Trigger warning: If you have trypophobia (fear of clustered holes) this viral TikTok recipe may not be for you.
One of the trending TikTok recipe sensations to emerge recently is “honeycomb pasta.” If you’re thinking this is a gooey, honey dessert, you’re wrong. The baked pasta pie is gooey, but it gets its name from the honeycomb pattern formed from tubular pasta packed together upright in a springform pan.
The honeycomb pasta is then stuffed with cheese, covered in sauce, meat and more cheese, and then baked. After popping it out of the oven, the honeycomb pasta is released from the springform pan to reveal a congealed noodle pie.
Variations on this stuffed pasta bake or pasta pie have been around for a while. But the so-called honeycomb pasta seems to have started trending on TikTok in the last few months.
Sweet Portfolio’s Valentina Mussi posted her version on Instagram in December 2018, reposting it in April 2020. She revived it for TikTok in February, adding more cheese along the way. Mussi calls it “honeycomb rigatoni pasta cake” but penne and ziti can be swapped in as the tube pasta.
After TikToker Anna Rothfuss (@bananalovesyoutoo) posted her take on the recipe on March 29, honeycomb pasta really seemed to take off. This might be because her recipe was controversial for using string cheese and Prego sauce (two things that riled up Italian food traditionalists).
Some commenters on Rothfuss’ video called this “vertical manicotti,” “tubular lasagna” or a spin on baked ziti. Others offered suggestions on how to improve the dish like adding spinach, ricotta, chicken or fresh tomato sauce.
There are lots of variations on the honeycomb pasta dish already posted on TikTok.
DeLallo Foods made a spicier version using Italian sausage, extra sauce, mozzarella and red pepper flakes.
HelloWonderful’s honeycomb pasta cake puts the sauce on top of the noodles before various cheeses, which seems like it would save a lot of time you’d otherwise spend stuffing the individual pasta tubes.
YWM Family stuffed their rigatoni with basil and mozzarella, which looks pretty tasty.
Matt Ramsey (@cookerofdeliciousness) layered pepperoni and halved meatballs on top of his string cheese-stuffed noodles plus sauce. He then put dollops of ricotta and mozzarella above that.
The Hunger Diaries made a fancy Greek “pasticcio” twist on the honeycomb pasta dish that looks pretty complicated but so creamy and decadent.
One of The Hunger Diaries’ commenters suggested she make a dessert version of this with chocolate pasta stuffed with strawberries and chocolate, and the social media chef thought it was a great idea.
Whether you think putting string cheese and premade pasta sauce in honeycomb pasta is an offense to Italian cooking or a creative take on the dish, it’s fun to see all the spins on yummy comfort food.
As Food52 put it, “This pasta cake proves that though bucking convention might leave some a bit bewildered, there’s always room for a little experimentation.”
What would be your spin on this honeycomb pasta dish?