Penne pasta that is made from a whole-grain brown rice. Made without many common allergens such as milk and eggs. Is USDA-certified, kosher, and non-GMO. Does not have any additives.
Shells tend to break easily.
Good texture. Similar to wheat pasta in appearance. Easy to digest without gluten. No added sugar. Not slimy. Still good cold, and works well for pasta salads.
Just like regular pasta, this will not taste good if it's overcooked. Best to undercook it just slightly.
Good for folks watching their carbs as well as people needing a gluten-free option. Tastes a lot like regular pasta. Lots of fiber and protein. Good taste. Low glycemic index.
Not a 1-ingredient product. It also includes tapioca, pea protein, and xanthan gum.
These noodles are less likely to turn mushy than some other gluten-free options. Pasta is also vegan and non-GMO. One of the closest in texture to wheat pasta.
Obviously not a good choice if you're avoiding corn; also tends to break up if you overcook it.
Blends rice and corn for a very good effect when it comes to texture and taste. Processed on a gluten-free line. Really good consistency. Works like wheat pasta. Holds together well.
Cook time on this pasta is going to be a bit longer than a regular wheat pasta.
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If you’re eliminating gluten from your diet, pasta is a dish you may mourn. Fortunately, some brands have stepped in to fill the void by replacing wheat-based pasta with gluten-free (GF) options.
These come in all the sizes and shapes you’re used to seeing in traditional pastas, so you can make your favorite dishes guilt-free. Wheat is replaced as the main ingredient with a few different starchy flours. Corn is a popular substitute and closest to traditional white pasta. However, for those trying to avoid GMOs as well as gluten, a brown rice pasta, which is quite similar to whole wheat pasta, is a better choice.
Traditional wheat pasta also gets a bad rap in the carb department. Legume-based gluten-free pasta, made from either lentils or chickpeas, is a great high-fiber, high-protein, and low-carb option. Worthy gluten-free mentions also include quinoa pasta, edamame pasta, and multigrain pasta.
With more options than you bargained for, how do you choose the best gluten-free pasta? We’ve done the research for you and selected our top picks for you to consider. To learn more about these alternatives to wheat pasta, read on.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the most popular health fad of the last decade: the gluten-free diet. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley, couscous, bulgur, and a few other grains. It gives food a chewy texture and elasticity.
People sensitive to this protein may experience a host of negative consequences after ingesting gluten, from stomach upset to mood issues. For people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, eating gluten will cause damage to their small intestine that can trigger nutrient deficiencies (from malabsorption) and symptoms like diarrhea, rashes, and fatigue.
Even if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, there are claims that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for your health. Proponents maintain that it can increase your energy, reduce brain fog, improve mood, ease digestive symptoms (including irritable bowel syndrome), decrease inflammation, promote fat loss, and more. If any of these are an issue for you, a gluten-free diet may be worth a try — after you check with your healthcare practitioner, of course.
Traditional pasta is made from refined (white) wheat flour, whole wheat flour, or semolina (durum wheat). Gluten-free pasta, on the other head, uses a range of ingredients in lieu of wheat flour, producing pasta that varies in texture and taste — and some are more nutritious than others. Here are several options to look for:
Corn is a popular gluten-free pasta because it can taste similar to white pastas. It’s typically made from a corn flour and coarser cornmeal mixture. However, 85% of corn in the United States is genetically modified (GMO), and if you’re already concerned about your health, many scientists are not sold on the safety of genetically modified food products. This is why we recommend choosing a corn pasta made from non-GMO corn.
Brown rice gluten-free pasta is an even healthier alternative to whole wheat pasta. Brown rice provides some protein and is packed with fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.
White rice gluten-free pasta is also available, but lacks the nutritional value of the brown rice variety. Rice bran is also added to brown or white rice pastas, which adds antioxidants and fiber.
Legume-based gluten-free pasta is made from non-peanut legumes, such as lentils or chickpeas. These are higher in protein than other types of gluten-free pasta and about double the protein of traditional pasta. They also tend to have a low-carb, low-glycemic profile, plus lots of fiber, making them a very healthy choice.
Quinoa is a seed that can be ground into flour, which is often combined with corn flour to make gluten-free pasta. This is another high-in-protein, high-in-fiber choice. The tiny seeds also pack in B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Edamame is an immature soybean and provides a boost of plant-based protein and fiber. However, some people avoid soy because it contains phytoestrogens that can have an estrogenic effect on the body.
