What is gluten free Casarecce?

Gluten free Casarecce is a type of short, twisted pasta that is made without wheat or other gluten containing grains. Casarecce gets its name from the Italian word “casareccio” meaning “homemade”, due to its rustic, hand-rolled appearance. Like traditional Casarecce, the gluten free version features rolled edges and an “S” shape, but is produced using gluten free flour instead of standard wheat flour.

What is Casarecce pasta?

Casarecce is a short pasta that resembles a rolled, twisted tube. It has a hollow center and striated edges from being hand-rolled or extruded through a shaped pasta press. Casarecce pasta looks somewhat similar to fusilli or cavatappi, but is shorter and more tightly wound. The coils and curves of Casarecce help it hold onto thick, chunky sauces. It also cooks relatively quickly since it is small in size.

Traditional Casarecce pasta contains wheat flour, water, and sometimes egg. It originated in Sicily, but is popular throughout Italy and now globally as well. Casarecce is well-suited to pairing with hearty meat sauces or vegetable-based sauces thanks to its texture and ability to hold onto sauce.

How is gluten free Casarecce different?

Gluten free Casarecce is distinctly made without wheat or other gluten-containing grains. Instead, it is produced using a blend of gluten free flours, typically:

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

In addition to being gluten free, this pasta is often egg free as well for people who have egg allergies or are vegan. The gluten free Casarecce is rolled and cut to mimic the look and texture of traditional wheat Casarecce.

Appearance and texture

Gluten free Casarecce resembles traditional Casarecce fairly closely upon visual inspection. It has the same short, tubular twisted shape that the pasta is known for. However, there are some slight differences in texture and appearance:

  • The surface may appear more rough or porous compared to wheat pasta
  • The edges might not hold their striated look quite as well
  • The texture when raw may seem more brittle or delicate
  • The cooked pasta can become softer and fall apart more easily than wheat Casarecce

These differences in texture are because gluten free flours lack the protein gluten that gives wheat pasta its characteristic chewy, al dente texture. But gluten free Casarecce still works very well in sauces, soups, and casseroles where a more delicate pasta texture is acceptable.


In terms of flavor, gluten free Casarecce is relatively mild on its own like traditional wheat pasta. Any flavor primarily comes from the other ingredients it is paired with. However, there are some small flavor differences to note:

  • Corn flour and potato starch can lend a slightly sweet, earthy taste
  • Rice flour adds subtle notes of nuttiness
  • Absence of wheat can change the overall flavor profile

The gluten free pasta absorbs flavors from sauces and seasonings added to it. Many gluten free pasta brands add extra spices, extracts, or veggies to the pasta dough to enhance its flavor.

Nutritional value

Compared to wheat Casarecce, the gluten free alternative has some differences in its nutrition facts:

  • Higher in fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron and calcium
  • Lower in protein and nutrients like zinc
  • Potentially higher glycemic index if made with refined flours

Keep in mind nutrition can vary greatly by brand based on the specific gluten free flour blend used. Check labels for details. For greater nutrient density, look for gluten free Casarecce made with whole grain flours and legume flours.

How is gluten free Casarecce made?

Gluten free pasta requires a different manufacturing process than traditional wheat pasta. Here are the basic steps for making gluten free Casarecce:

  1. Mix the gluten free flour blend with water and optionally, eggs or egg replacers
  2. Knead the dough until a smooth, elastic consistency is achieved
  3. Run the dough through a pasta extruder on the Casarecce setting
  4. Cut the extruded pasta to the appropriate length for Casarecce
  5. Allow the shaped pasta to dry fully before packaging

The lack of gluten makes the dough trickier to work with and extrude compared to wheat dough. Precise moisture content and specialized pasta machines are needed to get the dough consistency right.

Some gluten free brands add gums like xanthan gum or guar gum to the dough, which helps mimic the stretchy texture gluten provides. Other brands achieve the right dough texture through traditional techniques like kneading thoroughly.

Drying the shaped pasta well is crucial so it does not get mushy when cooked later. Some manufacturers use a low temperature drying process so the pasta retains more nutrients.

Types of gluten free flours used

The specific flour blend determines the taste, texture, nutrition, and functionality of the gluten free pasta. Here are the most common types:

  • Rice flour – Provides an alternative source of carbohydrates. Light texture.
  • Corn flour – Adds fiber, minerals, and carotenoids. Sweeter taste.
  • Tapioca flour – Starch that helps mimic wheat’s elasticity. Neutral in flavor.
  • Potato starch – Contributes binding and reduces crumbling. Low in calories.
  • Chickpea flour – Boosts protein content and offers a nutty, earthy flavor.

In addition to flours, some brands add extras like psyllium husk powder, lentil flour, pea protein, herbs, or vegetable powders to further improve the nutrition or taste.

Where to buy gluten free Casarecce

There are several options for purchasing gluten free Casarecce pasta:

  • Grocery stores – Many well-stocked supermarkets now carry gluten free specialty products including pasta made from alternative flours. Check the health food or gluten free sections.
  • Online stores – Large retailers like Amazon offer many leading brands of gluten free pasta that can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home.
  • Specialty markets – Health food stores, gluten free bakeries, and Italian markets are good spots to look for unique artisanal or imported gluten free pasta.
  • Direct from manufacturers – Several gluten free pasta companies sell directly through their websites which provides the freshest options.

Some popular brands to look for include Barilla, Ronzoni, DeLallo, Jovial, and Bionaturae. Prices range from around $3-$7 per box for gluten free Casarecce, which is comparable to premium wheat pasta.

How to cook gluten free Casarecce

Cooking gluten free Casarecce is similar to wheat pasta, but there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use plenty of water – At least 4 quarts of generously salted water per 1/2 pound of pasta to prevent sticking.
  • Gently stir at start of cooking – Carefully stir a few times when first added to the boiling water.
  • Watch cooking time – Gluten free pasta cooks faster, in just 6-8 minutes generally.
  • Test doneness frequently – Scoop out a piece to check for desired tenderness.
  • Reserve starchy pasta water – Helps thicken and bind sauces.
  • Rinse with cold water – Stop cooking quickly to prevent overcooking.
  • Add to sauce right away – Prevent sticking and mushiness by mixing with sauce immediately.

Handle the cooked gluten free pasta gently when plating, as it can break apart more easily. Adding some reserved pasta water to the finished dish can help the sauce cling to the pasta nicely.

Stovetop instructions

To cook gluten free Casarecce on the stovetop:

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil.
  2. Slowly add 1/2 pound gluten free Casarecce and stir gently to prevent sticking.
  3. Cook uncovered at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until al dente.
  4. Drain in a colander, then rinse briefly with cold water to stop cooking.
  5. Transfer drained pasta to pan with prepared sauce. Toss to coat, adding a splash of reserved pasta water to help sauce adhere.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, or other desired toppings.

Baking instructions

For baked pasta dishes like casseroles or gratins, parboil the gluten free Casarecce before assembling:

  1. Boil pasta 2-3 minutes less than package directions.
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again thoroughly.
  3. Add parboiled pasta to casserole dish and cover with sauce, cheese, or other ingredients.
  4. Bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

The parboiling step helps ensure the pasta is nearly cooked through before baking so it does not end up crunchy or underdone.

Gluten free Casarecce recipe ideas

Here are some recipe ideas that work great with gluten free Casarecce:

Hearty meat sauces

  • Bolognese
  • Beef ragu
  • Pork sausage ragu
  • Sunday meat gravy
  • Lamb ragout

The short twisted shape pairs nicely with chunky meat sauces. The curves catch and cling to the meat and sauce.

Vegetable-based sauces

  • Roasted red pepper sauce
  • Creamy mushroom sauce
  • Walnut pesto with spinach
  • Sun-dried tomato sauce
  • Roasted cauliflower and garlic sauce

The vegetarian sauces coat the gluten free pasta well. Roasting veggies like red peppers, mushrooms, or cauliflower adds more flavor.


  • Minestrone
  • Chicken noodle
  • Tortellini soup
  • Pasta e fagioli
  • Vegetable soup with mini Casarecce

The small shape works nicely in soups compared to longer pastas. Add it to soup near the end of cooking so it does not get overdone.

Baked dishes

  • Chicken tetrazzini casserole
  • Baked ziti
  • Mac and cheese casserole
  • Lasagna rolls
  • Vegetable lasagna

Parboil before baking so the pasta does not end up undercooked. The curves help grab baked-on sauce and cheese.

Cold salads

  • Pasta salad with chicken and veggies
  • Italian picnic pasta salad
  • Antipasto pasta salad
  • Ranch pasta salad
  • Greek pasta salad

Chill the cooked gluten free Casarecce before mixing into cold salads. Add crunchy vegetables, meat or seafood, cheese, and dressing.

Are there any health benefits?

There are a few potential health benefits associated with choosing gluten free Casarecce:

1. Eliminates gluten

Gluten free pasta takes out gluten protein, which those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must avoid. For individuals who get ill from eating gluten, a gluten free diet is the only treatment.

2. May reduce inflammation

Some research indicates gluten can trigger inflammation in those with gluten intolerance. Eliminating it may decrease systemic inflammation.

3. Provides prebiotic fiber

The alternative flours used, like chickpea and corn, supply prebiotic fiber to feed healthy gut bacteria. This aids digestion.

4. High in nutrients

Gluten free Casarecce often has more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined wheat pasta if made with whole grains and legumes.

5. Versatile ingredient for special diets

In addition to being gluten free, these pasta can often be made vegan, nut free, dairy free, egg free and kosher to fit various dietary needs.

Potential downsides

There are also a few drawbacks associated with gluten free pasta to consider:

  • Higher cost than wheat pasta
  • Differences in taste and texture
  • Can be drier and more delicate when cooked
  • Made with more processed flours in some cases
  • Higher glycemic index if made from refined flours
  • Lower protein content than wheat pasta

To maximize nutrition, look for brands made from a blend of whole grains and legumes. Cooking method can help minimize textural differences.

Is gluten free Casarecce healthy?

Gluten free Casarecce can be a healthy pasta option, but there are a few factors to consider:

  • Ingredients used – Whole grain or legume flours provide more nutrients than refined flours.
  • Processing methods – Less processed is better to preserve nutrients.
  • Glycemic index – Varies based on flour blend; look for brands lower on the GI scale.
  • Allergies – Essential for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
  • Portion sizes – Enjoy pasta in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Overall, gluten free Casarecce is a versatile, gluten-free alternative to enjoy pasta. Select brands made with nutrient-dense whole food ingredients to optimize the health value.


Gluten free Casarecce gives people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or other dietary needs a way to enjoy the familiar twisted shape of traditional Casarecce pasta without the gluten. Made from a blend of rice, corn, potato, and other gluten free flours, it provides a protein- and fiber-rich alternative to wheat pasta. While the texture and flavor differ somewhat from traditional wheat Casarecce, the gluten free version can be used similarly in a wide range of dishes from hearty ragu to cold salads. For best results, handle the pasta gently and cook until just al dente. With a few simple tips, gluten free Casarecce can be a tasty, nutritious addition to any diet.

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