Last updated on October 30, 2023

Fusilli 🍝 Traditions and authentic Italian recipes

Gianni from All Italian - Author
Gianni from All Italian

Thanks to its shape that holds sauce well, fusilli is one of the most loved pasta types by Italians. We share the traditions, the most popular sauces with fusilli and we make step by step the recipe for fusilli with bolognese sauce: just like in Italy

A short clip of our fusilli with minced meat recipe. Below we explain all steps in detail

Fusilli is one of the most typical types of Italian pasta, originating in the regions of southern Italy where it is traditionally made, dried or fresh, with durum wheat 🔊 semolina.

In Italy we commonly use dried fusilli, which you can also find abroad: they have the classic shape of a helix, or a spiral.
But if you go to Southern Italy you will also find fresh fusilli, the original: and those have the shape of a curl, because they are made by rolling the dough around a stick: the fuso.

Dry or fresh, fusilli is prized for its ability to hold sauce: especially tomato, pesto and ragù (bolognese sauce).
In our pasta cookbook we have made the recipe for fusilli with red pesto, with basil and fresh tomatoes: a typical dish of Sicilian cuisine, where they add plenty of garlic.

On this page of All Italian we make the traditional fusilli with ragù Bolognese, a sauce from Northern Italy.

Fusilli with ground beef 🍝 Ragù Bolognese - Italian recipe

(18) reviews

  • 👩‍🍳 Easy
  • 30 min preparation
  • 🤗 Guaranteed result

A pan of fusilli with Bolognese sauce
The fusilli with ground beef sauce that we make step by step on this page

In this recipe we prepare a plate of fusilli with ground beef; and the most popular Italian sauce with ground beef is ragù alla Bolognese, also known as Bolognese sauce.

Naturally we use the Bolognese sauce made by us; preparing the ragù is not difficult, but it takes 2 and a half hours of cooking.
It's worth it: see our recipe where we prepare authentic Italian bolognese sauce step-by-step.

In Italy it is traditional to prepare a fair amount of bolognese sauce, in order to use it for several meals; the Bolognese sauce can in fact be kept in the freezer and thawed before use.

In our recipe we assume that you have the Bolognese sauce ready and thawed, and we focus on the steps for preparing the pasta with the sauce.

Ground beef, pancetta and San Marzano tomatoes. Flavored with sautéed onions and a drop of white wine. Just like the ragù Bolognese we make in Italy 👍





Ingredient image Ingredient name Cups Grams Ounces
fusilli Fusilli 10.5 oz 320 g
bolognese-sauce Bolognese sauce 16 oz 480 g
cheese-pecorino Pecorino Romano cheese 2.8 oz 80 g

Portions: how many fusilli per person?

The Società Italiana di Nutrizione Umana recommends 80 g of pasta per person, about 2.8 oz; and the same amount also for rice, corn and barley.

This number of course changes depending on the individual; but in Italy this advice is very popular and followed. For all Italians, a portion of pasta corresponds to 80 g: about 50 fusilli, to be exact 🤓.

Dry Fusilli pasta on a plate

In addition to the amount of pasta, in Italy we also follow some guidelines for the amount of cooking water and salt.

  • 1 US quart / 1 liter of water for every 3.5 oz / 100 g of pasta;

  • 0.35 oz / 10 g coarse salt per 1 quart / 1 liter pasta water.

We make two portions of fusilli and therefore less than 2 quarts / liters of water is sufficient

Cooking fusilli al dente

Submerged in boiling water, dried fusilli cooks quite quickly.

That's why we recommend that you taste them regularly while cooking, especially if you like pasta 🔊 al dente: still a little dry inside, as we eat pasta in Italy.

The packaging of the De Cecco fusilli that we use states that they are ready in 11 minutes; al dente in just 9 minutes.

Detail of a pack dry Fusilli of brand De Cecco

👉 Read also our recipe to cook pasta al dente, step by step.

How much ground beef sauce with fusilli?

In our experience, the ratio of fusilli to Bolognese sauce should be 1 : 1,5. For a portion of pasta of 100 g you need about 150 g of ragù Bolognese; of course it depends on your preferences.

❄️ How to defrost ground beef sauce

Freezing the Bolognese sauce in a single container will result in a solid block that you will need to break in some way to release only the portions you need.

We recommend freezing the gound beef sauce in smaller portions, which are faster and more practical to defrost.

We also recommend defrosting the ragù in the refrigerator, rather than at room temperature, to avoid sudden temperature fluctuations in the sauce.

Once the sauce has thawed in the refrigerator, you can bring it to room temperature; after which it is ready to use with pasta.

👉 Don't like waiting and do you have a microwave with defrost function? This allows you to defrost Bolognese sauce way faster.

Fusilli with ground beef 🍝 Ragù Bolognese - Italian recipe
Our Bolognese sauce defrosted and ready to be mixed with fusilli


  1. Prepare the ingredients

    First of all, make sure the ground beef sauce is ready or thawed by following our tips here above; weigh the quantity of dried fusilli you need and the Pecorino cheese.