Shapes: Practically any pasta shape that you can think of has a gluten-free equivalent, including spiral, elbow, penne, spaghetti, and fettucini. Swap in the GF equivalent to your favorite pasta recipes. Even if you go gluten-free, you’ll never have to go without mac ’n‘ cheese.
Organic: Some manufacturers offer certified organic GF pasta, which is made from plants not cultivated with the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or other potentially harmful agrochemicals.
Added vitamins: GF pasta is sometimes enriched with B vitamins and other minerals to ante up the nutrition profile.
Inexpensive: Gluten-free pasta isn't necessarily more expensive than traditional pasta. It can be purchased for as little as $1.50 to $3 for an 8-ounce box or a 12- to 16-ounce package.
Mid-range: For $3.50 to $6.50, you’ll find organic products and quinoa-based pasta.
Expensive: Higher-priced gluten-free pasta ranges from $7 to $14 for an 8-ounce package. These include paleo pasta that can only be purchased in specialty stores and may need to be refrigerated.
Use a bigger pot than you would for traditional pasta and only fill it up two-thirds with water when cooking gluten-free pasta. GF pasta often contains more starch than traditional pastas, which creates a lot of foam on top of the pot that can boil over and make a mess. GF pasta also expands more than traditional pasta and takes up more space in the pot.
GF pasta can taste bland if you don’t heavily season the cook water with salt. We recommend two tablespoons for every pound of pasta.
We also recommend adding olive oil to the water and stirring the pasta every 30 seconds within the first few minutes of cooking. Because of their higher starch content, gluten-free pasta tends to cling and clump together more.
Just like with traditional pasta, you don’t want to overcook GF pasta either. Test a couple of pieces before the recommended cook time is up. Ideally, the pasta should be “al dente,” meaning it has some bite but isn’t too stiff.
Pasta will continue to steam while it cools in the colander, which is why we recommend removing it promptly after it’s drained. Transfer it back to the pot or a mixing bowl, and add sauce or olive oil to prevent clumping.
Use more sauce than you would on traditional pasta. Gluten-free pasta will absorb more sauce, leaving your dish tasting dry, and its higher starch content will thicken the sauce. You could also add a little cooking water that you saved before draining.
For an authentic Italian egg pasta, try Jovial Foods Organic Gluten-Free Traditional Egg Pasta. It’s impressively made with just two organic ingredients: brown rice and eggs. Taste and texture of this product are practically identical to egg noodles when cooked al dente, and they don’t fall apart unlike other GF options. Great for tuna casseroles and other dishes that call for egg noodles, this pasta is imported from Italy and is the real deal. Another GF pasta straight out of Italy is Garofalo Sampler Gluten-Free Pasta. Try their artisanal multigrain spaghetti, linguine, penne, and casarecce in this 8-pack sampler. Made from a combo of rice, corn, and quinoa flour, you’ll fool your non-gluten-free friends with its authentic taste and texture. Trust the Italians to make the best GF pasta on the market.
Q. Which type of gluten-free pasta tastes the best?
A. Taste really is a personal preference. The most mild-flavored GF pasta tends to be the corn- and rice-based ones. However, some taste buds might find these bland while others may find them to be the perfect substitute for their favorite pasta dishes. Quinoa pasta has a slightly nutty flavor and grainy texture. Chickpea pasta is more chewy and textured than traditional pasta and carries a hint of chickpea flavor. Taste is also brand-specific, so a GF-multigrain pasta by one manufacturer may taste like cardboard whereas another brand may taste like the real thing.
Q. I’m on a paleo diet. Is there gluten-free pasta that’ll work for me?
A. Folks on a paleo diet are restricted from eating grains (which includes corn) and legumes. However, there is some paleo pasta made from almond flour and eggs. This tends to be pricey and harder to find. Alternatively, you can eat shirataki noodles, which are gluten-free Japanese noodles made from konjac root. These grain-free noodles are also friendly to the low-carb keto diet and are super high in fiber. However, they aren’t technically Italian-style noodles, so pouring on the marinara sauce may be a questionable move.
Q. Is gluten-free pasta good for a low-carb diet?
A. The answer depends on the type of gluten-free pasta. Don’t confuse “gluten-free” with “low-carb,” because some GF pasta actually has more carbs than traditional pasta (yikes!). Legume- and edamame-based pasta tends to be low-carb and so are the more expensive paleo offerings, like those made from almond flour. Shirataki noodles have virtually no carbs. You can also experiment with squash noodles made from zucchini (“zoodles”) or butternut or spaghetti squash.