Guacamole is a popular avocado-based dip that is commonly served with tortilla chips as an appetizer or side dish. For those on a gluten-free diet, a naturally gluten-free food like guacamole can seem like an ideal option. However, there are some important considerations when it comes to determining if guacamole is truly gluten-free.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue and more. The only treatment for gluten-related disorders is adhering to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.
On a gluten-free diet, grains like wheat, barley and rye as well as any foods or ingredients containing these grains must be avoided. Some examples of foods that contain gluten include bread, pasta, cereals, baked goods, breaded foods, beer and malt vinegar. Reading ingredient labels carefully and being aware of cross-contamination is key for those eating gluten-free. Even tiny amounts of gluten can cause issues for those who are sensitive.
– Guacamole is naturally gluten-free, as its main ingredients are avocado, lime juice, onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and spices.
– However, many store-bought guacamoles or homemade recipes can contain additional ingredients that may not be gluten-free.
– Potential sources of gluten to watch out for in guacamole include tortilla chips, thickeners like flour, soy sauce and contamination from shared utensils or prep surfaces.
– When prepared carefully without gluten-containing ingredients, guacamole can be a safe and delicious option on a gluten-free diet. Check labels and recipes closely.
Ingredients in Traditional Guacamole
The classic ingredients in basic homemade guacamole include:
- Lime juice
None of these ingredients naturally contain gluten. Avocados are the base of guacamole. Lime juice adds tangy flavor and helps prevent browning. Onions, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes add fresh vegetable flavor. Salt and pepper season the dip.
So in its traditional basic form, guacamole is gluten-free. But there are some important considerations when it comes to commercially prepared guacamole or modified recipes.
Potential Sources of Gluten in Guacamole
While classic guacamole ingredients are gluten-free, certain additions or preparation practices can introduce gluten:
Guacamole is often served alongside corn or flour tortilla chips for dipping. Corn tortilla chips are naturally gluten-free. However, flour tortilla chips contain wheat flour and are not safe for those avoiding gluten.
When purchasing store-bought guacamole, it often comes with tortilla chips included that need to be avoided. When making homemade guacamole, be sure to serve it with corn tortilla chips rather than flour chips. You can also use gluten-free crackers, vegetable slices or lettuce cups for dipping instead.
Some guacamole recipes call for adding thickeners to adjust the texture. Common thickeners used include flour, corn starch or masa harina.
Wheat flour contains gluten and must be avoided. However, both corn starch and masa harina are naturally gluten-free options made from corn that are safe for a gluten-free diet as long as they are not contaminated.
If using a thickener, be sure to opt for a certified gluten-free brand of corn starch or masa harina. Check that the product does not have any gluten-containing additives as well.
Some recipes may add soy sauce or tamari to guacamole for a salty, umami flavor. Be aware that regular soy sauce contains wheat and is not gluten-free.
When adding soy sauce, be sure to opt for a wheat-free tamari that is labeled gluten-free instead. Or simply leave soy sauce and tamari out of guacamole recipes altogether.
Cross-contamination is a concern when prepping guacamole at home or purchasing it from a restaurant or store. Using a knife, spoon, bowl or food processor for guacamole than has previously been in contact with gluten-containing ingredients can transfer traces of gluten into the guacamole.
Be sure to thoroughly wash all utensils, bowls and prep surfaces before making homemade guacamole to prevent cross-contamination. When purchasing prepared guacamole, look for brands that are labeled as gluten-free or call ahead to the restaurant to inquire about preparation practices.
Tips for Safely Eating Guacamole Gluten-Free
Here are some tips for safely enjoying guacamole on a gluten-free diet:
Check Labels on Store-Bought Options
If purchasing pre-made guacamole, carefully read the full ingredient list and look for a “gluten-free” label. Many brands contain added ingredients beyond the traditional ones. Watch out for thickeners, soy sauce, malt ingredients and flour-containing tortilla chips.
Ask About Prep at Restaurants
Before ordering guacamole at a restaurant, inquire about whether they add any gluten-containing ingredients or use shared equipment to make it. Request that your guacamole does not come with flour tortilla chips for dipping.
Make Your Own
Opting to make homemade guacamole yourself using basic ingredients allows you to control exactly what goes in it. Be sure to prep using equipment only used for gluten-free foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Use Gluten-Free Thickeners
If your recipe calls for a thickener, use certified gluten-free corn starch or masa harina instead of wheat flour. Omit soy sauce or tamari altogether or select a wheat-free gluten-free brand.
