Spotlight Series: All About Lumache (Also Known As “Shellbows”)

Spotlight Series: All About Lumache (Also Known As “Shellbows”)

Have you ever wondered “What is Lumache pasta?"

Lumache pasta (pronounced loo mah chay) is a fun Italian pasta shape that looks like a “snail” shell, or a hybrid of two classics: shells and elbows. “Shellbows” is DeLallo’s unique name for lumache pasta, a way to pay homage to its fun hybrid shape. But don’t be confused: lumache and Shellbows refer to the same shell-shaped pasta.

There isn’t much this pasta can’t do. With a ridged exterior, a curved tube shape and a slightly pinched end, lumache pasta is perfect for holding onto rich, creamy and chunky sauces. These lovable shells also shine in lighter sauces, like pesto and fresh tomato sauces. Lumache pasta is well suited for cheesy and thick sauces like those of dreamy baked pasta dishes.

Shellbows pasta with our bruschetta mac and cheese.
window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_ELEMENTS = window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_ELEMENTS || new Array(); window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_ELEMENTS.push({ uuid: 's-ad7922c4-ae56-4f29-81e3-87c35d3c8a8b' })

DeLallo Lumache ("Shellbows"): Fast Facts

  • Category: Shell/elbow hybrid
  • Meaning: Lumache is the Italian word for “snails.”
  • Cook time: 12 to 13 minutes
  • Place of Origin: Piedmont, Italy
  • Main Ingredients: Durum wheat, mineral water
  • Alternative Names: Shellbows
  • Possible Substitutes: Shells (conchiglie), orecchiette

Shop Shellbows Pasta:

What is Lumache ("Shellbows")?

Lumache pasta, also known as Shellbows, is a shell-elbow hybrid that is shaped like a curved tube and has a ridged exterior. Lumache translates to “snails” in Italian, referring to its snail shell shape. It is said that lumache looks somewhat similar to conchiglie (classic shells pasta), except lumache is a closed tube pasta with a pinched end. These characteristics make it perfect for trapping sauces. Lumache is a great option for ragù sauces made with beef, pork and even mushrooms. Its ridged exterior is also well-suited for holding onto thinner sauces and even broths, so you can use it in anything from mac and cheese, to pasta salads, to soups.

Close-up of lumache/shellbows pasta shape.
window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS = window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS || new Array(); window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS.push({ uuid: 's-4f1ed616-250c-4e7f-b860-4938051bab7a' })

How Do I Pronounce Lumache?

Lumache is pronounced “loo-mah-chay.”

The Origin of Lumache and It's Brief History

Lumache pasta originated in the Piedmont region of Italy. Piedmontese pasta chefs were likely influenced by the cuisine of nearby France, where snails are a mainstay. Lumache translates to “snail” in Italian. Lumache pasta is becoming an increasingly popular choice for chefs around the country, due to its versatility in a wide range of recipes. It is equally well-suited to a thick ragù as it is to an olive oil-based sauce.

Close-up of shellbows pasta.
window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS = window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS || new Array(); window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS.push({ uuid: 's-b0618478-0c3b-445f-a090-01550b152d94' })

How is Lumache ("Shellbows") Made and What is it Made of?

To make Lumache, durum wheat is milled into coarse ground semolina flour and then carefully kneaded with cold, fresh, mineral-rich mountain spring water to create the dough.


The lumache is then extruded with traditional bronze dies to give it a rougher, ribbed surface texture that is great for capturing sauces. The final shape looks like a curved tube with one pinched end. The other end is open, which allows the shape to hold thick sauces and chunky sauces.


The pasta is then slowly dried at low temperatures to reproduce the traditional way of making pasta. This method respects the ingredients, preserving the pasta’s color, texture and aroma.

Shellbows pasta with water and semolina flour.
window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS = window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS || new Array(); window.SHOGUN_IMAGE_V2_ELEMENTS.push({ uuid: 's-a08edfdc-038d-4668-ace8-3d2064fd21b9' })

How to Cook Lumache ("Shellbows")

To cook lumache, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add enough salt to make the water salty like the sea. As a general guideline, use about 2 tablespoons of salt for every 5 quarts of water. Kosher salt or fine sea salt are the best options for salting pasta water. Avoid using iodized salt. Do not add oil to the pasta water.


Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir, which will help prevent the individual pieces from sticking together.


Keep the water at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 11 minutes. Pasta cooking is not an exact science, so be sure to check for that signature al dente. To see if the pasta is done, taste a strand. It should be tender with a slightly firm bite in the center.


Once your pasta is done cooking, scoop up a cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside. You can use this water later to help your sauce reach a perfect consistency. Strain the pasta in a colander or mesh strainer, but don’t rinse it! The starch on the surface of the pasta helps the sauce stick. Finish your pasta by tossing it in a pan with warm sauce, and cook them together over high heat for 2 minutes.

The Best Lumache Pasta ("Shellbows") - The DeLallo Difference

DeLallo lumache pasta is made in Italy using the highest quality durum wheat then is specially milled into semolina flour. The exclusive flour blend is high in gluten and protein content, which results in an artisan pasta with a superior taste and texture. Additionally, the pasta is extruded using a traditional bronze die to create a rough surface that is ideal for sopping up sauce.


Dried slowly at a low temperature, the pasta-making process is designed to mimic traditional methods. DeLallo’s lumache cooks up to a perfect al dente and its ridges and curved shape easily capture chunky sauces.


Shellbows is our own registered name for this fun pasta shape. It does not differ in any way from traditional lumache pasta.

Lumache Recipes and Usage Ideas

Lumache is perfect for a wide range of pasta recipes—from classic pasta and baked pasta to pasta salads or soups. Below are a few of the best ways to enjoy this beautiful, shell-shaped pasta.


Lumache Mac and Cheese: This pasta shape is perfect for this creamy and cheesy baked dish. Some of our favorites is this fresh Bruschetta Mac and Cheese, rich Lobster Mac and Cheese and spicy Cajun Mac and Cheese.


Lumache alla Vodka: Lumache is the perfect shape for holding onto plenty of everyone’s favorite creamy, rich pasta sauce in every bite.


Garlic Parmesan Lunache: This flavorful pasta sauce is creamy, garlicky, cheesy and made in just one pot. This dish can be served as a side, in a skillet with chicken and vegetables or as a main dish.


Lumache with Hearty Meat Sauces: Chunky sauces are perfect for lumache. Meat Lover’s Italian Pizza Pasta Bake is loaded with sausage, pancetta and pepperoni. Or try this easy but filling weeknight Italian Turkey Sausage Pasta.


Lumache with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: This creamy, silky sauce is super easy to make and quite delicious.  

View more recipes using lumache here.

The Best Sauces for Lumache ("Shellbows")

The shape of Lumache is perfect for trapping and holding onto sauces. Consider pairing shellbows with cream or cheese-based sauces like Alfredo, meat sauces like bolognese and chunky sauces loaded with mushrooms or vegetables.

Lumache ("Shellbows") Substitutes

Conchiglie (“Shells”) pasta is shaped similarly to shellbows with a concave body that makes it ideal for scooping up thicker sauces and small bits of vegetables.

Orecchiette is a small ear-shaped pasta. It is not a closed pasta, so it won’t capture sauces as well, but it should stand in nicely for Lumache. Lumaconi is a large version of lumache, another possible substitute. It is frequently used in baked dishes, since its shell shape is perfect for stuffing and its pinched end ensures the filling will stay put.

DeLallo Lumache ("Shellbows"): FAQ

What is Lumache named after?

In Italian, Lumache directly translates to “snails.” The connection is easy to make, considering Lumache’s curved shape resembles a snail’s shell.

Lumache vs Lumaconi - What is the difference?

Lumaconi translates to “big/large snails.” As the name suggests, Lumaconi is a larger version of Lumache, and one end of each piece of Lumaconi is frequently pinched partially or completely shut. Lumaconi are typically used in baked dishes, where they are stuffed individually. 

Where to DeLallo Lumache ("Shellbows")?

Order DeLallo Shellbows Pasta online or find them at most major supermarkets throughout the country.