On the off-chance that you weren’t aware; I love pasta.
Pasta was essentially my main food source before I had celiac. I ate it several times a week in various compositions, found all the different ways to make it, loved all the different shapes equally (but was most fond of rigatoni). It was just my favorite food on the planet.
It’s part of why being diagnosed as Celiac was so heartbreaking for me. It meant that I couldn’t eat the food I loved more than life itself anymore. At least not in my preferred gluten-filled version.
Gluten-free pasta took me awhile. A long while, despite the fact that it was one of the first things that I tried when I had to go gluten-free. In hindsight, maybe it shouldn’t have been the first thing because that was a super hard transition for me to do and I wound up being really frustrated and angry about it, so I ultimately just didn’t eat pasta for months.
Gluten-free pasta is pretty different from regular pasta in terms of taste, texture, how you cook it, and in some cases how it looks. Depending on the brand it can be made from corn, brown rice, chickpeas, lentils, soba, or quinoa. And, of course, the main ingredient is usually what determines the taste, texture and how you cook it.
If you’re looking for pasta that will taste the most similar to “real” pasta, in my opinion, you’re going to want to go for pasta made from corn and/or brown rice. Most store brands are made from rice and corn and most well-known name brands also have these as well. These are usually readily available in any grocery store and will usually be the most inexpensive gluten-free pasta option you’ll find.
When you get into the pastas that are made from chickpeas, lentils, soba, etc; you’re going to find a definite difference in taste and texture from “regular” pasta. These noodles, in my opinion, have a tendency to be a little gritty and they don’t get as soft as easily as the ones made from corn or rice. There is also a definite aftertaste, which isn’t bad, but it’s something you have to get used to. These pasta varieties have a tendency to be higher in price than the corn and rice counterparts (in my area usually $4-5/box) and can sometimes be harder to find in general grocery stores.
One thing that will forever annoy me about gluten-free pasta is that the boxes are smaller than the gluten-filled counterparts. Anyone else noticed that? Typical pasta is sold in 16oz boxes, if you’re lucky you’ll find gluten free ones sold in 12oz boxes, but many are actually sold in 8-9oz packages. We have to pay at least double for our pasta just to get less in a package. :sigh: One of the lamest things ever, in my opinion.
But I digress.
Once I was finally able to eat gluten-free pasta and not feel sick by it, I started experimenting with all of the different brands that there are and have actually found a few that I actually like….
I feel like “like” is still a strong word here because I’ll always love the original…but in terms of gluten-free pasta, I like these.
I think I just confused all of you…
ON TO THE PASTA!
Barilla Gluten-Free Pasta
I mean, it’s the most well-known pasta brand, probably ever and everywhere, how could their gluten-free pasta be bad? Spoiler: it’s not bad. It’s made with corn and rice, certified gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients. Its the brand that I keep in my house the most partially because I like it and partially because it’s super easy to find. I feel like they probably have the most variety when it comes to shapes and types (meaning they have more than just rotini and spaghetti noodles), they even have oven-ready lasagna noodles. I really like their elbow macaroni for baked Mac and cheese; it’s really good and holds up to baking well. Considering I usually pay around $2.00 for a box, it’s also one of the best deals, as well.
Barilla has also started making a lentil pasta, but I admit I haven’t tried it so I can’t speak to how it tastes or anything like that, but it’s also an affordable option for those that have gotten into the lentil pasta world.
Delallo Gluten Free Pasta
I admit, I hesitate to put this brand in here because I sometimes have a hard time finding it, and it’s expensive. But I do actually like it, and it was the first brand I actually ate and didn’t want to immediately spit out (it’s a compliment, I promise!). One of the reasons I like this brand so much is because they have the typical corn variety but they also have a whole grain rice variety; so it’s like the gluten-free versions of “regular” and “whole wheat” pasta, which is really cool. They also have a ton of shapes including orzo, which I have a hard time finding by any other brand. As I mentioned they are a bit more expensive at $4 or $5 per package, so for me they’re a splurge, but worth it from time to time.
Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Organic Supergrain Pasta
This is a corn and quinoa pasta, so it’s similar in flavor to like a Barilla type pasta, but it’s heartier. It’s almost like going to a whole grain version of pasta after eating the normal semolina variety. It also fills you up faster than regular pasta. If you’re like me and lack iron in your life, Ancient Grains actually contains 10% of your daily fiber intake in one serving along with 4 grams each of fiber and protein. It is certified gluten-free and does come in a bunch of different shapes, (like they actually have small shells #praisebe) which is also a plus. I had a hard time finding it a couple of years ago, but I seem to find it at almost any grocery store now. It’s usually around $3.50-4 a box, so a more moderately priced gluten-free pasta, as well.
Jovial Foods Gluten-Free Pasta
This is the newest brand to me; I admit, so I can really only speak to one version of this pasta and it’s their Gluten-Free Brown Rice Egg Tagliatelle because finding gluten-free egg noodles, especially ones that don’t just taste gloppy, is near impossible. I have only eaten these once in a baked pasta dish and if Jovial ever stops making these I will cry; they were perfect. I know they have a lot of different shapes of their regular gluten-free pasta, I just haven’t gotten around to trying it yet. What’s amazing is that this brand is now being carried at Walmart, which I know a lot of people do their grocery shopping there and sometimes have a hard time finding gluten-free options there; this is a great brand to keep an eye out for when you’re doing your grocery shopping at Walmart.
Aldi LiveGFree Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa Pasta
I know Aldi’s aren’t everywhere (yet) but I would be insane if I didn’t put them in this list because their pasta is great. Now, they don’t have the biggest variety of shapes, but if you just need pasta and don’t care what shape it is, go for this one. It’s almost always under $2 a package, so it’s always the cheapest version I can find, it cooks well, and like I said, it tastes good. I actually really like their spaghetti noodles. When I make my meatballs, this is the pasta I use for me because it can hold up to the meatballs without getting crushed or mushy like a lot of longer gluten-free pastas can.
Later on this week, we’re going to talk about how I cook gluten-free pasta because there is a method to it. I feel like a lot of people do it different ways, but this is the way that I’ve had most success with it not turning out to be complete mush. I also have an easy pasta salad recipe coming using gluten-free pasta, because it is possible to make gluten-free pasta salad…it’s a process, again, but possible.
Is there a gluten-free pasta that you love that isn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments, I’m always on board with trying new brands!