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Few foods are as adored as pasta. From a classic spaghetti and meatballs dish to a cozy lasagna dinner, pasta is a comforting staple that’s crave-able and satisfying.
Traditional pasta that’s made with wheat flour and water often has a little bit of protein, particularly if it’s made with enriched flour (aka with added vitamins and nutrients), as most popular brands are — clocking in at around 7 grams per 2-ounce serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. But if you want even more protein in your bowl along with some steady energy from healthy carbs, leaning on high-protein pasta varieties can be a good idea.
After all, most people should aim to get at least 46 grams of protein per day, according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and many high-protein pastas contain an average of 20 grams of the nutrient. By including ingredients that are natural sources of protein (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, and even eggs), pasta manufacturers have been able to pack more protein in their bowties and corkscrews without affecting the shape and taste that seemingly everyone knows and loves. Not to mention, because many of these ingredients pack tons of fiber, too, these pastas offer a significant amount of fiber per serving (which, reminder, is good for digestion, stabilizing blood sugar, and so much more).
Protein pasta is a particularly good choice for those following a high-protein diet (duh) as well as vegetarians (who eat eggs). And since many of these kinds of pasta are made with beans, they’re also naturally free of gluten, opening the door for more food options for those living a gluten-free lifestyle.
How to Choose a High-Protein Pasta
Picking the best high-protein pasta is pretty simple with a little know-how. The first step is to check the nutrition label and see how much protein one serving of pasta contains. While there’s no true definition of what can be considered “high-protein” pasta, generally speaking, you should shoot for an option that has more than 7 grams of protein per serving — or more than what traditional wheat-based pasta provides. (Related: Easy And Healthy Pasta Recipes to Satisfy All Of Your Carb Cravings)
Taking an inventory of the ingredient list on the box of pasta can help you determine which box is best for you. As with plenty of other packaged products, it’s a smart idea to opt for high-protein pastas that contain ingredients that you can pronounce. Typically, fewer ingredients mean that there’s less room for questionable additives such as chemicals included in your box of noodles, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. While ingredients such as gums and stabilizers may sound like something you don’t want in your diet, small amounts are likely safe to enjoy, and they are needed to allow the pasta to hold its shape when boiled or promote shelf stability.
How to Include Protein Pasta In Your Diet
High-protein pasta can be served just as you would enjoy traditional pasta. For a particularly balanced bowl, however, consider mixing a serving of high-protein pasta (which is, on average, 2 ounces) with some olive oil, herbs, spices (e.g. garlic and basil), and some veggies. Of course, you can add lean protein to the mix, but thanks to the protein content of the pasta, you certainly don’t need it. (Related: Should You Start Buying High Protein Bread?)
High-protein pasta can be enjoyed cold as an addition to pasta salads as well. And while you can also add it to soups, keep in mind that, thanks to the lack of gluten found in certain varieties (such as those that are bean-, legume-, and pulse-based), these noodles may not hold their shape when they are submerged in water for an extended period of time. Your best bet is to add your cooked protein pasta to your soup immediately before serving.
The 12 Best High-Protein Pastas
The grocery store is now jam-packed with pasta options that contain ingredients that boost the protein content of your noodles, making it challenging to know which one you should choose. Among the sea of protein pastas out there, here are the 12 best choices, according to nutrition experts.
Barilla Protein+ Pasta
Made from a mixture of golden wheat, pea protein, lentil flour, chickpea flours, and more, Barilla Protein+ Pasta has a classic pasta taste and texture that you’d expect from a forkful of traditional spaghetti. But with 10 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving, it packs more of a nutritional punch.
“In addition to having 4 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving, the main reason I love [Barilla Protein+] is the taste,” says Mandy Enright, R.D., author of 30-Minute Weight Loss Cookbook: 100+ Quick and Easy Recipes for Sustainable Weight Loss” data-tracking-affiliate-link-url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1648766552?&linkCode=ll1&tag=shpbesthighproteinpastaslmanaker0122-20&linkId=b9b473f72e1b469fb930fd8f2404c996&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl” data-tracking-affiliate-name=”www.amazon.com” data-tracking-affiliate-network-name=”Amazon” href=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1648766552?&linkCode=ll1&tag=shpbesthighproteinpastaslmanaker0122-20&linkId=b9b473f72e1b469fb930fd8f2404c996&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl” rel=”sponsored” target=”_blank”>30-Minute Weight Loss Cookbook: 100+ Quick and Easy Recipes for Sustainable Weight Loss. “It also cooks similarly to traditional pasta, unlike some bean-based pasta which can disintegrate during the cooking process if the temperature is not turned down.”
Barilla Red Lentil Pasta
As its name implies, Barilla Red Lentil Pasta is made entirely from red lentils. But don’t be fooled: This high-protein pasta has a very similar texture, taste, and quality to that of traditional varieties, making it “an easy swap for regular for in meals you’re familiar with and know you like,” says Melissa Azzaro, R.D.N., L.D., host of the podcast, Hormonally Yours. “The higher protein and fiber content [13 grams and 6 grams per 2-ounce serving, respectively] help keep your blood sugar steady and help you stay full longer after a meal.”
