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The Best Whole-Grain Pastas

The Best Whole-Grain Pastas

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Our favorite whole-wheat pastas the entire family will enjoy.

It's easy to sub in whole-wheat pasta for white, but it's not always so easy to convince the family they'll love it. Whole-wheat pastas can sometimes be gritty and grainy in texture, with a pronounced earthiness that may not suit a bright tomato sauce. Here are our favorites for flavor and texture:

1. Barilla Whole Grain Spaghetti: Great for whole-wheat pasta beginners. A subtler flavor for delicate sauces.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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2. Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti: The earthy, whole-grain nuttiness comes through nicely without being too intense. The hearty, solid texture will stand up to bolder sauces.

3. Bionaturae 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti: A nice al dente chew without being overly wheaty.

4. Jovial Brown Rice Spaghetti: This gluten-free brown rice pasta has a traditional semolina pasta flavor with a mild wheat taste. No gummy texture—a problem with other GF versions.

6 Whole Grain Recipes

You can easily pack additional fiber in soup, stew and chili recipes like this one by using brown rice.


Even if you&aposve never cooked with quinoa before, it&aposs a cinch to shape it into patties and turn out these appetizers.


Mix in hearty buckwheat to your favorite egg-based dishes like quiches, omelets or this vegetable frittata.


You&aposll never miss the macaroni in this updated classic, which we swapped out for low-calorie, high-protein farro. For an extra crispy crust, sprinkle cooked farro on top before baking.


Using buttery, chewy barley in place of arborio rice adds texture to this risotto.


Millet is great at enhancing flavors: Use it to bring out the cardamom and cinnamon in this dessert.

The Best Brand of Whole Wheat Pasta?

There was a time when I thought of whole wheat pasta as something that only a health food nut would eat. But I’m talking years ago. Back then, you really couldn’t find something like whole wheat pasta unless you went to an actual ‘health food store’ to buy it. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those tiny, poorly lit places that smell like old vitamins.

But this was back before the wonderful blurring of the line between “health food” and “regular food” that we’re experiencing today.

Nowadays, eating what used to be known as ‘health food’ is hip and trendy because we call it ‘whole food’ and can buy it in beautiful stores that are brightly lit and smell really good. And even though it’s frustrating that we often have to pay premium prices for these newly discovered whole foods, I find the whole thing very exciting because there are so many new and wonderful food choices out there now!

I’ll admit that I still prefer traditional pasta over the whole wheat variety in many cases. But it’s also true that whole wheat pasta has come a long way over the years. Thanks to consumer interest in fiber and whole grains, we now have a huge variety of whole wheat products to choose from–even at the big chain grocery stores!

Now I haven’t done a side-by-side taste comparison between different whole wheat pastas but I do know that the latest package I picked up at Vons is one of the best I’ve tried.

It’s called Heartland and each 2 oz. serving packs a whopping 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein! Of course the nutritional value means nothing to me if it’s not something I enjoy eating. But I’ve used this Angel Hair pasta for two different dishes and I absolutely loved it!

First I used it for a cold pasta salad that featured a sweet and spicy and sesame-peanut dressing. It was really good and I’m kicking myself for not writing down the dressing ingredients! I really felt that the whole wheat pasta contributed a lot to the flavor of the salad.

The second thing I made with this pasta was my lunch this afternoon that can be seen in the first photo. I tossed the cooked angel hair with browned butter and grated mizithra cheese ala The Old Spaghetti Factory. It was really good and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by using whole wheat pasta. And don’t lecture me on ruining the health benefits of whole wheat pasta by smothering it in butter and cheese–sometimes you have to splurge!

I don’t have a real recipe for the pasta dish as it’s something that you just throw together according to your own taste. But I’ll share what I did for today’s lunch and you can go from there:

Whole Wheat Angel Hair with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese

1) Grate 1 1/2 ounces mizithra cheese set aside
2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil
3) Add about 6 oz. of whole wheat angel hair pasta and let the water return to a boil
4) Boil for 5 – 6 minutes (don’t overcook the pasta, check by tasting after five minutes)
5) Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat. After the foam starts to subside, gently swirl the pan and watch carefully. When the butter turns a caramel color and has a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat.
6) When pasta is done, drain well then toss with browned butter and grated cheese. Serve immediately

Yield: 2 meal-sized portions

Notes: The pasta was fairly dry with this amount of butter but the taste was very good. If you can stand the calories, by all means add more butter! I used unsalted butter because mizithra cheese is extremely salty. Aside from salting the pasta water, you don’t need to add any extra salt to this dish at all.

