One of the most popular gluten-free alternatives to wheat-based products is gluten-free pasta. When you first switch to a gluten-free diet, pasta is likely one of the foods you really miss. From small specialty brands to big time manufacturers, and even locally made fresh pasta, there are loads of gluten-free options. But how do they taste? We took to our laptops to try out as many gluten-free pasta options as we could find using Amazon Fresh, and here are some results from top brands. We tested each with our Nima, mostly to make sure we were using proper preparation habits, as they are all certified gluten-free by their manufacturers. We then taste tested each pasta both cooked, and with a hearty meat and tomato based sauce. Here are the results!
Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti = “Made with Corn and Rice”
Ingredients: Corn Flour, Rice Flour, Mono and Diglycerides
Barilla is a well known store brand, available almost everywhere. Their gluten-free line is becoming more readily available as well, and was one of the first brands that popped up in a search on Amazon. We tested the raw pasta after cooking, again mostly to make sure we didn’t have any inadvertent cross contamination in our kitchen. The cooked pasta tasted about as you would expect, relatively indistinguishable from a traditional spaghetti in flavor. It had a pleasant texture when prepared on the recommended cook time, no mushiness at all. There was a bit of a heartier mouthfeel to this pasta, more so than with a non-gluten-free variety. When we tasted it with our sauce, the difference was somewhat more pronounced. All in all, a very traditional and tasty gluten-free option.
Ancient Harvest Gluten-free Spaghetti – “Organic Supergrain Pasta”
Ingredients: Organic Corn Flour, Organic Quinoa Flour
The Ancient Grains spaghetti was an interesting one. It’s darker in color, and even the water turned an interesting yellow color. Full disclosure, this was noted on the package in the prep instructions and wasn’t off-putting. Once cooked, the texture was very grainy, with an odd flavor that’s close, but not exactly, to a traditional pasta flavor. When we mixed it with our tomato sauce, it seemed to bring out the gritty texture, and the pasta actually took on a bitter flavor as we ate it. While it might be better with a cream sauce due to the texture, we’d avoid eating it with something like pesto.
Manini’s Fresh Spaghetti – “Made with Ancient Grains”
Ingredients: Whole millet flour, tapioca flour, teff flour, organic sorghum flour, organic amaranth flour, potato starch, organic cane sugar, xanthan gum, sea salt, eggs, egg yolks, extra virgin olive oil, cultured cane sugar, salt.
This one surprised us a little bit. It arrived sealed and chilled from Amazon Fresh, and we have to admit the obvious freshness had us excited. When we tasted it cooked, it had a great mouthfeel that was almost not like pasta but more bread-like. The flavor was also bready and a little sweet, which had us checking the ingredient list to find two kinds of sugar. It had a great really smooth texture with no graininess at all and wasn’t mushy. It also cooked almost twice as fast, as it was soft and fresh from the package. When we added the tomato sauce, the pasta really changed, and the hearty sauce really balanced out the flavor. It was the priciest pasta on our list, at $6.99 for roughly 3-4 servings, but it was worth it, the best flavor in the pack.
Tru Roots Ancient Grain Pasta – “Made from Quinoa, Amaranth, Brown Rice and Corn”
Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice, Organic Quinoa, Organic Amaranth, Organic Corn
Again, we find another gluten-free pasta that is mealy in texture, this one was almost sandy. Flavor is inconspicuous when eaten cooked without sauce, almost not even like regular pasta or anything at all, really. It does, however, works very well with a hearty sauce, since the simple flavor of the pasta really makes the sauce stand out. In fact, the sauce takes over so much that even the mealy texture was minimized. I kept thinking as I was eating it, “This is the gluten-free pasta for finicky kids.” If you have little ones who can’t eat gluten and are picky eaters, this inoffensive-in-every-way spaghetti might be the brand for you.
Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne – “A Classic in Texture and Taste”
Ingredients: Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Water.
Now, this brand seems to have seen the pitfalls of many gluten-free pastas coming a mile away. In several places on their package, they make claims about their product’s texture, including “Good Consistent Texture” and the words “Not Mushy”, twice. To be fair, I worry that I cooked this one just a touch too long, as without any sauce it had a bit of a spongy or rubbery texture. The flavor was great, though, very traditional with none of the mealiness we’d seen in a lot of others. Full disclosure, we couldn’t find a spaghetti offering from this brand on Amazon Fresh, bit we suspect it’s out there. With our tomato sauce, this pasta held up beautifully. It had a very traditional flavor and texture, as if the little extra moisture from the sauce really smoothed out the rubbery feel. Excellent stuff!
Bionaturae Organic Gluten-Free Spaghetti – “Tastes like Traditional Pasta!”
Ingredients: Organic Rice Flour, Organic Potato Starch, Organic Rice Starch, Organic Soy Flour.
Of the pastas we tested, this one had the least traditional flavor of them all. In fact, it tasted strongly of potatoes, both when cooked plain and even when mixed with our hearty tomato sauce. The sauce also added a bitterness to the overall flavor of the pasta. Lastly, Bionaturae also had the most pronounced grainy texture of any of the pastas we tasted, almost like the slight feel of dirt on a fresh potatoes skin.
What’s your favorite gluten-free pasta brand? If you have a favorite gluten-free brand we didn’t try, let us know!