Can celiac eat vermicelli?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system reacts by attacking the small intestine. This damages the villi, which are tiny finger-like projections that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food.

This damage to the villi causes a variety of symptoms and health problems. These can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, malnutrition and anemia. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious complications like osteoporosis, infertility and certain types of cancer. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, which allows the intestinal villi to heal.

Following a gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods and products containing wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. This includes many common foods like bread, pasta, baked goods, cereals, beer and some processed foods. Thankfully, there are many naturally gluten-free foods that are permitted on a gluten-free diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, seeds and gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa and corn.

In addition to naturally gluten-free foods, celiacs can eat specialty gluten-free versions of products like bread, pasta, crackers, cookies and cereal. These are made with gluten-free flours and grains. Reading ingredient labels carefully and looking for a “gluten-free” label is important when purchasing processed foods.

So when it comes to pasta, some types are naturally gluten-free, like those made from rice, quinoa or corn. But what about vermicelli pasta? Can celiacs safely eat vermicelli?

What is Vermicelli?

Vermicelli is a long, thin noodle pasta. Some key features of vermicelli include:

  • Strand thickness is between 1-3 mm
  • Smooth, round strands
  • Length ranges from short cut to very long strands
  • Made from flour and water
  • Dries quickly
  • Often used in soups or salads

Vermicelli originates from Italy and is sometimes referred to as Italian rice noodles or fidelini. However, true Italian vermicelli is made with durum wheat semolina. Durum wheat is a type of hard wheat that contains high levels of gluten.

Today, vermicelli noodles are produced using various flours, including rice flour, buckwheat flour and bean flours like chickpea or lentil flour. The ingredients used impact whether or not the pasta is gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease.

Is Traditional Vermicelli Gluten-Free?

No, traditional vermicelli made from durum wheat semolina contains gluten and is not safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Durum wheat is a type of hard wheat that is very high in gluten. According to the FDA, durum wheat can contain levels of gluten ranging from 7-21% (1).

In addition to durum wheat vermicelli, some vermicelli may also be produced using all-purpose wheat flour or semolina flour. Both all-purpose flour and semolina flour come from wheat and contain gluten. Therefore, traditional vermicelli pasta made with any type of wheat flour is not considered gluten-free (2).

Gluten Content of Wheat Vermicelli

The exact gluten content can vary between vermicelli brands depending on the type of wheat flour used. According to testing by Health Canada, vermicelli samples made with durum wheat contained over 8000 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is well above the maximum 20 ppm of gluten allowed in certified gluten-free foods (3).

Therefore, vermicelli noodles made using traditional wheat flours fail to meet the criteria for gluten-free status. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to avoid wheat-based vermicelli to prevent adverse reactions.

Gluten-Free Vermicelli Options

While traditional wheat-based vermicelli contains gluten, there are several gluten-free options that are safe for those following a gluten-free diet. Some gluten-free options include vermicelli made from:

1. Rice Flour

Rice flour is an excellent gluten-free substitute for wheat flour. It produces light, tender noodles with a similar consistency to wheat-based pastas. Rice vermicelli is sometimes labeled rice sticks or rice noodles.

2. Buckwheat Flour

Despite the name, buckwheat does not contain wheat or gluten. Vermicelli made from 100% buckwheat flour provides a gluten-free alternative with a mildly nutty flavor.

3. Bean Flours

Flours produced from beans, such as chickpeas and lentils, can be used to make gluten-free vermicelli noodles. Chickpea pasta offers a high protein and fiber option with a pleasant, neutral taste.

4. Corn Flour

Corn flour naturally lacks gluten and can be used to produce gluten-free vermicelli with a distinctive corn flavor. However, those with a corn allergy will need to avoid corn-based vermicelli.

5. 100% Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour is derived from the starchy cassava root and makes an excellent gluten-free pasta flour. 100% tapioca vermicelli has a mild taste that combines well with sauces.

When purchasing any type of gluten-free pasta, including vermicelli, it is important to check the ingredients list and look for a certified gluten-free label. Manufacturers sometimes add small amounts of wheat flour to gluten-free pastas, so all ingredients need to be verified.

Is Gluten-Free Vermicelli Nutritionally Equivalent?