Now that the recipe is out of the way, let’s get to the main reason I am writing this post. I have some questions for you! What are your favorite brands/types of whole wheat pasta? Do you have any favorite recipes for using whole wheat pasta?

I think many of you may have had the same bad experience with whole wheat pasta as I did years ago. That is, you tried whole wheat pasta once and found it to be so terrible that you refused to eat any more of it! But trust me, the pastas are so much better these days and if you use it in the right dish, you will be more than pleasantly surprised!

I’m hoping that several of you have found brands and recipes that you enjoy and you won’t mind sharing with the rest of us. Just leave your links to recipes and/or pasta brands in the comments section.

If you’re like me, you grew up eating and enjoying a lot of pasta, usually of the white variety — in spaghetti, layered lasagnas and simply buttered with herbs. Only later did you learn about the darker, whole wheat kind, which is much healthier.

Well, this might surprise you, too: There are other whole grain pasta options — many are healthier than whole wheat — and they can be as tasty (or tastier) than pasta.

If you’re gluten free, you’ll be happy to hear there are several gluten-free, whole-grain pastas.

And even if you’ve heard of some of these, have you tried them? (Quick-and-easy product picks below.)

When I switched to a plant-based diet, I, too, ate a lot of pasta, but this way you don’t have to feel bad about it. These options add variety and nutrition to your meals, and aren’t hard to make, although they can take a little longer.

7 Healthy whole grain pastas to try

One-hundred percent whole grains are worlds better for you than the refined, white kind they have been shown to help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and help you maintain a healthy weight. And whole wheat is healthier than white, multi-grain (with refined flours) or wheat (without the whole,) but here are seven other good pasta options:

Spelt pasta. This cousin to wheat is more nutritious, with double the fiber. Many people who have trouble with wheat can eat it, and it’s “particularly helpful” for people with migraines, atherosclerosis and diabetes. The taste will likely be nuttier than wheat.

Kamut pasta. Another ancient grain and type of wheat, kamut has a high protein count and more nutrients than wheat, with a sweet, slightly nutty taste.

  • Brown rice pasta. Contains high-quality protein. Some people think whole wheat pasta is too thick, but brown rice pasta is lighter. Usually GF.
  • Soba noodles. These are made with at least 30 percent buckwheat, which is actually a seed but cooks like a grain. The remaining percentage is usually wheat. Buckwheat won’t spike blood sugar levels but will boost the protein power of other beans and grains you ate that day (which is great for vegans!). These have a nutty flavor. GF if no wheat is added.
  • Corn pasta. Corn is high in antioxidants and fiber. For the healthiest option, look for products made from fibrous corn meal, not corn flour. Usually has a gentle and slightly sweet taste. GF.
  • Quinoa pasta. Quinoa pasta is good for diabetics, vegans and vegetarians. Look for products without corn, which diminishes the protein value. GF.
  • Seven grain pasta. These have a combo of whole grains, like barley, brown rice, buckwheat , corn, oats and whole wheat.

Even better, look for sprouted grain pastas, which have even more nutritional value. (Read why sprouted grains are so great.)

If you (or those you’re cooking for) aren’t willing to jump 100-percent into whole grains, you can also find blends of whole wheat and refined flours. Try out these first or make half whole and half refined pastas, and then experiment with going whole grain all the way.

Product picks for good, healthy, whole grain pasta

If you’re looking for healthy, whole grain pasta, Eden Foods makes some great products, including 100-Percent Whole Grain Kamut & Quinoa Twisted Pair 100-Percent Buckwheat Soba Kamut Udon Noodles and Whole grain spelt ribbons.
And for sprouted, whole grain products, check out Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Penne or Essential Eating Sprouted Grain Elbow. And here’s a review of Essential Eating products.
Photo Source: Jordan/Flickr

Recipes for Pasta Dishes and Sauces

Ancient grains are less hybridized and therefore retain more nutrients and proteins, he explained, including glutens that help pasta hold together when it’s cooked and give it a firm bite.

