Gluten-Free Food List: Learn Exactly What To Eat Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Food List

Gluten-free? Here's the list of foods you can have. Getty Images/Janine Lamontagne

Wondering which foods are gluten-free and which are not? That's no surprise — the gluten-free diet is extremely tricky, and gluten can hide in some very unexpected places.

If you're just starting out on the diet, it's understandable to get confused and even bewildered by food labels and ingredients lists. Of course, there will be lots of foods that are off-limits on the gluten-free diet. However, there are also plenty of foods you CAN eat.

The following list, which I've broken down into eight categories (fruit and vegetables, meat, milk and dairy products, breads and snacks, dry goods and mixes, condiments, prepared foods and beverages) will explain what you need to know to choose safe products in each category, and provide you with suggested safe brands and products.

I've also summarized the list so that you can print it out and take it to the grocery store (jump directly to the printable gluten-free food list). However, I recommend you read through the explanations on the preceding pages first, so that you have a firm idea of what to buy and what to avoid. It's just really easy to make a mistake, otherwise ... trust me, I know!

Finally (as if all this isn't enough!), I highly recommend that you take a look at a few other articles:

These articles provide more explanation of food labeling laws in the United States, and detail areas where you'll need to exercise caution in choosing products.

Don't feel like you need to master all of this overnight—there's too much involved and too steep a learning curve. But believe it or not, shopping for gluten-free food eventually will become second nature to you, and you'll know exactly which products to purchase without needing to refer to a list.

Gluten-Free Fruit and Vegetables

Gluten-free foods in the produce aisle
Most produce is safely gluten-free. © Jane M. Anderson

If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, you're in luck: with very few exceptions, they're all gluten-free. You can indulge all you wish with berries, fruits, greens and vegetables you find in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store.

There are, however, a couple of places where even products sold in the produce section can gluten you.

Some stores sell jars of processed fruit that contain other ingredients you'll need to check. Most of it is gluten-free, but occasionally you'll run across something suspect.

In addition, many stores sell cut-up fruit in containers. Before purchasing this fruit, double-check on where workers cut it up—a few stores use the deli counter for this, which means the fruit is at risk for cross-contamination from the sandwiches and other products made there. Fortunately, this isn't a problem at most stores.

Finally, if you're very sensitive to trace gluten, you could find that certain fresh fruits and vegetables seem to cause symptoms. You're not imagining things—the problem is gluten cross-contamination at the farm itself.

Gluten-Free Canned and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Most canned fruits and vegetables are considered gluten-free, but some are not ... and the more ingredients, the riskier the product. You'll also need to read labels or contact the manufacturer to determine if a particular product is processed in a shared facility or on manufacturing lines shared with gluten-containing products.

Single-ingredient frozen fruits and vegetables (e.g., frozen peas or frozen green beans) generally are safe, but you should read labels or contact the manufacturer with questions about the potential for gluten cross-contamination during processing. I've run across single-ingredient frozen vegetables that are processed and packaged on lines that also are used for wheat products.

Frozen fruits and vegetables with multiple ingredients (e.g., prepared side dishes) may or may not be safe — many contain gluten ingredients. You'll need to contact the manufacturer to be sure.

Gluten-Free Meat, Poultry and Fish

Meat counter - some gluten-free, some not
Not everything at the meat counter is gluten-free. © Getty Images

Like fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish generally are safe on the gluten-free diet. This includes fresh cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish at your local grocery store or butcher.

However, you'll need to beware of meats and poultry with added ingredients that make them into ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat dishes—most of these are not safe to consume on the diet, since the store might use unsafe sauces or even bread crumbs. I've found that information on the ingredients in these ready-to-use products frequently is lacking, so I'd advise steering clear.

In addition, some chickens and turkeys include a broth or liquid intended to "plump" it that may or may not be safe. The label must disclose the presence of this broth, so you'll need to contact the manufacturer to determine if it contains gluten or not. Your best bet is to choose poultry that isn't packed with a broth or additional liquid.

I also avoid choosing meats on "naked" (i.e., without plastic wrap covering them) display in refrigerator cases, since many of those display cases also contain foods with bread crumbs and other gluten ingredients. The display cases contain fans to move the air around, and the fans also can blow loose crumbs onto your naked meat. When in doubt, pick something pre-packaged.

