Which gluten-free pasta is best?
Gluten-free pasta has received a bad reputation as a mushy, tasteless alternative for people with conditions that require gluten-free diets. However, there are many options on the gluten-free market today that offer a simple and flavorful replacement for typical gluten-containing pasta.
If you’re looking for the best gluten-free pasta, Jovial Penne Rigate Gluten-Free Brown Rice Pasta mimics the traditional texture and flavor of wheat pasta for a reasonable price.
What to know before you buy gluten-free pasta
Gluten-free pasta comes in all shapes and sizes, but the most important thing to note is the ingredient list. Since gluten-free pasta tries to mimic traditional pasta, the challenge comes down to how well other ingredients can hold their shape, deliver a decent flavor and provide a safe meal to those who crave a quality pasta dish.
Without using wheat, rye, barley, couscous, bulgur and other crossbreeds of those grains, gluten-free pasta may use brown rice, white rice, corn, legumes, quinoa, edamame, lentils or beans. Brown rice pasta is an effective substitute with its mild flavor and chewy texture.
Combinations with multiple ingredients may also include potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum or other gums and starches to provide texture.
Many common pasta shapes are available as gluten-free pasta as well. You can find gluten-free spiral, elbow, penne, spaghetti and fettuccine to name a few. Choosing familiar pasta shapes that are gluten-free is a fun way to indulge in your favorite dish without worrying about getting sick from gluten.
Other allergies or sensitivities
Just because a certain pasta is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s free of all other allergens. If you’re shopping for yourself or someone else with other allergies or food sensitivities, pay attention to the ingredients carefully.
Allergens (or the lack of them) are usually clearly marked on gluten-free packaging. Look for pasta that is free of common allergens, such as milk, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, eggs and peanuts.
What to look for in quality gluten-free pasta
The most important part of gluten-free pasta is its certified lack of gluten. But the best gluten-free pasta also offers a pleasing texture and flavor that rivals its gluten counterparts.
Gluten-free pasta tends to struggle with texture more than anything else. No matter the ingredients, do not overcook gluten-free pasta. Always cook it al dente and taste test before finishing so you know whether it’s done or not.
That said, some ingredients provide a more typical texture than others. Corn, brown rice and white rice pasta tend to hold their form better than a lentil, edamame or legume pasta. It may take a bit of experimenting to find your favorite gluten-free pasta.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers strict standards for products that are certified gluten-free. This is helpful for people with celiac disease or other conditions who need to completely avoid gluten to avoid potentially life-threatening illnesses.
The FDA sets the main criteria as less than 20 ppm (parts per million) for any food to be certified as gluten-free. That is the lowest scientifically measurable quantity and is on par with similar guidelines from other countries and organizations.
Some manufacturers offer the added stamp of approval of certified organic gluten-free pasta. This signifies that no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or other potentially harmful agrochemicals were used to grow or harvest the ingredients.
How much you can expect to spend on gluten-free pasta
Generally, prices for gluten-free pasta range from 50 cents to $1.50 per ounce.
Gluten-free pasta FAQ
Which type of gluten-free pasta tastes best?
A. This depends on the person eating it. Generally, corn and rice pasta have a mild flavor that’s almost imperceptible under any sauce. That offers a plain backdrop for some who want something subtle that mimics plain wheat pasta. Quinoa pasta lends a nutty flavor. Chickpea pasta tastes like chickpeas but is also chewy, making it less sturdy than other ingredients. Additional ingredients or different manufacturers may also change the taste of each type of pasta.
I’m on a low-carb diet. Can I eat gluten-free pasta?
A. Yes, but it depends on the type of gluten-free pasta. Some gluten-free pasta has just as much, if not more, carbs than regular pasta. Legume and edamame pasta are likely low-carb, as well as any made with almond flour. Shirataki noodles are another low-carb option. If you want to avoid unnecessary carbs altogether, try noodles made from zucchini or squash for a vegetable-based dish.
How do I cook gluten-free pasta?
A. Typically, you cook gluten-free pasta the same as you would regular pasta. A few tips may help you achieve the best results:
- Use a slightly larger pot with a bit more water since gluten-free pasta soaks up more water and produces more foam from additional starches.
- Season the cooking water with more salt than usual. Try two tablespoons per pound of pasta.
- Cook until it’s al dente. Taste test the pasta as you cook. Overcooked gluten-free pasta becomes mushy and loses its texture.
- Add more sauce as gluten-free pasta absorbs more liquids.
What’s the best gluten-free pasta to buy?
Top gluten-free pasta
What you need to know: This award-winning pasta cooks surprisingly well and offers great texture and flavor.
What you’ll love: It’s certified gluten-free and also free of common allergens such as soy, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, eggs and peanuts. The brown rice pasta comes in six shapes and various multipacks for bargain prices. It holds its shape well when cooked, feels like regular pasta and complements any type of sauce.
What you should consider: It may be on the pricier side if you’re cooking for lots of people.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top gluten-free pasta for the money
What you need to know: The textured brown rice pasta mimics wheat pasta. The bundle comes with three different types.
What you’ll love: The penne, spirals and elbow pasta are organic and gluten-free, made with only brown rice. They cook like wheat pasta and hold their sturdy texture, as long as they’re not overcooked. This brand of pasta is especially good for cold pasta salads.
What you should consider: Packages are 12 ounces rather than the typical 16 ounces, so the price may be higher than wheat pasta in the grocery store.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a low-carb pasta packed with protein and fiber.
What you’ll love: It’s a good option for those who need to eat gluten-free and also watch their carb intake. It has a low glycemic index and tastes similar to wheat pasta.
What you should consider: It’s not a one-ingredient product since it also includes tapioca, pea protein and xanthan gum.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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