Cook's Illustrated


Tasting Angel Hair Pasta

Few pasta shapes are more divisive than angel hair. Angel hair (or capellini, the Italian word for “little hairs”) is a rod-shaped pasta approximately the same length as spaghetti but much thinner. It’s this thinness that has inspired vitriol; major food publications have penned think pieces with snide titles such as “You Couldn’t Pay Me to Eat Angel Hair.”

Success with this pasta shape starts with knowing how to cook it, as Associate Editor Steve Dunn proved in our May/June 2020 issue. Its thin strands should be light but still substantial and twirl effortlessly around a fork. To find the best angel hair, we sampled eight products, priced from about $1.50 to about $5.50 per pound. Six of the products were sold as long, rigid strands, but we also included two products that were shaped into nests. We sampled them cooked plain and in Steve’s recipe for Angel Hair Pasta with Basil, Caper, and Lemon Sauce.

Our tasters liked the flavors of all the products we tried. A few of the higher-ranked products stood out for their “nuttiness” or slight “wheaty” flavor, which tasters said provided a

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