The number of people adopting gluten-free diets continues to grow. According to Forbes, the number of people following a gluten-free diet has tripled since 2009. Ordering food can be complicated with varying dietary needs like this one. So when it comes to feeding a group, you may be wondering: what foods are gluten-free? Gluten in dishes usually comes from grains like wheat, rye, and barley, but there are plenty of substitutes on our gluten-free food list for you to choose from.
So, what foods are gluten-free? Here’s our list of gluten-free dishes by ingredient to help you place your next order.
- Plain Baked or Mashed Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes: Baked potatoes are soft and fluffy, perfect for a gluten-free diet. Jazz it up with a few gluten-free toppings like sour cream, cheese, and bacon. But when it comes to gravy, always ask if it is gluten-free. A lot of gravy uses a roux as a thickener, which has wheat flour in it. Switch out your regular potatoes for sweet potatoes if you’re looking for something a little sweeter.
- French Fries: Just confirm that they aren’t fried in a gluten batter or in the same fryer as breaded foods.
- Potato Chips: The bag should be labeled if it’s gluten-free. But, again, always confirm before you eat or order to be sure.
- Risotto: This is an Italian rice dish made creamy by slowly stirring grains of rice with liquid, like stock or wine. Just double-check that the stock or wine isn’t made with a wheat derivative.
- Biryani: This is an Indian rice dish that typically includes some type of meat, like lamb or chicken.
- Paella: Paella is a Spanish rice dish traditionally cooked with seafood, meats (chicken, rabbit, and duck are common), occasionally beans, and always spicy saffron.
- Rice Pudding: This sweet dessert is made by cooking rice with a creamy, sweet pudding, typically made from milk, cream, sugar, occasionally eggs, and dried fruit with nuts.
- Pho: This is a flavorful Vietnamese soup that comes in many forms. Beef and chicken are the most popular. It’s traditionally made with rice noodles. Some restaurants use rice noodles that contain wheat, so be sure to ask.
- Tacos: Most restaurants offer two types of tortillas: flour (made from wheat) and corn. Be sure to ask for tacos with only corn tortillas.
- Chips and Salsa: Some restaurants offer flour tortilla chips, so be sure to confirm with the restaurant that they use 100 percent corn tortilla chips, which make the gluten-free food list.
- Polenta: This is a savory porridge made from coarsely ground cornmeal. You’ll often find it on the menu at Italian restaurants.
- Shrimp and Grits: Grits are ground cornmeal made into a savory porridge. Topped with shrimp, this dish comes from the lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia. Some people use flour to thicken their shrimp gravy, so be sure to double check.
- Tortilla Soup: This delicious Mexican soup is typically made with chicken broth, fresh corn, and avocado, and topped with corn tortilla chips. Be sure to confirm that the restaurant uses only corn tortilla chips.
- Cheese- or Meat-filled Arepas: Arepas are a Colombian and Venezuelan specialty. They are made of corn-based bread that can be eaten alone or stuffed with cheese or meat. (You’ll want them stuffed with cheese or meat.)
- Migas: Migas are a Mexican-Tex Mex dish made from corn tortillas and scrambled eggs, and a homemade salsa.
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- Peas: Pease are a simple, but tasty ingredient in many meals. And they are safe to add to your gluten-free foods list.
- Black Beans: Black beans are a versatile legume that are tasty in burritos and also make a great meat substitute in many dishes.
- Refried Beans: These are mashed beans (made from pinto or black beans) that are fried in oil or bacon fat.
- Lentils: Lentils are an edible pulse that are used in cuisines all around the world, especially in South Asia. A lot of vegetarian dishes at Indian restaurants are made from lentils, so look for those.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are great on a salad, or can be roasted to eat as a crispy snack.
- Hummus: This popular dip is made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), and lots of garlic. It traditionally comes with pita to dip in it (which has wheat in it), but carrots, celery, and red peppers work too.
- Falafel: A falafel is a fried fritter made of chickpeas. Some restaurants use wheat bread as a binder though, so be sure to double check that your falafel will be gluten-free.
