What is bronze-cut pasta? Chefs explain why the newest pasta trend is worth testing in your kitchen.

What is bronze-cut pasta and how does it affect the final dish? Experts explain. (Photo: Getty Creative)
What is bronze-cut pasta and how does it affect the final dish? Experts explain. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Making pasta is a relatively straightforward process, as simple as mixing flour and water then shaping the dough into noodles by running it through a machine or forming it by hand. However, like any cuisine, there are endless ways of preparing the simple noodle to elevate it into a sumptuous meal. One of the newest trends in pasta-making is reviving a centuries-old method: using bronze dies to cut and shape pasta.

What is bronze-cut pasta?

Any pasta that's been shaped using a bronze die (a perforated metal plate that shapes pasta) is bronze-cut pasta. This type of die results in a rougher cut of pasta than pasta made using other techniques.

Most commercially-available pasta is made with non-stick Teflon dies because it's relatively affordable and works well for pasta-making. However, it's not ideal. "Pasta made with Teflon dies leaves the noodles with a smooth surface, [making it] difficult for them to absorb any sauces or flavor-oils," says Michael DeHaven, executive chef at Ohio restaurant Cut 132.

A pasta machine fit with a bronze die. (Photo: Getty Creative)
A pasta machine fit with a bronze die. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Pasta made with bronze dies has a coarser texture, which solves that problem. "[Bronze] does not have a non-stick surface" says DeHaven, "so it tends to pull on the pasta dough as it moves through the die, leaving tiny abrasions, grooves and a porous texture for the sauces to be absorbed by."

When sauce clings better to the noodle, the experience of eating it is better. "At the end of the day, you are eating your pasta with a sauce, so you want the sauce to cling well," says Lorenzo Boni, executive chef of Barilla North America.

"Bronze-cut pasta is a wonderful pasta to work with," DeHaven adds. "I personally prefer bronze-cut pasta at home for its ability to absorb and enhance the flavors of any sauce I put on it."

Chefs like Frank McClelland, owner of farm-to-table restaurant Frank in Beverly, Mass. agree. In fact, McClelland only serves bronze-cut pasta at his restaurant.

And it's not just chefs who prefer bronze-cut pasta: Melissa Tendick, vice president of marketing at Barilla Americas tells Yahoo Life the pasta company decided to start making bronze-cut pasta due to increased customer demand. "Barilla heard loud and clear from consumers: they desire more inspired and premium meals they can prepare at home," says Tendick.

Why does bronze-cut pasta cost more?

"Bronze dies are made from a more expensive material and need to be replaced more often, hence the typical higher price," explains McClelland. Barilla, which released the Al Bronzo line of bronze-cut pasta in November, had bronze dies custom-made to its specifications. These dies use micro-engravings to make Barilla's bronze-cut pasta even rougher than typical bronze-cut pasta, making it even easier for sauce to cling to the noodle.

Because of the investment in the machinery used to make bronze-cut pasta, chefs tend to use the highest quality ingredients when making it. For home cooks, however, the price difference is marginal, especially for a higher quality product.

Does bronze-cut pasta taste different?

Although the texture of bronze-cut pasta is undoubtedly distinct from other pastas, how different bronze-cut pasta tastes from other pastas depends mostly on the ingredients used to make the dough. While it's possible to make bronze-cut pasta out of regular flour and water, it makes sense that chefs using bronze dies would want to elevate their bronze-cut pasta recipes to reflect the more expensive materials and process used.

Barilla recently launched the bronze-cut Al Bronzo pasta line, available on grocery shelves. (Photo: Barilla)
Barilla recently launched the bronze-cut Al Bronzo pasta line, available on grocery shelves. (Photo: Barilla)

At McClelland's restaurant, the dough recipe for bronze-cut pasta is made from semolina flour, salt and carrot juice. "We juice fresh carrots and use the liquid as a substitute for water," he says.

Barilla uses a custom blend of high-quality non-GMO wheats that are higher in protein and gluten for its bronze-cut pasta. Boni compares the process of creating just the right combination of wheats to creating a fine wine. "You have to take the best wheats and blend them together to create a great pasta," he says.

What goes well with bronze-cut pasta?

"Anything worth eating with pasta can go with bronze-cut pasta," says McClelland. However, because bronze-cut pasta holds sauce so well, it's worth paying special attention to what you toss your pasta with.

At his restaurant, McClelland makes a sauce made with carrot juice pressed from just-pulled carrots. Boni likes using sauces with an extra virgin olive oil base with bronze-cut pasta. A good, robust tomato sauce also pairs well with bronze-cut pasta.

Boni shares some tips for perfect at-home bronze-cut pasta to achieve optimal texture:

  • Add salt to your water as soon as it comes to a boil and just before adding the pasta.

  • Reserve pasta water and add to the sauce to help with sauce cling.

  • Consider cooking pasta for 1-2 minutes less than indicated on the box and completing the cooking in a sauté pan with sauce for the perfect al dente pasta.

Looking for the perfect homemade sauce to toss with your bronze-cut pasta? DeHaven shares a recipe below.

Hearty Marinara Sauce

Courtesy of chef Michael DeHaven

(Photo: Michael DeHaven)
(Photo: Michael DeHaven)


  • 4 cups diced tomatoes

  • 1 pint raspberries

  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon basil

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped

  • 1/2 cup yellow squash, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon garlic

  • 1 tablespoon shallots


1. Place oil, carrots, peppers, zucchini and squash in pot.

2. Heat over medium heat, until carrots are tender.

3. Add raspberries, lemon juice, garlic, shallots and balsamic.

4. Continue to stir until well-mixed.

5. Add diced tomato, heat until soft.

5. Using immersion blender, mix well.

6. Add tomato paste, using a whisk until desired thickness.

7. Toss with pasta and serve.

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