Simply Nature Edamame Pasta
Next time you head to Aldi (or are browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon), keep your eye out for Simply Nature Edamame Pasta, an organic, soy-based pasta that’s made solely of edamame. “The texture is smoother than [that of] other similar pasta,” says registered dietician Ranie Robinson, R.D.N. “And with 24 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per 2-ounce serving, it keeps you fuller longer!” (Related: What to Buy at ALDI Grocery Stores, According to Nutritionists)
Made from only two ingredients — chickpeas and lentils — Chickapea Pasta boasts 13 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving. “This pasta is not only satisfying, but it is also low on the glycemic index,” explains registered dietitian Elysia Cartlidge, R.D.N. Enjoying foods that are low on the glycemic index can help balance your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satiated. “This pasta’s taste mimics regular pasta, making it an easy substitution for all of your favorite pasta dishes,” adds Cartlidge.
Explore Cuisine Organic Fava Bean Fusilli
With 14 grams of plant-based protein, 5 grams of fiber, and some iron and potassium to boot, Explore Cuisine Organic Fava Bean Fusilli is a natural stand-in for whole-wheat pasta, especially since its taste and consistency are quite similar.
“Fava beans are an incredibly nutritious food, containing nutrients like soluble fiber, folate, and magnesium,” shares Azzaro. “Having a pasta option made with this nutritional powerhouse can help people include plant-based protein in their diet along with a slew of other important nutrients that can help support their overall health.” (Related: How to Get Enough Protein On a Plant-Based Diet)
Banza Chickpea Pasta
Thanks to their versatility and impressive nutrient profile, chickpeas can easily be used to create a delicious (and nutritious!) plant-based pasta. Case in point? Banza’s high-protein pasta, which is made primarily of good old garbanzo beans and boasts a hefty 11 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving. It also offers disease-fighting antioxidants and other key nutrients, such as bone-strengthing calcium. “Banza pasta holds its shape [and] has a chewy and nutty texture,” says registered dietitian Amanda Sauceda, R.D.N. “And because it’s made with chickpeas, one serving provides almost 20 percent of the daily requirement of fiber, making it a nice option for those who are focused on their gut health.” (See also: These Benefits of Fiber Make It One of the Most Important Nutrients In Your Diet)
Tolerant Organic Green Lentil Rotini
With a whopping 21 grams of protein per 3- ounce serving, Tolerant Organic Green Lentil Rotini is an obvious pick for this list of high-protein pastas. Beyond its protein content, though, it also wins points for being made with just one ingredient: green lentil flour. A type of pulse, lentils not only provide plenty of muscle-building protein but they’re also rich in digestion-helping insoluble fiber and energizing B vitamins.
Carba-Nada Egg Pasta
High in protein and fiber yet low in calories and carbs, Carba-Nada contains 15 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving. Plus, with 8 grams of fiber and only 17 grams of net carbs, this egg-based pasta is a great option for people who are concerned about managing their blood sugar (but not so much for vegans).
Veggiecraft Farms Cauliflower Pasta
Yes, cauliflower has moved beyond pizza and has now found its way into pasta. With an impressive lineup of macro and micronutrients, the cruciferous veggie is, quite simply, nutritious AF — and, as such, so is this high-protein pasta. Made exclusively of cauliflower, pea, and lentil flours, this veggie-packed penne is not only gluten-free but also loaded with fiber, which can help keep your system running smoothly (think: ?). And with 13 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving, you can trust that a bowl of Veggiecraft’s pasta will keep you full for hours. (Related: What Are the Health Benefits of Cauliflower?)
Pastabilities Mighty Pasta
While it might be made with wheat, this pick packs a lot more protein into each serving than traditional pastas. (About 57 percent more of the nutrient, according to the brand’s website.) In addition to the 11 grams of protein, each 2-ounce serving of Pastabilities’ vegan-friendly product also contains 12 grams of fiber. And the ruffle shape makes it an ideal pasta to enjoy with some amazing sauce, as the ridges really hold that goodness in place.
Tartuflanghe N18 Tagliolini Egg Pasta with Truffle
Made with semolina flour, eggs, and, clearly, truffles, Tartuflaghe’s high-protein pasta features a unique taste that’ll have truffle fans everywhere buying it in bulk. But these upgraded noodles aren’t just rich in flavor. They’re also loaded with protein — 14 grams per 2-ounce serving, to be exact. “For special nights, serving Tartuflanghe pasta with some quality olive oil and topped with veggies like mushrooms and shallots is all I need to feel indulgent,” says Azzaro. “And since this pasta boasts so much protein, I don’t have to worry about feeling hungry shortly after.”