Do brioche buns have less gluten?

Brioche is a light, buttery bread that originated in France. It has a rich flavor and soft texture that makes it ideal for breakfast pastries like cinnamon rolls and doughnuts. While traditional brioche contains eggs, butter, flour, yeast, milk, and sugar, many modern recipes use ingredients like bread flour or vital wheat gluten to achieve a fluffier texture. This has led some to believe that brioche may be a better choice for people who need to reduce gluten in their diets. But is this really true? Do brioche buns actually contain less gluten than regular bread? We’ll take a look at the ingredients and production process to find out.

Gluten Content in Flour

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and some other grains like barley and rye. When flour and water are mixed together and kneaded, the gluten forms stretchy elastic strands that allow dough to rise and give bread its chewy texture. Gluten content varies among different types of flour:

All-Purpose Flour

– Usually contains 10-12% gluten
– Moderate gluten level provides structure for most baked goods
– Can be used for breads, cookies, cakes, etc.

Bread Flour

– Higher protein content with 12-14% gluten
– Strong gluten development ideal for yeast breads
– Greater structure and rise than all-purpose flour

Cake or Pastry Flour

– Lower gluten protein around 6-10%
– Weaker gluten formation creates tender, delicate texture
– Best for muffins, biscuits, pie crusts, etc.

So flour with higher protein produces more gluten, while lower protein flours create less gluten structure. To get that soft, tender crumb, many brioche recipes use cake or pastry flour. But some recipes rely on high-gluten bread flour to give a good rise. Using the exact same flour, regular bread and brioche dough would develop similar amounts of gluten during kneading and proofing. The ingredient that really makes brioche different is butter.

Effect of Butter on Gluten

What gives brioche its rich flavor and delicate crumb is the high butter content. Traditional recipes call for up to 75% butter in relation to the flour, while other enriched breads like challah or sandwich loaf contain 50% or less. Here’s how the large amount of fat affects gluten development:

Disrupts Gluten Strands

The abundant butter coats strands of gluten, preventing cross-linking and formation of large gluten networks. The result is a bread with weaker gluten structure.

Inhibits Water Absorption

Butter also limits the amount of water available to hydrate gluten proteins. This leads to shorter gluten strands and less elasticity.

Reduces Kneading Development

The high fat content makes brioche dough much shorter than typical bread dough. Minimal kneading is required to limit melting butter into the dough. Less kneading means restricted gluten development.

So while the type of flour determines total gluten content, the high butter ratio impedes gluten from forming strong elastic strands in brioche.

Common Ingredients in Brioche

Along with flour and butter, traditional brioche recipes call for:


– Provide richness, moisture and leavening
– Can be used whole, yolks only, or mix of both
– Egg-washed brioche tops give golden brown color


– Enhances flavor, tenderness and shelf life
– Can use whole milk, cream, evaporated milk, etc.
– Adds lactose sugar to feed yeast during rising


– Active dry yeast is most common
– May also use instant yeast to reduce proofing time
– Gives brioche its airy, fluffy texture


– Small amounts of sugar provide food for yeast
– Granulated white sugar is typical
– Adds hint of sweetness balanced by butter


– Vital for controlling yeast activity and dough strength
– A pinch of salt enhances overall flavor

None of these common ingredients contain any gluten. So the variable gluten levels really come down to the type of wheat flour used.

Brioche Flour Options

Brioche can be made with several different gluten-containing flours:

All-Purpose Flour

– Gluten content around 10-12%
– Yields decent rise with tender crumb
– Best balance of structure and tenderness

Bread Flour

– Higher gluten level around 12-14%
– Can create excellent oven spring
– May result in chewier texture

Cake or Pastry Flour

– Lowest gluten content around 6-10%
– Produces maximum tenderness
– Lack of structure may cause spreading

Vital Wheat Gluten

– Isolated gluten protein, up to 75% protein
– Adds chew and stretch to weak flours
– Too much can make brioche tough

Non-Wheat Flours

– Rice, oat, almond flours contain no gluten
– Often combined with wheat flour in recipes
– Avoid risen brioche shapes without gluten

So while cake or pastry flour is ideal for tender brioche, some recipes use small amounts of vital wheat gluten to improve rise. Brioche made solely with non-wheat flours would not develop any gluten due to lack of gluten-containing ingredients.

