Classic Italian Pastina (2024)

Published: by Alyssa · This post may contain affiliate links.

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Made with simple ingredients like butter and milk, this recipe for pastina is total Italian comfort food. It's a favorite of children and adults alike!

Classic Italian Pastina (1)

Is there anything more comforting than a nice, warm bowl of pastina?

My mom made me pastina all the time when I was growing up, starting from when I was very small and learning to eat real foods. Then it progressed into an under-the-weather or cold weather delicacy.

Nowadays I make my own pastina whenever I'm in the mood for comfort food, which, let's be real, is pretty often lately!

Pastina hits that comfort food sweet spot in that it uses basic, inexpensive ingredients, takes little time to make, and reliably produces a warm and creamy bowl of pasta. While everyone has their own spin on making it or what ingredients to add in, this baseline version is a classic.

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All you'll need are pastina, broth (or water), butter, and milk. That's it!

The rest of the ingredients are optional but recommended, including salt and pepper to taste and freshly-grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Pastina doubles as the finished product name of this creamy dish, as well as what the dry pasta shape is called. I use classic pastina, which looks like tiny stars.

Since pastina literally means "little pasta", other varieties you might see at the store technically fall into the category, such as acini di pepe, which is a little bit larger in size.

Besides cooking it on its own, it's a great pasta for use in soup recipes, like this creamy Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs.

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While you can certainly follow the instructions on the box and boil and drain the pasta, I like to make things even easier and add just enough liquid that will absorbed by the pastina so there's no draining required.

One cup liquid to a half-cup of pasta will do it! I've taken to using reduced-sodium chicken broth as the liquid for extra flavor, but you can definitely use water instead. Just add salt to taste.

The pastina will absorb just about all of the liquid, as seen in the picture of the saucepan above. Then it's time to stir in butter and warmed milk until creamy.

You can add more or less butter or milk in line with your tastes, but for this quantity of pasta, I add one tablespoon of butter and six tablespoons of milk. As written below, this recipe yields about two servings.

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And there we go. Super, super easy. Take a taste and see if you'd like to add salt (especially so if not using broth and/or salted butter). As an adult I go for freshly cracked black pepper and a not-skimpy addition of grated Pecorino Romano cheese as toppings.

As with so many beloved Italian recipes, I know there are different directions you can take pastina. Some like to add an egg once the pasta has absorbed the broth/water and let it cook in the hot pasta. Others like to include green pastina which is made with spinach, but I haven't see that available at the store for a long, long time.

Usually I eat pastina straight-up, but you can totally upgrade it to be more of a side dish. I recently served it with smoked sausage fra diavolo when I was out of spaghetti and it was great!

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Recipe notes

  • I highly recommend using broth as it provides extra flavor, though water will work, too. If using water, be sure to add salt to taste before serving.
  • This recipe as written yields two servings, but can be scaled up as needed.

Classic Italian Pastina (6)

Classic Italian Pastina

Made with simple ingredients like butter and milk, this recipe for pastina is total Italian comfort food. It's a favorite of children and adults alike!

4.69 from 194 votes

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Course: Main Dish

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 6 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes minutes

Servings: 2

Calories: 243kcal

Author: Alyssa


  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (8 oz), or water
  • ½ cup dry pastina (3 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
  • 6 tablespoon warm milk, more or less to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, optional (to taste)


  • Add broth or water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add pastina and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until just about all of the liquid has been absorbed.

  • Towards the end of the pastina cook time, add milk to a small heat-safe bowl and heat it for 15-20 seconds in the microwave, or until warmed.

  • Once the pastina has absorbed about all of the liquid, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and warmed milk. Stir until the butter has melted and the milk is mixed in evenly.

  • If desired, add salt, pepper, and grated cheese to taste.



The pastina might look too liquid-y once you stir in the milk, but it will thicken up within a few minutes.


