Whenever eating out at a restaurant on a gluten free diet, there are so many hazards and pesky little nuances that occur. Your server has no idea what “gluten free” means, the kitchen is a cross contamination nightmare, or worse the restaurant you’re at has 1 gluten free option on their menu – water without ice. Then to top it off there are a few foods that you absolutely know that you have to avoid when eating out, despite how much you used to love devouring them.
But sometimes, this devilish gluten can be found in foods and drinks that may surprise you.
You see, gluten isn’t just found in bread and other things that you’d expect to contain wheat or barley. Gluten is a tricky little pest that can be found in places that you’d absolutely least expect.
To help keep you from getting “glutened” (if you’re allergic or Celiac) or to just keep that stealthy little protein out of your body if you’re on a gluten free or wheat free diet, I created a brief yet very informative guide to help alert you which foods contain gluten or not.
So with that being said, here are the most popular foods that have gluten in them that you’ll find in most restaurants these days, no matter the cuisine or restaurant type.
This list includes typical food/drink items that typically have gluten in them, not special gluten free versions, just to be clear. Here we go!
13 Poluar Foods that Have Gluten
Remember to watch out for these foods the next time you eat out!
Yes, shocker right? (sarcasm). The first thing you probably learn when you went gluten free is that you absolutely need to avoid bread.
From a restaurant standpoint, most sandwich breads, paninis, flour tortillas, wraps, submarine rolls, dinner rolls, and hamburger/hot dog buns all contain gluten.
So expect to eat your sandwich protein style, wrapped in lettuce. Thankfully, so restaurants do offer gluten free bread and sandwich options.
Most beer contain gluten unless you you drinking a specialty brew like grapefruit beer (at EPCOT) or butterbeer. But other than that be sure to always avoid beer (sorry, no Bud Light) unless you opt for a gluten free beer such as Red Bridge or Bards, just to name a few. Unfortunately, it’s not always common to find these beers at mainstream restaurants. But always ask because you might be in for a nice little surprise if they do.
3. Salad (Croutons and Dressings)
You probably think I’m nuts for including salad in this list, right? But let me be clear, plain salads with just raw vegetables and no dressing are OKAY. The tricky, glutenous part occurs when you start adding croutons and the salad dressing. Since 99.9% of all croutons contain gluten, you will always need to order your salad without croutons. Now in terms of dressing, some of them contain gluten, even the ones you’d least expect. A word of advice, watch out for any cream based dressings only because they can be very inconsistent. For example, some ranch dressings are gluten free, other’s are not, depending on the restaurants. So if you’re allergic to gluten, I recommend that you stick with a vinaigrette because they are almost always gluten free.
When eating out, be sure to ask if you’re salad can be made in a separate new bowl if possible to avoid any risk of cross contamination. Also be sure to avoid bleu cheese dressing whenever you can. Some restaurants claims theres to be gluten free, while others do not. So basically it’s always a 50/50 shot.
Most chips usually contain gluten unless it’s corn tortilla chips. So if you’re ever at a Mexican restaurant that offers chips and salsa, there’s a very good chance that you can enjoy them. But always double check with your server, or even better, this guide, first.
5. Baked Goods
Yes, it’s so sad to have to include these precious little sweets in this list, but sometimes hard things must be done. Anyways, pastries, cakes, cookies, brownies, cannoli’s, you name it, all contain gluten in them. However, if you’re ever at a restaurant that offers a flourless cake or brownie, like the one that can be found at Bonefish Grill, you’re in the clear so dig in!
Whenever you order a soup (like clam chowder or lobster bisque) at a restaurant, your bowl will usually come with a pack of glutenous crackers. So to avoid this from happening, be sure to request your soup without crackers (or croutons if eating French Onion soup). But don’t worry, you can always BYOC (Bring Your Own Crackers).
Twizzlers, Red Vines, and other delicious licorice treats all contain wheat aka gluten. Gummy bears and most gummy candies are safe though! Always check the ingredient just to be 200% sure.
And although you normally won’t find licorice at a restaurant, you will however find them at frozen yogurt bars.
Another common food that’s first to be crossed off your list once you go gluten free is pasta. Most wheat based pastas contain gluten, however, there is a pretty good alternative that’s found it’s home at many gluten free Italian restaurants and even some noodle shops – rice noodles.
Pizza is possibly the second most popular food (behind bread) that people just can’t give up when they go gluten free. Because I mean seriously, what better way to pig out than ordering a large meat lovers pizza from Pizza Hut? (no gluten free menu…sorry for getting any of your hopes up)
Pizza from many of the big/popular pizza joints including Pizza Hut and Papa Johns contain gluten. And even when some places like Dominos offers a gluten free pizza, it’s not recommended for Celiacs or anyone with a gluten or wheat allergy. However, if you’re on a non-medical gluten free/wheat free diet, eat up!
But all hope is not all lost for my allergenic friends! Some smaller and not-so small pizza chains offer a gluten free pizza on their menu as well as dedicated kitchen spaces and equipment for these pizzas.