The first pastas ever boiled to al dente perfection were made from whole-grain flour, according to Oretta Zanini De Vita, author of the “Encyclopedia of Pasta.” They must have been good, or pasta would have gone the way of garum and gruel instead of evolving into one of the most beloved foods on the planet.

Of course, pasta made from 9,000-year-old varieties of wheat isn’t necessarily easy to track down at your local supermarket. Most common whole-grain brands are made from standard high-yielding strains fortified with extras like flaxseed, oat bran or legume powder for added dietary oomph.

These can taste terrible enough to turn off even the staunchest nutritionist. When I asked Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, what she thought of the profusion of whole-grain “super” pastas, she wrinkled her nose.

“I object to people adding stuff to food to make it seem healthy,” she said. “Pea powder and flaxseeds don’t belong in pasta.”

She did approve of whole-wheat pasta with an ingredient list of one (that would be whole wheat). “Just make sure it has plenty of fiber,” she said — at least three grams in a two-ounce serving. “Otherwise it’s just not worth eating.”

Unless, of course, you happen to like the stuff. I know I do. And judging by the greater amount of retail real estate whole-grain pastas are commanding, others do, too — at least some of the time.

“I wouldn’t call farro my go-to pasta,” Mr. Skovron said, “but it’s fantastic in some dishes.”

He particularly likes it in a rich wintertime sauce made from cabbage, sausage and plenty of cheese, preferably served with an old Barolo from a friend’s cellar.

Miracle Noodle Zero Carb, Gluten Free Shirataki Pasta and Rice, 6-bag Variety Pack

This Miracle Noodle Zero Carb, Gluten Free Shirataki Pasta and Rice, 6 bag Variety Pack, c ontains six bags of Miracle Noodle Pasta, which includes two packs of angel hair, two packs of the rice, and two packs of the fettuccini. There are no carbs in these products, and they are all soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. They are made from 97 percent water and 3 percent fiber. Buy this six bag pack for $13.59.

The best whole wheat pasta

Barilla whole wheat pasta

Garofalo whole wheat pasta

De Cecco whole wheat pasta

Andean dream quinoa pasta


Green giant vegetable zucchini spirals

Zoodles (also known as spiral zucchini noodles) and sweet potato, beet, and pumpkin versions offer everything you could want in spaghetti without as high in calories as legumes or cereals. They contain fiber and a little protein (between 1 and 5 grams of each nutrient, depending on the vegetable).

That said Since zoodles are so low in calories per serving, you will need some protein on the side to fill up your meal. Try grilled shrimp, scallops, fried chicken, or even mozzarella and tomatoes.

Enjoying Whole-Grain Pasta

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says people with diabetes should balance proteins and carbs by using the "plate method."

  • Fill half of your plate with a healthy carb like a green vegetable.
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with a lean protein.
  • Fill the last fourth of your plate with a whole grain or starchy carbohydrate, like whole-grain pasta.

Harvard says dietary guidelines recommend eating at least 6 ounces of a grain food every day and getting at least half from whole grains. The ADA says to check the food label on whole-grain pasta to see how much fiber is in a serving. More than 2.5 grams is good. More than 5 grams is excellent.

Health conscious Americans are driving the explosive growth of whole-grain pasta, increasingly found in a variety of forms on grocery shelves. After giving up white bread for whole-grain, white rice for brown, now consumers are expanding their health-conscious choices to pasta.

The New York Times reports, "Not only are there more whole-wheat pastas available than ever before, but some of them show a major leap in quality" and "the best whole-grain brands are firm-textured and tasty."

Behind this change is a growing concern over consuming nutrient-depleted refined wheat flours. The process of refining wheat into white flour strips most nutrition and fiber from the flour. This results in enriching the flour in an attempt to restore some of the nutrient levels lost. Most health-conscious consumers realize that the wiser choice is to buy whole-wheat products. This increasingly includes using whole-wheat pasta in recipes.

In addition to being a great source of natural fiber, whole-wheat pasta also provides many essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Attempting to fulfill the desire for products that provides better nutrition, manufacturers are adding additional ingredients to the product. Flaxseed is added to boost the omega-3 fatty acid content and various other ingredients may be added to increase omega-3, antioxidants and nutrient levels.

