Our complete guide on how gluten-free pastas compare according to dietitians.
A decade ago, the gluten-free pasta options stocked on grocery store shelves were slim pickings. If you craved a big bowl of macaroni and cheese but were allergic or sensitive to gluten, you were out of luck. But now when you take a stroll down the pasta aisle, the gluten-free pasta options almost rival the number of different types of pasta shapes.
While the increase in gluten-free pasta options is definitely a positive, all the choices have created another problem: It’s hard to know which one to go for. How does red lentil compare to chickpea when it comes to taste and nutrition? What about edamame or black bean? And that’s before you factor in that, as with any food, some brands simply produce better-tasting and more nutrient-rich products than others.
Nothing is worse than craving a pasta dish and ending up with a meal that misses the mark. That’s where this list comes in. No matter what type of gluten-free pasta you’re in need of, you’ll find the best one for the job here. Plus, a registered dietitian and a cooking expert reveal how different types of gluten-free pasta compare.
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How Gluten-Free Pasta Options Compare Nutritionally
According to registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, gluten-free kinds of pasta are most commonly made of either beans, lentils, edamame, brown rice or quinoa. She adds that some gluten-free pastas are made of a combination of these ingredients. In general, Rifkin says that all of these gluten-free pasta options are safe for people with celiac disease. However, she emphasizes that if you are allergic or sensitive to gluten, it’s always a good idea to read the food label of the product you’re eying, just to be safe because manufacturing facilities or other ingredients in the food may contain allergens.
“Because there are so many varieties of gluten-free pasta available now, nutrient composition is all over the board,” Rifkin says. Want your noodles to pack as much protein as possible? She says to go for bean, lentil or edamame. Looking for extra iron? Rifkin says beans and lentils strike again. She also says that gluten-free pasta options across the board tend to have more fiber than traditional pasta noodles.
What To Keep In Mind When Choosing a Gluten-Free Pasta Based On Taste—Plus How To Cook It
Of course, nutritional content isn’t all that should be considered when choosing a gluten-free pasta; taste and texture are key too. “Gluten-free pasta tends to be made from grains that have a more robust flavor than traditional pasta. It can be a bit of a shock for someone who's accustomed to white pasta to make the switch in the same way that whole-wheat pasta can be,” says Stephanie Pixley, the deputy editor at America’s Test Kitchen, a cooking resource that publishes many cookbooks, including How Can It Be Gluten Free.
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When choosing a gluten-free pasta, think about how you plan on using it. Are you going to top it with tomato sauce? A cream-based sauce? Pesto? Just a little olive oil and garlic? Once you have that figured out, Pixley says to then think about how the flavor of the different gluten-free pasta ingredients would pair with what you’re making it with. For example, do you like the idea of chickpeas paired with pesto more than you do the idea of lentils and pesto paired together? Then chickpea pasta is your best bet. Or do you think red lentils sound great paired with a hearty tomato sauce? If so, go for red lentil pasta. If you’re looking for a gluten-free pasta that’s super versatile, Pixley says to consider brown rice-based pasta, which is the most neutral in taste.
Cooking gluten-free pasta perfectly can be tricky. “In general, the challenge with cooking gluten-free pasta is nailing the right al dente texture. Undercook the pasta and it will be tough, overcook the pasta and it will be soft,” Pixley says. Her best advice is to taste the pasta before draining it; don’t just blindly follow what the directions tell you to do.
With all of this in mind, here is a list of the best gluten-free pasta to consider for all your comfort food needs.
