Gluten-free pasta is everywhere. What started as a specialty item can now be found in most grocery stores, from Walmart to Wegmans – great news for gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant folks. Now you can add spaghetti back to that bowl of meatballs!
The question now is: What kind of gluten-free pasta should you buy? You can find versions made from corn, quinoa, brown rice, black beans, even lentils and chickpeas, and they run the gamut on taste and texture, particularly when compared to traditional pasta. So, what’s worth buying and trying?
For this month’s Pantry Power, the Simply Recipes team taste-tested 11 popular gluten-free spaghetti brands to find one (or two!) that we’d eat on the regular, gluten-free or not. Some were great, some were not so great, and more than one surprised us with its convincing, practically moving portrayal of traditional spaghetti. If durum wheat spaghetti had a biopic made about it, some of these would be duking it out for the Best Actor award.
The Brands We Tested
There are three main types of gluten-free pastas you can find online or in grocery stores:
- Corn-based gluten-free pasta is typically made entirely from corn, or a combination of corn and another grain. Corn-based pastas are likely to be closest in taste and texture to traditional pasta.
- Grain-based gluten-free pasta is made from whole grains like brown rice or quinoa.
- Legume-based gluten-free pasta can be made from black beans, lentils, chickpeas, even edamame. As a result, this type of gluten-free pasta is much higher in protein than the others!
We narrowed our testing to spaghetti, although many of these brands offer a variety of pasta shapes.
From the corn-based category, we tested the following brands:
- Garofalo Gluten-Free Corn Spaghetti
- Barilla Gluten-Free Spaghetti
- La Veneziane Gluten-Free Corn Spaghetti
From the grain-based category, we tested:
- Bionaturae Gluten-Free Brown Rice Spaghetti
- Jovial Gluten-Free Brown Rice Spaghetti
- Andean Dream Quinoa Spaghetti
- Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti
- Ancient Harvest Quinoa Spaghetti
And from the legume-based category, we tested;
Bionaturae Gluten-Free Spaghetti!
Ingredients: Organic rice flour, organic rice starch, organic potato starch, organic soy flour.
We were pleasantly surprised by Bionaturae's gluten-free spaghetti because, well, it tasted like regular spaghetti!
This rice-based spaghetti had a mild flavor and a very spaghetti-like texture and color. Test notes from the team noted how the spaghetti had a "smooth, tender noodle that wasn't too chewy" (Megan) and a "neutral, mild flavor with a slight starchy aftertaste." (Summer) It tasted great both tossed with a little olive oil and slathered in our favorite jarred pasta sauce.
If you're new to gluten-free spaghetti or worried about getting your kids on board, the Bionaturae spaghetti is a great place to start because its color and flavor should be very approachable and familiar to little ones.
Le Veneziane Gluten-Free Corn Spaghetti!
Ingredients: Corn flour - Emulsifier: mono and diglycerides of fatty acids of vegetable origin
Everyone loved this spaghetti. We agreed it was our favorite across the board. The Le Veneziane spaghetti had a "good chew and a good twirl – I wouldn't know it was gluten-free," (Emma) was "super tender but not clumpy or gummy," (Megan) and had "great texture - loved the taste!" (Claudia) We could see it working well with either a cream or red sauce.
Overall, the Le Veneziane knocked it out of the park. Gluten-free or not, we'd all happily eat and serve this one!
So how come it's not our top pick?
Le Veneziane's gluten-free spaghetti is only readily available on Amazon and it's most cost-effective when bought in bulk. You can buy a single bag on Amazon, but it costs $8. That price goes down to $3.60 a bag if you buy a 4-pack, though. These facts were enough to bump it out of the top spot for us, but if you're not swayed, then great! Go online today and get a pack. You won't be disappointed.
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Spaghetti!
Ingredients: Organic corn flour, organic quinoa flour.
Ancient Harvest's Quinoa Spaghetti deserves an honorable mention because most of us really liked it. Like the Bionaturae and La Veneziane spaghetti, over half the team thought this gluten-free spaghetti tasted a lot like spaghetti. The flavor wasn't too assertive or off-putting, and it had a pleasant chew.
Tester notes from the team said it was "mild and likeable - I had seconds!" (Megan) with a "great texture and flavor, not gummy." (Cambria) Even our families got on board: "My kids devoured this! If I had gluten-free kids, I'd buy this one." (Summer)
Two things kept Ancient Harvest from clinching one of the top two spots:
- It broke apart quite a bit after cooking. This is not a spaghetti that can stand up to vigorous fork twirling. This didn't affect the flavor, but it did dock a few points.
- One of us hated it. Because we are all individuals and do not have a hive mind, it must be noted that one member of our team absolutely hated this one. She was deemed a (much-loved) outlier, but her dissent was enough to push Ancient Harvest out of the top spots.
What about the legume pastas?
Are you curious about high-protein gluten-free pasta? Read all about it here!
In our taste test the legume-based gluten-free pastas were the most polarizing of the group: You either really liked them, or you decidedly did not.
Our team was split right down the middle: Three of us liked the chickpea-forwardness of the Banza spaghetti quite a bit – as well as its nutritious, high-protein profile, great for kids! – but three members of the team could not get behind the flavor or texture at all.
NOW TELL US: Have you tried any of these gluten-free pastas? Do you agree with our picks? What's your favorite gluten-free spaghetti?