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Tricky Gluten Free Ingredients

Some gluten free ingredients can be tricky to identify, but this list can take some of the stress out of grocery shopping.

By: Molly Hall, Editor,
Tricky Gluten Free Ingredients

If you're a gluten free foodie, you're probably also a professional at scouring food labels to double-check for sneaky gluten ingredients. There are a lot of foods and ingredients that don't contain gluten that you may assume do or vice versa. The list below may help clear up some confusion on certain ingredients that may have gluten origins.

This guide to Tricky Gluten Free Ingredients has seven common ingredients that are almost always gluten free, but may be thought otherwise. Take some of the stress out of shopping with this list!


7 Tricky Gluten Free Ingredients

  1. Maltodextrin

    Maltodextrin is a highly refined food additive. It may give gluten free dieters pause since it is often made from wheat or barley, but fear not. It is processed so thoroughly that it is always gluten free even if you see "wheat" on the label. It is also often made from rice and potatoes, which are both naturally gluten free. 

  2. Yeast extract

    Yeast generally makes us think of bread, and bread is a big no for gluten free eaters. Surprisingly though, yeast extract is gluten free! Keep special note of "brewer's yeast" as it is not gluten free.

  3. Caramel color

    In the U.S., caramel color is always made with corn, so it safe for gluten free diets. Even if it is made from wheat (which is rare), it is so highly processed that the end result is gluten free.

  4. Natural flavoring

    While some natural flavorings can be derived from gluten grains, they typically do not contain gluten. Double check for a label listing wheat, malt, rye, or barley and proceed with caution, but it is almost always gluten free. 

  5. Modified food starch

    Modified food starch is usually derived from corn or potatoes so it is naturally gluten free. However, sometimes it can be made from wheat and then it will be clearly labeled on the package. 

  6. Modified wheat starch

    If wheat starch is modified, it has been processed to remove the gluten proteins, thus making it gluten free. However, if it still makes you nervous, opt for foods with modified food starch (see above).

  7. Distilled vinegar and alcohol

    The distillation process always removes the gluten proteins, so all distilled vinegar and alcohol are gluten free. With alcohol, though, make sure to avoid "brewer's yeast" that is used to make beer and wine as this is not gluten free. 

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I am so glad for this list. I am new to gluten free eating (I've only been doing this for about two months now) so this list helps a lot. I often have to google things to check if its gluten free so a guideline is a big help. I'm glad to see that I could eat modified wheat starch as a lot of food contains that, especially sauces. Thanks for this!

This is so helpful! One of my friends is gluten free, and I always want to cook when she comes over, but I never am sure what I can make.


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