Homemade Orecchiette Pasta: A Fun and Delicious Weekend Project

I love homemade orecchiette pasta, the small and cup-shaped pasta from southern Italy, meaning “little ears.” Traditionally, this type of pasta is made only with semolina, a strong flour milled from durum wheat with high gluten content. However, my version of orecchiette calls for an equal mixture of semolina and all-purpose flour. (Also See Gordon Ramsay Alfredo Sauce: Homemade Recipe)

This way, the dough remains soft and pliable for easy manipulation while providing the necessary structure and elasticity for shaping. Additionally, including all-purpose flour adds a delicious nutty-sweet flavor that I adore.

Homemade Orecchiette Pasta for Weeknight Dinners

One of the best things about this recipe is that the same dough can also be used to make two other types of pasta: cavatelli, a small shell-shaped pasta that looks like a tiny bun, and pici, a rustic hand-rolled spaghetti. I love switching things up and making various pasta types from the same dough for weeknight dinners. (Must Try Gordon Ramsay Bolognese Sauce: Simple and Authentic Italian Flavors)

When cooking my freshly made orecchiette, I remember it only takes about five minutes to reach the perfect al dente texture, which is significantly less time-consuming than store-bought dried orecchiette. I recommend cooking methods the pasta within a few hours of shaping it for optimal results. This way, I can enjoy my homemade pasta’s delicious taste and texture for simple and delicious.

Equipment Needed for Traditional Orecchiette

It would be best to have specific equipment to knead, cut, shape, and cook the pasta to make traditional orecchiette. In this blog post, we will explore the equipment needed to make traditional Orecchiette pasta and a short reason why each piece is necessary. (Check out Spicy Beef Asian Lettuce Wraps)

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  1. Wooden board: Clean, smooth work surface to Knead and shape the dough.
  2. Knife or bench scraper: Cut the dough into small pieces, then shapes it into orecchiette.
  3. Large pot: for boiling water to cook the orecchiette.
  4. Colander: for draining the pasta, orecchiette is cooked, and excess water must be drained.
  5. Tray: Large surface to lay out the formed orecchiette After the Orecchiette is formed.
  6. Measuring cup: Orecchiette dough requires precise measurements of ingredients.

While a pasta machine or drying rack can be helpful, they’re not necessary for making classic Orecchiette pasta. (Need to see Easy and Simple Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi)

I’ve used and recommend both cookware sets, the ScanPan 10-Piece Cookware Set and the HexClad 7-Piece Hybrid; both are well-made pans with a solid, heavy bottom, heat fast, and they get the job done. Visit the ScanPan or HexClad on Amazon.

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Orecchiette Pasta FAQ

Orecchiette pasta is a type of Italian pasta that is shaped like small ears. It has a unique texture and flavor, making it a popular choice in many Italian cuisine dishes. In this FAQ, you will find answers to some commonly asked questions about orecchiette pasta, including its origin, how to cook it, and what dishes it is typically used in. (Gota Try Gordon Ramsay’s Lobster Spaghetti Extravaganza: Savor the Finest)

How do you shape orecchiette pasta?

Cut the dough into small pieces and roll each into a small ball to shape orecchiette pasta. Then, use a knife or your fingers to create a small indentation in the center of each ball, and press the dough to create the characteristic concave shape.

What is orecchiette pasta made of?

Orecchiette pasta is made from a simple mixture of durum wheat flour and water. Some variations may include semolina flour, but the basic recipe requires just these two ingredients.

How do you fold orecchiette?

To fold the orecchiette, use your thumb to push the dough ball away from you, creating a small indentation in the center. Then, use your index and middle fingers to fold the dough over itself, creating a small pocket. Finally, roll the dough pocket over your thumb to create a concave shape.

How to cook orecchiette?

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook orecchiette. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes or until it is al dente or slightly firm to the bite. Drain the pasta and serve with your favorite sauce or toppings. (Perfect for steak side Gordon Ramsay Asparagus)

What is orecchiette pasta good for?

Orecchiette pasta with sausage is incredibly versatile and can be used in various dishes. Its unique shape and texture make it perfect for holding onto sauces and toppings. It works well in pasta salads, soups, and as a side dish for meats and vegetables.

Homemade Orecchiette Pasta

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Course: MainCuisine: Italian


Prep time


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People in the Apulia region of Southern Italy have relished the traditional Italian dish of Homemade Orecchiette Pasta for centuries. This pasta is distinct in shape, resembling small ears, and is crafted by blending semolina and all-purpose flour. (How to make Gordon Ramsay King Crab Capellini)
One of the beauties of this pasta is that it is relatively easy to make from scratch and requires only a few essential tools. To make the Orecchiette pasta recipe, you only need flour, water, a large bowl, and a flat surface to knead the dough. However, to make the process easier, you may use a pasta machine or a food processor to blend the dough or a drying rack to air-dry the pasta if you plan on storing it.


  • 1 1/4 cups 1 1/4 all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/4 cups 1 1/4 semolina flour, plus more as needed for dusting

  • Kosher salt for cooking


  • Combine both types of flour in a food processor and pulse. Slowly add ¾ cup of water while the processor is running. Wait until the dough forms pea-sized clumps. Add a few drops of water if it’s too dry, or add all-purpose flour or semolina if it’s too sticky.
  • To make the dough by hand, whisk together both flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, then add ¾ cup water. Using a fork, stir in a circular motion, starting in the center and gradually moving outward to incorporate the water and flour mixture until a shaggy dough forms.
    Using your hands, bring the dough together and knead, swiping along the edges of the bowl to incorporate any dry bits. If the dough resists coming together, add more water, a few drops at a time; if the dough feels sticky, add more all-purpose flour or semolina, a sprinkle at a time. The dough should be moist enough to form a cohesive mass without sticking to the sides of the bowl; it’s fine if it’s a little crumbly.
  • Lightly dust the counter with semolina and turn the dough out onto it. Knead until soft, smooth and springy, about 10 minutes. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. Alternatively, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days; if refrigerated, let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding.
  • Lightly dust 2 rimmed baking sheets with semolina. Unwrap the dough and cut it into quarters. Set 3 pieces aside and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Using your palms, roll the remaining piece into a log. Lightly dust the counter with semolina, then roll the log to form a rope about ½ inch in diameter; if the rope’s length becomes difficult to manage, cut it in half, then roll the pieces separately.
  • Cut the rope into ¼-inch pieces and lightly dust it with semolina. On an unfloured area of the counter, set 1 piece cut side up. Press the flat of your thumb into the center of the piece and, while applying light pressure, smear or drag the dough against the counter with slight twisting action; the dough may curl around your thumb. The finished shape should resemble a shallow cup, thinner at the center and thicker at the perimeter.
    Set the orecchiette on a prepared baking sheet. If not cooking immediately, let it stand uncovered at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Shape the remaining dough pieces similarly; keep the orecchiette separated on the baking sheet to avoid sticking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • To cook the orecchiette, follow the directions in the pasta recipes you are making, or in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the orecchiette, then cook occasionally until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water if directed in your recipe, then drain the pasta.

Recipe Video


  • The following text is inspired by an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Master Chef.

John Siracusa

John is a passionate food enthusiast and entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in the food service industry. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hell's Kitchen Recipes, a website dedicated to providing high-quality recipes and content to the culinary world. When he's not crafting recipes or managing the website, John enjoys spending time with his family and attending trade shows. He also loves connecting with his audience through social media and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google  Podcast and Hell's Kitchen Recipes YouTube channel.

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