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Common Foods that Contain Gluten

Updated: Feb 2

Now that you are following a gluten free lifestyle, you may realize that you can find gluten in some of the least expected places. Below are just 22 examples of places you will find gluten. *Any brands mentioned are confirmed gluten free at the time of this article. Brands can and do change protocols and ingredients, so always double-check.

Meatballs (and Meatloaf)

Many meatball/meatloaf manufacturers and restaurants use breadcrumbs in their recipes. Breadcrumbs are a great binding agent, unfortunately, most are wheat based. There are a few companies that offer gluten free meatballs and you can always make your own using a binding agent, like gluten free breadcrumbs, eggs, gluten free oats, or ground nuts.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is made by combining soy and crushed wheat and allowing the two to ferment in a salty, brine containing mold cultures. Therefore, most soy sauces contain gluten from the wheat. There are brands on the market that are gluten free, like Kikkoman and San-J.


Possibly the most surprising on this list. Wheat is used in this childhood favorite candy as a binding agent. There are companies like Yum Earth that offer gluten free versions of this delicious treat!

Instant Coffee

For those that need a fresh cup of coffee to start their day, they may not realize that instant coffee uses gluten as a bulking agent. It is best to do research when it comes to any instant drink, not just coffee.

Pie Fillings

Many canned pie fillings contain gluten as a thickener. It may be best to consider making your own pie filling.

Canned and Flavored Chips

Chips are made from potatoes, which are naturally gluten free. Unfortunately, many flavored chips and canned chips contain gluten. It is best to learn which companies offer gluten free chips, like Kettle brand offers certified gluten free chips or Frito-Lay which has a gluten free logo on their gluten free chips (they are not certified gluten free).

Cereals and Granola

Rice cereal is a prime example of a cereal that is not safe, as it has flavoring made from barley. This is not just rice cereals either. Granola that includes oats may contain gluten due to cross-contact in the growing, transport, and storage processes.

Chewing Gums

Most wouldn't think twice about gum, but there are gum manufacturers that use wheat flour to coat the pieces of gum. The wheat flour helps to keep the gum from sticking together. There are several chewing gums that are certified gluten free. When choosing a chewing gum that is not certified gluten free, check with the manufacturer first.

Canned Soups

Canned soups are convenient, unfortunately, many of them use wheat as a thickener. The alternative is making your own soups at home. Making homemade soup allows one to use a gluten free thickener like potato starch, corn starch, agar agar, or a gluten free flour. Homemade soups taste so much better and can be made ahead and stored in the freezer. If you prefer the convenience of canned soup look for one that has a gluten free certification. There are some soups labeled gluten free without a certification, some of these soups do in fact contain higher than the 20 ppm when tested by 3rd party labs.


While oats are naturally gluten free they are at high risk for cross-contact. Oats can be at risk due to the fields they are grown in, the transportation used, and even the storage units they are kept in. When choosing oats it is not only important to choose brands that are certified gluten free, but also those that are purity protocol oats.

Seasonings and Spices

Single ingredient spices are generally gluten free but are a risk for cross-contact during the manufacturing and packaging process. Seasonings and spice blends often contain a carrier agent that can be sugar, starches, or flours. To be certain a spice or seasoning is safe, it is best to stick with the brands that are certified gluten free. One brand that offers gluten free spices and spice blends is Spicely.


Flour is often used as a thickener for gravies. This includes both packaged powdered gravy mixes and already prepared gravies. There are some brands that offer gluten free gravies, it is also easy to make your own using a naturally gluten free flour in your pantry.

Hot Dogs

It is pretty obvious that hot dog buns contain gluten, but hot dogs themselves often contain gluten as well. This includes sausages, so be sure to check labels. Several hot dog manufacturers are now offering gluten free products to their consumers, be sure to read the labels to verify the product purchased is gluten free.

French Fries

French fries are naturally gluten free, however, those that come from a restaurant may contain gluten. Many restaurants use wheat in their seasoning mix to make the French fries crispy. Always call ahead and speak with a restaurant manager to verify not only that their french fries are free from gluten, but also that they are prepared in a gluten free fryer.

Stock/Bullion Cubes

This convenient product often contains gluten, some companies offer gluten free stock cubes but they are at high risk for cross-contact. Always check with the manufacturer about their products and safety protocols. Better yet, make your own homemade stock.

Veggie Burgers

A great alternative for those that are avoiding animal products. Unfortunately, companies may use gluten as a binding agent or to help the product have a meat-like texture. Look for certified gluten free products or contact the manufacturer to learn more about their ingredients and safety protocols.

Salad Dressings

There are so many dressings and marinades available, it is very important to learn which brands offer gluten free products. Dressings and marinades often use gluten ingredients as a thickener. Stick with brands you have verified or try making your own. Here is a recipe for homemade French dressing, click HERE.

Chocolate and Candies

Pure chocolate is naturally gluten free. Where you will find gluten is in the candy bar varieties that use wheat like Kit Kat. Gluten is often used to provide texture or as a binding agent. Be sure to label read all candies, sometimes a different size of the same candy bar can contain gluten. Often holiday candies are at high risk for cross-contact due to them being produced by a 3rd party because of the demand for the high quantities produced.


Sometimes it is easy to forget that drinks may contain gluten. Alcohol, especially beer, often contains gluten in the form of barley and sometimes wheat. Other forms of alcohol are less likely to contain gluten. It is important to know your alcohols, the manufacturers, and their practices and protocols.

Omelets prepared at Restaurants

Omelets we make at home do not have gluten, but visit your favorite restaurant and you may be surprised to learn they use pancake batter in their omelets. This gives the eggs a fluffier texture. It is best to call ahead and ask the restaurant manager of their safety practices and protocols in place for those needing gluten free dishes prepared.


Fermented vinegars made from gluten-containing grains need to be avoided. Malt vinegar is made from barley. Chinese black vinegar often uses wheat.

Cooking Sprays

While most cooking sprays are gluten free some brands contain wheat flour. Know your brands, it's best to verify with the manufacturer.

Always double-check with the manufacturer on a product's ingredients and the company's policies and practices set in place for products that are gluten free. Due to the fact that companies can change ingredients and practices at any time, other than brands that are always gluten free, brands are not mentioned in this article.

Consult with our expert nutritionist to get on the path to better health. Fill out a brief health questionnaire and we'll schedule a personalized consultation to address your wellness goals.


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