Don’t get suckered into a crab stuffed soft pretzel or pretzel bites. Pretzels contain gluten (hard or soft).
11. Hamburger Meat
This can be pretty tricky. You see, some restaurants like to add bread crumbs to their hamburger patties, thus automatically making them non-gluten friendly. So be sure to ask your server about this before you order. Thankfully, many chained burger joints don’t add bread crumbs.
Don’t let the name fool you. You’d typically expect meatballs to be what their name says – meat rolled into balls – but it’s false. Most meatballs contain wheat. So always stay clear, or at least ask your server first before you make that decision to commit.
13. Soy Sauce
Is your mind blown yet? Yes, soy sauce contains gluten. I know, it sounds crazy but it’s true. So be sure to watch out the next time you go out to eat at any Asian restaurant because chances are there’s soy sauce in your meal, especially fried rice. But thankfully, some Asian restaurant offer gluten free soy sauce and other sauces to help keep your meal as gluten free and authentic as possible.
But There’s Still Hope
I hope you’re not too sad just yet about this depressing list. Thankfully, there are delicious gluten free alternatives to almost all these foods mentioned above. Unfortunately, a majority of these won’t be found at a restaurant.
But hey, as more people become gluten free (whether by choice or medically) it’ll only increase a restaurants willingness to implement more gluten free and wheat free foods into their menus
So I still have faith in humanity!
Before I let you go I have a quick question for you.
Are there any other popular foods that contain gluten that you know of?
Let us know in the comment section below.
Some frozen French fries are coated with it. The majority of cereals have it in it, many microwave popcorn brands and a lot of canned sauces (like enchilada sauce) often does too. Live & learn!
I stick with ore Ida brand French fries they are gluten free.
Thanks for the info I didn’t know that I thought it was all French fries.
I always ask my server if the fries are gluten free. If they don’t know, I avoid them. For celiac’s and really gluten sensitive folks, make sure that they also have a separate fryer or they will be cross contaminated.
Most servers don’t have a clue. The high end restaurants do.
In’n’Out burgers has gluten free fries. Nothing goes in their fryers but fires!
And always check labels on frozen potato products. So many have gluten
coatings or mixed into things like hash browns.
Angie Schafer Kriston
There are some amazing gluten free pretzels out there. I think they are even better than the originals. A users has just come out with an entire gluten free line
Wal mart has just came out with great value brand gluten free pretzels. They are 2.58 compared to 5.98.
With regard to #4, I’m a total chip addict and I never have a problem finding chips I can eat at stores. Most store-bought potato/corn chips are GF and usually have only a few ingredients anyway, so it’s easy to check. And I’d argue that most restaurants do not make their own chips. If they do, it’s usually either fancy gourmet chips at a fancy restaurant that would (ideally) know how they’re made, or (like you mentioned) corn tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant. I’ve definitely learned to be really careful because homemade chips are sometimes made with flour/dusted with flour/deep fried. And the waitstaff doesn’t know or understand. That’s when I end up sick. Corn tortilla chips are no exception, though.
Lays plain chips are gluten free. Not all plain chips are but these are. I stick with them and corn chips.
If you like Grippos, they are gluten free. And many mike sells puffcorn products are okay as well. I work where these are sold, so I look at ingredients to make sure
I’m not eating anything that would make me sick.
Thanks I will check on these chips. I always welcome something new.
Lindt chocolate has it. 🙁
Has what? Gluten free?
Certain glues used on envelopes contain wheat…
My understanding is that envelopes in the US no longer use a wheat containing glue. This came from my local support group via Columbia University Celiac Center.
Now that’s depressing!!! Not only can’t you eat everything you’ve always eater, but now you can’t even mail a letter.
Yeppers! We have to stay on top of stuff for sure!!! We cN help one another though!
pre-shredded cheese is dusted in flour to keep it from sticking. Best to stick with block cheese and grate it yourself
Many jello, puddings have wheat in them. Wheat does NOT belong in Jello!!! Ice cream too! Problem is, the big stores with their brand name on the products use wheat as a filler to save money!
I also learned milky way candy bar does have gluten but the dark chocolate does not. Either way I stayed away from those and nestle crunch bar also has gluten. 3 musketeers and snickers and m&m are all okay
Any soup that is creamy usually has glute, as does french onion soup…toasted bread undr the cheese.
every can of Campbell soup I checked in my cupboard contains wheat flour
Also check your vitamins for gluten. Skin lotions, hair shampoos may also contain gluten. Gotta read labels and know the various names for gluten.
Eggs/omlets at restaurants can have batter in them, gluten by extension. IHOP is big on this. Gotta ask for them to omit it.
Camp Gluten Freedom (@GFAFCamp)
In regards to shredded cheese I wanted to make sure everyone understands that there are many shredded cheeses out there that are perfectly fine (without) gluten: Anti-clumping agents used by cheese manufacturers include powdered cellulose, calcium carbonate and potato starch. Of these, only powdered cellulose can be made from a gluten grain (wheat, usually), but in that case, the manufacturer should call out the wheat on the product’s label.
