Is Barilla protein penne gluten-free?

Quick Answer

No, Barilla protein penne is not gluten-free. It contains wheat flour which contains gluten. Barilla does make some gluten-free pasta options but the protein penne variety contains gluten.

What is Barilla Protein Penne?

Barilla protein penne is a type of penne pasta made by the Barilla company. It has 10 grams of protein per 2 oz serving. The protein comes from pea protein and rice protein that is added to the pasta dough. The added proteins increase the protein content compared to regular penne pasta. Aside from the added proteins, Barilla protein penne is made like traditional penne. It has a tubular shape and ridged texture on the outside.

Barilla markets the protein penne as a high protein pasta choice. The packaging promotes the 10g of protein and that it has 25% less carbs than regular pasta. It is advertised as a good pasta option for athletes, people managing weight, diabetics, and health-conscious eaters. While it does have more protein than regular pasta, it has a similar number of calories. The increased protein mainly comes from adding protein isolates rather than decreasing any ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for a 2 oz dry serving (about 1/4 of the 12 oz box) of Barilla protein penne:

  • Calories: 200
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 41g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4g
  • Total Sugars: 2g
  • Added Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 10g

The main differences from regular penne pasta are the 10g of protein per serving compared to around 7g in regular pasta. It also has slightly fewer carbs at 41g versus around 45g in regular penne. There is 4g of fiber per serving which is a bit higher than plain pasta.


The ingredients listed on a box of Barilla protein penne are:

  • Semolina
  • Durum Wheat Flour
  • Barley Flour
  • Lentil Flour
  • Pea Protein
  • Rice Protein
  • Humectant (Vegetable Glycerin)
  • Water

It contains wheat flour as the second ingredient which means it is not gluten-free or appropriate for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The pea protein and rice protein are what boosts the protein content. The remaining ingredients are typical for dried pasta.

Is Barilla Protein Penne Gluten-Free?

No, Barilla protein penne pasta contains gluten. The main source of gluten is from the durum wheat flour listed as the second ingredient. Durum wheat flour contains gluten proteins. This means the pasta is not safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

While the protein penne is marketed as a high protein, low carb pasta choice, it is not targeted at gluten-free eaters. Nowhere on the packaging does it say the pasta is gluten-free. It contains wheat flour like traditional pasta. So despite the extra protein, it is not a gluten-free food.

Other Barilla Gluten-Free Options

Even though the protein penne contains gluten, Barilla does make some gluten-free pasta varieties. Options include:

  • Gluten Free Elbows
  • Gluten Free Penne
  • Gluten Free Spaghetti
  • Gluten Free Angel Hair
  • Gluten Free Rotini

The gluten-free pastas are made with corn and rice. Barilla clearly labels the gluten-free options and does not misrepresent them as something they are not. So if you require gluten-free pasta, be sure to choose the designated gluten-free varieties from Barilla.

Is Protein Penne Safe for Gluten Sensitivities?

No, Barilla protein penne is not safe for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Since it contains wheat flour, it has gluten proteins. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues for people with gluten sensitivities.

Many people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can tolerate small amounts of gluten. But pasta is a high gluten food since it is made from wheat. The amount of gluten in the Barilla protein penne is too high for people with gluten sensitivities.

People with celiac disease must avoid all gluten. The immune system of those with celiac reacts to any gluten consumed. So Barilla protein penne would not be safe for celiacs as it definitely contains gluten.

Symptoms of Gluten Reaction

Those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease may experience the following symptoms after eating the Barilla protein penne:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes or Skin Inflammation
  • Joint Pain

The symptoms can vary from mild to severe depending on the person. People with celiac disease are more likely to have severe reactions. Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may have milder or more sporadic symptoms.

Gluten-Free Alternative to Barilla Protein Penne

Since the regular Barilla protein penne contains gluten, a gluten-free alternative is needed for those avoiding gluten. Here are some options:

Barilla Gluten-Free Penne

As mentioned, Barilla does make gluten-free pasta varieties. The Barilla Gluten Free Penne is a smart choice if you want a similar penne shape.

The gluten-free penne is made from a blend of corn and rice. It has fewer net carbs at 25g per serving compared to 41g in the protein penne. It also has 4g of fiber and 5g of protein per serving.

Banza Chickpea Penne

Banza chickpea pasta is a popular gluten-free penne option. It is made from chickpea flour instead of wheat. The chickpea pasta has 19g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving. It’s also a good source of potassium and iron.

Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne

The Tinkyada penne is made from brown rice and is certified gluten-free. It has a similar tubular penne shape and texture as wheat pasta. The brown rice penne has 5g of protein per serving.

Is Protein Penne Keto-Friendly?

The Barilla protein penne is not keto-friendly. It has 41g net carbs per 2 oz dry serving. The keto diet recommends limiting net carbs to around 25g per day. So the protein penne provides too many carbs for the keto diet.

There are lower carb gluten-free pasta options that may fit a keto diet better. For example:

  • Chickpea pasta – 5g net carbs per 2 oz serving
  • Hemp heart pasta – 10g net carbs per 2 oz serving
  • Edamame pasta – 12g net carbs per 2 oz serving
  • Black bean pasta – 15g net carbs per 2 oz serving

Just be sure to check the nutrition labels when choosing a pasta for keto. Lower carb veggie-based or legume pastas will be better options than ones made with grains.

Is Protein Penne Good for Weight Loss?

Barilla protein penne can be included as part of a weight loss diet. It is low in fat, has a decent amount of fiber, and more protein than regular pasta. The increased protein and fiber can help you stay full and satisfied after meals.

However, protein penne doesn’t have any special weight loss properties. It has a similar number of calories as regular pasta. Simply adding protein to pasta does not make it a weight loss food.

As with any food, it comes down to balancing calories in and calories out. Protein penne can be eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet geared for weight loss or maintenance.

Tips for Using Protein Penne for Weight Loss

Here are some tips for incorporating Barilla protein penne into a weight loss plan:

  • Watch portion sizes – Stick to around 2 oz dry pasta per serving
  • Pair it with lean proteins and veggies
  • Choose tomato-based sauces over cream-based
  • Avoid fattening meats like sausage, bacon, etc.
  • Load up on veggies to increase volume and fiber
  • Measure carefully and track calories
  • Balance intake with exercise to burn calories

Can Protein Penne Help Build Muscle?

The extra protein in Barilla protein penne can help support building muscle when paired with strength training. Building muscle requires consuming adequate protein. Most guidelines recommend eating 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Since protein penne has 10g of protein per serving, it provides a solid protein boost at meals. This can help you meet daily protein targets to build muscle.

That said, it won’t build muscle on its own. Strength training is required to stimulate muscle growth. But eating enough protein gives your body the raw materials it needs for repairing and building muscle tissue.

Tips for Using Protein Penne to Build Muscle

Here are some ways to use protein penne to support muscle building:

  • Include it as part of post-workout meals
  • Pair with lean protein like chicken, fish, or tofu
  • Add extra veggies for micronutrients
  • Use marinara sauce for carbs to fuel workouts
  • Mix with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese for extra protein
  • Make sure to lift weights several times per week
  • Aim to eat around 0.7g protein per pound daily


In summary, Barilla protein penne provides more protein compared to regular pasta, but is not gluten-free. It contains wheat flour which means it has gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid it and choose certified gluten-free pasta instead.

While Barilla protein penne can be part of healthy diet, it does not have any special properties for weight loss or muscle building. As with any food, it comes down to overall diet quality and lifestyle factors for achieving health and fitness goals.

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