Before I went gluten-free almost 6 years ago to manage my Hashimoto’s, I pretty much subsisted solely on pasta.
This might have explained why every time I tried to go for a run, my stomach would start spasming within half a block. The culprit was a meatball-sized brick of gluten lodged in my intestines, courtesy of all those spaghetti dinners.
So when I had to revamp my diet, in addition to my beloved thin crust pizza, chicken fingers, and chocolate chip cookies, one of the things I was most terrified to give up was pasta. But it’s turned out to be one of the easiest things to substitute at home. And some of the new gluten-free pasta brands are so good, I’ll often inflict them on unsuspecting dinner guests without them realizing (the true sign of gluten-free gold).
It’s been a long search for the best gluten-free pasta brands, but I’ve finally honed in on my favorites. I try to find blends that don’t rely too heavily on corn or soy, and that are organic. Not every shape is created equal, so for example, while I like Ancient Harvest’s spaghetti, their penne is not my fave.
I created this original list almost 4 years ago, and so much has changed since then. Below is the updated anthology of the varieties I buy most often and great gluten-free recipes to give you inspiration for what to do with your noodles.
If you’re new to this world of gluten-free pasta, make sure to check out this PSA about all the most common mistakes people make while cooking wheat-free noodles!
With health and hedonism,
Spaghetti: Andean Dream Spaghetti (with honorable mention to Jovial)
Spaghetti is probably the shape that I eat most often, and I’ve tried many many varieties. Andean Dream is by far my favorite, with a close second going to Jovial organic brown rice spaghetti, which tastes texturally closer to a whole wheat noodle. I used to buy a lot of Tinkyada and Ancient Harvest, but the former gets too starchy and gummy, while Ancient Harvest uses corn and the strands tend to get a little porous and stick together, then fall apart when you try to toss them in sauce.
There’s nothing like the magic of a quick noodle fix coupled with the nostalgia of Cup-o-Noodle. Lotus Foods has allowed me to enjoy this all over again. Whereas 5 years ago I’d have to stock pile pad thai flat rice noodles for curries and stir-fries alike, now I always have one of Lotus’ whole grain ramen varieties on hand.
Fussili: Bionaturae Fussili
When I first got diagnosed, I turned to my friend Oliver, who’s had celiac disease since high school, for advice on gluten-free beer, bread, and pasta. He said that Bionaturae was hands down his favorite brand, and that the first time he tried it, his wife ended up fishing through the trash for the package just to make sure again that it was indeed gluten-free. All of their short shapes are fabulous. But the one downside in my book is that it contains soy flour which, even though it’s organic, I try to avoid for my thyroid. Plus, we’ve discovered now that Charlie is allergic! Otherwise, I’d be eating all Bionaturae, all the time.
Rigatoni: Felicia Bio Rigatoni
Gluten-free pasta brands seem to primarily focus on a few main shapes, and I found myself missing some of my old favorites when I went off wheat. Rigatoni is one that’s particularly hard to track down. But once I finally came across this Italian brand, my prayers were answered. And it’s organic to boot.
Elbows: Edison Grainery Elbows
Not only am I a big fan of the simple packaging on Edison Grainery’s products, but I love that they use organic quinoa and rice flour. I’ve tried a few shapes, but I find that their elbows (which are ribbed like a rigate pasta) hold up particularly well for soups (like this Turkey Minestrone) and baked pasta dishes like Mac n’ Cheese, where most gluten-free versions might fall apart or turn to mush. Bionaturae also makes a mean elbow.
Rustichella d’Abruzzo I discovered after interviewing Mark Ladner at Del Posto about what he uses in the restaurant for gluten-free customers. If it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for me. I also love that it’s organic and from Italy. More recently, I discovered Colavita’s gluten-free penne and it was outstanding. Unsurprisingly, also from Italy. They know their pasta, when it’s made from brown rice and corn.
I used Eden Organic soba noodles for years, but found that without a mix of wheat flour, their buckwheat noodles fell apart really easily. King Soba came on the scene with organic and whole grain varieties of my favorite Asian pasta shapes. Their brown rice vermicelli is also amazing.
Lasagna: Le Veneziane Lasagna Noodles
These thick slab noodles seemed like they were the last shape to come on the scene. Tinkyada’s were too dark and curly. Barilla now makes a gluten-free no-bake version. But my favorite is this Italian brand that just requires a quick par-cook before layering.
Casarecce: Garofalo Casarecce or Penne
Though it’s a lesser known shape, I love the elegance of Garofalo’s casarecce. They are another Italian brand, and bring that kind of artisanship to the table. I haven’t tried the spaghetti, but the penne is also fabulous.
Linguine: RP’s Gluten-Free Linguine
There’s nothing better than fresh pasta, and occasionally you’ll get lucky and find a gluten-free option in the refrigerator section of Whole Foods, usually by the cheese department. Whenever we see RP’s, we stock up. It cooks up just like regular fresh pasta, in a matter of minutes, and keeps well frozen.
Wheels: Banza Wheels Chickpea Pasta
If you’re looking for a high protein pasta brand, Banza, which is made completely from chickpea flour, is the right choice for you. My favorite shape of theirs is the wheels, since it reminds me of childhood and they are the only ones who make a gluten-free version!
Interested in trying to make your own gluten-free pasta? I have a recipe for you! Try this gluten-free hand-rolled spaghetti for a fun weekend activity.
Any favorites I missed? Let me know in the comments section!