Serve with Gluten-Free Chips or Veggies
Pair your gluten-free guacamole with corn tortilla chips, gluten-free crackers, sliced raw veggies or lettuce wraps instead of flour tortilla chips that contain gluten.
Nutrition Facts for Guacamole
Guacamole is packed with nutrition coming primarily from its main ingredient – avocados. Here is the nutrition breakdown for a typical serving of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of basic guacamole:
Guacamole is loaded with healthy fats from the avocados, providing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains dietary fiber and vitamins C, K, B6 and folate. The potassium in guacamole offers heart-healthy benefits as well.
Gluten-Free Substitutes for Guacamole
For those who need to avoid avocados or prefer not to eat guacamole, there are several tasty gluten-free dip alternatives:
Dips made from beans, such as black bean dip, white bean dip or chickpea hummus make great gluten-free options. Bean dips pack protein, fiber and nutrients. Flavor them with lemon juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder.
Fresh tomato salsa is naturally gluten-free. Make your own combining diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeno or look for brands of prepared salsa made without gluten-containing ingredients. Use as a dip with corn chips or raw veggies.
For an Arabic twist, try baba ghanoush made from roasted eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. It offers a creamy, flavorful dip or spread that is gluten-free.
Greek tzatziki sauce features yogurt, shredded cucumber, olive oil, lemon, garlic, dill and mint. Look for gluten-free brands of plain Greek yogurt and use fresh ingredients to make your own.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
For a warm dip, a spinach artichoke dip with gluten-free cream cheese or mayonnaise makes for a delicious choice. Add parmesan cheese and seasonings.
3 Tasty Gluten-Free Guacamole Recipes
Here are a few delicious gluten-free guacamole recipes to try:
- 3 ripe avocados
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Mash avocados in a bowl until mostly smooth but still chunky
- Stir in remaining ingredients
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired
- Serve immediately with corn tortilla chips
- 3 avocados, pitted and peeled
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- In a food processor or blender, combine avocados, yogurt, lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Puree until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer to bowl and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve with gluten-free crackers or raw veggies.
- 3 ripe avocados
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Dash cayenne pepper
- Mash avocados in a bowl
- Mix in remaining ingredients
- Taste and adjust spice and salt as desired
- Serve with corn tortilla chips or veggies
Storing and Freezing Guacamole
Guacamole is best eaten fresh, as avocados quickly brown and lose flavor once exposed to air. To store guacamole:
- Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole in the bowl, ensuring it is fully covered.
- This prevents air from reaching it.
- Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
The lime juice in guacamole also helps prevent browning. Just be sure to remove the plastic wrap before serving to avoid contamination.
To freeze guacamole:
- Spread into an airtight freezer-safe container or zip-top bag.
- Flatten to 1-inch thickness.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in fridge before using.
Freezing changes the texture slightly, but it still works great as a dip or spread after being thawed.
Is Guacamole FODMAP Friendly?
For those on a low FODMAP diet for digestive issues like IBS, traditional guacamole is generally considered FODMAP friendly.
FODMAPs refers to certain carbohydrates that can be hard to digest. Avocados are low in FODMAPs, especially when ripe. The classic guacamole ingredients of tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime and salt are all low FODMAP approved in normal serving sizes as well.
Some low FODMAP modifications would be:
- Use 1/4 cup diced onion or less per serving
- Use garlic-infused oil instead of fresh garlic
- Use only 1/2 tablespoon cilantro per serving
So guacamole can generally be enjoyed on a low FODMAP diet when prepared according to standard low FODMAP modifications. Those following the diet should discuss proper serving sizes with a dietitian.
Cost Comparison of Homemade vs. Store-Bought
Homemade guacamole can provide big savings compared to purchasing ready-made guacamole:
|$2-$3 per batch
|$4-$8 per package
Based on individual ingredient prices, a batch of homemade guacamole costs $2-$3 depending on season. Store-bought guacamole in the refrigerated section can range from $4 for basic options to $8 for premium organic guacamole.
Making guacamole at home provides big savings. Plus you can adjust flavors to your taste and control the quality of ingredients. If time or ability to find ripe avocados is limited, store-bought guacamole can be an occasional convenient shortcut, however.
Guacamole made from traditional ingredients like avocado, lime juice, onion, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro can be part of a gluten-free diet. However, prepared guacamoles may contain thickeners, soy sauce or contaminated ingredients. Homemade guacamole allows control over all ingredients. Check labels closely for gluten-containing additives and cross-contamination risks when purchasing store-bought. With the right precautions, guacamole can be a fresh and nutritious option to enjoy gluten-free.