Best cuisine for gluten free food

Are you wondering which cuisines are safest for someone who maintains a gluten free diet? Or maybe you want to know which cuisines someone who maintains a gluten free diet should avoid? Well either way, you are in the right place!

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know to understand which cuisines are the most safe and the least safe for someone who maintains a gluten free diet. We start out by outlining a few different categories that we will classify cuisines into. Specifically, we will classify cuisines based on how often they use gluten-containing ingredients. After that, we walk through the categories one by one and provide examples of cuisines that fall into each category.

Types of cuisines

In this section, we will describe the different categories that we will classify cuisines into based on the amount of gluten that is present in each cuisine. For each category we list in this section, we will also provide a brief description of what qualifies a cuisine to be considered as part of that category.

Here are the different categories that we will classify cuisines into. These categories are roughly listed in order of best to worst, with categories that do not contain a lot of gluten coming first and categories that do not contain a lot of gluten coming last.

  • Cuisines that do not contain much gluten. First, we will talk about cuisines that do not contain a lot of gluten. These are cuisines where most of the common dishes are gluten free. There may be some less popular dishes that do contain gluten, but these dishes are the exception rather than the rule. These are the best cuisines for someone who is on a gluten free diet.
  • Cuisines where a few specific dishes contain gluten. Next, we will talk about cuisines that have a lot of dishes that are gluten free, but also have a few common sides or dishes that do contain gluten. These are cuisines that are generally suitable for someone on a gluten free diet as long as they avoid the small subset of dishes that do contain gluten.
  • Cuisines that can be modified to be gluten free. After that, we will talk about cuisines that have a moderate number of dishes that are made with gluten containing ingredients, but can easily be modified to be gluten free if a few ingredients are swapped out. These cuisines will be hit or miss for someone who maintains a gluten free diet. Establishments that use gluten free substitutes for the common gluten containing ingredients will be suitable for someone who is on a gluten free diet. Restaurants and establishments that do not use gluten free substitutions will not be suitable.
  • Cuisines that contain a lot of gluten. Finally, we will talk about cuisines that contain a lot of gluten. These are cuisines that use a lot of different types of gluten containing ingredients in a lot of different dishes. These cuisines will be more difficult for someone who is on a gluten free diet, unless that person is specifically eating at a restaurant that caters to gluten free eaters.

Cuisines that do not contain much gluten

First we will talk about cuisines that do not contain much gluten. Note that we are not claiming that these cuisines do not use any gluten containing ingredients at all, but rather that gluten containing ingredients are used sparingly.

Here are some examples of cuisines that do not contain a lot of gluten. The cuisines listed in this section are roughly ordered from best to worst, with cuisines that contain the least gluten appearing higher in the list and cuisines that contain more gluten appearing lower in the list.

  • Ethiopian. Ethiopian food is a great option for someone who is on a gluten free diet. In general, Ethiopian food contains more beans and legumes than it does grains. Even the dishes that do contain grains generally contain gluten free grains like teff, millet, and sorghum. There are some Ethiopian restaurants that mix wheat flour in with gluten free flour mixes, so you should still exercise some caution before going to a new Ethiopian restaurant. That being said, many Ethiopian restaurants are almost entirely gluten free by default. For more information on gluten in Ethiopian food, check out our dedicated article on gluten in Ethiopian food.
  • Mexican. Mexican food is another great option for someone who is on a gluten free diet. Mexican food is generally heavily corn based and uses corn based flours in places where other cuisines would use wheat based flours. This means that the vast majority of Mexican dishes are naturally gluten free. We will note that traditional Mexican food is generally safer for someone who is on a gluten free diet than Americanized Mexican food. While traditional Mexican food is made primarily with corn based tortillas and shells, Americanized Mexican food is often made with tortillas that contain wheat flour. For more information on gluten in Mexican food, check out our dedicated article on gluten in Mexican food.
  • Colombian. Much like Mexican food, Colombian food is largely corn based. Arepas, empanadas, and tamales are just a few common examples of dishes that are heavily corn based. In addition to corn based flours, it is also common for Colombian dishes to use yuca flour or cassava flour rather than wheat based flour. For more information on gluten in Colombian food, check out our article on gluten in Colombian food.
  • Venezuelan. Venezuelan food is another example of a cuisine that does not use many gluten containing ingredients. Much like Mexican food and Colombian food, Venezuelan food tends to be heavily corn based. That being said, there are some Venezuelan dishes that are made with wheat flour.

Cuisines where a few specific dishes contain gluten

In this section, we will talk about cuisines that are largely gluten free, but have a few common dishes that do contain gluten. Many of these are cuisines where the main courses and entrees are generally gluten free, but there are some side dishes that do contain gluten. These cuisines may be suitable for someone on a gluten free diet if they are able to avoid the specific dishes that do contain gluten.

Here are some examples of cuisines that are largely gluten free, but have a few common dishes that do contain gluten. This list is roughly ordered in terms of best to worst, with cuisines that contain less gluten appearing at the top and cuisines that contain more gluten appearing at the bottom.

