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We tried TikTok's viral 'honeycomb pasta' and we have some thoughts

This polarizing dish is essentially just a pasta pie — cheesy, crispy, saucy goodness.
It's a pasta pie, but with … string cheese?
It's a pasta pie, but with … string cheese?TODAY Illustration / Terri Peters
/ Source: TODAY

If you suffer from trypophobia, the fear of small clusters of holes, you may want to stop reading and grab some spaghetti and meatballs instead.

But if you love following the latest TikTok pasta trends (we're looking at you, baked feta pasta), allow us to introduce you to "honeycomb pasta," the latest carb-, cheese- and tomato-laden dish to turn heads on the internet.

TikToker Anna Rothfuss (aka @bananalovesyoutoo) posted a video last month showing how she makes the unique pasta dish, which some have compared to a traditional lasagna or baked ziti, while others have deemed it an "affront" to Italian families and chefs. Either way, it's amassed nearly 12 million views.

"I wept harder watching this than a Humane Society ad," commented one user.

"Somewhere an Italian watched this and cried out in pain," wrote another.

"My Nonna called me and she wants me to tell you she's mad at you," remarked someone else.

But not everyone was opposed.

"Imagine this with homemade Alfredo sauce and grilled chicken," one TikToker suggested.

"That looks MORE than good," wrote another.

In the polarizing TikTok, Rothfuss fills a spring-form pan with cooked tubular pasta. Each noodle is stood up on its end and stuffed with a piece of string cheese. (Here's where the fear of small holes comes in.) Then, she pours a jar of marinara sauce over the noodle-and-cheese sculpture.

Trypophobics — beware!
Trypophobics — beware!Terri Peters

"Make sure it's nice and saucy," she instructs before adding ground meat to the top, which she explains is an optional addition.

Next? "More cheese. Right on top." Of course.

After spreading shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, Rothfuss pops the whole thing into the oven. What comes out is a gooey, cheesy pasta dish — a pasta pie — perfectly browned on the top and soaked through with marinara.

I read in the comments that the pasta she used is cannelloni, a cylindrical pasta typically served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce. To be clear, Rothfuss didn't invent this dish — many people have made what's called "honeycomb cannelloni" — but this might be the first time I've seen it made with string cheese.

Cheesy Pasta Pie

TODAY Food reached out to Rothfuss for comment but did not receive a response.

Since I'm not particularly afraid of small hole clusters, I volunteered to test the pasta dish out in my own kitchen — and I have thoughts.

Here's what I learned

This dish was a labor of love. The rigatoni I used seemed to be a bit smaller than the kind Rothfuss used, so it was a tedious project to stuff each individual noodle with string cheese. I spent a lot of time cutting the cheese into smaller pieces.

I spent a lot of time — too much time — cutting the cheese into pieces that would fit inside the rigatoni.
I spent a lot of time — too much time — cutting the cheese into pieces that would fit inside the rigatoni.Terri Peters

But the most difficult part was getting each noodle to stand at attention in the pan. I spent about an hour working on getting every cheese-stuffed noodle in place.

My advice? Buy the largest tubular pasta you can find, and don't be afraid to toss the pre-cooked noodles in olive oil. Once I did this, the string cheese slipped into the noodles much easier.

Next time, I would add a bit more sauce.
Next time, I would add a bit more sauce.Terri Peters

Also, don't be too worried about getting everything into the pan straight. Once I gave up control and let some fall on their sides or go in crooked, I worked faster. And at the end, it was easy to slide additional pasta in loose spots to get everything standing straight up and tucked in tight.

Steps two and three were a snap: Simply top with marinara and shredded cheese.

Cheese, cheese and more cheese.
Cheese, cheese and more cheese.Terri Peters

I started baking my dish on 350 F for 30 minutes, but when it still wasn't ready, I turned the oven up to 400 F and gave it another 20 minutes. I think higher temps are the way to go with this one.

My standard-size jar of marinara worked, but I would have liked my pasta a bit saucier, so next time I'd use two jars. And stock up on the string cheese! I went through two standard 9-ounce bags.

The crispy edges were the best part of the dish.
The crispy edges were the best part of the dish.Terri Peters

Overall, the dish was really good. People may think it has a concept similar to lasagna or baked ziti, but it has a flavor and texture all its own — with the crispy cheese holding everything together like a pie crust.

Honeycomb pasta is a unique and a fun thing to make — and my kids were big fans.

My daughter, who doesn't like traditional birthday cake said, "Is that a spaghetti cake?"

If my kids have their way, this dish will be making regular appearances on our dinner table.
If my kids have their way, this dish will be making regular appearances on our dinner table.Terri Peters

"I didn't know you could have a spaghetti cake," she added, before declaring, "This year this is what I want for my birthday!" then proceeded to eat half of the entire thing.

There's a lot of hate in Rothfuss' comment section, but there's nothing to hate about pasta, mozzarella and marinara, whatever the form. That is, unless you have that aforementioned trypophobia.