Pastina with Butter & Milk


Pot filled with pastina with butter and milk and a wooden spoon all on a towel.

Pastina with butter and milk is an easy Italian comfort food made with star-shaped pasta and pantry staples. Soothing to kids of all ages.

Pot filled with pastina with butter and milk and a wooden spoon all on a towel.Pot filled with pastina with butter and milk and a wooden spoon all on a towel.

Adapted from Julia della Croce | Italian Home Cooking | Kyle Books, 2010

According to the author of this easy pastina with butter and milk recipe, Julia della Croce, “Nothing is more emblematic of an Italian childhood than pastina (literally, “little pasta”) with butter and milk. It’s baby’s first solid food, remembered in adulthood with great nostalgia.

Young girl seated at a table holding a spoon, in front is a bowl of pastinaYoung girl seated at a table holding a spoon, in front is a bowl of pastina : Lorna Ponte Tomek

Soooo cute, right? But not so cute that adults can’t sit down to pastina for dinner once in a while alongside the kids—especially after one of those days, when these little stars makes everything better in the twinkling of an eye.

So when you wish upon a star, wish hard for pastina with butter and milk.–David Leite

UPDATE: Ronzoni stops making pastina

Fans of Ronzoni pastina are in an uproar–a veritable revolt–since the company announced it will no longer make the beloved shape of millions of childhoods. And they notified customers via social media.

The feedback was swift and harsh. One person replied, “At least Barilla still makes it and isn’t trying to murder my childhood 🤷‍️.” Ouch!

Said another, “Who’s the long-term supplier? I just wanna talk.”

But one bereft user seemed to sum it up for many: “Nothing feels like home, safety, warmth, and comfort like eating a bowl of pastina when you’re sad.”

While other pasta companies also make pastina, Ronzoni reigned supreme in America when so many of us were growing up. Whether Ronzoni makes good on its threat, er, announcement, or reverses its decision, this might be a great time to stockpile the last of the stars of the pasta world. And weep over a comforting bowl of pastina with butter and milk.

Why our testers loved this

Our testers adored the nostalgia that this Italian pastina recipe brought with it. Helen Doberstein calls it “good, simple comfort food, something every cook should have in their back pocket.”

Notes on ingredients

  • Pasta–Use the smallest pasta shape you can find for best results.
  • Butter–The butter gives the pasta extra richness and flavor. Use the best-quality butter you have available.
  • Milk–You can use any type of milk you like. We like whole milk for its creaminess, but low-fat will work fine, too.

How to make this recipe

  1. Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the salt and pasta. Cook according to package directions, then drain, reserving the cooking water.
  2. Dump the pasta into a serving bowl or pot. Stir in the butter and milk and serve immediately.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use a different shape of pasta?

There are countless diminutive shapes of pastina, or tiny pasta, that would work with this recipe, including anellini (little rings), stelline (little stars), acini de pepe (peppercorns), funghetti (little mushrooms), and alfabeti (alphabets). However, we may be partial to these wee stars.

Can I add anything to this pastina recipe?

This is classic Italian comfort food, perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather and want something simple and easy. That said, our testers enjoyed this with a scoop of frozen vegetables added during cooking, and it would also be great with some diced ham tossed in. For extra richness, you could add a dollop of mascarpone cheese, as tester Jo Ann Brown suggests, or finish with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

What’s the difference between orzo and pastina?

The main difference is the size. Orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta, is larger than pastina.

Helpful tips

  • Store leftover pastina in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat pastina, warm it in a saucepan over low heat until heated through. You may need to add a splash of milk to loosen the pasta.
  • This is suitable for a vegetarian diet.

More great pasta recipes

A large pot of pasta and chickpea soup, with a full white bowl next to it and a plate of shredded white parmesan.A large pot of pasta and chickpea soup, with a full white bowl next to it and a plate of shredded white parmesan.Pasta e Ceci A pot of stovetop mac and cheese on a wooden board with a rubber spatula resting inside.A pot of stovetop mac and cheese on a wooden board with a rubber spatula resting inside.Stovetop Mac and Cheese

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Pastina with Butter and Milk

Pot filled with pastina with butter and milk and a wooden spoon all on a towel.Pot filled with pastina with butter and milk and a wooden spoon all on a towel.

This simple pasta dish is an easy Italian comfort food made with star-shaped pasta and pantry staples. Soothing to kids of all ages.

Prep 10 mins

Cook 10 mins

Total 20 mins

4 servings | 4 children or 2 adults

237 kcal

  • Bring 3 quarts (12 cups) water to a boil. Stir in the pastina and salt and cook according to the package directions.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking water, and dump the pasta in a bowl or return it to whatever you used to boil it.
  • While the pasta is still piping hot, add the butter, burying it in the pasta to melt it. Stir in the warm milk. If desired, add a little more warm milk.
  • Serve at once to prevent the pastina from drying out and clumping. For best results, stir in a little of the reserved cooking water as needed to keep the pasta moist.

  1. Storage–Store leftover pastina in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
  2. Reheating–To reheat pastina, warm it in a saucepan over low heat until heated through. You may need to add a splash of milk to loosen the pasta.
  3. Dietary–This is suitable for a vegetarian diet.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 237kcal (12%)Carbohydrates: 29g (10%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 11g (17%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 28mg (9%)Sodium: 1759mg (76%)Potassium: 132mg (4%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 327IU (7%)Calcium: 49mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Recipe © 2010 Julia della Croce. Photo © 2010 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.

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