Some people may not know this but not every thin pasta is called vermicelli.
There are actually different types of pasta and, depending on their thickness, they are either categorized as being from the family of vermicelli or angel hair pasta. Both these noodles are similar but with a few key differences.
So, what’s the difference between vermicelli and angel hair? Vermicelli pasta is generally any thin pasta. Its diameter is usually less than 0.06 inches while angel hair pasta is every thinner, measuring around 0.035 inches. Also, vermicelli is made using rice or starch while angel hair is usually made with durum semolina flour.
Both these noodles have several uses when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine and you can find them in Asian and even Asian-American cuisines as well. If you haven’t tried angel hair pasta, then you are definitely missing out.
Read below to learn more about vermicelli and angel hair pasta and how you can use them in everyday cooking as well.
The term vermicelli has been the placeholder for any thin pasta.
Whether it’s cookbooks, TV, or online resources, many people will refer to thin pasta as vermicelli, which can understandably cause confusion when you come across the angel hair variety.
Vermicelli is an Italian term that translates to “little worms”. This type of pasta can be found in several dishes.
It is widely used in Italian cuisine but you can also find it in many Asian dishes as well. Vermicelli is also famously used in many cold salads and hot pasta recipes as well.
This type of pasta is very versatile and is one of the most consumed types of noodles in the world. Because of its thinness, vermicelli makes for the best comfort food.
These noodles have the ability to cook fast because of their thinness. On average, you will only need to cook these noodles for about 3-5 minutes in boiling water.
Comparatively, regular pasta can take way longer to become even al dente (almost cooked). This is one of the reasons why vermicelli may be preferred in many noodle recipes because it cooks fast and offers a satisfying bite as well.
These noodles pair extremely well with lots of different proteins and can also be combined with a range of vegetables. Vermicelli noodles are available under numerous brand names and vary in thickness too.
Generally speaking, you can find vermicelli to be anywhere from 0.04 to 0.06 inches in diameter.
Although, traditionally, vermicelli in Italy can also be 0.09 inches which is even more than the diameter of regular spaghetti, which ranges from 0.07 to 0.11 inches.
Whichever the case, this particular noodle shape is majorly associated with thin pasta.
As the name suggests, angel hair is also a type of delicate, thin pasta. Unlike vermicelli, this noodle is usually made with durum semolina flour.
It’s much thinner than regular noodles and has a lot of uses, apart from savory pasta dishes as well.
Angel Hair, also called capelli d’angelo or capellini, is less than 0.03 inches in diameter and can cook very quickly.
This type of pasta has a lot of uses in soups, pasta recipes, and even dessert recipes. Angel hair is visually much thinner and can feel more delicate as well.
When cooked (which takes about 2-3 minutes) this pasta will gain a distinct but delicate bite and will firm up and become a bit easier to work with too.
Angel hair is best served hot which is why you might not find it in many cold salad recipes.
Ideally, the best way to enjoy Angel Hair pasta is with several different types of meat sauces.
This pasta can soak up flavors much more efficiently due to the semolina flour and will also be easier to digest (depending on the flour), however, the ingredients of this pasta may vary from one brand to the other.
Angel hair can be found around the world, and while it may be referred to as Vermicelli, it has quite a distinct look and if you put the two pasta shapes together, you will easily be able to tell them apart with just their size.
This type of pasta is great in soups and can also be used in dessert recipes as well. For example, in Asian cuisine, it is usually paired with sweetened milk and dry fruits. It is served hot and can easily be added to several Chinese dishes too.
Using Vermicelli And Angel Hair Interchangeably
Many people wonder if it is possible to use angel hair in a recipe that calls for vermicelli and vice versa.
The truth is, since there is such a huge variation in the thickness of these two pasta shapes, you can get away with substituting one with the other in several recipes.
The main thing to keep in mind is the purpose of the pasta when it comes down to choosing between the two.
For example, you can freely use vermicelli in cold salads but may find it difficult to use angel hair because of its thinness and delicate texture.
Also, angel hair pasta can clump up if cooled which doesn’t affect its taste but its bulky texture will certainly be a lot noticeable while eating it. Some people prefer to have it cold while others would only eat it while it is warm.
The truth is, when it comes down to replacing one with the other in typical savory pasta recipes, it won’t matter which type of pasta you use.
Vermicelli can easily replace angel hair in some recipes, especially if it is around 0.04 inches in diameter.
Similarly, you can perhaps be able to get away with using angel hair where the recipe calls for vermicelli as well.
The crux of the matter is, there isn’t much difference between these two kinds of pasta so you shouldn’t worry too much when using them in general pasta recipes.
The only major difference, apart from the thickness of the two pastas, is that vermicelli can be gluten-free while angel hair will usually not be gluten-free since it is made using semolina flour.
Also, angel hair can be mixed with a light sauce and paired with seafood too, while vermicelli calls for a thicker sauce.
As a basic rule of thumb, the thicker the pasta, the “heavier” and meatier the sauce can be.
So, for people looking for a light pasta dish, angel hair can offer something delicious and possibly light when compared to vermicelli and spaghetti.
When looking for vermicelli, you will usually find it to be sold in a long U-shaped folded strand, you can either break the vermicelli from the middle and cook it, or you could also cook it whole.
Meanwhile, angel hair is sold in a looped nest-like shape.
To cook angel hair, just drop in the nest of noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until the pasta opens and becomes pliable.
The same method can be applied for vermicelli as well as it has a similar cook time but maybe cooked for longer depending on how thick it is.
When in doubt, always follow the instructions on the back of the packaging. Make sure that you first try these noodles in their respective dishes to get an idea of how they taste and feel texturally.
We are confident that you will love both and will be able to find ways to use them in your own recipes as well.
Vermicelli and angel hair are two very similar noodles that have a few key differences.
While they can be used interchangeably, vermicelli is mostly used for heavier sauces and even cold salads, and angel hair (or “capellini”) is reserved for soups, light sauces, and seafood recipes.
Visually, both these pasta dishes can be different as angel hair is usually sold in looped nest-shape rolls while vermicelli is longer and sold in long U-shaped strands.
If you are looking to try a great pasta dish that is easy to make then we highly recommend that you start with angel hair as it isn’t that mainstream compared to vermicelli and spaghetti.