If you’re following a gluten-free diet, you may be wondering if rice is gluten-free and safe to eat. In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of rice and whether or not you should add them to your regular rotation on a gluten-free diet.
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When you follow a gluten-free diet, it’s important to know which foods contain gluten and which do not, in order to avoid those that won’t make you feel your best.
Rice is a very common whole grain used in many dishes, so having this knowledge can open up your diet to many possibilities and dishes that you otherwise might not be able to enjoy.
Find out in this post what rice is, if it’s gluten-free, and what you need to know about cross contact with gluten when it comes to rice. We’ll also talk about different types of rice and how they fit into a gluten-free diet.
What is rice?
Rice is a type of grain from the grass family. It comes in many different varieties, both in the way they are grown and in how it’s sold.
You may be familiar with some of these different types of rice, like brown rice, wild rice, jasmine rice, arborio rice, or basmati rice.
Rice is used in a variety of different cuisines and is considered a food staple in many countries worldwide. The top producers of rice in the world are China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
Read on: Gluten-free Chinese food
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.
Gluten can be found in obvious ways, like “wheat flour” or in smaller hidden ways, under names like “malt, “malt extract,” or “malt flavoring.”
Read on: What is gluten in food?
Is rice gluten-free?
The short answer is yes, rice is gluten-free. While most rice is gluten-free on its own, if you add additional ingredients to the rice, it may not be safe for a gluten-free diet any longer.
For example, if you add soy sauce to rice, that would not be gluten-free rice any longer. The rice is gluten-free, but if you use soy sauce containing gluten, it won’t be safe for your diet.
You’d need to use gluten-free tamari soy sauce for your gluten-free diet. The same can be said for fried rice or any other dish where adding a sauce containing gluten would make the rice not gluten-free.
Read on: Is soy sauce gluten-free?
Read on: Is tamari gluten-free?
Rice and Cross-Contact
The most important thing to know about rice is that it is often manufactured on the same lines and processing equipment as other whole grains. Grains of many different kinds are processed on the same equipment, including gluten-free grains and sometimes grains that contain gluten.
If you are sensitive to even tiny amounts of gluten, you’ll want to avoid buying rice from bulk bins at the grocery store. Choose only rice that comes in a package that has been processed on a dedicated gluten-free line.
Which types of rice are gluten free?
Rice is gluten-free when eating plain and without seasonings added to it, as long as it has not been cross contaminated with other grains that contain gluten.
Let’s go over some of the types of rice and determine if they are safe for a gluten-free diet.
Is brown rice gluten-free?
Brown rice is full of flavor, fiber, and has a great texture from the germ of the grain being intact.
Brown rice is packed with nutrition from selenium and manganese, and it’s great as a side dish or in a homemade fried rice.
Brown rice is like most other rice, and it is gluten-free.
Read on: Is brown rice gluten-free?
Is white rice gluten-free?
White rice is naturally gluten-free. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while white rice contains no gluten itself, other ingredients that are added to a recipe will also need to be gluten-free in order to keep it that way.
Read on: Is white rice gluten-free?
Is jasmine rice gluten-free?
Jasmine rice is naturally gluten-free. Of course, like other types of rice, be aware of how and where it is processed to ensure it hasn’t come into contact with gluten during manufacturing.
Read on: Is jasmine rice gluten-free?
Here are some of the types of rice that are considered gluten-free as long as they have been manufactured on gluten-free machinery and there isn’t a possibility of cross contact with gluten grains.
- Brown Rice
- White Rice
- Jasmine Rice
- Wild Rice
- Basmati Rice
- Arborio Rice
- Glutinous Rice
Which types of rice aren’t gluten free
You know that most rice is gluten-free when eaten on its own, so what types of rice aren’t safe on a gluten-free diet? Let’s go through a few of them and talk about why they aren’t gluten-free.
While the rice in sushi rice is gluten-free, the vinegar that is added to it may not be. Vinegar is often made from corn or wheat as its base. If the vinegar is based from wheat, the sushi rice will not be gluten-free.
Read on: Is sushi gluten-free?
Rice pilaf can be made to be gluten-free, but many packaged mixes you find at the grocery store contain small pasta shapes like orzo or vermicelli in the mix. Pasta is made from semolina, which is a derivative of wheat, and therefore not safe for a gluten-free diet.
