Gluten Free Land

Gluten Free Foods, Cafes, Restaurants and Recipes

Your country:
Your state:
Information > Gluten Cheat Sheet

The gluten "cheat sheet"

A simple overview of some unexpected sources of gluten

This page aims to give an overview of some foods that can contain gluten that you may not realise, primarily to assist with awareness to new Coeliacs but particularly to friends & family who have a tough time trying to cater for us. Remember, if in doubt, leave it out! If you are cooking for a Coeliac and are unsure about something, just ask them or leave it out! This is not a complete guide & the accuracy of any information presented cannot be guaranteed.

Fruit & vegetables

Fresh fruit is gluten free! Beware that some canned fruit (especially pie fillings etc) preserved fruit or jams may use flour as a thickener, but most don't so check the labels!
Vegetables themselves do not contain gluten. Watch out, however for seasonings, sauces, crumbs, batters or herbs that could be added to vegetables by the cook or may be present in some frozen vegetables e.g. stir fry with sauce.


Meat itself is gluten free but many pre-marinated meats contain wheat flour as part of the marinate. Any many parts of the world, sausages contain gluten because wheat flour is used as a binding agent. But in many countries such as New Zealand, gluten free sausages are becoming very common. These are labelled as such and typically use rice or corn (maize) flour. Crumbed meat such as crumbed schnitzel or chicken cordon bleu contain gluten and need to be avoided, unless it is a special gluten free version made deliberately with gluten free bread crumbs.

Breads, biscuits, cakes, pastries

These items all contain gluten and so specialist gluten free varieties must be sought or made from gluten free ingredients. See our gluten free bread or biscuit and cake reviews for ideas.

Sauces, Soups, herbs, spices, seasonings

Dry sauce mixes usually contain wheat. Check the ingredients and look for special gluten free ones in your supermarket's gluten free section. Liquid sauces vary depending on the sauce, the manufacturer and even whether it is the reduced fat version or not. There are also some sauces around that are marked as gluten free and some of these are in the meat section of a supermarket rather than the gluten free section. See our gluten free sauce reviews for some of these. Be careful with herbs & spices. Some are mixed with flour whilst some are not. We have noticed a trend in New Zealand and South Africa for spices using rice flour instead of wheat flour. Always check the label as it can vary by brand, batch and spice!

Chocolate, confectionary

Most chocolate is gluten free, but many of the things put in chocolate are not especially biscuit pieces in flavours such as "Rocky Road". Always read the label. Some confectionary is made from glucose derived from wheat and should be avoided. Reviews for gluten free confectionary can be found in our snacks and bars section.


Some yoghurts contain gluten, but most do not, check carefully, it is usually flavours that emulate biscuit or pie desserts that contain wheat. Flavoured milk, milkshakes etc may contain gluten as a thickener, but most don't so check carefully. Liquid breakfast shakes contain gluten! Watch out for some pre-grated cheese using flour as an anti-caking agent.

Fried foods

All fried foods risk being contaminated by other fried foods such as battered fish. Many flavourings on packet chips contain wheat and they change from time to time and depending on flavour & brand. Chicken salt sometimes put on hot chips also usually contains gluten. Many takeaways conatain gluten in large quantities too such as burgers, battered or crumbed fish or chicken, pizza, pasta and sauces in some rice dishes. A lot of chinese takeaway foods are gluten free as they use potato starch for most things so talk to them. There are also many gluten free takeaway outlets, see our gluten free takeaway reviews.


Any wheat flour contains gluten. A product called "Gluten Flour" contains EXTRA gluten and will make Coeliacs sick. Potato, rice, corn or tapioca flour/starch are gluten free. Buckwheat is different to wheat and is gluten free BUT you should only use certified gluten free buckwheat as contamination is apparently a high risk with buckwheat. For best results with baking you will need a blend of these. Reviews for some gluten free flours can be found in our baking and bread mixes section.

Other hidden baking issues

Baking powder, yeast and icing sugar often contain gluten as wheat flour is used as a base -use varieties marked gluten free.


Beer contains gluten, but there are now a few gluten free beers available made from rice or corn instead of barley. Although distillation leaves gluten behind, many spirits, created by fermenting or malting wheat or barley add some of the original mash back in for colour or flavour, resulting in gluten being present in the final product. Thus, avoid wheat based spirits such as whiskey or bourbon and be careful with premixed drinks or liqueurs of unknown content. It has also become apparent that low end spirits are often made with wheat instead of their traditional ingredients, for example rum (sugar cane), gin (juniper berries) and vodka (potatoes). Finally, some winemakers have even been known to fill gaps in oak barrels with wheat flour paste!

The really grey area

Some substances it is hard to tell the gluten content of. There are a lot of additives that from what I have read and experienced have a low but real chance of containing gluten and thus should be avoided. May contain gluten:
  • Vegetable starches such as additives in the 14xx range.
  • Vinegar -it could be malted from wheat or barley?
  • Soy sauce -could be wheat based
  • Caramel colour
  • Oats*
Other names that can be used for gluten or Coeliac safe proteins from substances other than wheat e.g. corn:
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein -is that "vegetable" wheat?
  • Hydrolysed plant protein -is that plant wheat?
  • Malt/malt extract -is it malted wheat/barley or something safe like corn?
  • Maltodextrin -like starch this should be safe but has the potential for contamination if from wheat
*Oats is a very contentious issue. It does NOT have the problematic proteins but has alternatives in the same family that it is thought around 10% of Coeliacs react badly to. However, unless you can get certified gluten free oats you must NOT use oats as it is very often contaminated either by seeds from neighbouring wheat fields blowing over or in harvesting, rolling etc. Hopefully, this page has highlighted some potential sources of gluten to watch out for without being too depressing. Life is only getting easier for Coeliacs with new gluten free products appearing every week!

This information is supplied in good faith by a non-expert and is not exhaustive, nor guaranteed accurate and is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor before making dietary changes.

Helpful? Missing something? We appreciate your feedback.

See also on Gluten Free Land:
Other Gluten Free Resources: