The BBC Good Food logo
Gluten free

10 foods you think are gluten-free but aren’t

Magazine subscription – Try your first 5 issues for only £5

Going gluten-free can be a challenge, and there are some foods and ingredients you have to be extra careful with. We asked Coeliac UK to highlight the most confusing, gluten-containing culprits...

Approximately one in every 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease, and a whole lot more are choosing to remove gluten from their diets for perceived health benefits. Gluten dodgers know to avoid wheat and keep an eye on grains, but did you know everything from your cereal to your sausages might be hiding some problematic protein? Here, Coeliac UK shines the spotlight on the foods you may not realise contain gluten...


1. Sausages

While there are plenty of gluten-free versions available, your regular sausages often contain rusk made from wheat.

2. Soy sauce

Chinese soy sauce traditionally contains wheat! Try substituting for Japanese tamari soy sauce, which is usually gluten-free (though always check the label).

Pouring soy sauce into a bowl

3. Stock cubes

Some brands of stock cubes contain wheat - check the label or make your own stock at home to be sure it's free from gluten.

4. Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free. However, because of growing conditions and processing it can often become contaminated with other grains, such as wheat. Choose a brand labelled gluten-free to be sure it's suitable for you to eat.

5. Dry roasted nuts

Plain nuts don’t contain any gluten, but dry roasted nuts often contain wheat flour in the coating so check the label or opt for plain or salted nuts.

6. Spelt

It is a common myth that spelt doesn’t contain gluten, or contains less gluten than other wheat varieties. Spelt is an ancient strain of wheat and contains gluten levels similar to modern day wheat.

7. Couscous

Often used as an alternative for rice, couscous is made from granules of durum wheat, so it is not gluten-free. Quinoa on the other hand is gluten-free and can be used in salads, soups or even to make porridge.

A bowl of couscous with vegetables

8. Chocolate

Chocolate doesn’t usually contain any gluten in its ingredients, but due to manufacturing methods some varieties have a risk of contamination as other products (like chocolate coated biscuits) are sometimes produced on the same line. Check the label and look out for ‘may contain’ statements.

9. Taramasalata

This delicious dip is based on breadcrumbs so it is not gluten-free. Other dips like salsa and hummus are often made from gluten-free ingredients, but check the label to make sure.

10. Corn flakes

Although the main ingredient in corn flakes is corn (a naturally gluten-free grain) many brands also contain barley malt extract, which is used as a flavouring. Some corn flakes will only have a small amount at a safe level for those on a gluten-free diet. However, some contain higher levels meaning they are not suitable. Coeliac UK provides more information on the suitability of products like this.

How to read labels...

There are regulations in place to ensure only foods that are truly gluten-free can use the label on their packaging. All packaged foods in the UK and the EU are covered by labelling laws, which include rules around the allergen information that has to be provided on the label. For example, gluten-containing cereals are one of the 14 listed allergens that must be listed and emphasised in the ingredients list. Therefore, if a cereal contains wheat, rye or barley for example, it must be listed in the ingredients list, no matter how little of it is used. You can read more about labelling laws at Coeliac UK.

More information...

Still concerned about gluten? BBC Good Food is here to help:

Find out exactly what gluten is in our glossary.
Read Coeliac UK's top 10 tips for a gluten-free diet.
Stay healthy with our spotlight on gluten-free.

Try our recipes:
Gluten-free cakes
Gluten-free breakfast
Gluten-free lunch
Gluten-free dinner
Gluten-free snacks

Find out more about coeliac disease at Coeliac UK.

This article was last reviewed on 24 July 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

A qualified nutritionist (MBANT), Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Sponsored content