    Prepare the ingredients
    The ingredients of fusilli al ragù: Bolognese sauce, fusilli en Pecorino cheese

  2. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil

    Pour cold water into a cooking pot.
    In Italy we love to cook pasta in a large pot, because in this way the pasta does not stick. It is not necessary to fill the whole pot with cold water: one quart / one liter is enough for every 3.5 oz / 100 g of pasta.

    Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil
    A saving tip: cover the pot with the lid to boil the pasta water in less time (though no lid after putting the fusilli!).

  3. Add the salt and the fusilli

    Is the water boiling? It's time to throw in the salt: 0.3 oz / 8 g for each serving.

    In Italy we use coarse salt for pasta water, because instead of weighing it we measure it a handful: with fine salt it is more difficult.

    As soon as you throw in the salt, the water stops boiling.
    Wait a minute for the water to start boiling again before pouring in the fusilli.

  4. Stir the fusilli into the cooking water

    To prevent the pasta from sticking while cooking, some people pour oil into the pasta water. We don't do this in Italy, we think it's not necessary because the oil doesn't dilute in water and simply stays afloat.

    👉 The trick to prevent pasta from sticking: right after you toss the pasta, stir a little.

    Moreover, in Italy they say that a good quality pasta, made exclusively from durum wheat semolina, does not stick during cooking.

    Stir the fusilli into the cooking water

  5. Warm up the Bolognese sauce

    The sauce tastes better if you warm it up a bit before adding it to the fusilli.

    If you are using previously frozen ragù, make sure it is thawed - using the methods described above.

    Heat the ground beef sauce in a pan over very low heat.

    The pan should be big enough for both the sauce and the fusilli, which we will add in the next step.

    👉 There is a simple trick to prevent the sauce from getting too dry: add a little pasta water to the sauce. This way it becomes tastier and also creamier.

    Warm up the Bolognese sauce

  6. Combine fusilli and sauce

    Taste the fusilli: are they almost but not ready yet?
    Before the fusilli are ready, 1 or 2 minutes earlier, remove them from the pasta water and add them to the sauce in the pan.

    We advise you to use a skimmer to collect the fusilli: this way you leave the pasta water in the pan.

    Turn off the heat of the pasta water; Mix the pasta and sauce well in the pan over medium heat.

    If necessary, add half a ladle of pasta water to make the fusilli even more creamy.

  7. Serving

    Add a pinch of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.

Your fusilli with ground beef sauce is ready. Buon appetito! 🍝

A plate fusilli with ground beef sauce made with the Italian recipe
Our fusilli with Italian ground beef sauce is ready

Did you like it? Rate this recipe

In the restaurant in Italy, when you finish eating, the waiter will ask: 🔊 andava tutto bene? (was everything fine?)

Recipe rating Italian translation
🔊Abbastanza buono
🔊Non molto buono
🔊Non buono
Placeholder image

Other sauces we eat in Italy with fusilli

We write Italian sauces because, as we learned after many years abroad, the way to prepare and eat the same type of pasta differs greatly from country to country.

A typical example: meatballs in long pasta such as spaghetti, are popular all over the world, but have never really been popular in Italy.

Fusilli, especially dried, is a type of pasta that is delicious with warm sauces, but is also suitable for cold summer pasta dishes.

Fusilli all'ortolana

In summer it is a classic to prepare fusilli with vegetables and cherry tomatoes, for a fresh and light meal.

In Italian, dishes made with vegetables are called 🔊all'ortolana , because they contain vegetables from the garden (🔊orto means garden in Italian) .

A plate Fusilli alla ortolana
A plate Fusilli alla ortolana Foto: MassimoCarcaterra

Fusilli alla Vesuviana o alla Sorrentina

One of the most popular sauces for fusilli comes from Campania, and is fusilli alla Vesuviana - in honor of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that overlooks the city of Naples.

Fusilli alla Vesuviana is a very easy and delicious recipe that you can make quickly even in the Netherlands. The recipe contains the typical ingredients of the Mediterranean tradition: tomatoes, mozzarella and pecorino cheese.

Fusilli alla Molisana, from Molise region

We wrote it at the beginning of this article: thanks to their shape, fusilli hold the sauce very well. This applies to both dried and homemade fusilli.

Fusilli alla Molisana, typical of the Molise region, is made with a ragù that combines different types of meat with pork sausage. A very caloric recipe, so suitable for the winter season - unless you are a vegetarian, of course.

Learning Italian 🇮🇹

Like most types of Italian pasta, fusilli is also a plural word; it is the plural of fusillo, denoting the single piece of pasta.

The word fusillo is originally from the Campania region: a fuso is a knitting needle, used to weave wool by hand.

Such an iron stick is also used to prepare homemade fusilli. The fresh pasta is curled around the stick and then dried.

The Italian words we use on this page:

🔊 Fusilli Fusilli
🔊 Pasta secca Dry pasta
🔊 Pasta fresca Fresh pasta

Types of fusilli

There are many types of fusilli and they are very different from each other.
The most popular kind of fusilli outside southern Italy is the one you find in the supermarket, the classic dried pasta. This type of fusilli was patented in the early 1900s by an Italian in America, Guido Tanzi: more below.

