TV dinners were introduced in the 1950s, and for better or worse, when it comes to busy weeknights, we’ve come to rely on the convenience of frozen foods to this day.
But if you’re gluten-free, good entrees in the freezer case can be hard to spot. For nights when you’re just too tired to read labels, we reviewed the best gluten-free frozen meal choices.
Our taste-test team consisted of people who eat gluten-free regularly ― some have celiac disease, some eat gluten-free by choice. We tried dozens of products available nationwide, and most items are also certified gluten-free. In order to be considered, preparation needed to be super simple: just heat in the microwave or oven for a short amount of time.
Here’s our grocery shopping cheat sheet for when you’re looking for an easy meal.
Gluten-free pasta has come a long way. Most of the frozen pastas we tried were flavorful and heated up without getting gummy.
Best Overall: Caesar’s Kitchen Stuffed Shells
We were blown away by the authentic texture of these meals and the wide variety of certified gluten-free Italian choices, from ravioli to lasagna and even stuffed shells, our team’s favorite. Many come in single-serving trays or bowls to be microwaved. Our only wish would be for this brand to offer more family-sized meals.
Tasting notes: “Oh my gosh! This can’t be gluten-free. It’s sooo good.” “The sauce is nice. I like the filling ― so creamy.” “This fills me up. Delicious.” “Can I have more?”
Best Grain-Free: Cappello’s Gnocchi
Since many who eat gluten-free also avoid grains, we tried grain-free products as part of our taste test. Cappello’s gnocchi are made from almond flour and certified gluten-free. The product comes frozen and boils up in a few minutes. We served the gnocchi with a favorite jarred sauce, cooked chicken and veggies.
Tasting notes: “The texture is just right, I love this.” “I wish there was more in the package.” “This is a nice dinner.” “I don’t eat gnocchi much, but I like this.”
This Austin-based, family-owned company caught our eye because all the ingredients are organic as well as gluten-free. They take great care in creating recipes with the health of customers in mind and promise ever-increasing availability in frozen individual meals as well as family sizes.
Tasting Notes: “I like the texture.” “These taste good with the sauce.” “Super meaty.”
Among the meals we tasted, the curries were some of the most satisfying, leaving tasters feeling full. They provided lots of variety with vegetarian options and many different spice levels. All the brands we tried came with basmati rice that cooked up without sticking or drying out.
Best Mild Curry: Saffron Road Coconut Curry Chicken
This Korma-style curry, flavored with garlic, ginger, turmeric and coconut cream, is certified gluten-free. Our team, which included children, was pleasantly surprised that such deep flavors and creamy sauce could emerge from a microwave.
Tasting Notes: “Coconut-y.” “Spice sits on my tongue.” “Creamy sauce. Yum!” “There’s a little bit of heat on the back end.” “Excellent. I’d eat this every day.”
Best Medium Spice Curry: Deep Indian Kitchen Chicken Tikka Masala
Made in small batches, this curry shows off its creamy tomato base with notes of ginger, turmeric and cumin.
Tasting Notes: “Creamy.” “Nice thick sauce.” “Good spice.” “Very good. The more you eat, the more it grows on you.”
Best Comfort Food
This entree fit the bill for days when you want something that feels homemade but you don’t have time to cook. Like all Beetnik’s offerings, all ingredients are organic and certified gluten-free.
Tasting Notes: “ I love the potatoes on top. Fluffy.” “Nice seasoning.” “I’m surprised I like the kale in here.” “This tastes homemade.”
Lots of kids’ food items come in a variety of shapes, but many are not gluten-free. Our kid testers loved the fun green dinosaurs, and adults appreciated that the novelty helped kids eat their veggies and contained no added preservatives. The dinos are Dr. Praeger’s best-seller, but the broccoli stars were also a hit as well as spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprout cakes for adults.
Tasting Notes: “Oooh, these are cool.” “Mmmm.” “Yummy!” “This spinach tastes good. I’d eat these again.”
You’d never guess these tasty bites are made with gluten-free pastry, and the filling is made with satisfying, creamy feta, ricotta and well-seasoned spinach. Our team agreed we’d serve this to a room full of gluten-eating guests without hesitation.
Tasting Notes: “Very flaky, good pastry.” “These are gluten-free?” “Buttery.” “Creamy filling.” “Tasty. The best.”
These pan fry in minutes, and the texture and flavors of both vegetable and chicken varieties satisfied our craving for Asian food. The sauce made with tamari makes this a viable certified gluten-free option.
Tasting Notes: “I’m so glad for these. I miss Chinese food.” “The sauce is sweet. Lots of tasty filling.” “I could eat these for days.”
Best Latin Flavors
With corn being the base for Mexican food and a staple in most gluten-free diets, we were disappointed that many of the foods in the Mexican and Latin category were bland and often too mushy for our team’s liking. We tried latin foods in a wide variety of its forms. In the end, two brands’ empanadas stood out as the most flavorful. Of note: Our testers all live in San Diego, where excellent taco shops abound, so standards in this category are particularly high.
Best known for its Brazilian cheese bread, Brazi Bites recently released its version of an empanada. While traditional empanadas are more of a hand-held pie, these are more finger food. The product is very flavorful with shredded meat that tastes like it was slow cooked with spices. These come in four different flavors, some vegetarian. They must be baked, not microwaved.
Tasting Notes: “Very good flavor.” “Beef has a little kick.” “Dough has great flavor.” “Delicious.”
The family that runs this company got their start in order to make authentic empanadas that they missed from their home country, Argentina. Our team tasted the attention to detail. They cook in small batches that provide a homemade touch and are certified gluten-free. Though packaging has both microwave and oven instructions, baking the product yielded best results. Five varieties include spicy and vegetarian.
Tasting Notes: “I like the filling.” “Filling tastes homemade.” “I wish the pastry was more flaky.” “I like the chunks of chicken, tangy with the onions and peppers. Mmm, olives too.”