Gluten-Free Ham, Hot Dogs, Sausage and Other Meat Products

There are plenty of hams that are considered gluten-free to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) definition of 20 parts per million, but only some seem to be specifically labeled "gluten-free." I've pulled together a list of the safe (and not-so-safe) options: Gluten-Free Ham

Many hot dogs also are gluten-free to 20 ppm, and some—like Applegate Farms' hot dogs — actually carry a gluten-free label. (Here's my gluten-free hot dogs list, which explains which products are safe and which are not.) Applegate Farms and other manufacturers also make gluten-free bacon. But don't assume the bacon's gluten-free if it doesn't carry a label—check the list: Gluten-Free Bacon

Be extra careful with sausage. Many sausages contain bread crumbs as a filler, so check labels carefully before buying sausage. In addition, even if the sausage you're considering doesn't include a gluten ingredient, it may have been manufactured on equipment that also processes gluten-containing sausage, so ask about that. Here's my list of safe options: Gluten-Free Sausage.

There are plenty of gluten-free deli meats on the market: Hormel and Hillshire Farms both make packaged gluten-free meats, and all of Boar's Head's products are gluten-free. However, you'll need to beware of cross-contamination that can stem from shared slicing machines at the deli counter, so your best bet is to stick with pre-packaged meats instead of having the product sliced behind the counter.

Gluten-Free Milk and Dairy Products

Dairy products at store - some are gluten-free
Not everything dairy is gluten-free. © Getty Images

Most milk and many dairy-based products are gluten-free ... but, as always, there are exceptions.

Plain milk—regardless of whether it's regular, skim or even heavy cream—is gluten-free. Flavored milks, however, may not be safe, and you'll need to check ingredients to make sure. Malted milk products, including malted milkshakes, are not safe, since malt is made with barley.

Plain yogurt is safe, and I've had good luck with the Chobani and Fage brands. Many flavored yogurts—but not all—also are gluten-free. You'll need to check ingredients to be sure. Some yogurts come with cookies and granola, and you should avoid those.

The refrigerator case at the supermarket also carries eggs, which are gluten-free, butter, which is gluten-free, and margarine, most of which is gluten-free (always check the ingredients on margarine and shortening). You'll also find products such as Kozy Shack tapioca pudding, which is labeled gluten-free.

Some milk substitute products (such as soy milk and almond milk) are gluten-free, and some are not. Be particularly careful of gluten-free-labeled Rice Dream rice milk (found in the dry-goods section of the supermarket, not the dairy section), as it's processed with barley enzymes and many people report reacting to it.

Gluten-Free Cheese and Ice Cream

When purchasing cheese, most options should be safe. However, watch out for "beer-washed" cheeses, which seem to be a new fad among cheese makers. In addition, a few manufacturers use wheat as a catalyst when making bleu cheese, so you'll need to contact the specific maker to determine if a particular bleu cheese is safe or not (this tends to be a problem only for those who are particularly sensitive to trace gluten).

Lastly, beware of cheese that's been cut up and repackaged at the individual grocery store. In many cases, this repackaging takes place in the deli section on the same cutting boards where the staff makes sandwiches. I've been badly glutened by repackaged cheese. Look instead for cheese that was packaged at the manufacturer—you may have to purchase more of it than you'd like, but cheese freezes well.

In the case of gluten-free ice cream, beware of ice creams that contain chunks of cookies, dough or an unsafe candy (here's the gluten-free candy list). Check the ingredients and avoid anything with a gluten-sounding name like "Cookies and Cream" or "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough" unless it's specifically labeled gluten-free.

Obviously, ice cream sandwiches are out unless you can find some that are specifically labeled gluten-free. But you can buy frozen fruit pops and other ice cream treats that are gluten-free—for example, Dove Ice Cream Miniatures are a staple at our house.

Gluten-Free Breads, Snacks, Cereals and Pasta

Rice crackers
Look specifically for gluten-free crackers. © Getty Images

When it comes to bread, you have no choice but to choose from among the various gluten-free bread brands. Fortunately, many grocery stores these days carry frozen gluten-free bread, and you can order online to get your particular favorite.

I periodically run across claims that people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can eat breads with ingredients such as sprouted wheat or Einkorn wheat (an ancient form of wheat). Don't believe them. If the ingredients on the bread include wheat, do not buy that bread—it's extremely likely to make you sick.

Gluten-Free Snacks

If you're looking for baked snacks like cookies or cakes that normally would contain wheat, you'll obviously have to stick to gluten-free labeled items. Again, we're fortunate that most stores carry at least a handful of gluten-free cookies and may even carry such products as gluten-free bagels and gluten-free frozen waffles in their freezer sections.