Close-up view of dry fusilli pasta
Dry fusilli Foto: Popo le Chien

But if you go to southern Italy, you will find a different kind of fusilli on the menu. Always made with durum wheat semolina, but freshly made. The shape of this type of fusilli is not spiral or screw, but curly.

Fresh homemade Fusilli in stad Gragnano, Italy
Traditional homemade fusilli in Italy are shaped like a curl. Those typical of Gragnano, in the province of Naples, are 50 cm long and very tasty Foto: Ophelia

Dried fusilli

Have you ever noticed that the fusilli you buy in the supermarket, the dried ones from the big pasta brands, differ from each other? Fusilli from De Cecco have a slightly different shape than those from Barilla: and therefore a different ability to hold the sauce, and a different feeling when you eat them.

Difference between Fusilli Barilla and De Cecco
The regular Barilla fusilli have an elongated screw shape; instead, De Cecco fusilli have a much denser/thicker spiral shape, like Barilla fusilli n.98.

Fusilli tricolore: dried colored fusilli

Fusilli we are used to is yellow in color, made only with durum wheat semolina. Artisanal pasta factories also produce fusilli in other colors; for example green, red and black.
Some producers also sell the tricolor fusilli (🔊 tricolore, tricolor, is also the nickname of the Italian flag).

To obtain the different colors of the pasta, vegetables such as spinach and beets are added to the dough.
Black-colored paste is usually obtained by adding squid ink, which is used as a coloring agent.

But the original fusilli, which are handmade in the different regions of southern Italy, have a different shape and are longer.

Fresh fusilli

Both dried and homemade fusilli are traditionally made with durum wheat semolina.

As we have seen on the page dedicated to Italian pasta, durum wheat grows in southern Italy and is perfect for making dried pasta.

While the regions of Northern Italy, especially Emilia, are famous for fresh pasta: made with eggs and soft wheat flour - grown in northern Italy.

There are also versions of fusilli made with soft wheat flour and egg, such as the Emilian lasagna; but the original and most popular version is that of southern Italy, with durum wheat semolina.

The stick or ferretto

The indispensable tool for shaping fusilli is the stick, il ferretto in Italian.
A simple object that, thanks to the skill of the chefs of southern Italy, has contributed to the export of the tradition of Italian pasta all over the world.

You don't need a special stick for this task, and many in southern Italy use what they find at home, such as a wool knitting needle.

Fresh fusilli from the city of Avellino
Fresh fusilli in the city of Avellino Foto: Altirpino

The handmade fusilli from Avellino

A famous type of fusilli in Italy is that made in Avellino, a town in the hinterland of the Campania region, not far from Naples and Sorrento.

The characteristic of fusilli from Avellino is that they are very long and elongated.

To make this type of fusilli, cylinders of dough about 5 cm wide are rolled around the stick; the dough is crushed and well compressed on the bracket, and pulled vertically with a gesture from bottom to top - to obtain a very elongated curl of dough.

To know more: the origin of fusilli in Southern Italy

Homemade fusilli are traditional of the regions Molise, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Sicily and Sardinia.

The name fusilli comes from Campania, the region of Naples.

In Sicily, however, fusilli are called busiata, while in Sardinia busa: these words come from the Arabic, because the origin of pasta in Italy is linked to the period of Arab domination.

Nowadays, some pasta factories in southern Italy also make fusilli called vite (meaning screw in Italian), or vitoni in the larger version.

Fusilli produced in the factory: Guido Tanzi's patent

In 1924, Guido Tanzi, an Italian emigrant in Long Island, New York, registered the patent for a machine for producing fusilli called fusilla. Tanzi's machine produced fusilli as we know it today: spiral-shaped and made fully automatically.

The patent states:

Tanzi testified that he spent twelve years working on his conception. He applied for a patent on his discovery, stating that he had "invented certain new and useful improvements in macaroni molds". That this device was "specially designed" for producing "fusillo" macaroni (our translation).

As we wrote on the page about macaroni, the word macaroni is used to indicate a generic type of pasta. In fact, the macaroni we know in the Netherlands is not the "maccheroni" they know in Italy; indeed, the shape of the macaroni differs from region to region.

In his patent, Renzi also refers to the classic handmade fusilli with the stick:

He also states that this form of macaroni was previously made by rolling or curling it on a stick (our translation).

Tanzi's machine revolutionized the dried pasta market of the time. From New York, the fusilli became famous in the world.

How fusilli are made in the factory
How fusilli are made in the factory Foto: De Cecco on Youtube

Follow our pages on Italian pasta

We frequently update our pages on Italian pasta with new classic and regional traditional recipes.

Over All Italian

Hi! We are Italian expats and have been living abroad for years, currently in the Netherlands. Wherever we go, we carry part of our tradition with us. And we often notice that Italy, its heritage and its lifestyle, are very popular.
Now that we understand a little better the culture of the countries we live in, we want to offer an account with original content about our home country.
We are also writing this blog to practice English, so you will find our writing a little «creative» at times. Grazie mille!