I Tried the TikTok-Famous Honeycomb Pasta and Have Some Thoughts
TikTok food trends come and go faster than the latest fashion craze. One week everyone is making salmon rice bowls, the next it’s all about crispy potato stacks. Some of these trends are delicious and yield recipes I come back to over and over (like these ricotta balls!); others become popular simply because they’re new and exciting, but they don’t exactly taste great.
One of the recipes I’ve seen countless times over the past few months is a clever dish called honeycomb pasta. It’s essentially baked ziti, only vertical. The pasta is intricately placed standing up in a springform pan, topped with sauce and cheese, then baked into a cake-like creation that is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The presentation is wildly creative, and as a sucker for pretty food, I knew I needed to try it.
Get the recipe: Honeycomb Pasta
How to Make Honeycomb Pasta
Although simple, honeycomb pasta is pretty time-consuming and will take at least an hour to make. There are several different versions of this pasta on TikTok, each one slightly different from the last. Some recipes stuff the individual tubes of pasta with cheese, some incorporate ricotta into the mix, and others keep it simple with nothing more than marinara and cheese. I decided to make the latter to keep things easy.
You’ll start by cooking rigatoni pasta until just shy of al dente. Drain it, toss with olive oil, and season with Italian seasoning. Coat the bottom of a springform pan with a thin layer of marinara sauce, then assemble the seasoned rigatoni pasta tubes one by one vertically so they’re upright in the pan. This part takes time and can be a bit frustrating when the tubes don’t want to cooperate, so be patient! Once the pasta tubes are snuggled in the pan, top with shredded mozzarella cheese, more sauce, and a final layer of cheese. Bake until browned and bubbling, top with basil, and serve immediately.
My Honest Review of Honeycomb Pasta
I must admit that I didn’t love this pasta. For the amount of work it took to assemble, the flavor just didn’t make the effort worth it. The problem is that the sauce isn’t able to fully coat the pasta, so you end up with a lot of noodles that barely have any sauce on them. The noodles that do have sauce on them are good — there just aren’t many.
What the pasta does have going for it is presentation. The cheese made all of the noodles hold together into a sliceable cake shape that looked very dramatic. I could easily remove the sides of the pan and transfer the whole “cake” onto a serving plate before cutting clean slices. This pasta is undoubtably cool, just not as delicious as classic rigatoni tossed in marinara. If you want to make something fun and unexpected, go for it! But if you prioritize flavor, feel free to skip this trend. I personally have no desire to make it again.
3 Tips for Making Honeycomb Pasta
Before heading into the kitchen, keep these three tips in mind.
- Undercook your pasta by 3 minutes. The pasta will continue cooking in the oven while the cheese browns, so it’s important you undercook it initially.
- Season the pasta generously with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Because of the way this dish is built, the sauce isn’t able to fully coat the noodles, so it’s important you season them before assembling. After boiling, toss your pasta in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a generous amount of Italian seasoning.
- Plan on cooking about a pound-and-a-half of pasta. I found that one pound of pasta wasn’t quite enough to fill a standard springform pan, but two pounds was too much.