How long to cook gluten-free Barilla penne?

When cooking gluten-free pasta like Barilla penne, the cooking time can vary quite a bit from traditional wheat pasta. There are a few key factors that determine the cooking time for gluten-free pasta:

Type of Gluten-Free Flour

Most gluten-free pasta is made from a blend of gluten-free flours, such as:

  • Rice flour
  • Corn flour
  • Quinoa flour
  • Potato starch
  • Tapioca flour

Rice flour and corn flours typically result in faster cooking pasta compared to other gluten-free flours. The starch content and density of the different flours impacts the cooking time.

Pasta Shape

Like traditional pasta, the shape of gluten-free pasta affects cooking time. Smaller and thinner shapes like angel hair or thin spaghetti cook faster than larger, dense shapes like penne or rigatoni. Gluten-free penne will take longer to cook than gluten-free spaghetti.

Fresh vs. Dried Pasta

Fresh gluten-free pasta usually cooks in just 2-3 minutes, while dried gluten-free pasta takes longer – anywhere from 5 minutes for thinner pastas up to 15 minutes for larger shapes. Barilla gluten-free penne is a dried pasta, so it will take longer than fresh egg pasta.

Cooking Instructions

It’s always best to refer to the cooking instructions on the packaging when cooking gluten-free pasta. Instructions can vary between brands based on the flour blend and pasta shape. Barilla gluten-free penne instructions recommend:

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the boiling water.
  • Add pasta and stir immediately to prevent sticking.
  • Cook for 11-14 minutes, testing frequently for doneness.
  • Drain cooked pasta well.

So the instructions for Barilla gluten-free penne recommend cooking for 11-14 minutes to reach al dente texture.


Higher altitudes can increase cooking time for pasta. At altitudes above 3000 feet, the boiling point of water is lower which can slow cooking. Add 1 minute to the cooking time for every 1000 feet above sea level.

Tips for Cooking Gluten-Free Pasta

Here are some tips to help cook gluten-free pasta perfectly al dente:

  • Use a large pot – Pasta expands as it cooks so use a pot with at least 4 quarts capacity.
  • Use plenty of water – Cook pasta in 4-6 quarts of water. The large volume helps pasta cook evenly.
  • Salt the water – Adding 1 tsp salt per quart of water seasons pasta and raises the boiling point slightly.
  • Stir immediately – Stir pasta right after adding to prevent sticking until water returns to a rolling boil.
  • Cook uncovered – Don’t cover the pot so you can monitor pasta as it cooks.
  • Frequent testing – Start checking pasta a few minutes before the minimum cook time.
  • Reserve starchy water – Drain pasta but preserve 1 cup cooking water to use in sauces.
  • Avoid overcooking – Gluten-free pasta can become gummy if cooked too long.

What if the Pasta is Undercooked?

If you bite into a piece of gluten-free penne and find it’s still quite firm, simply continue cooking the pasta for an additional 2-3 minutes. Test frequently to ensure pasta doesn’t get overcooked. The pasta will continue to cook slightly when removed from heat and drained.

What if the Pasta is Overcooked?

If the gluten-free penne is gummy or falling apart, unfortunately it is overcooked. To minimize the issue, rinse the pasta under cold water to cool it down and stop further cooking. Avoid stirring the pasta while rinsing to prevent more breakage. The cooled pasta can be drained and served immediately in the planned sauce or dish.

Overcooked gluten-free pasta may not hold together well when mixed with sauce. For a cream-based sauce, consider blending the sauce to make it smooth rather than chunky to coat the fragile overcooked pasta.

How to Tell When Gluten-Free Pasta is Done

Here are some ways to tell when gluten-free pasta like Barilla penne is fully cooked:

  • Appearance – Pasta has lost its opaque, raw look and is now soft and chewy.
  • Texture – Pasta is tender but still has a bit of firmness (al dente). It should not be gummy.
  • Taste – Pasta no longer has a raw, starchy flavor.
  • Time – The minimum cook time on the package instructions has been reached.

