7 Canned Pastas You Should Buy And 3 You Should Leave At The Store

composite image of pasta cans
composite image of pasta cans - Static Media / Getty

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Canned pasta is a quick and easy food that brings a nostalgic comfort to many people. Whether you grew up on Chef Boyardee or SpaghettiOs, there is something about that canned pasta taste that can't be replaced. Over the years, the brands we know and love have come out with many different flavors and types of pastas, while new brands have also surfaced, throwing their noodle into the mix. The canned noodle aisle in the grocery store has many options, and we want to make sure you know which ones to buy and which to avoid.

It's pretty well known that canned pasta isn't necessarily a health food. Many brands have high amounts of fat, sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates. However, everything can fit into a balanced diet in moderation. And truthfully, sometimes you just want a cheap, easy meal that tastes good and gives you some energy. To recommend these canned pastas, we will be focusing primarily on taste and secondarily on nutrition, as we'll elaborate on at the end of this list. Thanks to customer reviews across multiple sites, there is endless information about these pastas that help support our statements.

Read more: 6 Canned Meats You Should Buy And 6 You Shouldn't

Buy: Chef Boyardee Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs

spaghetti & meatballs Chef Boyardee can
spaghetti & meatballs Chef Boyardee can - Chef Boyardee

For many people, Chef Boyardee is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of canned pasta. The company has been making its famous products since 1928, and it sure hasn't stopped. Fans of the brand particularly love the Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs, as the website shows a rating of 4 stars for this canned pasta variation. A reviewer on the site named Cobbler Gobbler claims to have tried every canned pasta the company sells. When reviewing the Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs, they write, "Out of all of the spaghetti products that I have tasted so far, this one is by far my favorite. The meatballs included in this product have a very tasty flavor and the mouthfeel is pleasant and meaty."

On Amazon, the Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs product still reigns supreme, with a 4.4 star rating. In general, the reviewers comment on the great taste and good price. One hilarious review says, "I love these wonderful cans of spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs are so large and plump that [it] makes your tongue want to slap your brains out."

Along with the great taste, this makes for a hearty meal. A can holds two servings with 280 calories and 11 grams of protein each, for around $2 depending on location. If you are rocking it on a budget and want something tasty that gives you the fuel you need, this is a great can to stock up on.

Buy: Campbell's SpaghettiOs Original

Spaghettios original can
Spaghettios original can - Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

If you've ever uttered the phrase "Uhoh, SpaghettiO!" in a sing-songy tune, you probably remember the famous SpaghettiOs commercials that graced our televisions starting in the 1960s. When this brand came out, it was competing directly with Chef Boyardee. However, SpaghettiOs has its own appeal, with its signature circular pasta that was specifically designed for children.

The original flavor of SpaghettiOs has always been popular, and it remains a fan favorite today. Kroger and Target reviewers rate the canned pasta highly, with 4.5 and 4.7 stars respectively. Both group of reviewers comment that this canned pasta is great for their children. It seems like the convenience, price, and their kid's love for the taste make it a win in any parent's books.

There were also many comments about how the classic SpaghettiOs bring back a sense of nostalgia for adults who indulge in the meal. A review on Kroger sums up those feelings: "I am 32 years old, and I still love a good 'ol can of SpaghettiOs. I really do. I know it's not the 'healthiest' meal choice, but when you are in a pinch, it is so good. Plus, it is a really great comfort food."

Another positive thing to note about SpaghettiOs Original is that it has an extremely low fat count, with only 2 grams per can. In the world of canned pasta, that's a great asset, as many brands tend to be high-fat due to added cheese or meat.

Avoid: Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli

Chef Boyardee beef ravioli can
Chef Boyardee beef ravioli can - Chef Boyardee

Chef Boyardee currently offers 15 variations and flavors of canned pastas. One of its lowest rated flavors, Beef Ravioli, only has a 2 star rating on the company website. Target reviewers were a bit more gracious, giving the flavor 3.1 stars. One common aspect consumers commented on was the fact that this product is watery and mushy. Many people noted the flavor wasn't always like that, and even claim they once were able to turn the can over with the top off and nothing would come out. Now, it simply pours out in a soup-like consistency.

Another word that popped up multiple times in the reviews was "disgusting". That's not really a description you want to see when looking to buy an item of food, now is it? A reviewer on the Chef Boyardee site even went as far to say, "Tastes like mushy wet cardboard in some sort of watery tomato based gruel. Disgusting."

