It’s an undisputed fact: Pasta is the most delicious food in the known universe. But if you’re on a diet, it’s also the first thing to go. (Et tu, baked ziti?) And while we’ve tried all the grain-free and gluten-free substitutes (Banza chickpea pasta is our long-standing favorite, as well as Kristen Bell’s), we’re always game to try something new. So when we discovered kelp noodles, which are gluten-free, keto, paleo, vegan and raw, we knew we had to get our hands on this wizardry.
Wait, what are kelp noodles? Kelp noodles are made from kelp seaweed, water and sodium alginate, a salt that’s extracted from brown seaweed. You can buy them at Whole Foods, online or at local health food stores. There are a few different brands out there, but we taste-tested the kelp noodles from Sea Tangle Noodle Company.
How do you make them? Kelp noodles can be eaten raw—just rinse them in cool water, and they’re ready to be transformed into raw pad Thai, like this gorgeous recipe from Swoon Food. If you prefer warm noodles, you can also stir-fry kelp noodles with veggies and sauce or toss them into soups.
Are they actually good for you? These noodles are a great source of iodine and calcium, and contain 1g carbs and 10 calories per serving. But like any pasta, this stuff is processed (sorry, Whole30 folks). So if you’re concerned about cutting back on processed foods, zoodles, spaghetti squash or spiralized carrots might be a healthier option. But if you’re looking to shake things up in the texture department, kelp noodles are definitely worth a shot. Be warned: eat them in moderation—kelp noodles contain 54 mcg of iodine per serving, so eating the whole pot will send you over the recommended limit of 150 mcg of iodine per day.
What do they taste like? As much as we wanted these cute little guys to taste like wheat noodles, they just don’t. The taste is surprisingly neutral (no fishy seaweed taste here), but the texture is completely…different. They’re rubbery, gelatinous and slightly crunchy—but not bad in soups or bold sauces, like pesto or marinara. Is this a miracle pasta that blows chickpea pasta, zoodles and rice noodles out of the water? Sadly, nope. But is it a welcome new addition to our good-for-you pasta repertoire? Most definitely.