- Chickpea Pasta: There are many gluten-free pastas available today. One of the tastiest is made from chickpea flour. Add it as a substitute for regular pasta in your the gluten free food list.
- Panisse: This is a fried chickpea flour cake popular in the south of France.
- Chana Masala: Pair chickpeas with a spicy tomato-based sauce and you’ve got this popular Indian dish.
- Indian Dal: Another popular Indian dish is this type of soup. There are many variations but most contain lentils, Indian spices, and water.
5. Meats and Protein
- Plain Steak: When ordering meat, always be aware that it could be coated in flour before browning or breaded. In particular, be aware of stews and braises. But when in doubt, ask for a plain steak, or piece of meat, and you should be fine.
- Grilled or Roasted Chicken: Chicken is a great gluten-free protein. When it’s grilled or roasted, there’s no need to add any flour or breading.
- Shrimp: Likewise, shrimp is another great answer to the question: what foods are gluten-free? Just avoid any breading.
- Lettuce-wrapped Burgers: Most burgers are fine. But the buns are filled with gluten. So order lettuce wraps instead. Most restaurants are happy to offer this healthier option.
- Fried or Scrambled Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein and completely gluten-free. Order a frittata, an Italian dish similar to an omelette, but baked.
- Crustless Quiche: Another popular egg dish on the gluten-free food list is the quiche. Just be sure to order it without a crust.
- Bacon: Bacon has no gluten and will complement many other dishes on the list.
- Breakfast Sausage: And for breakfast, you can’t go wrong with sausage as your side. It’s gluten-free and delicious.
- Shakshuka: This is a popular Middle Eastern dish made by poaching eggs in a tomato and pepper-based sauce.
- Sausage Crust Pizza: Some pizza places offer crusts made entirely from sausage, for a meaty treat. It is is typically gluten-free.
- Baked Fish: Baked fish is a great gluten-free option, so long as you avoid breading. Also ask about any sauces that might have been thickened with flour.
- Kabobs: Whether it’s meat and vegetables on a skewer (or both), kabobs are strictly gluten-free until you start adding marinades, which may be made with flour.
6. Oats and Alternative Grains
- Oatmeal: Be sure to check that the oatmeal is labeled as gluten-free at the restaurant, as not all store-bought kinds are.
- Granola and Yogurt Parfait: Plain yogurt is gluten-free, but flavored yogurts can sometime have gluten in them. Double check before you order.
- Quinoa: A tasty, nutty gluten-free grain, quinoa is a healthier rice alternative.
- Quinoa Pasta: This is pasta made from quinoa flour. It’s nutty, and completely gluten-free.
- Soba Noodle Salad: Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle traditionally made with buckwheat, which is gluten-free. But check with restaurant, as some noodles are made with wheat and buckwheat.
- Dishes Made with Gluten-free Flours: There are mixes of alternative flours that are gluten-free. You can find all kinds of normally gluten-filled dishes that are specially made. Look for gluten-free pizza crusts, bagels, cookies, or cakes. Because when you’re wondering what foods are gluten-free, the answer can be anything, if you make it right.
7. Other Options
- Salads: Order a salad without croutons, bread, or breading. And when you’re ordering dressing, it’s always better to get it on the side. But be sure to confirm the ingredients. Most vinaigrettes would make a gluten-free food list.
- Soups: Be sure to ask if the soup was thickened with a roux, a thickener made from fat and flour, to confirm it’s gluten-free status.
- French Macarons: These are delicate cookies made from almond flour, then filled with frosting or jam. Almond flour makes the list of what foods are gluten-free, so these cookies are too.
- Cheese Platters: Most cheeses do not contain gluten. But look out for the crackers that come with a platter. Try rice or seeded crackers for a safe alternative.
- Brazilian Pao de Queijo: These are little cheesy bread puffs made from tapioca, a starch that is naturally gluten-free and used in a lot of Brazilian cooking.
- Spiralized Veggie Spaghetti: Thanks to spiralized cutters, vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and squash can be cut to look like spaghetti noodles. These are definitely gluten-free, just confirm with a restaurant that the sauce served on them is also gluten-free.
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