Find out if grits are gluten-free, what they’re made of, and what you need to know about cross contamination when it comes to grits.
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If you love grits, you might be wondering if this grain is safe for your gluten-free diet. This dish is popular in the South and is enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It has an almost porridge-like texture that is most often flavored with heavy cream or milk and butter.
In this post, find out what grits are made of, if they are gluten-free, what you need to know about gluten and grits, and some brands of gluten-free grits to look for at the store.
What are grits?
Grits are made of coarse cornmeal that are prepared with water, milk, and butter to make a popular Southern side dish. Cheese or gravy can also be added to them to add extra flavor. They are often served with shrimp for a full meal.
Grits and polenta are similar as they both come from coarse cornmeal, but they use different colored corn. Polenta is more yellow, as grits are more white in color and uses white corn (hominy).
Polenta is more coarse in texture than grits, and grits are generally more smooth and fine as the cornmeal is milled more than polenta.
Read on: Is cornmeal gluten-free?
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Is corn gluten-free?
While many whole grains contain gluten, corn does not. In its natural form straight from the cob, it is always gluten-free.
There are some cases where you’ll want to be careful, however. While corn itself is naturally gluten-free, corn that comes in a sauce or is mixed into a processed food product, like canned soup, may contain gluten.
Read on: Is corn gluten-free?
Are grits gluten-free?
Grits, or coarse cornmeal, are considered gluten-free. However, you’ll want to look for that gluten-free label to ensure no cross contamination has taken place during harvesting or processing.
It’s important to keep in mind that while grits contain no gluten, other ingredients that are added to a recipe will also need to be gluten-free in order to keep it that way.
For example, if you enjoy grits with gravy, be sure there is no flour in the gravy as this contains gluten. Make your own gluten-free gravy at home to go with your grits.
Read on: Is Cream of Wheat gluten-free?
Grits and gluten
The big take-away with grits and gluten is that while they are naturally gluten-free, you’ll want to be aware that it is susceptible to cross contamination with gluten.
Oftentimes, corn and other gluten-free grains are processed on the same machinery and in the same facilities as other gluten-containing grains, making the possibility of cross contamination high.
If you are sensitive to even tiny amounts of gluten, you’ll want to avoid buying grits from bulk bins at the grocery store. Choose only grits that come in a package that has been processed on a dedicated gluten-free line.
Gluten-free Grits Brands
Grits are naturally gluten-free, however since many grains are produced on shared equipment, the possibility of cross contamination can be high in many facilities. These are the brands that make sure their grits are gluten-free and contain no more than 20ppm in their products.
You can look for a gluten-free label on packaging or a note on the back of the package that says “processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility.”
Arrowhead Mills offers organic yellow corn grits that have a gluten-free label, so you know they’re safe for your gluten-free diet.
Bob’s Red Mill offers gluten-free corn grits. Choose from one one of these options for your gluten-free diet, as they have a gluten-free label and are processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility.
This brand has other grits options available, but they are processed on machinery that also processes gluten-containing grains.
All of Carolina Grits Company products are certified gluten-free. They carry organic blue grits, organic white grits, organic yellow grits, roasted stone ground grits, sea island grits, sprouted Carolina grits, traditional stone ground white grits, and traditional stone ground yellow grits.
This brand offers white stone ground grits and their packaging has a gluten-free label, meaning there is less than 20ppm of gluten in their product.
This brand offers stone ground grits, old fashioned stone ground yellow grits, and old fashioned stone ground mixed grits. These options are all gluten-free certified products and are tested and cleared of any cross contamination, according to their website.
How to make grits gluten-free
If you’re wondering how to make grits gluten-free, you’ll want to keep in mind a few tips. Especially if you are Celiac and have an actual allergy to gluten, you’ll want to keep the following ideas top of mind as you’re cooking:
Choose grits that have a gluten-free label
Be sure to look for a gluten-free or certified gluten-free label on the grits that you buy. This will ensure there is no more than 20ppm of gluten in the product. Certified gluten-free products will ensure that a third party has tested less than 20ppm in gluten present.
Make sure all other ingredients you add are also gluten-free
If you are making your grits with ingredients other than water, be sure those ingredients are also gluten-free. For example, chicken broth and stock sometimes contain gluten, so do your research and review ingredient lists for any hidden names of gluten before buying and using.
The same is true for any other ingredients you like to mix into your grits, like cheese or seasonings.
Read on: Is cheese gluten-free?
Read on: Gluten-free chicken broth
Cook in a gluten-free safe environment
If you are Celiac and need to make sure there’s no cross contamination of gluten in your kitchen, be sure that you’re using dedicated tools and pots to make your gluten-free grits.
If you love grits and can’t wait to get back to enjoying them on your gluten-free diet, I hope this post has helped clear up any questions you may have had about them. Look for a gluten-free label and choose a trusted gluten-free brand before buying.