Also, there's now a wide variety of gluten-free pretzels available for snacking, along with many different energy bars that are labeled gluten-free.

Several manufacturers, including Kettle brand, make gluten-free chips (especially gluten-free potato chips) and label them as such. You'll also find many brands of gluten-free corn chips—look for those specifically labeled gluten-free.

If you want something sweet, multiple candies are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million; see the list of gluten-free candy for those considered safe.

Gluten-Free Cereal, Pasta Choices Improving

You've got multiple choices when it comes to gluten-free cereal: many major brands now are making some favorites, such as General Mills' Chex, gluten-free. Here's a comprehensive list I've developed of gluten-free cereals, including cold, hot, granola and kid-friendly products: Gluten-Free Cereal Options

As with breads and snacks, don't buy a cereal unless it's specifically marked gluten-free.

The same goes for pasta—if it's not labeled gluten-free, don't buy it. Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten-free pasta options available, in sizes and shapes ranging from fettuccine to linguine.

You can choose pasta made from corn, rice or more unusual gluten-free grains, such as quinoa. Many people have a favorite brand (you'll need to do some experimenting to discover your own), and it's possible to create pasta dishes that taste just like the gluten originals.

Gluten-Free Prepared Foods: Frozen Foods, Soup and More

gluten-free pizza
You'll need to buy gluten-free pizza. © Gillians Foods

If you're looking for a frozen dinner, you probably can find one that's marked specifically gluten-free—Glutino makes some prepared meals, as do Amy's Kitchen and Saffron Road, among other manufacturers. Don't purchase a frozen meal unless it's specifically marked "gluten-free," since most of those that aren't labeled do contain gluten ingredients.

You also may be able to find some prepared foods in the dry-goods section of the supermarket that are marked gluten-free—for example, I've seen "just add water" pre-made Indian or Thai dishes in the ethnic foods section of the store. Thai Kitchen is one brand that makes some gluten-free dishes you could eat as a meal. Lotus makes several different gluten-free ramen noodles in several different flavors, if you're looking for a quick snack.

Frozen pizza fans have plenty of gluten-free frozen pizza options, including vegan products and some that are gluten-free and casein-free. Many grocery stores stock at least one or two of these—in my local store, they're in the "natural" foods freezer section, which is separate from the regular freezer section, but other stores stock them in the regular frozen pizza section. Look around for them: you might be surprised at what you find.

Canned Soups: Several Options Available

People new to the gluten-free diet often are surprised to learn that traditional flavors of canned soups frequently contain gluten—the flour is used as a thickener, especially in "cream" soup products. However, it's possible to find some canned and boxed soups that are gluten-free.

Progresso makes some gluten-free soups, as does Pacific Natural Foods (which packages its soups in boxes, not cans). Some gourmet soup manufacturers, such as Bookbinders Specialties, also make some gluten-free soup options, but you'll have to read labels and possibly make some calls to determine what's safe and what's not.

Gluten-Free Dry Goods: Baking Mixes and Supplies

gluten-free mixes and products
Cake mixes should always be marked 'gluten-free.'. © Jane M. Anderson

It's possible these days to purchase mixes for almost any baked product you want: gluten-free bread mixes, gluten-free muffin mixes, gluten-free pizza crust mixes, gluten-free cake mixes, gluten-free cookie mixes ... you name it.

This is another area where you must be sure to purchase only products marked "gluten-free," since if you don't, you'll almost certainly be purchasing something with gluten in it.

Baking Supplies: Many Are Gluten-Free, But Be Careful

To bake, you frequently need ingredients other than a gluten-free mix — and of course, some people want to bake from scratch, without a mix.

It's possible to find gluten-free flour blends you can use for your baking projects, or you can use individual gluten-free flours. For example, Bisquick now produces a gluten-free baking mix. Companies such as Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills also package gluten-free flour products.

Just be certain to choose only those labeled "gluten-free" — gluten contamination of flour products can be very bad, and you'll be safest sticking with brands that meet the FDA's gluten-free labeling requirements.

Ingredients such as corn starch, yeast, baking powder, and baking soda generally are gluten-free, but it doesn't hurt to check on specific manufacturers' products before you buy. In addition, the same rule should apply for cocoa, baking chocolate and other flavorings—many are gluten-free, but double-check. When I need sugar, I use Domino Pure Cane Sugar, in the familiar yellow, navy and white package.

