Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gluten Free Breads Taste Test and Comparison - Rudi's, Udi's, and Nature's Own

At our recent gluten free support group meeting the main event was a "Gluten Free Bread Smackdown!" A taste test comparison between 3 major brands of gluten free store-bought bread, along with a homemade gluten free loaf.

Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery, Udi's Gluten Free Bakery, and Nature's Own Gluten Free were all kind enough to send our support group samples of each bread.

I have to say as far as customer service, Rudi's & Udi's went absolutely above and beyond sharing their full range of products. They also sent coupons and lots of great literature about their breads. Nature's Own was reluctant to send the bread simply due to the fact that the product is not available in our area yet.

We tried both the "white" and "whole grain" versions of each bread, along with a loaf of homemade gluten free whole grain bread for comparison.

Each person tasted 1/4 of slice of gluten free bread straight from the package. No toasting, no sandwich fillings. Each person was asked to rate the appearance, taste, texture, and overall quality of each type of gluten free bread. The system used for rating was 1-5. "1" being worst and "5" being best.

  • The first brand to go around the table was Nature's Own. Many of our members were excited about trying Nature's Own because of the future possibility of the bread being available nationwide in grocery stores. Nature's Own bread is shelf stable and doesn't have to be refrigerated or frozen. It also has the longest ingredient list, many of which were not easily recognizable. Both loaves of bread rated high in appearance. The whole grain bread yielded the preferred texture and was rated higher overall.

  • Udi's white & whole grain breads went around the table next. Udi's bread also has several hard-to-pronounce ingredients. The bread can be stored on the counter, but for best flavor & texture Udi's recommends keeping it in the freezer. Udi's bread was the lowest in calories and was by far the overall favorite of the group. Everyone loved the appearance and taste. Udi's white bread also had the highest texture rating of all the store-bought gluten free breads. The Udi's products were also the first to get snapped up by members to take home for further "testing." Overall, Udi's was the store-bought favorite of the entire group.

Here are the tallied results of the group taste testing!
Udi's came out #1 overall, while the gluten free homemade loaf came in 2nd!

  • Rudi's was the 3rd bread to go around the table. The best feature of Rudi's gluten free bread is that all of the ingredients for the products could be found in your own kitchen. Rudi's bread, like Udi's, also needs to be stored in the freezer for best results. Unfortunately, Rudi's was the lowest scoring bread in our taste tests. The whole grain was preferred over the white, but many found it to be dry and crumbly. This bread would probably be best toasted.

  • Lastly I brought a loaf of homemade gluten free whole grain bread as a final taste comparison. I was thrilled that the homemade bread came in 2nd overall, right behind Udi's "white" bread. It also tied 2nd place in taste with Udi's "whole grain" bread. And it came in 1st with the best texture, as it was slightly moist in comparison to the other breads and very pliable! It also had the fewest ingredients. The only downfall to the homemade bread was that it was the highest in calories and has a shorter shelf-life.

Katz Gluten Free Bakery was also kind enough to send samples of their products for our members to try. The cookies and muffins were a huge hit with the group! I had a hard time sharing the Chocolate Dipped Cookies as they were my favorite! Katz is a kosher, gluten free bakery located in Monroe, New York. They are a certified gluten free, dairy free, and nut free facility.

Many thanks to my local gluten free support group for being the guinea pigs behind the Gluten Free Bread Smackdown! You guys and gals are wonderful and make living life gluten free so much easier! Thank you so much for participating!

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  1. I always love reading the GF product reviews. Who would've thought, even five years ago, that we would have these options? Thanks for taking the time to share the detailed opinions.

  2. Let's hear it for homemade and having the convenience of store-bought. Oh, the times are changing for gluten-free eaters. Thanks for sharing the opinions of your panel of experts.

  3. Heather - thanks girl! I usually avoid product reviews, unless I actually buy the product myself and try it... but I have to admit being able to test all three products with fellow taste testers was really fun!

    Wendy - Yes! It's truly amazing how much has changed just in the 4 years since I've been gluten free! Really amazing! And yes, YAY for homemade bread!!

  4. I think it's so great all of those companies were willing to let you try their products. Hello, great marketing and customer service! It's fantastic that these products are starting to be available in regular stores!

  5. I've been wondering about Rudi's, haven't been able to try it yet. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Sarah, I think you should still give it a chance. I think Rudi's is the best and closest to regular bread. I was surprised at the ratings because I think Udi's is quite dry. I do microwave my bread for like 30 seconds and that may be why, but I used to micro Udi's and I am not impressed. I have tried Rudi's buns as well and they are good too. Just wish they came in original. I am not always concerned with being healthy, but taste really.