Read on: Is Orzo Gluten-free?
The rice in fried rice is gluten-free, but the soy sauce used to make fried rice often contains gluten.
If you make your own fried rice at home, be sure to use gluten-free tamari soy sauce to ensure it is gluten-free. If you’re eating at a restaurant, you will want to skip the fried rice as it likely contains soy sauce with gluten.
Store-bought Rice Mixes
Most store-bought rice mixes contain hidden gluten in the seasoning packets of their products. While gluten isn’t found in the rice mixture itself usually, the flavoring will add unwanted gluten to your rice dish. It’s best to read ingredients to be sure if what you’re buying contains gluten.
Learn how to read ingredient lists.
What other grains are gluten free?
There are plenty of gluten-free grains available for anyone who is on a gluten-free diet and wishes to enjoy more than just rice. Here are some great gluten-free grains you might want to add to your diet:
- Kasha (buckwheat)
- Rolled oats
- Wild Rice
- Arborio Rice
- Jasmine Rice
For all of these gluten-free whole grains, be sure to avoid cross contamination by sticking with bagged products processed on a dedicated gluten-free line and not purchasing from bulk bins.
Are products made with rice gluten-free?
There are many products that are made with rice, and knowing that rice is naturally gluten-free, you may wonder if these products are gluten-free as well. The answer to this depends on the specific item. Let’s go over a few below:
Rice noodles are gluten-free, as long as other gluten-containing grains aren’t added to the noodles. Read the ingredients list to be sure what you’re buying is in fact gluten-free. Rice noodles are a great alternative to ramen noodles which are often made with wheat.
Read on: Are Rice Noodles Gluten-free?
Read on: Gluten-free Ramen Noodles
Rice flour is gluten-free and is a popular ingredient in many gluten-free flour blends you might find at the grocery store. It’s a great option for baking as it’s lightweight and rises well in cookies, cakes, and bread.
Read on: Is rice flour gluten-free?
Rice cakes are gluten-free, as long as other gluten-containing ingredients haven’t been added in the form of flavorings. Look for rice cakes that only contain rice in the ingredients list.
Rice vinegar is gluten-free and can be used in gluten-free cooking as long as rice is the only grain used to make the vinegar. If any other grains or ingredients are added to the vinegar, you’ll want to be sure those are gluten-free as well.
While arborio rice is naturally gluten-free, the other ingredients used in the risotto dish must also be gluten-free in order for it to be considered gluten-free.
For example, you’d need to be sure the chicken stock used is gluten-free, and that there aren’t any additional flavorings or add-ins, like sausage or meats that contain gluten. The more ingredients in a risotto dish, the more opportunity for gluten to make its into the dish.
Risotto can easily be made at home using gluten-free ingredients: plain arborio rice and gluten-free chicken stock. Any additional ingredients should also not contain gluten to be sure the dish is safe for your gluten-free diet.
Read on: Is risotto gluten-free?
Rice Krispies cereal is a few degrees away from being considered rice, but with rice in the name, it’s useful to discuss here.
Rice Krispies are not gluten-free, because they contain malt flavor which is a hidden name and source of gluten.
Read on: Are Rice Krispies gluten-free?
Read on: Is malt flavor gluten-free?
Rice Krispie Treats
Rice Krispie treats made from Kellogg’s Rice Krispies are not gluten-free as they contain malt flavoring. Malt flavoring contains gluten and should be avoided on a gluten-free diet.
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, you will want to avoid eating Rice Krispie treats brand name products.
That doesn’t mean you have to avoid these treats altogether though! You can make your own at home or find a gluten-free option from the store (yes, they do exist!).
Read on: Are Rice Krispie Treats gluten-free?
Read on: Gluten-free rice krispie treats
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, you can be confident to add plain rice of these various types to your diet with no issues. As long as the rice hasn’t been cross contaminated with other gluten-containing grains or flavorings haven’t been added to the rice, you know it will be safe for you.
Enjoy adding rice to your meals in the form of side dishes or as a base for homemade pilaf or rice skillets with meat and vegetables. With so many types of rice, the possibilities are endless for how to make this ingredient shine in your cooking.
If you loved this post, you might be interested to read more of my FAQ posts related to gluten-free foods. Check them out at the bottom of my Gluten and Dairy-free Diet Basics page.