Barilla Vs De Cecco Pasta: Which Is The Better Buy?

Variety of dried pasta shapes
Variety of dried pasta shapes - Angiephotos/Getty Images

Standing before rows of dried pasta at the supermarket can be a recipe for decision paralysis. Seeking out the cheapest option or a specific shape of pasta is one thing, but looking for the highest quality pasta is not always a straightforward or obvious task, as not all brands of boxed penne are created equal. You might even find yourself taking out your phone to Google reviews of two familiar Italian imports, Barilla and De Cecco, much to the chagrin of your fellow shoppers.

Instead of hemming and hawing, make the following mental note: While both companies use pure semolina flour, De Cecco is technically higher quality. Why? The brand uses machines made of bronze to cut its pasta; a process known in Italy as trafilata al bronzo. Barilla's original line of pasta uses Teflon, which, while a bit cheaper, turns out pasta that doesn't perform quite as well on your plate. The comparisons don't stop there, however. There are even more details to consider when deciding between the two.

Read more: 14 Of The Oldest Cereals Still On Shelves

That Bargain Will Cost You Your Sauce

De Cecco pasta at store
De Cecco pasta at store - Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you take a close look at Barilla and De Cecco pastas side by side, you'll notice a difference in texture. The former is shiny and smooth, while the latter is rough to the touch and is covered in what looks like little specks of pale dust. That coating isn't just for looks; it means the pasta was run through a bronze die to create porousness, which helps sauces cling to it. As Chef Michael DeHaven of Ohio's Cut 132 explained to Yahoo! Life, bronze "tends to pull on the pasta dough as it moves through the die, leaving tiny abrasions." Consequently, De Cecco and other bronze-died pasta might appear larger than its counterparts.

Meanwhile, Teflon's nonstick surface makes for slick, nonporous pasta. James Beard-nominated cookbook author Nancy Harmon Jenkins griped in a 1997 New York Times article that Teflon-died pasta is a gateway for "slippery, slimy, overcooked" strands. The material is less expensive to produce and maintain, but that so-called bargain comes at a cost when you consider all that good sauce that will slide off the noodles. So, while a September 2023 Statista survey revealed that Barilla is Italy's most popular store-bought pasta brand, its manufacturing process is second-best.

Price Talk

Bronze-died pasta shells
Bronze-died pasta shells - Bartosz Luczak/Shutterstock

The price difference between Barilla and De Cecco might not be as extreme as you think. For instance, Kroger sells De Cecco cavatappi for $1 more than Barilla's version online. As one Reddit user put it, "De Cecco may be one of the more expensive supermarket brands, but it's still really cheap in absolute terms." They added that it's "well worth paying an extra buck or two per pack." Another user concurred that "[bronze-died pasta] with quality ingredients truly makes a difference in getting that al dente texture."

If you're lucky — or unlucky, as far as decision-making is concerned — your local grocery store might carry Barilla's Al Bronzo line of "micro-engraved" bronze-died bucatini, mezzi rigatoni, penne rigate, fusilli, spaghetti, and linguine, which released in 2023 and is closer in price to De Cecco. And of course, if you're willing to shell out the big bucks (or at least a few dollars more) in the name of a premium plate of pasta, you might consider seeking out fancier al bronzo brands like Rummo, Rustichella d'Abruzzo, or A.G. Ferrari, which are available nationwide.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.