    2. Hi Sarah, I think you should give Rudi's a try anyway. I was shocked by the ratings of these breads. I love Rudi's and I tell anyone who will listen about it to spread the word. I think Udi's is dry and crumbly. I do nuke my bread to thaw it out, for about 30sec, but I used to do that with Udi's. I also like the hamburger and hotdog buns of Rudi's. I just wish they came in regular instead of multi-grain. If I am eating a hotdog, I am not exactly concerned with being healthy. ; ) Anyway, I had to chime in because I LOVE Rudi's bread and no I don't work for them. It just made being gluten free a little easier.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Carrie. It's always interesting to see what others think of products you've tried. I'm not fond of Udi's myself but I know a lot of people rave about it. I haven't seen Rudi's or Nature's Own. I tried Food For Life's Brown Rice bread and it was passable. But, you have me sold on Katz. I LOVE their Wholesome bread. I also love that there is no added sugar of any type in it. :D

  7. Sarah - you're so welcome! it was so much fun!!

    Hunters - Agreed! I think Udi's works because it taste like the slightly dry white breads people were used too pre-gf. It's actually not my favorite either. I still prefer homemade gf bread, but it's good to know there are some decent choices around! :-) I actually like the Food for Life BR bread (it's also the only one that's locally available here!) so when I'm in a fix or just don't feel like baking, that's what I buy!

  8. I am not surprised that Udi's came in daughter loves that bread and for the first time ever she even eats the crust!

  9. I love Udi's bread but I will say that I wish they gave you more slices for the price. I feel like Im buying a loaf of it every week. but since you live in NC too, I recommend trying a bread made in Asheville that Ive found at Whole Foods & Earth Fare. cant quite remember the name but its something like "Tastes Great" with a blue/green box on the front.
    I wish these meetings went on in my part of NC! you're so lucky!

  10. Jacki - I'm not surprised either!! That's so cool that your daughter will eat the crust now!

    Missmarc - I'll keep an eye out for that bread! You'd be amazed at how many people in your area in NC are probably gluten free. The only reason there is a group here is because we just decided to start one... and low and behold people showed up!! :-) If you need help starting one email me!

  11. What a great bread round up! I was so impressed with the N.O. bread the company sent me and the loaves I bought twice at Kroger. Then all of a sudden the bread was heavy, not fresh (even in the middle) and the slices were not even cut through. Others in my area reported the same thing. I personally think N.O. bit off more than they could chew. They had no idea the demand would be so high for the bread and they seem to be having problems making enough of it to stock the shelves of the stores test marketing it in Atlanta. That must be affecting the quality because the change in the texture of the loaves has been drastic.

    Agreed that Rudi's breads taste best when toasted and in fact, the whole grain makes a fabulous grilled cheese.

    Udi's is still number one at our house and it's so exciting to be able to have their commercial sized bread when eating at Jason's Deli now. I could not believe I had a "normal" sized deli sandwich for the first time in almost five years. This bread is rolling out to Jason's Deli locations nationwide now. So exciting!

  12. Tiffany - Thank you SO much for sharing your perspective of the Nature's Own GF bread. It's good to hear an insider's view who lives in Atlanta! I was not very impressed with the company and the bread only received so-so reviews with the group. I hope Udi's can become more widely available!! :-) And I'm definitely going to visit Jason's soon for that awesome Udi's Deli sandwich!!

  13. What a fun meeting!! I bought Udi's to use for French Onion Soup and loved it...I'm not much of a bread eater, though, so I only used a couple of slices.

    Maybe you've found your calling...a gluten-free bread baker. :)

  14. lol! thank you Amy!! It was really fun just to see what everybody thought of the products! I eat more bread than I should. My body really doesn't tolerate grains a whole lot, so I actually try not to bake much of it for myself at home! I had to make sure everyone took the samples so I wouldn't eat it! haha!

  15. Carrie- here is the bakery I was talking about!

  16. Hi! It was really interesting to read the bread test results. I recently found Udi's at my local health food store. I'd been buying a brown rice fruit-juice sweetend bread (maybe Nature's Own?)...I don't have anymore of it once I found Udi's. It's great in the a.m. toasted w/a little peanut butter. I haven't tried it thawed as a sandwich, but I will. Thanks again for your awesome blog. I don't always comment, but you're on my feeds.

  17. Great round up! Yay that your bread was so well liked too!

  18. Jill - thank you so much!! You have no idea how much that means to me!!

    Alta - Thank you! I was thrilled the homemade bread was such a hit!

    Missmarc - thanks for sharing! i"m definitely checking out their products!

  19. I am in Chicago. Udi's is taking over here. It's just so $$$.

    Carrie- Do you have an recs for egg-free? I am finally *now that the weather is getting cooler* going to try this...


  20. momnivore - I have a growing number of egg free recipes! Just look over in the tag cloud, check out the tags egg-free and vegan! :-)