16 Best Gluten-Free Pastas
1. Tolerant Organic Gluten-Free Chickpea Pasta, $35.50 for 6 on Amazon
Some gluten-free pastas can have a glue-y texture, but you won’t have that problem with any of Tolerant’s organic gluten-free pasta options. The brand has developed a cult following because of the perfected taste and texture of their noodles. Tolerant Organic Gluten-Free Chickpea Pasta, $35.50 for 6 on Amazon
2. Jovial Organic, Gluten-Free Whole Grain Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles, $17.98 for 2 on Amazon
It can be tricky to find gluten-free lasagna noodles, but Jovial’s does the job without tasting overly grainy. They’re made in Italy, where no subpar noodle would ever see the light of day. Jovial Organic, Gluten-Free Whole Grain Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles, $17.98 for 2 on Amazon
3. Camp Gluten-Free Mac-and-Cheese, $10.99 for 3 on Amazon
Sometimes, a craving for mac and cheese hits and nothing else will do. Camp’s gluten-free macaroni is made with a blend of brown rice and pea protein, giving each serving between 10 and 12 grams of protein. Camp Gluten-Free Mac-and-Cheese, $10.99 for 3 on Amazon
4. Banza Cascatelli Chickpea Pasta on Amazon, $4.49
Cascatelli is an under-appreciated pasta shape. This type of pasta is best at holding the sauce ensuring every bite is flavor-packed. Bonus: Each serving of Banza’s chickpea pasta has 11 grams of protein. Banza Cascatelli Chickpea Pasta on Amazon, $4.49
5. Zenb Gluten-Free Yellow Pea Spaghetti, $19.99 for 3 on Amazon
Yellow peas are mild in taste while bringing a lot of protein to the table, making them a great gluten-free pasta option. Here, they’re used to make classic spaghetti noodles, a pantry staple. Zenb Gluten-Free Yellow Pea Spaghetti, $19.99 for 3 on Amazon
6. Bgreen Organic Millet and Brown Rice Angel Hair Pasta, $8.99 for 2 on Amazon
Prefer your noodles on the skinny side? This angel hair pasta is made with a combination of millet and brown rice, which provides a great serving of fiber. Bgreen Organic Millet and Brown Rice Angel Hair Pasta, $8.99 for 2 on Amazon
7. The Only Bean Organic Edamame Pasta, $28.99 for 6 on Amazon
Many people enjoy edamame for its slightly nutty taste. It tastes especially great with pesto or even just with olive oil and spices. The Only Bean’s is beloved because it’s organic and only contains the edamame; there are no other ingredients at all. The Only Bean Organic Edamame Pasta, $28.99 for 6 on Amazon
8. Barilla Red Lentil Pasta, $29.90 for 10 on Amazon
As Rifkin explained, one major benefit of lentil-based pasta is that it’s a good source of protein, iron and fiber. Tried-and-true Barilla makes a great option and is one of the most affordable gluten-free pastas on the market. Barilla Red Lentil Pasta, $29.90 for 10 on Amazon
9. WickedGud Rigatoni Gluten-Free Pasta, $22.85 for 6 on Amazon
Can’t decide on which gluten-free ingredient to go for? Try three all at once with this pasta, made with a combination of red lentils, brown rice and chickpeas. It’s also made with buckwheat and flaxseed, which ups the nutritional density even more. WickedGud Rigatoni Gluten-Free Pasta, $22.85 for 6 on Amazon
10. Tuscanini Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi, $17.99 for 3 on Amazon
Add gnocchi to the long list of ways potatoes can be transformed to taste amazing. Imported from Italy, this gluten-free gnocchi only takes a few minutes to make. Tuscanini Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi, $17.99 for 3 on Amazon
11. Artisola Gluten-Free Ravioli, $7.99 on Amazon
Haven’t been able to find gluten-free ravioli? The search is over. These are made with rice flour, potato, and yellow corn while the filling is ricotta, kale, and garlic. Artisola Gluten-Free Ravioli, $7.99 on Amazon
12. Cappello’s Almond Flour Five Cheese Ravioli, $10.49 on Amazon
Another gluten-free ravioli option is this five cheese-filled one by Cappello’s. The ravioli is made with almond flour, a classic GF substitute. Cappello’s Almond Flour Five Cheese Ravioli, $10.49 on Amazon
13. Lupii Lupini Bean Pasta, $19.95 for 3 on Amazon
Never heard of lupini beans? A common ingredient in the Mediterranean, they’re similar to fava beans in terms of size and shape but taste more similar to soybeans. Try them in three different pasta shapes with this variety pack. Lupii Lupini Bean Pasta, $19.95 for 3 on Amazon
14. Explore Cuisine Organic Black Bean Spaghetti, $9.27 on Amazon
If you’re on a mission to get more fiber into your diet, black bean pasta is a great choice. And admit it, the black color is pretty fun. Explore Cuisine Organic Black Bean Spaghetti, $9.27 on Amazon
Related: 60 Best Black Bean Recipes
15. Taste Republic Spinach Fettuccine, $4.94 on Amazon
16. Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Green Lentil and Quinoa Penne, $24.99 for 6 on Amazon
Ancient Harvest is one of our go-to protein pastas that packs 25 grams of protein per serving. It's not only void of gluten, but made with lentils and quinoa, which provide a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and iron. Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Green Lentil and Quinoa Penne, $24.99 for 6 on Amazon