One of the toughest things to give up when you’re going gluten-free is pasta. After a day at the office—followed by a yoga sesh, a spin class, or a hit of HIIT—it’s a super easy dinner to make. Some pasta, a few veggies, some sauce: steaming bowl of deliciousness, done.
The good (gluten-free) news? Healthier pasta brands are debuting at a fast boil, and they’re made from nutritious ingredients like chickpeas, lentils, and edamame—meaning they have more protein, fiber, and vitamins than your wheat-y linguine. We put on an apron and road-tested a ton.
So whether you’re gluten-free or just ready to reinvent your pasta bowl with better-for-you ingredients, here are the five best healthier pasta brands we tasted. Buon appetito!
Chickpeas are the starring ingredient in Banza pasta. The mighty pulse-based pasta (on-trend in the International Year of Pulses) packs 14 grams of protein—double what’s found in traditional pasta. And the brand has gotten some all-star backing: Restaurateur Joe Bastianich—who launched pasta palaces like Babbo, Del Posto, and Eataly in New York City with star chef Mario Batali—has invested in the company.
The vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO pasta has a nutty flavor and holds together really well. It’s an easy swap for regular wheat pasta—and a healthier way to enjoy comfort food faves like mac and cheese and baked ziti. If you want to kick up the umami flavor of the chickpeas, Banza recommends using a light sauce or undercook it slightly.
A 2-ounce serving has 14 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 190 calories, and 32 grams total carbs.
Each of Tolerant’s pastas (everything from penne to rotini to mini-fettuccine) is made from a single ingredient—either red lentils, green lentils or black beans—resulting in a texture that’s a little more dense than normal pasta. The black bean variety of the organic, gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO noodles has a strong, distinctive flavor on its own, but mild-flavored red or green lentil pastas pair well with a hearty sauce like a chunky marinara. And the vitamin C-rich tomatoes help your body absorb the iron in the lentils, nutritionists say.
A 3-ounce serving has 21–22 grams of protein, 11–15 grams of fiber, 300–320 calories, and 53–55 grams total carbs.
If you’re searching for something that matches the thick, doughy consistency of fresh-made pasta, check out Cappello’s. This Colorado-based brand handcrafts its gluten-free and grain-free pasta from almond flour, cage-free eggs, and tapioca flour.
The buttery, smooth flavor pairs well with most sauces. Try it with an olive oil-based sauce with a strong note like garlic, capers, or herbs. The only downside? It’s a little pricey (about $13 for a 9-ounce package of linguine), so make this a special dinner ingredient. Bonus: Cappello’s also makes gnocchi and pizza dough.
Two ounces of Cappello’s fettuccine has 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 11 grams of fat, 190 calories, and 21 grams total carbs.
Explore Cuisine makes a wide range of pasta noodles from black beans, soybeans, and adzuki beans. (And FYI the company is rebranding, so you may also be seeing their products under their old name, Explore Asian.) Their most popular, edamame spaghetti, is vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free—plus, it has 30 percent of your recommended daily dose of iron and a huge amount of protein. Not bad for a little green soybean. The spaghetti takes on the flavor of your sauce, so try this with a pesto or something similarly savory. Helpfully, it cooks super quickly and can be served hot or cold.
A 2-ounce serving has 24 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and 21 grams total carbs.
5. Andean Dream
Quinoa is the main ingredient in this versatile gluten-free, non-GMO pasta, which comes in fusilli and spaghetti, plus macaroni, orzo, and shells. While you may think of it as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. (Share that factoid at your next dinner party.) Its claim to fame is its nutritional profile—a rare plant-based source of protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, which our bodies can’t produce.
The texture of Andean Dream is similar to traditional pasta (that’s prob why it’s served as a healthy dish at some Neiman Marcus restaurants), but with quinoa’s trademark nutty taste. That makes it an easy pairing for almost any sauce, from puttanesca to pomodoro. Presto! (Pesto?) Dinner is served.
A 2-ounce serving of fusilli pasta contains 6 grams of protein,3 grams of fiber207 calories, and 42 grams total carbs.
Still hungry? HungryRoot sends you all the makings of a healthy “pasta” bowl you can whip up in the time it would take you to spiralize a zucchini, here are 6 healthy ways you’ve never thought of making quinoa, or bone up on your ancient grains with our complete guide.