Gluten-Free Condiments: Oils, Sauces, Salad Dressing and Spices

Ketchup and mustard - gluten-free condiments
Look specifically for gluten-free condiments. © Getty Images

Buying gluten-free sauces and condiments can be tricky—many of these products contain gluten ingredients. In other cases, products you wouldn't think to suspect, such as soy sauce, actually are made primarily of wheat.

Therefore, I urge a healthy dose of "buyer beware" when you're shopping for condiments and sauces. In some cases, you'll find products labeled "gluten-free," but in the majority of cases, you'll need to contact the manufacturer to determine if something is gluten-free or not.

You shouldn't have too much trouble finding a gluten-free tomato sauce to go with your gluten-free pasta; several brands, including Del Monte and Classico, offer options. In addition, Emeril's and Hidden Valley Ranch both offer gluten-free salad dressing products, although you need to check ingredients on each package to be certain you're choosing a safe flavor.

When it comes to ketchup, there are several gluten-free varieties. French's yellow mustard is listed as gluten-free, as are many other mustards. If you need gluten-free soy sauce, look for either Kikkoman or San-J tamari-style soy sauces, which are gluten-free at least to the FDA's proposed 20 parts per million standard, and will be marked as such.

There's one caution for those who are super-sensitive to gluten or who react to gluten-based vinegars: almost all of these condiment products contain vinegar of some sort. Some of it is apple cider vinegar, which should be safe enough for most people, but some of it may be grain vinegar—you'll need to check labels to be sure. Learn more about this here: Is Vinegar Gluten-Free?

Gluten-Free Oils, Spices: Choose Fewest Ingredients

Most oils, including olive oil, corn oil, canola oil and other specialty oils, are considered gluten-free. However, it's possible to run across gluten in some specialty oils—I saw a gift-boxed flavored olive oil recently that contained gluten. Your best bet is to stick with plain oils, and flavor them yourself if you want variety.

That brings us to spices. Fresh herbs and spices you can purchase in the produce section of the grocery store are perfectly safe, as far as I can tell, and I use these exclusively when I'm not growing my own spices.

If you prefer to buy dried spices, some companies produce reliably gluten-free spices, while for other companies, gluten cross-contamination are a problem (some manufacturers use gluten as an ingredient in some spice mixes).

Plain salt and pepper should be gluten-free, but watch out for those trendy flavored salts—a few contain gluten (sometimes in the form of smoke flavoring, which is made with barley).

Gluten-Free Drinks: Coffee, Tea, Sodas, Fruit Drinks and Alcohol

coffee - usually, but not always, gluten-free
Many coffees and teas are gluten-free. © Getty Images

Many of the most popular sodas are considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million, including long lists from Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co.

Fruit juices also are gluten-free providing they're made with 100% real fruit. Therefore, orange juices and other citrus juices you find in the dairy section should be safe (although some sensitive people report reacting to some orange juices).

Fruit drinks, on the other hand, aren't made completely with fruit, and may possibly contain some gluten ingredients—although the vast majority are safe, you'll need to check with the manufacturer before purchasing to be certain whether they're safe or not. Smoothies sold in the fruit juice section sometimes contain problematic ingredients like wheat grass or barley grass, so you'll need to check labels and only buy smoothies that are labeled gluten-free.

Most tea is gluten-free, even flavored teas. However, a few do contain gluten ingredients, so check the list to be certain. Unflavored coffee is fine, but flavored coffees may not be gluten-free. Finally, some blended coffee drinks are safe and some are not, so again, you'll need to check the ingredients. When I'm at a coffee house, I order a latté or a cappuccino, both of which contain only milk and espresso.

Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages

If you're shopping for beer, you need to stick with gluten-free beer; other beers contain barley, which is a gluten grain and therefore unsafe on a gluten-free diet. Wine should be safe (unless you're particularly sensitive); here's some more information on Is Wine Gluten-Free?.

When it comes to gluten-free alcohol, there's some debate over whether alcoholic beverages derived from gluten grains, such as whiskey and gin, are safe or not. Many people report reactions to alcohol made from gluten grains. Fortunately, rum, tequila and gluten-free vodka made from potatoes or grapes all should be okay to drink.

One more thing: you'll need to make sure any mixers you use for your drinks are gluten-free ... some aren't.

For a condensed version of this gluten-free food list you can print out and bring to the supermarket, click here: Printable Gluten-Free Food List

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