In the U.S., both Kraft and Sargento — two popular manufacturers of shredded cheese — consider their shredded cheeses to be gluten-free to the generally accepted 20 parts per million standard. Sargento adds that the powdered cellulose it uses in its shredded cheese is not derived from any gluten grain.
Still, any additional production steps add to the risk of cross-contamination in the factory. Therefore, if you tend to react to very low levels of gluten, you may want to consider buying large pieces of cheese and shredding them yourself in a food processor or by hand.
I hadn’t been able to find gluten free/dairy free meatballs for my grandson so I just take my meat and add his bread that had been soaked in milk, milk he can have. Then he can have meatballs like the rest of us!
Famous Dave’s BBQ sauce has barley malt flour (gluten) in it.
Famous Dave has only one thing on menu that is safe, the sweet corn on the cob
Cashews! Got glutened by them! Processed on machines that process wheat! Nuts.com has GF!
Beef and chicken stock contains gluten most of the time. Also beef jerky, oatmeal and boxed potatoes. Idahoan has new gluten free mashed, scalloped and au gratin potatoes.
Perky Jerky has several flavors of beef and turkey jerky that are gluten free.
True most oatmeal does contain gluten, but if you can find a certified GF pure oatmeal you should be fine. The below article lists out brands that are sage 🙂
For the meatballs, many Paleo recipes have substitutes like shredded zucchini to help them stick together without adding gluten** Pringles chips have gluten! I went to my first sushi restaurant since being diagnosed and when we told the waiter my celiac status the owner/chef came out, asked what I liked, made my sushi rolls with all ‘safe’ ingredients and had special soy sauce & dressings that were gluten free! Disney World also sends the chef to your table to take your order, makes the food themselves and delivers to confirm it did not have any of the allergens you are avoiding!
Please be careful with soups, yes what a heartbreak. Most places will use bouillon and that contains wheat, even canned broth. I have found that most restaurants do not have gf soup.
W are the various names for gluten?
There should be a law about what the “Fred Meyer, Wal Mart, Safeway, Albertson etc” brands that use wheat as a filler!!! Here are some things that should NOT have wheat in them, but do, but only on the “store brand” stuff:
…and why do they put wheat in most gravies, soups???
There are others, but this is an example and really makes me upset as wheat does NOT belong in those types of food.
Do you have Progresso soups available? They make several varieties of gluten-free
soups, which are labeled as such. I love their lentil soup. Slice in some gluten-free sausage and you have a meal.
Also, Stagg’s brand chili has several gluten-free varieties. Just check the label.
gluten is in a lot of soups, gravies, even margarine because it is used as a stabilizing agent and it helps food keep the creamy texture. That’s why you find it in a lot of random foods
Watch out for corn chips in Mexican restaurants!
They usually serve their own homemade ones, fried in the
same oil as the flour-based tostitos, flautas himichangas,
and other deep fried wheat containing items.
I try to remember to bring my own chips if I know I’m
going for Mexican food, as I love salsas.
If you want a French or Italian bread fix, see if you can find Schar’s bread. They make
Baguettes packed two per package in individual sealed bags. When opened, they give off a
wonderful yeasty aroma. Each baguette will make about four servings.
They also make a deli style bread which is great for a corned beef or pastrami sandwich.
Their bread is expensive, but for an occasional treat, it’s less than going to a deli–as if we
I was at Longhorn steak house explained I needed GF. So with the server standing beside me to help me. I decided on prime rib with gf sides. He then told me that the au jus was not gf. Kind of surprised me before I read about all of the broths and bullion. Thanks all.
Soups are made with flour for a thickening agent . Some use corn starch but,not many !Be aware of malts at fast food places . They are out but,shakes are in !
Most restaurants do have gluten free options of which I am grateful. I was really down when I realized that some foods I loved like pizza and pasta might have to go off my list of foods to eat. Minsky’s here in Kansas City has gluten free dough and meats and cheese on their menu so I can eat that. Plus Hy-Vee has a great organic section with lots of gluten free options. I love the Free Circle brand frozen meals to take for lunch.
Pizza Hut and Dominoes both have gluten free pizzas in small only. But they dont guarantee cross contamination. Also its good they only come in small because i find the crust nasty the next day!
I wish this guide did more to discuss cross contamination concerns for restaurant fryers and such. A good gluten free guide would advise not to eat corn chips if you don’t know where they are made, what they are fried with, and for certain they are from a 100% corn tortilla. There are brands of corn tortilla that contain a wheat blend. Additionally, I have found Mexican rice to be cooked in chicken stock that contains wheat. Not all are that way, but some homemade stocks are contain wheat, and a few commercial stocks do. Ask questions, this guide is too oversimplified.
Really interesting to learn about some foods that have gluten in it. That being said, I think it’s great that there’s still an option to get a gluten free pizza. Plus, it could be fun to see what options they have for that specifically. Could be a chance to try something new and interesting.