Switching from traditional wheat pasta to a gluten-free alternative will alter the nutrition profile. Here is how the nutrition of gluten-free vermicelli compares (4, 5, 6):


Gluten-free varieties tend to have fewer calories per serving. For example:

  • Wheat vermicelli: 158 calories per 2 oz serving
  • Rice vermicelli: 104 calories per 2 oz serving
  • Chickpea vermicelli: 120 calories per 2 oz serving


Carb content is similar, though gluten-free pasta has fewer grams of sugar:

  • Wheat vermicelli: 32 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar per 2 oz serving
  • Rice vermicelli: 22 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar
  • Chickpea vermicelli: 25 grams carbs, 1 gram sugar


Bean-based gluten-free pastas like chickpea contain more protein:

  • Wheat vermicelli: 5 grams protein per 2 oz serving
  • Rice vermicelli: 2 grams protein
  • Chickpea vermicelli: 10 grams protein


Gluten-free varieties, especially chickpea, tend to be higher in fiber:

  • Wheat vermicelli: 1 gram fiber per 2 oz serving
  • Rice vermicelli: 0.5 grams fiber
  • Chickpea vermicelli: 5 grams fiber


Gluten-free vermicelli is often enriched with vitamins and minerals like folate, iron and calcium to boost the nutritional quality:

  • Wheat vermicelli: Contains B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate
  • Rice vermicelli: Enriched with iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate
  • Chickpea vermicelli: Provides iron, calcium, potassium

The different gluten-free flours used impact the exact nutrition profile. However, many gluten-free vermicelli options provide a nutritious alternative pasta high in important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Cooking Gluten-Free Vermicelli

Gluten-free vermicelli can be prepared using the same methods as traditional wheat noodles. Here are some tips for cooking gluten-free vermicelli (7):

  • Boil 4-6 cups of water or broth per 4 oz of dry vermicelli.
  • Add noodles slowly to prevent clumping.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes less than the time listed on the package.
  • Drain cooked noodles through a colander.
  • Rinse with cool water to prevent overcooking.
  • Toss noodles with sauces, vegetables, meats or use in soups.
  • Leftover cooked vermicelli can be stored in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

Gluten-free noodles like vermicelli tend to cook faster than wheat-based pasta, so keeping an eye on cooking time is important to avoid mushy pasta. Following the same safety practices used for conventional pasta, like not rinsing cooked pasta before serving, will help ensure the best quality gluten-free vermicelli.

Is Vermicelli Gluten-Free? The Bottom Line

Traditional vermicelli made from wheat is not gluten-free and should be avoided by those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, vermicelli produced from gluten-free flours like rice, buckwheat, corn or chickpea serve as safe, nutritious alternatives.

When purchasing gluten-free pasta, checking labels for ingredients and gluten-free certification is important. With the right gluten-free vermicelli choice, those following a gluten-free diet can continue to enjoy classic vermicelli dishes as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can celiacs eat rice vermicelli?

Yes, vermicelli made from rice flour is naturally gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease when confirmed as 100% rice flour. Rice vermicelli, sometimes labeled rice sticks or rice noodles, provides a safe alternative to wheat-based pastas.

2. Is vermicelli gluten-free if produced in a factory with wheat?

No, vermicelli produced in a factory that also processes wheat is at high risk for cross contamination. Gluten-free pastas need to be produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities to avoid any presence of gluten from shared equipment. Checking for third-party gluten-free certification is recommended.

3. What ingredients make vermicelli gluten-free?

Gluten-free vermicelli is produced using flours like rice flour, buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, lentil flour, quinoa flour, corn flour or tapioca flour. All ingredients must be confirmed gluten-free to ensure the safety of wheat-sensitive individuals.

4. Is chickpea vermicelli healthy?

Yes, chickpea vermicelli is a very healthy gluten-free pasta option. Chickpea flour provides protein, fiber, iron, potassium and calcium. Chickpea pasta has a low glycemic index and can be part of a balanced diet for those with diabetes or celiac disease.

5. Does rice vermicelli have carbs?

Yes, rice vermicelli contains carbohydrates from the rice flour it is produced from. A 2 oz (56g) serving of rice vermicelli contains about 22 grams of carbohydrate, mostly in the form of starch. However, rice vermicelli is lower in carbs than traditional wheat pasta.


Vermicelli made from traditional wheat flours contain gluten and should be avoided by those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Thankfully, there are many healthy, gluten-free vermicelli options made from alternative flours that are safe for gluten-free diets. When in doubt, checking the ingredients label and looking for gluten-free certification can help determine if a vermicelli product is gluten-free.

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