What foods are safe?

Those who are gluten intolerant can't eat foods made from wheat, barley, or rye.  Even if you can’t eat foods that contain wheat, barley, or rye there are still a lot of foods that you can eat. 

There are many unprocessed foods that are naturally gluten-free.  The following is an abbreviated listing of unprocessed foods that are generally safe for consumption by those who are gluten intolerant.

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All vegetables are naturally gluten-free.  Eat as much as you want of unprocessed artichoke, asparagus, beets, bell pepper, Bok Choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, garlic, green beans, green peas, hot peppers, kale, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, shallots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatillo, tomato, turnips, winter squash, yams, zucchini, and other vegetables.


All fruits are naturally gluten-free.  Eat as much as you want of unprocessed apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, cantaloupe, cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, lychee, mango, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranate, rhubarb, tangerines, watermelon, and other fruits.


All berries are naturally gluten-free.  Eat your fill of unprocessed acai berries, black currants, blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, elderberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, lingonberries, mulberries, raspberries, red currants, strawberries, and other berries.


Legumes (peas, beans, and lentils) are naturally gluten-free.  Common legumes include black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini (white kidney) beans, fava beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima (butter) beans, mung beans, navy beans, peas (split peas), pinto beans, and soybeans.

Most legumes are dried prior to packaging.  You may safely enjoy dried legumes but examine the ingredients list before consuming legumes that have been canned, processed by methods other than drying, or packaged as a mixture of legumes and other grains (such as a soup mix that contains barley). 


All varieties of rice are naturally gluten-free.  Common types of rice include Arborio, basmati, brown rice, converted (parboiled), instant rice, jasmine, long grain, sticky rice, sushi rice, white rice, and wild rice.  Carefully examine the ingredients list before consuming processed rice products such as flavored rice pilafs and risotto mixes.  Some flavorings and additives may contain gluten.


All varieties of corn (maize) are naturally gluten-free.  This gift from the New World to the Old World after Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America meant that gluten intolerant people who couldn’t eat pasta could safely enjoy polenta which is porridge made from corn that can substitute for pasta

Those who are gluten intolerant can safely enjoy unflavored polenta, hominy, grits, corn on the cob, frozen corn kernels, and pop corn.  Carefully examine the ingredients list before consuming processed corn products such as flavored pop corn, flavored polenta, and frozen corn products that include other ingredients.  Some flavorings and additives may contain gluten.

Other Grains

Other less common grains that are gluten-free including millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, teff, and sorghum.


While oats and oatmeal are naturally gluten-free they are highly susceptible to cross-contamination from other gluten-containing grains.  Oats are unsafe for those who are highly sensitive to gluten unless they have been certified as gluten-free. 


All varieties of nuts are naturally gluten-free.  Enjoy unprocessed acorns, almonds, beech nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts.

When consuming processed nuts (such as mixed nuts) check the ingredients list to ensure that no gluten-containing ingredients have been added.  Occasionally manufacturers will add wheat flour as a binding agent to make flavoring adhere to the nuts.


All varieties of edible seeds are naturally gluten-free.  Enjoy unprocessed (unflavored) flax seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Cooking Oils

Many plant-based cooking oils are made from processed nuts (coconut, palm nut, peanut, walnut), seeds (canola, cottonseed, flaxseed, safflower, sesame, sunflower), legumes (soybean), vegetables (corn), and fruits (grape seed, olive).  It is not common for gluten-containing ingredients to be added to cooking oils so most cooking oils can be consumed without worry.


All varieties of mushrooms are naturally gluten-free.    Enjoy unprocessed commercially-available chanterelle, enokitake (enoki), oyster, porcini, portobello (crimini), shitake, and white (button) mushrooms.  You may also safely enjoy truffles which are a mushroom-like fungus that grows below ground.

Mushrooms are often dried so that they can be stored without refrigeration.  Before consuming dried mushrooms check the ingredients list to determine if gluten-containing ingredients have been added as anti-clumping agents or as additional flavoring.


All herbs are naturally gluten-free.    Enjoy fresh or dried basil, caraway, chervil, chives, cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme.  Check the ingredients list for mixed herbal seasonings to determine if anti-caking agents that may contain gluten have been added.


All spices are naturally gluten-free.    Commercially-prepared powdered spices that contain only the named spice are generally free of cross-contamination with gluten.  These include allspice, anise, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, juniper berry, licorice, mace, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, pepper, saffron, star anise, sumac, and turmeric.

Check the ingredients list before using commercially-prepared spice mixtures (Cajun Seasoning, Chinese Five Spice Powder, Pumpkin Pie Spice) to determine if potential gluten-containing ingredients have been added as anti-caking agents.

Dairy Products

Unflavored milk (cow, sheep, goat) is gluten-free.  Flavored milks (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry) may or may not contain gluten so check the ingredients list before consuming.

Processed milk products such as cream, half-and-half, crème fraîche, sour cream, ice cream, and yogurt may or may not contain gluten depending upon whether thickening agents that contain gluten were added.  Consult the ingredients list carefully before consuming these processed milk products.

