Tonnarelli is an ideal pasta to make at home even if you’ve never made pasta before!
Using just two ingredients, this pasta is so versatile and tasty you’ll want to make it again and again!!
Why you’ll love this recipe
Similar to spaghetti but thicker and square, tonnarelli is a typical egg pasta of the Lazio region of Italy. This pasta, made with semolina flour, holds onto sauce particularly well and is ideal with ragu or vegetable sauces like asparagus. However tonnarelli cacio e pepe is probably the most well known.
This pasta is also found in other regions in Italy but known by different names. In Abruzzo, spaghetti alla chitarra is cut on a special pasta cutting tool to create a very similar shape.
Making pasta at home is not as hard as you may think. Pasta dough, including this tonnarelli recipe, is very forgiving. It’s so simple to correct and fix any problems that might arise.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
Tonnarelli require simple ingredients. All you’ll need is:-
- semolina flour – for added “bite” to the pasta
- eggs – use eggs that weigh at least 2 oz (58 grams) that is 24 ounces (700 grams) per dozen eggs
Instead of semolina flour try these variations.
- use 3 ¼ cups of 00 pasta flour
- when using 00 flour, substitute a couple of spoonful for the equivalent of semolina flour
- Pour the semolina onto the work surface, make a well in the middle and break the eggs into the well.
- Whisk eggs, bringing in some of the semolina flour.
- When the dough is shaggy, use your hands to knead in the remaining semolina flour. Knead well, then cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- Use a pasta machine to flatten the dough.
- Roll pasta into thick sheets. For tonnarelli the pasta should be quite thick – a little under ⅛ inch or 2-3 mm. On my Imperia pasta machine I used setting #3.
- Pass the sheets through the pasta cutter attachment. This pasta should be as wide as it is thick so choose the appropriate cutter size OR cut by hand.
To cut by hand, allow pasta sheets to dry for a little but are still very flexible (just 10 minutes is fine). Dust pasta very well with semolina or flour, fold the sheet into thirds width ways, and cut into thin strips (a little under ⅛ inch or 2-3 mm) with a sharp knife.
Tips for success and FAQ’s
As always, when making tonnarelli pasta at home it’s important to knead the dough by hand so that you can feel if it’s too sticky or too dry.
It is very important to knead the dough well in order to develop the gluten which creates a stronger pasta.
Tonnarelli are much thicker than most homemade pasta, so don’t roll it too thinly. This square shaped spaghetti should be as wide as it is thick – a little under ⅛ inch or 2-3 mm.
Simple knead in a little bit more semolina flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
Dough that is too dry won’t come together, so just add a little bit of water, a teaspoon at a time and knead until it form a smooth ball. Keep in mind that the dough will hydrate a little on resting.
I much prefer making the dough by hand however I’m sure you could. Start with eggs, adding the flour gradually. Finally finish by hand to properly work the gluten in the dough.
Yes you can! Make the dough a little softer than usual. Use a wooden rolling pin and a light dusting of flour to roll out the dough. Once rolled to the desired thickness, dust well with semolina flour. Then fold the pasta and use a sharp knife to cut into tonnarelli.
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- 3 cups (400 grams) semolina flour
- 4 eggs
To make the dough
- Reserve a couple of tablespoons of flour. Tip the remaining semolina flour onto the work surface and make a well in the middle.
- Break eggs into the well in the flour
- Using a fork (or fingertips) whisk the eggs like you’re making scrambled eggs. As you whisk, bring in a little bit of semolina flour from around the edges and incorporate it into the eggs.
- Keep working more semolina flour into the dough. A pastry scraper is useful or just use your hands.
- Add more flour as needed. The dough should not be sticky. If you are rolling by hand do not add too much flour.
- Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until it is smooth. You’ll feel the change in the dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes.
To roll the pasta using a pasta machine
- Cut off a small piece of dough and keep the remaining dough covered.
- Adjust the pasta machine rollers at the widest setting.
- Press the portion of dough flat into a thick rectangle and dust lightly with semolina flour. Guide through the rollers.
- Fold into half and pass again through the widest setting. Repeat this 6 to 8 times until the dough is smooth. Dust lightly with semolina as needed.
- When the dough is smooth and has been folded a few times, start to reduce the settings of the rollers one setting at a time. For tonnarelli the pasta should be quite thick – a little under ⅛ inch or 2-3 mm. On my Imperia pasta machine I used setting #3.
- Set aside on floured tablecloth to dry for about 20 minutes while you roll out the remaining dough. Turn the sheets over to assist drying.
To cut into tonnarelli
- Select the cutter attachment which will cut the pasta as wide as it is thick.
- Guide the pasta sheets through the cutter.
- Gather up the tonnarelli and spread out onto a floured cloth.
- Repeat with remaining pasta sheets.
To cook the tonnarelli
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
- When boiling, add two or three tablespoons of salt.
- Put the tonnarelli into the boiling water and stir to make sure nothing sticks.
- Cook the tonnarelli for 4-5 minutes or until tender but still firm. Check by tasting.
- Drain well and mix with desired sauce.
- As always, when making tonnarelli pasta at home it’s important to knead the dough by hand so that you can feel if it’s too sticky or too dry.
- It is very important to knead the dough well in order to develop the gluten which creates a stronger pasta.
- Tonnarelli are much thicker than most homemade pasta, so don’t roll it too thinly.