As low-carb diets and gluten sensitivities have become more commonplace, a number of pasta brands have finally responded to the increased demand for gluten-free products. “Many of these products are now made using ingredients that have a lower net carb count—total carbs minus fiber—than their traditional wheat-based pasta counterpart,” says Kim McDevitt, MPH, RD. “This is largely due to the inclusion of ingredients such as legumes, which are naturally higher in both fiber and protein. A lower net carb means a slower conversion to blood sugar in the body, keeping your energy more stable.”
What’s the deal with gluten, anyways? Here’s what you need to know from a top RD:
So what should you look for when buying gluten-free pasta? “Gluten-free pasta can be made from rice, corn, quinoa, legumes like lentils or chickpeas, or nuts like almonds,” McDevitt says. “Over the years, as demand for these types of pasta has increased, so has their flavor and texture profile. No matter what you choose, look for a simple ingredient list, ideally just one to three primary ingredients.”
“Many gluten-free products can be low in fiber, which helps us to feel full,” adds Krista Linares, MPH, RDN. “Whole grain alternatives to gluten products, such as pasta made from brown rice flour instead of just rice flour, can help get some of that fiber back into your meal.” (However, keep in mind that those specific examples are still grains; so if you’re Paleo, you’ll want to explore truly grain-free, gluten-free alternatives.)
However, don’t feel like you have to cut out gluten or grains for better health if you don’t have any health conditions or dietary patterns that require it. “I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that if something is gluten-free then it must be better for you than its gluten counterpart,” McDevitt says. “In some cases, this could be true, based on factors such as how refined the ingredients are, but in most cases, the benefit of a gluten-free product is exactly what it sounds like, free of gluten, making it a better choice for those with a sensitivity to the protein and a safe choice for those with celiac disease.”
That said, if you’re looking to mix up the ingredients in your pasta, or need to address a gluten sensitivity, we’ve rounded up some of the best gluten-free pasta options for your pre- or post-workout meal.
Keep reading for some of the best gluten-free pasta brands on the market to try
1. Best for skeptics: Banza Chickpea Pasta, $25 for 6
Banza makes chickpea pasta that cooks quickly, has a fantastic chewy texture, and easily replaces traditional wheat-based pasta in just about any recipe. (Its founder was a Well+Good Changemaker in 2020 for a reason!) The brand also offers lots of gluten-free pasta varieties (including boxed mac and cheese kits), and is pretty easy to find in many major grocery stores. Plus, if you’re looking to expand your gluten-free Italian menu, Banza is now offering gluten-free pizzas made with a chickpea crust.
Shop now: Banza Chickpea Pasta, $25 for 6
2. Best if you’re Paleo: Cappello’s Almond Pasta, $11
Not all gluten-free products cut it for people who are Paleo; they also don’t eat legumes or grains of any kind, making many alt-pastas off the table for these eaters. Enter Paleo cult-favorite brand Cappello’s, which uses almonds as the base of its pasta. All of its pasta products are stored in the freezer rather than in the pantry (and cook in under two minutes), so think of the brand’s offerings as gluten-free, grain-free analogs to fresh pasta. On the flavor and texture front, it totally delivers—you almost can’t tell it’s not the real deal.
Shop now: Cappello’s Almond Pasta, $11
3. Best pea-based pasta: Zenb Rotini Pasta, $30 for 6
Yellow peas may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind as a wheat replacement for your pasta, but Zenb proves that it certainly should be. If you like your pasta to retain that al dente bite, Zenb’s collection of rotini, penne, and elbow pasta are all fantastic options. This alt-pasta pairs particularly well with a thick, flavorful sauce, like a pumpkin-tomato ragu, or a chunky eggplant topping.
Shop now: Zenb Rotini Pasta, $30 for 6
4. Best for folks with allergies: Jovial Foods Grain-Free Cassava Spaghetti, $24 for 6 boxes
Jovial gives you options when it comes to its gluten-free pasta, with both a brown rice offering and a slightly more interesting cassava offering—the latter of which is friendly to people with sensitivities to gluten, nuts, and legumes. If you’re looking to make a curried Thai noodle dish or cold Chinese noodle salad, the cassava pastas are not only an alternative to wheat pastas, but probably the superior replacement. They retain flavor and offer a more authentic texture for Asian cuisines than their gluten-loaded counterparts.
Shop now: Jovial Foods Grain-Free Cassava Spaghetti, $24 for 6
5. Best affordable option: Barilla Red Lentil Pasta, $3
Barilla may be known best for its more traditional pasta offerings, but they’ve taken their noodle expertise and applied it to the non-traditional varieties as well. We love their red lentil pasta which comes in penne, rotini, and spaghetti. If you’re looking to pair your classic bolognese with a gluten-free noodle, this Barilla option is the way to go.
Shop now: Barilla Red Lentil Pasta, $3
6. Best noodle: Thai Kitchen rice noodles, $17 for 6 boxes
Whether it’s pad thai or pad see ew that has become your go-to Thai order, you’ll be pleased to know that the rice noodles (thick or thin) that dominate much of East Asian cooking are naturally gluten-free. Thai Kitchen makes great rice noodles that you can easily make at home, and unlike most other gluten-free (or gluten-full) pastas, these rice noodles cook in a jiffy, making for an easy weeknight meal.
Shop now: Thai Kitchen rice noodles, $17 for 6 boxes
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