Is Rice Gluten-Free?
Rice is a nutritious grain and staple food in more than 100 countries around the world. It’s high in starch, a type of carbohydrate that is a main source of the body’s energy. It's also low in cost, which makes it a good base for many meals.
All natural forms of rice, including white, brown, or wild, are gluten-free. Natural rice is a great option for people who are sensitive to or allergic to gluten, a protein usually found in wheat, barley, and rye, and for people who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten.
Sometimes, rice can be cross-contaminated with gluten, meaning that it’s been grown, harvested, or processed near or in the same facilities as wheat, barley, or rye. Rice sold in bulk bins, such as at a grocery store, may also be cross-contaminated. This may happen when customers mix the scoops between bins. For example, a shopper might use the flour scoop in the rice bin, which could contaminate all the rice with gluten.
Which Types of Rice Are Gluten-Free?
You can find many popular types of rice in most grocery stores.
Is white rice gluten-free? Yes. In their natural forms, all types of rice are gluten-free.
Is basmati rice gluten-free? Yes. This is a long-grain rice that separates and becomes fluffy when cooked. It’s fragrant, and you can find it in white and brown varieties. Brown basmati rice has more fiber and a stronger fragrance than white basmati.
Is jasmine rice gluten-free? Yes, that's right. Jasmine is another fragrant long-grain rice. When cooked, jasmine rice becomes soft and slightly sticky.
Is brown rice gluten-free? Yes. This is a short-grain rice with a chalky white opaque kernel. When cooked, sweet brown rice becomes very sticky and loses its shape.
Is arborio rice gluten-free? That's correct. Arborio rice is used mostly for risotto and rice puddings. It is a medium-grain rice that has more starch because it isn’t milled as much as long-grain rice. The starch is released when it is cooked, which makes the rice creamy but not mushy. You can find both white and brown arborio.
Is wild rice gluten-free? Yes, wild rice is naturally free of gluten. But it isn't actually rice. It's an aquatic grass and ancient grain. Despite its name, it usually isn't wild.
Is black, red, or purple rice gluten-free? These types of rice are usually short-grain or medium-grain. Their color comes from a phytochemical called anthocyanins, which are also found in blueberries and blackberries. They're all naturally gluten-free.
Is glutinous rice gluten-free? You might also call this sticky rice and find it on the menu in Thai or other Asian restaurants. Although it sounds like glutinous rice has gluten, it doesn’t. The term “glutinous” refers to the glue-like, sticky texture of the rice after it’s cooked. This type of rice can be white, brown, or black.
There are thousands of types of rice, with a wide variety of sizes, colors, stickiness, flavors, and aromas.
Rice is mainly separated into five categories:
- Short grain. Its grain is twice as long as it is wide, and it becomes sticky when cooked.
- Medium grain. It has a shorter and wider grain, which becomes tender and semi-sticky when cooked.
- Long grain. It is four times longer than it is wide. Its grains separate and become fluffy when cooked.
- Whole grain. It’s rice that hasn’t been milled and polished. The grain is intact and contains bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole-grain rice is usually called brown rice.
- Refined. This is rice that has been milled and polished. The bran layers have been removed so that only the white, starchy endosperm is left. Refined rice is usually called white rice.
There are many individual varieties of rice that fall into these categories, such as basmati, jasmine, and Texmati. All are gluten-free, but generally, whole-grain rice is more nutritious. The bran layers are rich in:
- B vitamins
When the bran layers are removed, the rice loses most of its nutrients. These nutrients are usually added back to the rice, which is then labeled as “enriched” or “fortified,” but only a small portion of the original nutrients are replaced.
Are Rice Krispies Gluten-Free?
No. The first ingredient in Rice Krispies is rice, which is gluten-free. They don't have many ingredients either. Two others are sugar and salt, both of which are gluten-free. But the last ingredient in Rice Krispies is malt flavor.
Malt comes in different forms. These include:
- Malted barley flour
- Malted milk
- Malted milkshakes
- Malt extract
- Malt syrup
- Malt flavoring
- Malt vinegar
Malt is made by partially germinating other cereal grains. As those grains are not gluten-free, malt flavor or other malt ingredients have gluten.
Are All Rice Dishes Gluten-Free?
Rice is gluten-free, but some rice dishes may not be. This is usually because they’re made with other ingredients that have gluten. Rice dishes that have gluten may include:
- Rice pilaf (often made with orzo, which has gluten)
- Rice Krispies cereal (made with malt, which comes from barley and contains gluten)
- Preseasoned packaged rice
- Rice cooked with sauces
- Rice made with added seasoning or ingredients such as soy sauce
Many sauces have “hidden” gluten. Sauces are often made with flour, which acts as a thickener. Seasonings may be processed around other grains and be cross-contaminated with gluten. Sometimes, rice can be cross-contaminated with other grains that have gluten.
Rice and Gluten Safety
If you’re sensitive to gluten, follow these tips to make sure your rice dish is safe to eat:
- Don’t buy rice in bulk bins.
- Call restaurants in advance and ask whether certain items on the menu are gluten-free.
- When dining out, ask for plain rice with no seasonings or other ingredients.
- When shopping, check labels to make sure the food you are buying is truly gluten-free.
- Call the manufacturer of the food brand for more information if it’s not clear from the label whether the product has gluten.
If you’re allergic to or sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, it’s safe to eat all types of natural rice. If you’re not sure that your dish is fully gluten-free, it’s best to avoid it.
Is gluten-free rice safe for people with celiac disease?
Yes, rice is a popular grain for those who have celiac disease. Rice flour can also take the place of wheat. But you should still take precautions when buying rice. Try to find rice that is specifically labeled or certified as gluten-free. That way you can be more sure your rice wasn't processed in a place where it might come in contact with other gluten-containing grains, including wheat, barley, or rye.
Rice is naturally gluten-free, so it's a good choice of grain for anyone who wants to avoid gluten due to celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or other reasons. It's a good idea to check that the rice you're buying isn't processed in a place with other grains containing gluten, especially if you really need to avoid all gluten. Watch out for rice dishes prepared with sauces or other ingredients with gluten.
Gluten-Free Rice FAQs
- Can I eat rice if I'm gluten intolerant?
Yes, rice is gluten-free. If you need to avoid all gluten, make sure your rice isn't cross-contaminated with other grains and that you aren't eating rice dishes with other ingredients that have gluten.
- Is there any gluten in rice?
Rice by itself doesn't have any gluten. Sometimes, rice could have small amounts of gluten if it's been in contact with other grains. Rice dishes and packaged rice mixes also can have gluten from other ingredients.
- What is the best gluten-free rice?
All natural forms of rice are gluten-free. Some types of rice are healthier than others. But it's really up to you which type of rice you think is best to eat.
- Is rice supposed to be gluten-free?
Yes, rice is naturally free of gluten. But you should still check to be sure your rice wasn't processed or stored in bulk near other grains with gluten if you need to avoid even trace amounts of gluten. Many rice dishes also may have other ingredients in them with gluten, so it's a good idea to check labels carefully or ask.