Using whole-grain pasta in traditional recipes works best with rich, hearty sauces or simply olive oil and herbs. Artisan pastas made from ancient strains of wheat, which are naturally more nutritious, are increasingly popular. Flours made with spelt, einkorn, and farro enhance the most sophisticated recipes. Whether choosing an artisan brand or just a basic whole-wheat product, the added nutrition and fiber of whole-grain will enhance your health while the rich flavors enhance your meal.


In daily cooking, we use as much whole wheat as possible, cook pasta, have bread, or pizza, we must use 100% whole wheat, even when we make cake, cookie and other desserts, we always substitute part white to whole wheat, good for health, absolutely!

What to Look for When Buying Gluten-Free Pasta

Base Ingredient(s)

Today, there are countless options for gluten-free pasta available on the market, many of them creative, to suit your dietary needs and tastes. Common ones you'll find are made of one or a blend of a few alternative ingredients. These could either be grain-based, such as rice, corn, buckwheat, and quinoa or they could be grain-free, such as chickpea, lentil, black bean, mung bean, potato, and more. One type of gluten-free pasta, shirataki noodles, is even made up of glucomannan, a fiber sourced from the root of the Asian konjac yam.

Flavor and Texture

One thing to note is that while some of the gluten-free pastas mentioned above are close to neutral in flavor (meaning they'll probably work with virtually any sauce), others are more distinct-tasting (e.g., chickpea and buckwheat), meaning you'll have to lean into those flavors and experiment to see what sauces and spices work with them. You'll also want to note which ones turn mushy or gummy if overcooked a minute too long, which stand up to thicker or chunkier sauces, and if having the same bite and mouthfeel of wheat pasta is important, which ones come closest to that.

Fiber and Protein Content

Gluten-free pasta typically has lower fiber and protein content than wheat and whole wheat pasta, unless you specifically seek ones with ingredients that ramp up those nutrients, such as ones made from beans or legumes, or ingredients like quinoa and amaranth. Some of them, like mung bean pasta, may even offer almost twice the amount of protein of whole wheat pasta.

What is gluten-free pasta made of?

All gluten-free pastas are different. Many are made with a combination of gluten-free grains, like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, millet, and/or amaranth. Some are made with legumes, like chickpeas or lentils. With a rising interest in lower-carb gluten-free alternatives, you can also find gluten-free pastas made with almond flour or hearts of palm.

Is gluten-free pasta healthy?

While gluten-free pasta is always a healthier alternative for those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it doesn’t necessarily mean the pasta is healthy in the general sense. Some are highly processed and, often, the nutrition facts look similar to white pastas, but with different ingredients.

If you’re looking for a healthy gluten-free pasta, make sure you choose one with minimal ingredients and a macronutrient—protein, fat, and carb—breakdown that fits into your lifestyle.

Does gluten-free pasta have carbs?

Many gluten-free pastas are still high in carbs, but the exact number will depend on what the pasta is made from. For example, the Thrive Market Organic Brown Rice Penne has 43 grams of carbs per serving, while the Palmini Hearts of Palm Linguine has 4 grams of carbs per serving. If you’re watching your carb intake, make sure you’re reading labels carefully.

Is chickpea pasta gluten-free?

Most chickpea pasta is gluten-free, but don’t just assume without checking the label. Some chickpea-based pastas have additional ingredients that may contain gluten.

Is whole-wheat pasta gluten-free?

No, whole-wheat pasta is made of wheat, which is a gluten-containing grain. While whole-wheat pasta may be a better alternative than white pasta, due to a higher fiber content, it doesn’t fit into a gluten-free diet.

How do you cook gluten-free pasta?

Most gluten-free pasta is cooked the same way as white pasta—in boiling water for about 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the pasta type. But some gluten-free pastas differ. For example, the Cappello’s Almond Flour Fettuccine comes frozen and only needs to sit for a few minutes in hot water.

Each pasta will have the directions written out on the box. It’s especially important to follow these cooking instructions, as gluten-free pastas can overcook quickly, becoming mushy and sticky.

Is gluten-free pasta keto?

Most gluten-free pastas are not keto, since they’re still high in carbs. There are some gluten-free pastas that may be keto-friendly, but make sure you check the ingredient labels and nutrition facts for net carb counts.