch thick)
- Using a scissor or knife cut the strips into small balls (smaller than a dime)
- Toss the balls with flour and then use the pasta tool or fork to shape (see above for step by step tutorial.)
- We use the pasta block and press firmly with our pointer or thumb, rolling the pasta downward. Be liberal with the flour when rolling/shaping!
- Place the cavatelli on a floured baking sheet as you’re making them - shaking the sheet every few minutes to make sure they’re not sticking to one another
- Put the cavatelli on the baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour.
- When the cavatelli are frozen, pour them into a mesh strainer. Shake the excess flour off of them. *Do not skip this step, if you do you will wind up with gummy pasta water that is not tasty!*
- Store in a ziploc bag or container in the freezer until ready to eat.
- When ready to cook - boil water. Add cavatelli to boiling water and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until cavatelli float to the top of the pan.
- Serve however you like!