Traditional French Brioche

Authentic French brioche is made with the following ingredients:


– Typically all-purpose wheat flour
– Approx 10-12% protein content


– Very high butter to flour ratio
– Equals 75% of flour weight


– Whole eggs only
– About 60% as much egg as flour by weight


– Milk, water, or mix of both
– Helps hydrate flour


– Active dry yeast
– Very small amount compared to flour

Sugar & Salt

– White granulated sugar
– Pinch of table salt

By using moderate protein all-purpose flour and excessive amounts of butter, traditional French brioche achieves a light, melt-in-your mouth texture with just enough underlying structure to rise. The eggs provide moisture, leavening, and rich flavor. While it contains some gluten from the wheat flour, the high fat content ensures minimal gluten development compared to regular bread.

Gluten-Free Brioche

Some brioche recipes use no wheat flour at all. Gluten-free options include:

Nut Flours

– Almond, coconut, hazelnut flours
– Very tender, dense, rich crumb
– Lack of gluten limits rise

Starch Flours

– Rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch
– Provide fluffier texture than nut flours
– Gums often added to improve binding

Mix of Flours

– May combine nut and starch flours
– Each flour offers different properties
– Balance for flavor, texture, moisture


– Xanthan gum, guar gum, psyllium
– Mimic elasticity of gluten to aide structure
– Often used in gluten-free baking


– Baking powder, baking soda
– Cause lift without yeast fermentation
– Compensate for lack of dough rise

Gluten-free brioche uses non-wheat flours, gums, and chemical leaveners to achieve a light texture without gluten development. While it won’t rise as high or have the same chew as wheat-flour brioche, it offers a sweet, buttery flavor and tender crumb.

Nutritional Value and Calories

Here is how the nutrition data for a small 2 ounce brioche roll compares to a typical white flour dinner roll:

Brioche Roll

Calories 180
Fat 8 g
Carbs 22 g
Protein 3 g
Fiber 1 g

White Dinner Roll

Calories 110
Fat 2 g
Carbs 21 g
Protein 3 g
Fiber 1 g

The high butter content causes brioche to contain nearly 4 times as much fat and 70 more calories than a basic white roll. However, both provide similar amounts of carbs, protein, and fiber. The extra fat makes brioche a richer, more indulgent choice than a plain roll.

Making Gluten-Free Brioche

Here are some tips for preparing tasty gluten-free brioche at home:

Choose Flours Wisely

Select a blend of flours and starches that provide flavor, lift, and moisture retention. A combination of nut flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and rice flour works well.

Include Binders

Add about 1 tsp of xanthan or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour. This helps mimic the elasticity of gluten for better dough structure.

Increase Leavening

Use extra baking powder and baking soda, about 1 tsp each per cup of flour. Active dry yeast can also be used.

Adjust Hydration

Nut and starch flours absorb more liquid than wheat flours. Increase milk, eggs, water, or other liquids to prevent dry dough.

Don’t Overwork Dough

Gently mix just until the dough comes together to avoid over-developing starches or gum. The dough will be thick and shaggy.

Rest Before Baking

Let shaped brioche proof for at least 30 minutes before baking to allow yeast or chemical leaveners to work.

Check Doneness

Gluten-free brioche won’t brown the same way as wheat brioche. Check internal temperature with a thermometer for doneness.


While traditional brioche does contain some gluten from wheat flour, the high butter content minimizes gluten development compared to regular bread. Using cake or pastry flour further reduces the total gluten protein. Gluten-free brioche eliminates gluten entirely by using nut and starch flours with binders and chemical leaveners instead of yeast. In the end, brioche offers a supremely tender, rich eating experience with or without gluten. Just don’t expect pronounced rise from gluten-free recipes. For the classic light, airy texture with buttery flavor, wheat-flour brioche can’t be beat!

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