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10 Store-Bought Fresh Pasta Brands, Ranked

Conventional wisdom has it that fresh pasta is superior to dried pasta — not without reason, as it often is. Making pasta from scratch can yield lighter, softer, smoother, and richer pasta than any box of dried pasta can offer. But making fresh pasta at home is time-consuming and challenging.

Nowadays, though, there is another option: store-bought fresh pasta. Is it the same as homemade pasta? Is it as good? Some store-bought fresh pasta, to be sure, are excellent quality products. Some others are significantly less so. We're here to help you choose the former rather than the latter from your store's shelves (or Amazon's warehouse).

To do so, we bought some of the best-known and most widely available store-bought fresh pasta brands and put them to the test. We cooked each brand and tested them to assess the textures and flavors. But no sane person eats pasta without sauce. So, after testing the pasta plainly, we paired each with a simple marinara sauce to see how each played together in a manner more analogous to how you would enjoy them at home. While the marinara was not the best choice of sauce for some, it did help show how each pasta married with a sauce. We considered all of the above in a ranking from worst to best.

10. 365 Whole Foods Market

The 365 Ricotta Spinach Ravioli is organic. That might be the best thing we can say about it. There are a lot of problems with the product: The box claims to contain two servings, but we found the recommended portions to be lacking. And that is before considering the fact ⅓ of the ravioli in the box were stuck together. That, of course, made them fall apart when cooked.

While the texture of the 365 ravioli was bad out of the box, it did not get better with cooking. In fact, like others at the bottom end of our taste test, the texture of the ravioli once cooked (at least the ones that did not fall apart) was overly firm right up to the moment the pasta itself began to disintegrate.

The flavor of the 365 product was not much better. On its own, the pasta was nearly tasteless, with only the slightest hints of the promised spinach and cheese in the filling. It was, in a word, bland. The best thing that can be said for the 365 Ricotta Spinach Ravioli is that it worked well with the marinara sauce. Quite simply, this is not a good product.

9. Kite Hill

We had high hopes for the Kite Hill Mushroom Ravioli. With elegant packaging and some of the most perfectly shaped ravioli we tested, there seemed to be every reason to expect some great pasta. It was not.

The first problem with the Kite Hill ravioli lay in the texture. Instead of soft pillows of love, the pasta was doughy. We tried cooking them longer and that didn't work. We tried a second batch and a shorter cook time and that didn't work, either. This ravioli just would not cook right. The problems evident with the texture of the ravioli extended into the flavor. This was the product that convinced us, once and for all, that "doughy" is not just a texture, but a flavor, too — and not a good one.

The filling was also nearly flavorless. Perhaps it was because the creators used an "Almond Milk Ricotta Alternative" instead of actual ricotta. Unlike some other products we tested, this special ingredient-substitution strategy just did not work. The best thing about our experience with the Kite Hill product was the ravioli paired well with the marinara sauce. The sauce, frankly, compensated for some of the flavor shortcomings, hiding the doughiness and brightening the overall flavor profile.

8. Marina's Pasta

There's a belief out there that fresh pasta is "better" than dry pasta. The main difference between most fresh pasta available in stores and most dry pasta is that the former contain eggs, whereas the latter generally do not and are often made from semolina flour and water, per The Washington Post. One is not better than the other. Rather, they each play different roles.

The texture of Marina's Pasta fettuccine noodles was near (but not quite at) the type of al dente texture one would expect from a perfectly cooked dry pasta. Instead of the luxurious, smooth bite one expects from fresh pasta — indeed, perhaps the reason fresh pasta is principally prized — the fully cooked Marina's fettuccine offered a distinct resistance to the tooth. Further cooking did not fix the problem, it just made the fettuccine unacceptably soft.

The flavor of Marina's Pasta was significantly better than the texture, though that was not a high bar to get over. But the flavor was truly rich with a distinctly savory warmth. It paired perfectly with the marinara sauce. You can't spell marinara without spelling "Marina."

7. Amazon Fresh

The cheese tortellini pasta from Amazon Fresh was better than its "365 Whole Foods Market" stablemate in the paddock of products offered by the Amazon family of companies. But even at that, it was not by a large margin. The principal problem with the product is textural: The tortellini was too soft.

The filling for the Amazon Fresh tortellini is advertised as cheese. On the palate, though, the filling was a bit more neutral in flavor with a pleasant taste of nutmeg, and the pasta itself had a hint of richness. Frankly, the flavor of the Amazon Fresh tortellini was not bad on its own. The problem is that once paired with the marinara sauce, the pleasant flavors of the tortellini were utterly overwhelming. The other problem is it is difficult to think of a sauce that would complement this pasta rather than overpower it.

Perhaps the best thing about the Amazon Fresh cheese tortellini is that it is a bang-for-your-buck product. At $3.79 for a 19-ounce bag of tortellini, it is an inexpensive, fast, and easy, mid-week dinner solution.

6. Artisola

Flavor saved the day for the Artisola Portobello Mushroom Ravioli. The texture of the pasta varied across the individual ravioli themselves. Where the pasta was enclosing the mushroom filling, the texture was soft and supple. On the skirts, however, the texture was notably firmer, almost dense.

The pasta flavor was rich and warm. The intense mushroom flavor of the filling was, if possible, more so. While the ravioli contained cheeses — mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano, to be specific — it was the flavors of the portobello mushrooms themselves that dominated the party. That is not a bad thing.