Now, if a product is receiving such awful reviews, one might think -- well maybe it has great health benefits to make up for it? Nope. Although the Beef Ravioli has less fat per can than the Jumbo Spaghetti & Meatballs, it has more carbohydrates and sodium and lower protein and potassium counts. Overall, the Beef Ravioli provides less nutritional value while tasting bad.

Buy: Heinz Zoodles

can of Heinz zoodles
can of Heinz zoodles - Jenari/Shutterstock

At first glance, one might think that Heinz Zoodles are a can of zucchini noodles, aka zoodles. Many people with gluten or wheat allergies reach for zoodles in the grocery store as an alternative to wheat noodles. However, the term for these canned Heinz noodles comes from their zoo animal shape. They are a fan favorite, and although clever and cute, it's important to note these aren't the zoodles most people think of.

Even though there could be confusion with the product name, it has 4.3 stars on the Walmart website and is marked as a popular item on Instacart. Heinz is known for making one of the most popular ketchups, and people seem equally satisfied with the taste of the tomato sauce. One reviewer said there is a bit of a spice flavor to the sauce that is enjoyable.

Many of the reviewers mention these are a go-to meal for their children, due to the convenience and taste. A Walmart reviewer wrote, "​​My kids love zoodles. I make them for my kids a lot for lunch. Easy and they love it. I highly recommend it to anyone". With the noodles shaped like different types of animals -- from kangaroos to hippos -- this is a simple and fun meal for kids. The ingredient list is also very simple, with barely any additives. Most parents want to be familiar with the ingredients they're feeding their children -- and with these Heinz Zoodles, it's all common items.

Buy: Annie's Organic All Stars

annie's organic all stars pasta
annie's organic all stars pasta - Annie's

If you're looking for a canned pasta that is a bit healthier and better for the environment, you'll want to check out Annie's. The brand offers three types of canned pasta, including the Organic All Stars. This pasta is shaped into small stars and served with a tomato and cheese sauce. From a taste perspective, it seems that customers absolutely love this product. It has a rating of 4.6 stars on the company's website and 4.5 on Target. Many reviewers consider this product to be more of a soup, as the sauce has a thinner consistency. One reviewer said that it's great for dipping toast as well.

Consumers also compared the pasta to both Chef Boyardee and SpaghettiOs, saying the taste is similar yet the contents are healthier. Parents feel good about serving organic food to their children, and their kids love the taste -- it's a win-win. A reviewer on Annie's site wrote, "I like that it's organic and a healthy option for a quick and easy meal for my grandson. He loves pasta and I never have to worry about him not eating with something like this."

Annie's All Stars pasta contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or artificial coloring, and it is certified organic as well. It doesn't have much fat, either, with only 1 gram per can. This is a simple dish and a great option if you're looking for tasty canned pasta that is a bit healthier than alternatives.

Avoid: Campbell's SpaghettiOs Spicy Original

SpaghettiOs spicy original can
SpaghettiOs spicy original can - Campbell's

Campbell's has 12 variations on SpaghettiOs, however, some are just different pasta shapes with the same sauce. As far as flavors go, there are about four options to choose from. You'd think with that selection, each one would be able to stand strong on its own. However, it looks like one of the four, SpaghettiOs Spicy Original, is not so beloved.

These SpaghettiOs are basically the original can with Frank's Hot Sauce added in. For spice lovers, this may be a great option. However, there are many negative comments in the reviews about this variation. Consumers on both Amazon and Acme share that the pasta has a chemical or metallic-like taste that makes the product less enjoyable -- so much so that it even over-rides the spicy flavor of the Frank's Hot Sauce.

One Amazon reviewer coined the Spicy Original as being "the nastiest stuff on earth". Another reviewer wrote, "The flavor was awful, barely edible. They actually ended upset[ting] my stomach afterward which is not typical for me. I will never buy them again." Nutritionally, the Spicy Original is almost the same as the Original, with only a few insignificant differences. With no nutrition or taste appeal, we'd rather stick to the original SpaghettiOs.

Buy: Great Value Pasta Rings & Meatballs

Great Value pasta rings can
Great Value pasta rings can - Walmart

Great Value is a Walmart brand that sells standard grocery items at affordable prices, making it popular among people who are shopping on a budget. A can of Pasta Rings & Meatballs in tomato sauce is only 98 cents depending on location, which is hard to beat for a full meal. Besides the low price point, the reviews for this Great Value canned pasta are highly positive.

It has 3.9 stars on the Walmart site and the "Popular Item" tag on Instacart. Many reviewers write that the Great Value item is comparable to SpaghettiOs, and multiple reviews think this canned pasta actually tastes better than SpaghettiOs! One reviewer boasted, "I like SpaghettiOs but these are better and have many more meatballs. I get a meatball with every spoon full!! They are AwesomeO's. I'll be buying 50 cans."