The best way is to taste a piece of pasta to check its doneness. Make sure it has lost any crunchy texture but still has a little bite at the center. Keep in mind gluten-free pasta tends to get mushy if overcooked.

Cooking Gluten-Free Penne for Meal Prep

Cooking extra gluten-free pasta like Barilla penne for meal prep is easy. Here are some tips:

  • Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions for al dente texture after reheating.
  • Rinse cooked pasta in cold water to stop cooking, then drain well.
  • Portion pasta into meal prep containers and refrigerate up to 5 days.
  • Add your desired sauce – pesto and tomato sauce work well.
  • Reheat pasta in the microwave or gently pan fry to desired temperature.
  • Stir a spoonful of reserved pasta water into reheated pasta if needed to moisten.

With these tips, you can enjoy tender gluten-free pasta throughout the week. The pasta stays nicely separated for easy reheating.

Pairings for Gluten-Free Penne

Barilla gluten-free penne is very versatile pasta shape that pairs nicely with many sauces:

Sauce Recipe Suggestions
  • Marinara
  • Arrabiata
  • Vodka sauce
  • Bolognese
  • Alfredo
  • Carbonara
  • Pesto cream sauce
Olive oil-based
  • Garlic and olive oil
  • Basil pesto
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto
Vegan sauces
  • Roasted red pepper sauce
  • Walnut lentil Bolognese
  • Cashew cream sauce

In terms of ingredients, Barilla gluten-free penne pairs nicely with vegetables, cheeses, meats, beans and plant proteins like tofu or tempeh. Herbs, olive oil, roasted garlic, chili flakes and nuts also make tasty additions.

Gluten-Free Penne Recipes

Here are 3 popular recipes for cooking with Barilla gluten-free penne:

Penne with Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes


  • 12 oz Barilla gluten-free penne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced
  • 1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook penne according to package directions until al dente.
  2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Cook chicken 5-6 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  4. Add sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Cook 1 minute until spinach wilts.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in pesto, cream/milk and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat. Serve warm.

Cheesy Penne Alfredo


  • 12 oz Barilla gluten-free penne
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook penne according to package directions until al dente.
  2. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in milk. Simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Do not boil.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Whisk in parmesan and mozzarella until melted and smooth.
  5. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat with sauce. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve warm garnished with more parsley if desired.

Penne with Sausage & Peppers


  • 12 oz Barilla gluten-free penne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook penne according to package directions until al dente.
  2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add sausage and cook 5-6 minutes, breaking up meat as it browns.
  4. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Cook 5 more minutes until vegetables are softened.
  5. Stir in marinara sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes to blend flavors.
  6. Add cooked pasta and basil leaves. Toss together and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve hot garnished with more basil and parmesan if desired.

Storage and Shelf Life of Gluten-Free Pasta

Like traditional pasta, gluten-free pasta has optimal flavor and texture when fresh. Follow these storage tips:

  • Store unopened boxes of gluten-free pasta in a cool, dry pantry away from direct sunlight.
  • Once opened, transfer pasta to an airtight container and keep sealed until ready to use.
  • Cook pasta within 1 year for best quality and flavor.
  • Cooked pasta can be stored 3-5 days refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • Do not freeze cooked pasta more than 1-2 months as texture declines.
  • Look for expiration date on packaging and use by that date for optimal freshness.

With proper storage, gluten-free pasta stays fresh for enjoyment anytime.


Cooking time for gluten-free pasta depends on the flour blend, pasta shape, and cooking method. Barilla gluten-free penne takes about 11-14 minutes to reach an al dente texture. Check pasta frequently as it cooks and taste test doneness. Gluten-free pasta can become gummy if overcooked. With the right time and technique, Barilla gluten-free penne and other pasta shapes cook up tender and delicious.

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