Today, people view gluten like it’s a James Bond villain — dangerous, and always lurking where you don’t suspect it. Whether you’re allergic to gluten or simply want to avoid it for health reasons, these gluten-free substitutes for some of your favorite foods prove you don’t need gluten to feast like royalty.
And sure, you can often find gluten-free versions of your traditional foods, like gluten-free bread, in the grocery store. But the best part about the following mind-blowing alternatives is that they taste better than the cardboard that retailers sell. Gluten, we hardly knew ya!
1. Corn Tortillas
Hasta la vista, gluten!
On Taco Tuesdays, swap in corn tortillas instead of the usual flour tortillas. They’re heartier and more flavorful, plus they have more fiber so you have a healthy reason to help yourself to seconds.
2. Rolled Quinoa
Here’s a gluten fact that’ll blow your mind: it’s not about wheat! Gluten is a type of protein and you’ll find gluten in oats, rye, and barley. While you can have wheat-free oats, it’s literally impossible to have gluten-free oats.
Instead, try rolled quinoa. Whether you’re making cookies or oatmeal, it gets the job done.
Drop that sushi roll! Most traditional soy sauces contain gluten.
If you want something equally delicious to dip your sushi into, try tamari. It’s a Japanese form of soy sauce and unlike soy sauce, it’s made from miso paste instead of wheat.
4. Bean Pasta
If you love your pasta but want to go gluten-free, you might yell “Che palle!” An Italian phrase that loosely translates to “What a pain in the butt!”
Never fear, bean pasta made from edamame beans or black beans are here to save the day. Other than for their color, you won’t notice a difference!
5. Rice Crackers
There are literally hundreds of different gluten-free crackers out there, but nothing beats rice crackers. They have a neutral flavor compared to many other gluten-free alternatives, which is good because let’s be honest — it’s all about the dip.
6. Lettuce Leaves
It’s a wrap! Literally. Lettuce leaves make for a crisp, healthy alternative to tortillas, and is especially good with Asian-inspired ingredients like teriyaki chicken. If you’re feeling adventurous, try other hearty veggie leaves such as swiss chard.
All the best parts of a salad are usually the most unhealthy parts. We’re looking at you, creamy dressing and croutons.
Unfortunately, while croutons are tasty, they will quickly ruin your gluten-free vibe. Instead, try toasted nuts. You get the same satisfying crunch, but with extra protein and fiber.
8. Mashed Veggie Crusts
If you’re making pizza at home, try mashed potatoes instead of pizza crust. Simply smash up those taters, pour them into a pan, and bake. This also works with cauliflower and other neutral-tasting veggies. It might look weird, but it works!
9. Spiralized Veggies
A spiralizer sounds fancy, but you can get this kitchen gadget at any local home goods store (although you’re probably logging into Amazon already). Like a vegan Rumpelstiltskin, it spins your raw veggies into noodles.
Go with a nice, firm vegetable like carrots or zucchini. You’ll have a colorful, raw, vegan, gluten-free bowl of veggie pasta, which will look very trendy on your Instagram.
10. Almond Meal
Whether you’re making chicken wings or breaded fish sticks, toss out the flour for almond meal. When used as fried breading, it tastes as sinfully good as wheat flour.
11. Portobello Mushrooms
Your anaconda don’t want none unless you got gluten-free buns, hun. Instead of burger buns at your backyard barbecue, roast some portobello mushrooms. They’re big, meaty, juicy, and go perfectly with hamburger patties.
12. Zucchini Sheets
During the fall and winter, nothing tastes better than comfort foods like lasagna. But “comfort food” usually means “lots of bad ingredients,” including gluten-rich pasta sheets in your lasagna. Instead, cut zucchini into big strips and use that between all your layers of meat, sauce and cheese.
13. Grated Cauliflower
Rice doesn’t always play nice with a gluten-free lifestyle because it’s often processed in the same facilities as wheat products. Swap out rice for cauliflower that’s been grated and steamed. It looks like rice. It smells like rice. But it doesn’t have gluten like rice.
Feeling snacky? Popcorn makes a good substitute for pretzels or potato chips. Nowadays, you can find sweet or savory popcorn to satisfy whatever cravings you have.
15. Whole Meats
Warning: most deli meats and cold cuts use binding ingredients to hold them together, and these ingredients often contain gluten even if it doesn’t say anything about wheat on the label. Here’s a handy lifehack: buy whatever cooked whole meat you want, like chicken or beef, and have the store’s deli counter slice it into thin shavings for you.
16. Amaranth Muesli
This wheat-free cereal grain sounds like the name of a spell at Hogwarts, but trust us: it really is a magical replacement for granola and pre-packaged cereals. It’s great cold, hot, or mixed with nuts as a snack. You can find it in most health food stores.
Polenta is made from maize, so it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s common in Italian dishes and makes for a great pasta swap. Plus, it’s a whole grain unlike most pastas that are made with refined grains.
Most stews and soups call for flour as a thickener. Try cornstarch instead. It has the same effect and works well in thick soups like seafood chowder.
19. Chia Pudding
It tastes decadent, but it’s so healthy you can enjoy this dessert-like snack for breakfast without feeling guilty. It’s the perfect swap for gluten-rich cereals, puddings, and desserts.
Simply combine 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 1/2 cups of milk. Place it in the fridge overnight and it turns into a thick pudding. If you want to enjoy it as dessert, add vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and fresh berries!
20. Apple Cider Vinegar
Many vinegars contain gluten. For example, malt vinegar is made from barley. If you’re looking for a flavorful alternative, try apple cider vinegar. If you get it raw, it’s a rich source of probiotics (the friendly bacteria that keeps you healthy).
21. Buckwheat Pancakes
Hop away from IHOP and get buckwheat pancakes instead. They’re just as fluffy as your traditional pancakes, but significantly higher in nutrients and fiber. They taste a little grittier than classic pancakes, but once you drench them in maple syrup and butter, you won’t be able to tell the difference!
22. Rice Noodles
That ramen that you lived off of in college is made from wheat. Now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to upgrade your noodle game. Rice noodles hit the spot and have the same texture and flavor as the stuff you used to eat in your dorm room.
If you’re craving some mac and cheese, go for risotto instead. It’s rich and creamy, but it’s made from a special kind of rice instead of the wheat pasta in mac and cheese.