The mushroom flavors of the Artisola product (which is both organic and non-GMO), perhaps somewhat surprisingly, worked well with the simple marinara sauce. The acidity and sweetness of the sauce paired well with the rich umami flavors of the mushrooms. The result was hands-down superior to tasting the ravioli alone. Overall, the Artisola portobello mushroom ravioli was an acceptable product. It is entirely possible that some of the textural issues resulted from the pasta sitting in a warehouse longer than would have been optimal.

5. Manini's

When we read the label of Manini's Lemon Thyme Linguini, it was impossible not to notice the words "GLUTEN FREE" in large, bold, all-capital letters. Instead of semolina flour, Manini's uses a mixture of different flours, including millet, tapioca, teff, sorghum, and amaranth. We would be lying if we did not acknowledge our hopes for this pasta shrunk at least a little bit because of the reputation of gluten-free pasta. Our hopes shouldn't have dropped, though, because Manini's product was excellent and hands down the better of the two long kinds of pasta in this test.

Our only knock on the product would be that, like Marina's Pasta fettuccine, the texture was on the firm, al dente side rather than the lusciously soft texture one might want from fresh pasta. That said, while store-bought fresh long pasta shapes tend to stick together in the cooking, Manini's did not.

But it was the flavor where Manini's product really shined. At least, it was if one was not expecting the lemon and thyme flavors advertised on the label. Charitably put, those flavors were subtle. Instead, though, the linguini featured the rich, almost luxuriously buttery flavors one hopes for in fresh pasta. Beyond that, Manini's linguini absorbed the marinara sauce better than any of the other pasta we tested.

4. Buitoni

Buitoni's Spinach and Cheese Tortellini sported a beautiful bright green color out of the package that, unfortunately, dulled after cooking. The texture of the tortellini was almost (but not quite) al dente for the pasta and nicely soft for the cheese filling.

The pasta offered a classic richness with a big dollop of spinach. The filling was cheesy as advertised, but it seemed like it could have benefited from just a bit more salt.

Adding the marinara sauce brought another dimension to the Buitoni tortellini. The bright flavors of the marinara perfectly coating the pasta worked well with both the pronounced spinach flavors of the pasta and with the richness of the cheesy filling. The sauce, essentially, bridged the two. The fact the Buitoni showed so well with the marinara is all the more impressive in that the marinara was not the ideal sauce to pair with it. We would have preferred a richer, creamier sauce like an Alfredo.

3. Nuovo

The most visually stunning of the store-bought fresh pasta we tested, Nuovo's Crab & Lobster Ravioli were every bit as delicious as they were beautiful. The red and yellow stripes of the pasta, while somewhat diluted after cooking, were still inviting and remained attractive.

While the package recommended cooking for four minutes, the ravioli benefitted greatly from an extra minute in the pot. Even then, the texture of the pasta was slightly hard right around the edges, though it was perfect over the filling. The flavor of the pasta was rich with a pleasant hint of yeast. The crab-forward flavor of the filling was rich and not diluted in the least by the extra minute in the water bath.

While the color of the marinara sauce echoed that of the red stripes in the pasta, that sauce was not the best choice with the filling. A butter-based sauce — perhaps including saffron, both for luxury's sake and to echo the color of the pasta — might have been a better alternative. That said, the ravioli carried the flavor of the pasta well and the slight hint of sweetness in the sauce picked up the natural flavor of the seafood in the ravioli.

2. Giovanni Rana

The Giovanni Rana Cheese Lovers Tortelloni was easily one of the best kinds of pasta in the test. The texture of the tortelloni was toothsome without being firm. The filling was both ample — it should be noted that this is a tortelloni, not the more common, smaller, and less generously filled tortellini — and delicious.

While some of the cheese-filled pasta we tested seemed to have been filled with more of the kind of cheese-like substance one expects in Goldfish or Cheez-Its than real, delicious cheese, that was not the case with this tortelloni. Instead, these little pasta pillows featured the nuttier and sharper, more distinct flavors of cheeses like Parmesan and Pecorino, along with the creamier feeling of ricotta. The overall impression of the flavor profile of the product was simply wonderful richness.

The richness of the filling and the creaminess of the pasta itself made these little folded pockets of lusciousness the perfect delivery vehicle for the marinara sauce. The acidity of the sauce cut through the richness of the cheese, and the cheese brought out the sweetness in the sauce. It was a heavenly match. Frankly, though, it is hard to imagine a sauce that would not show well with a filled pasta this good.

1. Trader Joe's

The Trader Joe's 4 Cheese Ravioli was the clear winner of our taste test. Not surprisingly, that was because of the flavor. The pasta itself was rich in flavor and achieved that while being notably thin: just enough to encase the filling without sticking together in the packaging or becoming an overcooking risk.

The filling was simple: four kinds of cheese. The package advertised mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and a "hard grating cheese." While the label does not identify the specific "hard grating cheese," we suspect it is a blend of Parmesan and Romano. The resulting flavor was rich with salty notes and even a hint of nutritional yeast (though none is identified on the package). As simple as that filling was, the result was nearly luxurious.

The result of the combination of the simply excellent filling with the perfect pasta was ravioli which played beautifully with the marinara sauce. The acidity of the marinara sauce paired perfectly with the richness of both the pasta itself and the cheese filling.