If you’re newly gluten free or are trying to figure it out for a friend or family member, you might be surprised by some of these ten foods that contain gluten. I know that a few of the items on this list really surprised me when I first went gluten free. But thankfully, while most of these foods can contain gluten, you can also usually find gluten-free versions.
It’s easy to catch the big things like bread, cookies, and pasta that are made from wheat flour while missing other less obvious sources of gluten. And remember that just because you only use a small amount of something in a recipe doesn’t mean that you don’t need to worry about it.
The important thing to remember with each of these foods is to read product labels to determine if a food contains gluten.
10 Foods That Often Contain Gluten
1. Soy Sauce
I list this one first because it’s very commonly used, and it often surprises people. I know it surprised me, but many brands of soy sauce contain wheat. Also, be on the lookout for other sauces that include soy sauce as part of the ingredients such as teriyaki and marinades. But don’t despair, there are gluten-free options available such as San J gluten-free organic tamari or Braggs liquid aminos.
It’s easy to assume that chips, which are usually made from potatoes or corn are gluten free. Most of them are, but not all. Some flavored chips (particularly barbecue flavored) and all Pringles contain gluten. And there are various other chips like Sun Chips and multi-grain tortilla chips that are not gluten free.
3. Rotisserie Chicken
It’s just chicken, right? Wrong. I think all rotisserie chickens have some spices/flavoring added to them. Some are gluten free and some are not. Look for brands that say they are gluten free and read the ingredients (sometimes listed on the bottom of the rotisserie chicken package, making it difficult to read).
4. Meat Substitutes
Imitation seafood, which can be used in sushi, often contains gluten and the same is true with vegetarian meat substitutes such as vegetarian burgers
5. Seasoning Mixes
Individual herbs and spices are gluten free, but when you get into seasoning mixes, especially the kind in packets (such as chili seasoning), you need to be careful. Many of them contain gluten.
6. Canned (or Boxed) Soup
Some soup obviously contains gluten, such as chicken noodle soup, but other soups might surprise you such as tomato soup and cream of chicken soup. Never assume a soup is gluten free.
A lot of candy is gluten free but a lot is not. One that often surprises people is Twizzlers which contain wheat. Wheat can be found in other candy as well (like caramel creams), and don’t forget about barley malt which shows up in things like malt balls. You also need to be careful about cross-contamination from shared equipment, especially with chocolates.
8. Ice Cream
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to find gluten-free ice cream, but you do have to be careful. Most commonly, gluten is found when the ice cream contains added ingredients such as cookies or cookie dough. But it’s not unheard of for flour to be used as a thickener, so always check ingredients or ask at an ice cream shop.
When you’re at an ice cream shop you also have to ask about possible cross contact if they are using the same scoop for gluten-containing and gluten-free flavors. And remember that cones are not gluten free.
9. Rice Cereal
It’s easy to assume that rice products are gluten free. While many rice cereals do not contain wheat, they do often contain malt flavoring which is made from barley and contains gluten. There is also a high risk of cross contamination with many brands.
If you’ve heard that gluten comes from wheat, rye, and barley, you might assume that oatmeal is gluten free. It would be if it weren’t contaminated (often highly contaminated) with gluten from growing, harvesting, and transporting of the oats. And that means that products which contain oats, such as granola and granola bars are not gluten free unless it is specified that they are.
This list of foods that contain gluten is not exhaustive. Gluten can pop up where you least expect it sometimes, so it’s important to be diligent and read product labels to determine if a food contains gluten. But don’t get discouraged, there are many, many foods that are gluten free, including gluten-free versions of most of the items listed above.
What gluten-containing food most surprised you when you went gluten free?