When comparing Great Value Pasta Rings & Meatballs to the SpaghettiOs Meatballs, there isn't much of a nutritional difference as far as fat, protein, and carbohydrate counts. Ultimately, people are probably buying this can due to the slightly lower price, as well as the fact that many simply prefer the taste of Great Value Pasta Rings.

Buy: Skyline Chili & Spaghetti

Skyline chili spaghetti can
Skyline chili spaghetti can - Skyline Chili

If you're looking for a slightly different variation on your average can of pasta, Skyline Chili & Spaghetti might just be your cup of noodles. It is made with a spaghetti noodle base, but the chili is the true star of the show. Skyline Chili claims to have a unique family recipe that makes the chili addictive and delicious. If you like your canned pasta to be packed with flavor and ingredients, this option is worth trying.

On Amazon, this product has a 4-star rating. Based on the reviews, it looks like many of the buyers are fans of this chili's origins -- Skyline Chili restaurants. These restaurants are only located in Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. For people who have moved away from one of those states, the canned versions of the chili and spaghetti is a saving grace. One Cincinnati native shared on Amazon, "I recently move[d] out of Cincinnati and I thought I would never be able to get Skyline again. I was so glad when I saw this for sale, it was ordered before I knew it." Another reviewer endearingly called the chili an "old and spectacular friend I love." It's clear that people who have had this chili simply can't go without it!

Avoid: Annie's Organic Cheesy Ravioli

Annie's organic cheesy ravioli can
Annie's organic cheesy ravioli can - Annie's

Out of Annie's three canned pasta flavors, the Organic Cheesy Ravioli definitely has the lowest rating, with 1.8 stars on the company website and 3.2 on Target. The reviews cover a spectrum of complaints from taste, texture, health concerns, and also disappointment as to the quantity of ravioli in each can. When it comes to taste and texture, many people describe the product as mushy and bitter. One person on Target left a scathing review, saying, "Awful taste ... tastes like it has gone bad. Tastes like dirt, or mold somehow. Had to double check to make sure it was not expired or had a puncture. I would never ever buy this again".

There were many reports of people opening their cans and finding either zero raviolis or only very few in each can. Annie's has responded to most of the comments, explaining that the product is filled by weight, and it could have been a packaging error. The question is, how many times can a packaging error happen? According to the reviews, over and over again.

Many customers shared health concerns with this product as well, saying there were high levels of phthalates in the cans. Phthalates are a type of chemical that makes plastic more durable. Consumer Reports tested many types of foods for phthalates and found that Annie's Organic Cheesy Ravioli did indeed contain them -- hence the uproar in the online reviews.

Buy: Jego Spalmghetti

Jego Spalmghetti cans
Jego Spalmghetti cans - Jego Life

Hearts of palm have been having a moment lately, growing in popularity thanks to TikTok. They come from palm trees and people like to experiment with preparing them in many different ways. The brand Jego got a bit creative with "Spalmghetti," aka spaghetti made from hearts of palm.

These cans only contain noodles and aren't covered in a sauce. This is a great option for people who love the convenience of canned noodles but have a preferred sauce they like to use. It's also a healthy option, since it is made entirely from a vegetable. There are only 80 calories per can, and most of the nutrients are fiber. Hearts of palm also contain all nine essential amino acids, which can help the body in tissue recovery, immune function, and energy. Spalmghetti would make a nutritious meal when paired with your protein of choice and your favorite sauce.

The Amazon ratings for Spalmghetti are high, with a 4-star average. One of the reviewers gushes, "Has a wonderful texture ... never got mushy. Makes an amazing substitute for traditional noodles. No carbs, less fat, and extra nutrition. My entire family is hooked on these!" Other reviewers mention these noodles taste better than popular vegetable noodle variations like zoodles. People also mention the neutral taste goes well with any type of sauce, making these noodles very versatile.


assorted open pasta cans
assorted open pasta cans - Fotografia Basica/Getty Images

In order to decide which canned pastas were worth buying and which weren't, we relied heavily on customer reviews. We went to multiple sites to get a good idea of the consensus for each can, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Instacart, Kroger, Acme, and product listings on the specific brand sites. After learning what customers were enjoying and what they weren't, we took a look at the nutrition information for each can. This article isn't focused on healthy canned pasta options, but when choosing between brands with a comparable taste, the next step was to consider the nutritional aspects.

Read the original article on Mashed.