Calories: 243kcal

Tried this Recipe?Tag @mysequinedlife - I love to see what you're making!

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.

Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer

Classic Italian Pastina (2024)


What is the Italian name for pastina? ›

Since the term "pastina" encompasses all small shapes of pasta, it comes in many shapes and goes by many names. You may see round pastina called "acini di pepe" (pepper seeds in Italian), or star-shaped pastina called "stelline" (meaning little stars in Italian).

Do they eat pastina in Italy? ›

Pastina is a general term referring to many small shapes of pasta. Pastina is used in many different ways in Italian cuisine, including as an ingredient of soup, desserts, infant food and also, alone, as a distinct and unique pasta dish.

Did Barilla stop making pastina? ›

Pastina is here to stay!

Thank you Barilla for keeping it going since Ronzoni decided to discontinue pastina! How could that be!!!! Yes, I recommend this product.

What is so special about pastina? ›

It's the ultimate Italian comfort food especially if you are sick or feeling under the weather. Pastina translates in Italian to “l*ttle pasta”. They are quite tiny pasta pieces ranging from all different shapes. It's usually cooked in a simple broth (brodo) which takes less than 10 minutes to make.

What is closest to pastina? ›

Acini di pepe: Acini di pepe is a small, round pasta that is about the same size as pastina. It is commonly used in soups, stews, and pasta salads.

What do Italians eat when they're sick? ›

Italy: Pastina

When sick, Italians choose to eat “in bianco,” or bland food. For Alessandra Cri, pastina was something her grandparents made when she was sick. This miniature pasta takes form in various small shapes and is prepared by cooking the noodles in a pot of clear broth.

Is acini de pepe the same as pastina? ›

Acini di pepe then translates into 'seeds of a pepper'. They were and are known as a symbol of fertility, which is why they are used in Italian wedding soup. They are also sometimes referred to as pastina (Italian for 'tiny dough'); however, some pasta makers distinguish pastina as smaller than acini di pepe.

Is Barilla pasta different in Italy? ›

Barilla Tortellini and Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne are made in Italy," the website states. The site also notes that the recipes used in the U.S. are the same as those used in Parma, Italy, and that the pastas are made by the same types of machines.

Is marketed as Italy's No 1 brand of pasta Barilla sued over product not being made in Italy? ›

A federal judge on Monday denied Barilla's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of misrepresenting its products. Judge Donna Ryu found that the company's phrase, "Italy's No. 1 brand of pasta,” could mislead consumers to believe that the pasta is made in Italy.

Are you supposed to drain pastina? ›

When added to soups, obviously, it does not need to be drained, it simply cooks and becomes and integral part of the soup. That being said, in some recipes, when the little pasta shapes are cooked in water and then further flavored most of the starchy water is drained.

Does Prince Spaghetti make pastina? › Customer reviews: Prince Pasta Pastina 12-Ounce Packages (Pack of 15)

Why does pastina make me feel better? ›

Warmth: Consuming warm foods like pastina can soothe the throat and warm the body, providing a comforting sensation that can help you relax and feel better.

Why is pastina called Italian penicillin? ›

The nickname "Italian penicillin" stems from the belief that pastina can help one feel better when sick, much like how penicillin is seen as a cure-all antibiotic. The warm broth is soothing and can help with hydration, while the pasta provides a gentle and easily digestible source of energy.

Is orzo like pastina? ›

What's the Difference Between Orzo and Pastina? Pastina is a very small pasta shape that is different from orzo. While orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta, it is a bit larger than pastina.

Is pastina the same as Acini de Pepe? ›

Acini di pepe is a tiny pasta cut, or pastina, that is made with durum wheat and water (semolina flour).

Is Stellini the same as pastina? ›

Barilla is one popular brand that sells tiny star-shaped pasta, traditionally called "stelline," under the name pastina. Though nearly any shape will do, generally, pasta smaller than about 1/4 inch qualifies as pastina.

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