We conducted a taste test to pick the best gluten-free supermarket breads suitable for people with coeliac disease, gluten-intolerances or those following a free-from diet.
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With an increase in diagnoses of coeliac disease and other gluten intolerances, being able to buy good quality gluten-free products has become more important and thankfully, the supermarkets are responding. The most obvious sources of gluten are bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, pastry, cakes and biscuits for which alternatives are now widely available. Gluten can also be found in processed foods, such as soups, sauces, ready meals and sausages.
For those who are merely sensitive to gluten, over consumption may lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating, pain and stomach cramps. For this reason, growing numbers of people choose to follow a gluten-free diet, but gluten intolerance is different from coeliac disease. The latter is an autoimmune disease caused by a chemical reaction to gluten that means sufferers cannot digest it at all.
While it was once difficult to find gluten-free products in the local supermarket, now an increasing number of retailers are seeking to make free-from foods not only more accessible but of a higher quality, too. We've explored the bread aisles to find the best gluten-free breads available.
Best gluten-free bread to buy in supermarkets
Genius soft brown farmhouse
If you're seeking a soft, sliced brown bread then this is a reliable everyday choice that will leave you wondering what the difference is between this and bread that contains gluten. Each slice is pillowy and thick, making it ideal for homemade sandwiches. The bread is slightly nutty in flavour, so it would work nicely for a bacon, lettuce & tomato sarnie. Genius offers a wide variety of gluten-free options and proudly claims that ‘everyone deserves bread that tastes like bread’. We couldn't agree more!
Warburtons Gluten Free white farmhouse loaf
Everyone's tastebuds vary, particularly when it comes to bread. Not everyone prefers brown or seeded varieties and so, for those who wish to avoid gluten but still want the taste and familiarity of the classic white loaf, Warburtons' (formerly Newburn Bakehouse) white farmhouse loaf is the closest thing you'll find to that door-stop white bread. We love the neat size of this loaf, too, perfect for the lunchbox. Or you could use it to make a gluten-free bread & butter pudding.
Schär gluten-free sourdough
This trendy sourdough option from popular free-from brand Schär is the closest you'll find to a supermarket artisan loaf. With the addition of chestnut, linseed and quinoa flour, the bitterness that you long for in a sourdough comes through perfectly. Traditionally, sourdough is made when flour is mixed with water and the mix is rested for a lengthy period at room temperature to allow bacteria to break down the complex carbohydrates. That's helpful for those who suffer with poor gut health because it makes the bread easier to digest. For those who love to brunch, pop a few slices of Schär's sourdough in the toaster and make the ultimate poached eggs on toast.
Tesco Free From white bread
If what you really want is a no-nonsense white sliced bread that won't steal the show from your sandwich filling, this loaf fits the bill. Soft in texture with a well-balanced flavour, Tesco's free-from option is what you'd expect a standard supermarket loaf to taste like. It's also free from milk and wheat, so it's ideal for anyone with lactose intolerance or a wheat allergy.
Asda Free From white seeded loaf
The judges' favourite, Asda's seeded white sliced loaf had us all reaching for one more slice. The added poppy seeds bring a texture that is often lacking from gluten-free breads and the flavour combinatons work well to leave a slightly sweet aftertaste in your mouth. What's the best way to eat it? Toast it and slather on plenty of butter – this super light bread is tasty enough to be enjoyed in the simplest of ways.
How we tested gluten-free bread
A range of nationally available gluten-free breads were tested by various members of our BBC Good Food editorial team. The breads were all served blind, so that no brand prejudice could play a part in the judging. The breads were served both plain and with various (gluten-free) condiments, and tasters were encouraged to cleanse the palate between tastings. We scored the bread against the following criteria.
Taste: Although taste can be subjective when it comes to bread, we looked for a soft loaf that doesn't overcompensate with too much sugar or seasoning. Quite simply, we looked for a bread that tastes as good as, if not better, than 'normal' varieties.
Texture and rise: Often, free-from breads can lack in variety and can also be overly dense. We searched for something lightweight with a good rise and colour.
Presentation and structure: The sign of a poor-quality gluten-free bread is being over crumbly, so it falls apart when sliced. While many supermarket breads come pre-sliced, texture remains important for a satsifying mouthful, so we ruled out loaves that wouldn't hold together after being portioned.
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