Many unflavored (plain) yogurts are now gluten-free.  Look for the words ‘gluten-free’ or the letters ‘GF’ near the ingredients list to confirm that the yogurt is safe for consumption.

Most butter is gluten-free.  Many brands of margarine contain additives to add color and flavor.  These additives may contain gluten.  When using margarine select a brand that is labeled ‘gluten-free’.

Unprocessed eggs (in the shell) are naturally gluten-free.  Enjoy unprocessed chicken, duck, goose, quail, and other wild and domestic eggs.  Processed egg products such as pre-shelled, pre-beaten egg mixtures may or may not contain gluten as many of these products contain colorings and flavorings.  Consult the ingredients list before consuming.

Most cheeses are gluten-free.  Some processed cheeses (spreadable cheese, ‘loaf’ and ‘jar’ cheeses, processed cheese slices) may contain gluten as a thickening agent.  Other cheeses that may contain gluten are some brands of soft cheeses (cottage cheese, ricotta), all ‘beer washed’ cheeses, and some brands of blue cheese.  If you are highly sensitive to gluten avoid blue cheeses or purchase a blue cheese labeled ‘gluten-free’.

Fortunately the commonly available bulk cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Colby, and Monterey Jack rarely contain gluten.   Most hard cheeses are safe as long as they have not been grated or shredded.  Anti-clumping agents added to cheese after grating or shredding may contain gluten so check the ingredients list carefully.  When in doubt buy bulk cheese and grate or shred it yourself.


All unprocessed meats (beef, pork, lamb, buffalo, venison, wild game) are naturally gluten-free.  Unprocessed meats are those that haven’t been cured, dried, brined, marinated, breaded, or injected with a flavoring solution.  Use caution when consuming processed meats such as ham, bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage, chorizo, jerky, pepperoni, salami, and other meat products with additives.  Examine the ingredients list carefully for gluten. 


All unprocessed poultry is naturally gluten-free.    Unprocessed poultry is poultry that hasn’t been breaded, brined, marinated, or injected with a flavoring solution.  This includes unprocessed chicken, turkey, duck, goose, Cornish game hen, quail, pheasant, and other types of domesticated and wild poultry.

Use caution when consuming processed turkeys that may have been injected with a flavoring solution containing wheat starch.  Be sure to carefully inspect the ingredients list when using ground turkey and ground chicken because these processed poultry products often contain additives which may not be gluten-free.


All unprocessed fish (saltwater, freshwater) and all unprocessed eels are naturally gluten-free.  Unprocessed fish products are those that haven’t been marinated, battered, breaded, frozen with additives, dried, smoked, canned in broth, or tinned in oil.

Canned or tinned fish may contain gluten.  In the past, many manufacturers of water-packed tuna flavored their products with a broth that contained wheat.  Because of the increasing awareness of gluten sensitivity it is becoming more common for canned tuna to be flavored with vegetable broths (usually soy flavoring).  Some manufacturers have eliminated the flavorings and are packing their tuna in a salt and water brine.  Most fish packed in oil does not intentionally contain gluten.  When possible select a tuna that has been labeled gluten-free. 


All unprocessed shellfish (saltwater, freshwater) is naturally gluten-free as are unprocessed mollusks such as octopus, cuttlefish, and squid.    Unprocessed shellfish is shellfish whose shell has not been removed and whose flesh has not been marinated, battered, breaded, brined, frozen with additives, dried, smoked, canned in broth, tinned in oil, or injected with a flavoring solution.

Use extra caution when consuming processed crabmeat, especially products labeled ‘imitation crabmeat’ which may also be labeled ‘surimi’.   Most brands of imitation crabmeat are made from a mixture of ground fish that often includes wheat as an ingredient.


All unfortified wines are naturally gluten-free.  Enjoy unfortified red wines such as Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel, and blends of these varietals.  Enjoy unfortified white wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Reisling, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, and blends of these varietals.  Sparkling white wines such as Champagne are also safe for consumption.

Fortified wines are wines that have distilled spirits (such as brandy) added to them.  Some distilled spirits contain Caramel Coloring which is often made from wheat so fortified wines are generally not safe to consume.  Fortified wines including port, sherry, Madeira, Masala, and vermouth should be avoided unless they are specifically labeled ‘gluten-free’.

For more help in determining if a food is safe to eat see the information in our Easy Delicious Gluten-Free Skillet Meals cookbook.


Julie Cameron

At Easy Gluten-Free Cooking we have one mission:  to help those who are sensitive to gluten learn how to eliminate gluten from their diet while still enjoying healthy, delicious meals that are easy to cook and inexpensive to prepare. 

Cooking gluten-free can be easy and delicious. Imagine tasty gluten-free meals on the table in about 40 minutes. Our Easy Delicious Gluten-Free cookbooks feature mouthwatering gluten-free recipes that use common, inexpensive ingredients you already have in your pantry and refrigerator.  These recipes are so easy even an older child can cook them. 

So whether you have Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or you have found that you just feel better when you eliminate gluten from your diet you will love these easy and delicious recipes.