Find out if oats are safe for a gluten-free diet, what types of oat products are gluten-free, and what brands to buy.
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If you love oats, oatmeal, or have been seeing the trend of oat milk as a dairy-free milk option popping up lately, you know that this ingredient is extremely versatile.
While oats were long thought of as just a boring breakfast food, they’ve been reincarnated multiple times over in the past few years with new products like oat flour and oat milk getting their moment in the limelight.
Oats are a popular whole grain, arguably one of the most well known aside from wheat, and they can be used in so many different ways.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at oats and how they fit into a gluten-free diet. If you’re gluten-free like me, you know that looking at every ingredient with a careful eye is important so you don’t get sick from just one bite of a food.
Find out in this post what oats are, what the different types of oats you can buy are, what oats are used for, and answer the question “are oats gluten-free?”
We’ll also go over some brands of gluten-free oats and oat products, as well as answer some questions about specific oat products, like oat milk, oat flour, and different types of oats.
What are oats?
Oats are a cereal grain that are grown to use as food for both humans and animals.
Oats are processed into a few different types of food products that are common for people to eat as breakfast, baked into baked goods, or more recently even turned into a beverage.
Are oats wheat?
No, while both oats and wheat are considered relatives within the grass family, they aren’t one in the same. Oats have different proteins than wheat, therefore aren’t considered to be a wheat grain.
What are the different types of oats?
You can find oats in a variety of different forms, including: steel cut oats, old fashioned rolled oats, quick cooking oats, instant oats, and oat bran.
These can be used to make muesli, granola, oat bread, oatmeal, and porridge.
More recently, you can find even some of these types of oats processed further into oat flour for baking and oat milk for stirring into your coffee or other dairy-free milk uses.
What are oats used for?
Oats are used for a variety of different purposes. The most common uses for oats are for breakfast foods, like oatmeal, steel cut oatmeal, and porridge.
Oats can be used in granola and muesli, as well as ground into flour to make bread or other baked goods.
More recently, oats have become a popular choice for turning into a dairy-free milk option. You can make your own oat milk or find a variety of different oat milks at grocery stores.
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.
You can find gluten in whole grains, but also in many processed foods as well. Many processed foods have hidden gluten in them in the form of gluten or wheat derivatives.
These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Read on: Which whole grains are gluten-free?
Are oats gluten-free?
Oats are naturally gluten-free, and on their own and processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility, they are safe for a gluten-free diet.
The main reason oats aren’t always considered gluten-free is because they can become contaminated with gluten in a shared facility with gluten-containing grains.
They may also come into contact during the harvesting process if oat and wheat fields share physical proximity and are harvested at the same time.
Processing wheat, barley, or rye on the same equipment can result in cross contamination of gluten in oats.
Another potential place for cross contamination is bulk bins. If you buy oats from a grocery store that uses scoops, these scoops don’t always stay in their intended bins. Someone may accidentally move a scoop from a gluten-free bin and put it in a bin with wheat, barley, or other gluten-containing grain, and contaminate the whole bin of oats.
While oats are naturally gluten-free, you’ll want to be aware of these specific ways that they can come into contact with gluten.
Read on: Are whole grain oats gluten-free?
Can celiacs eat oats?
Oats are generally considered to be gluten-free if they are processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility and the packaging they come in has a gluten-free label.
Most people who follow a gluten-free diet due to gluten intolerance have no issue with gluten-free oats, however many celiacs still avoid oats.
Oats contain avenin, a protein similar to gluten, and therefore celiacs may choose to avoid this ingredient entirely for the sake of keeping any potential reactions to these two proteins at a minimum.
Are steel cut oats gluten-free?
Steel cut oats are naturally gluten-free and a great option for a gluten-free breakfast, as long as they are certified gluten-free as indicated on the label.
Steel cut oats are the closest to nature as most humans enjoy them. These take longer to cook than other types of oats, but are great for keeping you full longer and keeping your blood sugar levels even as they take time to break down in the body.
Do rolled oats have gluten?
Old fashioned oats by nature are gluten-free, but to ensure that you’re actually eating gluten-free oats, you need to look for a package with the gluten-free label.