  • Indian. Indian food is a prime example of a cuisine where most of the main courses and entrees are made without gluten, but there are a few specific side dishes that are made with gluten. Specifically, bread sides that are served alongside Indian entrees and appetizers are generally made with wheat flour. This includes dishes like naan, roti, and chapati. If you avoid these side dishes, then it is generally pretty easy to eat gluten free at an Indian restaurant. If you want to learn more about sources of gluten in Indian food, check out or article on gluten in Indian food.
  • Peruvian. Peruvian food is another example of a cuisine where many of the most popular dishes are gluten free, but there are some dishes that are made with gluten. Most Peruvian cuisine leans heavily on ingredients like corn, potatoes, and quinoa that are entirely gluten free. That being said, there are a few popular dishes that are made with beer or soy sauce. For more information on sources of gluten in Peruvian food, check out this article on gluten in Peruvian food.
  • Mediterranean (greek, lebanese, etc.). Mediterranean food is another example of a cuisine where many of the main courses and entries are gluten free, but some of the side dishes may contain gluten. As with Indian food, the most common source of gluten in Mediterranean food is the bread that is served alongside dips and other dishes. Pita bread is one of the most common sources of gluten in Mediterranean food. Similarly, gluten containing grains like couscous and farro are sometimes served as side dishes. If you want to hear more about potential sources of gluten in Mediterranean food, check our article on gluten in Mediterranean food.

Cuisines that can be modified to be gluten free

Next, we will talk about cuisines that can be modified to be gluten free by using gluten free substitutions for a few ingredients. These are cuisines that have a few specific ingredients that contain gluten that are used in many dishes, but otherwise do not use many gluten containing ingredients. That means that if substitutions are used for those few specific ingredients, most dishes can easily be made gluten free. If substitutions are not used, most dishes will contain gluten.

Here are some examples of cuisines that can easily be modified to be gluten free by making a few simple substitutions. This list is roughly ordered in terms of best to worst, with cuisines that are more friendly for gluten free diners coming earlier in the list and cuisines that are less friendly for gluten free diners coming later in the list.

  • Spanish. Spanish food is one example of a cuisine that can easily be made gluten free by making a few common substitutions. Specifically, Spanish food can be made gluten free by using gluten free bread or omitting that bread from common dishes. Many Spanish dishes are made with bread or bread crumbs. That being said, there are not many popular Spanish ingredients other than bread that contain gluten. For more information on sources of gluten in Spanish food, check out our article on gluten in Spanish food.
  • Thai. Thai food is a great example of a cuisine that can easily be made gluten free by making a few common substitutions. Specifically, Thai food can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free tamari or coconut aminos in place of wheat based soy sauce. If tamari or coconut aminos are used in place of wheat based soy sauce, then the vast majority of the items on the menu are likely to be gluten free. That means that Thai restaurants are somewhat hit or miss for gluten free eaters, in that some restaurants will have a large variety of gluten free items and others will not. For more information on sources of gluten in Thai food, check out our article on gluten in Thai food.
  • Vietnamese. Vietnamese food is another example of a cuisine that can easily be made gluten free by substituting a few common ingredients. Much like Thai food, Vietnamese food can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free versions of common sauces like soy sauce and oyster sauce. For more information on sources of gluten in Vietnamese food, check out our article on gluten in Vietnamese food.

Cuisines that contain a lot of gluten

Finally, we will talk about examples of cuisines that use many ingredients that contain gluten. These cuisines are generally the least friendly for someone who maintains a gluten free diet. Even if restaurants do have a few dishes that are made without gluten containing ingredients, they are generally not suitable for people who are sensitive to trace amounts of gluten from cross contamination. This is especially true if the restaurant does not have a dedicated kitchen space that is only used for gluten free items.

Here are some cuisines that use many ingredients that contain gluten. This list is roughly ordered from best to worst, with cuisines that use the fewest gluten free ingredients appearing towards the top and cuisines that use the most gluten free ingredients appearing towards the bottom of the list.

  • Japanese. The first cuisine that uses many different gluten containing ingredients is Japanese food. There are a few ingredients that are used in many different Japanese sauces that are wheat based. Soy sauce and ponzu sauce are just a few examples. Additionally, many of the noodles that are used in Japanese noodle dishes are made with gluten. For example, ramen noodles and udon noodles are generally wheat based. For more information on sources of gluten in Japanese food, check out this article on gluten in Japanese food.
  • Chinese. Chinese food is another example of a cuisine that uses many gluten containing ingredients. Much like Japanese cooking, there are many sauces that are used in Chinese cooking that are wheat based. Soy sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce, and Shaoxing wine are just a few examples. Egg noodles, dumpling wrappers, and egg roll wrappers are just a few examples of ingredients that are made with wheat. For more information on sources of gluten in Chinese food, check out our article on gluten in Chinese food.
  • Italian. Italian food is another example of a cuisine that uses many gluten containing ingredients. Specifically, there are many wheat based ingredients that are used in Italian cooking. Pizza dough, pasta, bread, and breadcrumbs are common examples of Italian ingredients that contain large amounts of gluten. Additionally, it is common for wheat based flour to be used in the base of cream sauces. For more information on sources of gluten in Italian cooking, check out this article on gluten in Italian food.
  • American. American food is another example of a cuisine that is not friendly for people who maintain a gluten free diet. A lot of popular American dishes include wheat based bread and buns. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches are just a few examples. Additionally, it is very common for dishes to be battered with wheat flour or breadcrumbs and fried. Chicken nuggets, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks are just a few common examples. Wheat based pastas like macaroni are also used in dishes like macaroni and cheese and pasta salad. For more information on sources of gluten in American food, check out our article on gluten in American food.

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