Gluten Free & More Finds the Best Gluten-Free Pasta
Comments (4)Posted by Erica Dermer
In 2017, Gluten Free & More magazine undertook a task once thought hard-to-swallow - review all of the gluten-free products available in one product category. Breads. Pastas. Months spent on taste-testing and analyzing nutritional labels. We help our readers find the best of the best in each category. What next? Stay tuned to future issues of Gluten Free & More to see what product we tackle next!
This summer, we faced the gluten-free bread category head on. We came, we saw, we sampled about 80 loaves of bread. We couldn’t look at carbs for weeks. But, in the end, we found the best-of-the-best in gluten-free white bread and gluten-free multigrain bread for our magazine readers.
Up next was another product category that often triggered confusion among consumers. Pasta! With over 40 varieties and brands of spaghetti noodles tested, we sought out to find the best spaghetti noodles that were also gluten-free and safe.
Imagine your last gluten-free shopping trip. Thinking back in your grocery cart - did it include packaged gluten-free pasta? Chances are, it did. Gluten Free & More readers love their gluten-free pasta. They also like buying it pre-made, which is no surprise to anyone who has made their own pasta - gluten-free or not!
As a pasta fan, I was excited about this new challenge. As a celiac, I often found myself buying the same pasta over and over again, just out of habit. I went to the same stores, bought the same bags of spaghetti, and made pasta regularly. Once I started exploring brands beyond what was usually in my shopping cart, I was surprised. There are so many brands and varieties of pasta! Since we only had a few months to tackle this massive pasta challenge, we stuck to just spaghetti noodles. Should we have added in penne, fusilli, or other pastas - I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have left my kitchen until 2018.
Making copious amounts of pasta, we learned, was much more difficult than testing equal amounts of bread. With the bread, we tasted un-toasted and toasted, which means we only had to wait about 30 seconds to taste test a product. With pasta, we boiled new water each pasta we sampled, and waited the 6-10 minutes to try the product once the water began to boil. While time consuming, I did get to eat pasta several times a day, and as a pasta lover, that was fine by me.
Reader Favorite Pastas
We asked out readers about their favorite packaged pasta brands. With over 2,000 responses, our readers top 10 favorites was comprised mostly of just three leading brands.
- Barilla 32%
- Tinkyada 19%
- Ronzoni 10%
While this was a great starting point, we had to find those brands that weren’t as popular or readily available to our readers. What if there was an incredible pasta brand out there that seemingly no one knew about. What if we were only buying these pastas because they were available, not because they were the best? We began our search at local grocery stores across the USA and then we took our quest online.
We visited Amazon, Thrive Market, Gluten Free Mall, and more. While we found a lot of gluten-free pasta on the internet to purchase, sometimes the shipping costs was more than the pasta itself. The best buys were from websites that offered free shipping or discount coupon codes.
We also wanted to showcase the variety of non-traditional noodles, and their growing share of the gluten-free pasta market. Lentil and chickpea-based grain-free pastas are growing in popularity. Brands like Tolerant, Explore Cuisine, Cappello’s and Banza are now appearing on traditional store shelves or in natural grocery store freezers. Low-carb noodles, like those made from shirataki noodles, are available nationwide and provide another gluten-free alternative. These pastas tend to have unique tastes and textures, versus the more rice or corn based traditional noodle.
While we had a set of characteristics that we evaluated for each pasta, our real question when it came to judging, much like the bread, was, “would we buy this with our hard-earned money?” If the answer was yes, then we moved forward with evaluating the pasta on more nuances. This question was a bit more tricky than it seems, as the pasta ranged from same-as-gluten-full pricing to out-of-this-world international pricing and shipping. Thankfully, not all of the pastas in our top 12 were pricey. In fact, we were pretty excited that mainstream brands offering safe pasta were readily available and pretty darn good too!
While the taste team has minor discrepancies when ranking our favorite breads, we finally agreed on the top 12 spaghetti noodles that would be perfect for both newbies and gluten-free veterans. These pasta brands, as well as our comprehensive pasta chart and analysis appear in the Oct/Nov 2017 issue on pages 44-51.
Subscribers will receive full access to the gluten-free pasta review online (as well as in their print issue). If you’re a subscriber, this issue should arrive in your mailbox soon if you haven’t already received it. Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe to Gluten Free & More and have it delievered right to your doorstep every two months! You can also purchase this Oct/Nov 2017 issue of Gluten Free & More magazine as a print or digital issue.
Erica Dermer, founder and head celiac in charge of Celiac and the Beast, started her blog because she felt like she had a new voice to bring to the gluten-free table and needed some celiac catharsis through writing. With a background in marketing and market research and development (including the food and beverage industry), she’s always had a soft spot in her heart for packaged goods, marketing, and branding in the gluten-free food industry. It also helps that she’s a self-proclaimed terrible cook, so she relies on many gluten-free products to help her get through her day without burning down the kitchen. She uses humor to get through her diagnosis and living gluten-free in a world full of wheat.