I'm going to show you how easy it is to make homemade Orecchiette Pasta! They are the cutest pasta shapes and the name Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian which are perfect in catching delicious flavours in every bite.
Orecchiette pasta comes from the Apulia region in Italy. I was super lucky to travel to Puglia and learn how to make it from two different Nonna’s! So I’m going to show you the little tips and secrets on how to make it easily.
Orecchiette are definitely one of my favorite pasta shapes as the pasta looks and acts like little buckets which hold all your yummy sauce. I love serving it with a simple pomodoro sauce with tomatoes (marinara sauce) and also Broccoli Pasta which is the perfect match for orecchiette.
Homemade Orecchiette is super easy to make and always tastes 100 times better than anything you will buy! The best part is you don't need any fancy equipment to make them, all you need is a knife….thats it!
Some other homemade pastas I have shared are my Gnochetti and Culurgiones which are both Sardinian pastas.
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this recipe
- Handmade is always better. If you have eaten fresh pasta before you know there is nothing better. Making homemade orecchiette pasta is an experience that allows you to enjoy the art of simple Italian cooking from scratch
- Versatile and Delicious: Orecchiette pairs well with a wide range of sauces, from light and fresh to rich and hearty. It’s unique shape and texture make it perfect for various ingredients and vegetables
- Fun in the Kitchen: Making fresh pasta is so much fun!! It's also a great family activity that kids can participate in doing
What is Orecchiette?
Orecchiette translates to "small ears" in Italian and is a traditional pasta originating from the Apulia region of southern Italy. It’s made from a simple combination of semolina flour and water and you just need a knife to make them. This unique type of pasta is perfect for catching and holding onto yummy sauces as it has a curved shape with a dip in the middle, like little buckets.
A traditional dish in Puglia is fresh orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe (cime di rapa as its called in Italian). I've shared a similar recipe here using broccoli which is usually easier to find, to make broccoli pasta.
Ingredients to make Orecchiette Pasta
- Semolina flour is the base of the pasta dough. It's made from durum wheat and has a yellow color with a coarse texture. The texture creates the perfect chewiness that is in pasta, making it the preferred flour when making any pasta dough rather than using regular all purpose flour or different types of flour
I haven't tested this recipe myself using gluten free flour but it is worth a shot 🙂
- Water is the essential component that binds semolina flour to make the pasta dough. It’s best to use room temperature water, which is not cold or hot water
How to make Orecchiette Pasta
Making homemade orecchiette pasta is easier than you think. All you need are 2 ingredients and a knife. Here are my simple step-by-step instructions.
Make Pasta Dough
- In a large bowl, add semolina flour and slowly pour in water whilst mixing it with your other hand. Keep mixing the dough until it comes together and transfer it to a clean work surface
- Knead for about 8- 10 minutes until it has become a smooth ball. Now your dough is ready to start making the orecchiette. Note, there is no need to rest the dough
Make Orecchiette Pasta
- Work in stages and slice off a small piece of dough, approximately ¼ of the ball, and wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap
- With the heels of your hands roll this piece of dough into a long rope, around 1.5 cms / ½ inch in thickness
- Cut off a small piece around 1 cm in length
- Using a knife press down on an angle, and guide the dough piece so it rolls towards you
- Then use the knife to flick the piece back onto your thumb
- Gently pull down the sides to create a deep little ear or bucket shape. Continue this process with the remaining pasta dough
Tips and Tricks
- You can use a butter knife but I find it easier to use a regular blunt knife
- It's best to have short fingernails, especially on your thumb otherwise your nail can pierce a hole in the pasta, not to mention it can also be unhygienic
- When making the orecchiette pasta shape, use pressure with your knife when guiding the pasta towards you to create a rolling motion. Ensuring not to cut the pasta with the knife
- As you are working in batches, ensure the remaining pasta ball is either covered with a clean kitchen towel or in plastic wrap. Failing to do so will result in dry or crusted pasta dough
- Cut pasta pieces in a similar size so the pasta cooks evenly
- Practice makes perfect and have fun with it! Don't stress if all the pasta pieces aren't perfect as that's the beauty of homemade pasta, the imperfections give it character
You can certainly make fresh orecchiette in advance! Once the pasta shapes have been made, allow them to fully dry then sprinkle with semolina flour. You can then store in an airtight container or on a tray for for 1-2 days in the fridge, then cook when you are ready to serve
Yes you totally can freeze fresh orecchiette pasta! Once you have made the pasta shapes, its best to place them on a baking tray in a single layer and freeze until almost frozen and firm. Then transfer them into freezer bags and freeze for 2 months
Orecchiette usually takes 10-15 minutes to cook. However fresh pasta always takes much less time to cook. The pasta size shown here takes about 5 minutes to boil, then allow to cook for the final few minutes in your pasta sauce for the best results. Note that the cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of your pasta shapes so always taste test before serving
What to serve with Orecchiette Pasta
You can serve orecchiette pasta with so many different pasta dishes and ingredients! Here are some of my favorite ways to eat it:
- Classic Pomodoro sauce (tomato sauce / marinara sauce)
- Broccoli pasta or broccoli rabe
- Basil pesto or sundried tomato pesto
- Baked feta pasta
- Pasta fagioli
- Creamy vegan vodka sauce
- Healthy Italian pasta salad
More Homemade Pastas
More Pasta Recipes
- Vegan Bolognese
- Lemon Pasta
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
- Pappardelle Pasta with Mushrooms
- Mushroom Carbonara
I love seeing your creations and remakes, so be sure to rate the recipe, comment and share your Orecchiette Pasta photo on Instagram so I can share the love!
How to Make Orecchiette Pasta (Easy Steps)
- 250 grams semolina flour
- 125 grams room temperature water
- In a large bowl, add the semolina flour and slowly pour in the water whilst mixing it with your other hand. Keep mixing the dough until it mostly comes together in a rough ball, and transfer it to a clean work surface or a pasta board
- Using your hands, knead the dough for about 8- 10 minutes until it has become a smooth ball. Slice off a small piece of dough, approximately ¼ of the ball, and wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap
- Using the heels of your hands roll this piece of dough into a long rope, around 1.5 cms / ½ inch in thicknessCut off a small piece around 1 cm in length, then using your knife press down on an angle, and guide the dough piece so it rolls towards you
- Using the knife, flick the piece back onto your thumb, and gently pull down the sides to create a deep little ear or bucket shape (refer to pictures and video in post for a better visual on these steps)Continue this process with the remaining pasta dough
- To cook the pasta, boil a large pot of water with a few teaspoons of salt. Add the fresh pasta to the salted water and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring every few minutes so they don't stick together.When the pasta is just under al dente (taste to check), add the cooked pasta to your pan with your preferred pasta sauce with a ladle of pasta water, stirring through to finish cooking the pasta and create a creamy sauce. Enjoy your homemade orecchiette!