Oats have a very high likelihood of cross contamination from other wheat grains, making them not gluten-free at all.
Rolled oats are steel cut oats that have been flattened, making them quicker to cook. Rolled oats, or old fashioned rolled oats, are great in oatmeal, but can also be used in baked goods, in place of crackers or breadcrumbs in meatloaf or meatballs (see my recipes farther down the post).
Read on: Are rolled oats gluten-free?
Brands of gluten-free oats
There are a number of different brands that carry gluten-free oats with gluten-free labels on the packaging. WIth that gluten-free label, you can feel confident of two things:
- The manufacturer tests their products regularly for gluten
- The products come back from testing with less than 20ppm of gluten in their product
Looking for any verbiage on packaging of oats or oatmeal will help you shortcut your purchasing decisions and help you make the right choice for your gluten-free diet. Here are just a few to look out for next time you’re at the grocery store, health food store, or shopping online for oats.
Bakery on Main
Bob’s Red Mill
- Organic Gluten-free Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
- Gluten-free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- Organic Gluten-free Extra Thick Rolled Oats
- Organic Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats
- Gluten-free Oat Bran
One Degree Organic Foods
- Gluten-free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- Gluten-free Quick 1-Minute Oats
- Gluten-free Instant Oatmeal
- Gluten-free Instant Oatmeal – Maple & Brown Sugar
Are Quaker Oats gluten-free?
Regular Quaker oats are not considered gluten-free, according to their website.
According to their Quaker Does Gluten-free document on their website, their statement is that you’ll want to purchase specific gluten-free Quaker Oats products to ensure what you’re eating is gluten-free.
“While oats are naturally gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley at the farm, in storage or during transportation. As the world’s leader in oat milling for 140 years, our team of experts developed a breakthrough cleaning system to remove these stray grains so that we can deliver gluten free oatmeal consumers can trust.”
You can see details on this cleaning system and how they meet the FDA’s standards for being gluten-free in the document.
Knowing that regular Quaker oats products aren’t gluten-free, it’s important to note that you now can buy gluten-free oats and oatmeal products through the brand. These products meet the FDA’s requirements for being labeled gluten-free, having less than 20ppm of gluten in their products.
Read on: Are Quaker Oats gluten-free?
Is oatmeal gluten-free?
Oatmeal is naturally gluten-free, but that doesn’t mean that all oatmeal brands are gluten-free. Oats may come into contact with gluten-containing grains in the field, during transporting or processing.
Because of that, it’s best to look for a gluten-free label on the oats and oatmeal products you buy to ensure that cross contamination has not taken place.
Read on for brands and specifics: Is oatmeal gluten-free?
Is oat flour gluten-free?
Oat flour may or may not be gluten-free, depending on the oats that are used to create the flour.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, you will want to be sure that any oat flour you purchase has a gluten-free label, otherwise anticipate there is a risk of gluten cross contamination within that product.
Read on for specific brands and learn how to make your own: Is oat flour gluten-free?
Is oat milk gluten-free?
Not all oat milk is gluten-free. That’s because not all oats are considered gluten-free. In order to have gluten-free oat milk, you’ll need to look for a gluten-free label on the packaging of the oat milk.
Without a gluten-free label or certified gluten-free label, you’re likely to run into the possibility of cross-contamination with gluten containing ingredients in your oat milk.
Read on: Is oat milk gluten-free?
Read on: Is oat milk dairy-free?
Gluten-free recipes with oats
You can use oats to make so many different recipes. Here are just a few of my own recipes that I’ve used gluten-free oats to make some delicious baked goods and treats.
- Gluten-free Oatmeal Cookies
- Gluten-free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Gluten-free Granola
- Almond Banana Overnight Oats
- Gluten-free Pie Crust
- Gluten-free Meatballs
- Gluten-free Meatloaf
- Gluten-free Berry Crisp
If you’ve been wondering how oats fit into your gluten-free diet, I hope this post has helped you get the answers you’ve been looking for.
While oats are naturally gluten-free, many are cross contaminated with gluten during harvesting and manufacturing. Look for oats and oat products with a gluten-free label to help you stay on track with your gluten-free diet.