Does ciabatta bread have gluten?

Ciabatta is a type of Italian white bread that is made from wheat flour. Like most breads, ciabatta does contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It gives bread its chewy texture and helps the dough rise by forming cross-linkages that trap carbon dioxide produced by yeast during fermentation.

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This damage makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food. People with gluten-related disorders need to follow a strict gluten-free diet and avoid all foods and ingredients containing gluten.

What is Ciabatta Bread?

Ciabatta is an Italian white bread made from wheat flour, water, salt, olive oil, and yeast. The name “ciabatta” means slipper in Italian, referring to the elongated soft and flattened shape of the loaf. Ciabatta has a crisp crust with an airy and porous interior texture. It was created in the 1980s in Verona, Italy as a response to the popularity of French baguettes.

Unlike many dense and chewy Italian breads, ciabatta has a light, dry, and somewhat flaky crumb. This comes from the high hydration dough which is baked in the oven without first proofing and developing gluten structure. The wet dough absorbs more water, resulting in an open crumb when baked. Ciabatta is made from a very slack dough with a high water content of around 80%.

Ingredients in Ciabatta

The main ingredients in classic ciabatta bread are:

  • Bread Flour – Typically made from hard wheat to give structure and elasticity.
  • Water – About 80% hydration to create a very wet, sticky dough.
  • Yeast – Active dry or instant yeast to leaven the bread.
  • Salt – For flavor and to strengthen gluten development.
  • Olive Oil – For flavor, richness, and a softer crumb.

The flour used for ciabatta is key. Bread flour with a higher protein content around 12-13% is necessary to develop enough gluten for the structure and rise. But too much gluten development would result in a chewy bread rather than the signature light texture of ciabatta.

Does Ciabatta Contain Gluten?

Yes, ciabatta does contain gluten. The main ingredient in ciabatta is wheat flour, which is what contains the gluten protein.

Gluten is made up of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin. When wheat flour is mixed with water, these proteins link together and form a stretchy network that traps the gases produced by yeast during fermentation. This allows the dough to rise and gives the baked bread a chewy, elastic texture.

Since ciabatta is made entirely from wheat flour and does not use any gluten-free flour substitutes, it contains gluten. The amount of gluten depends on the exact type and protein content of the wheat flour used, but generally ciabatta provides at least 5-10g of gluten per serving.

People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to avoid ciabatta and other types of bread containing wheat, rye, and barley. Consuming gluten causes intestinal damage and triggers painful symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and fatigue in gluten-sensitive individuals.

Testing for Gluten

There are a few methods available to test if a food contains gluten:

  • Read the ingredient list – All ingredients containing wheat, barley, rye, oats, and malt should be avoided.
  • Look for testing lab certifications – Products certified gluten-free by GFCO or NSF have been tested to contain under 20ppm of gluten.
  • Use home test kits – These look for the presence of gluten proteins and can detect down to about 20ppm.

Since ciabatta is made solely from wheat flour with no gluten-free ingredients, it can be assumed to contain gluten without needing further testing. Any product listing wheat flour on the label contains gluten and is unsuitable for a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-Free Substitutes for Ciabatta

There are several gluten-free options available for people who need to avoid gluten but still want to enjoy ciabatta-style bread:

Gluten-Free Flour

Ciabatta can be made using a blend of naturally gluten-free flours like rice flour, sorghum flour, teff flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch. Binding agents like xanthan gum or psyllium husk are often added to mimic the stretchy texture gluten provides.

Gluten-free ciabatta will have a different taste and texture than wheat-based ciabatta. But it provides a great option for bread-lovers who need to be gluten-free.


Sourdough ciabatta uses fermentation from wild yeast in a sourdough starter to rise, rather than commercial yeast. The long fermentation helps break down some gluten proteins, making it easier to digest for some with gluten sensitivities.

But sourdough is not gluten-free. It still contains gluten from the wheat flour, just potentially in lower amounts. People with celiac disease still need to avoid sourdough bread.

Legume-Based Bread

Bread can be made from legume flours like chickpea flour, lentil flour, or bean flour. This creates a nutrient-dense gluten-free bread alternative with a high protein and fiber content. But the taste and texture differs significantly from wheat-based bread.

Nut and Seed Bread

Gluten-free breads can also be made from nut meals, coconut flour, and seeds like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. Combining nuts, seeds, starches, and binding agents can produce bread with a heartier texture.

Purchased Gluten-Free Bread

Many grocery stores now sell pre-made gluten-free bread and ciabatta that uses gluten-free flour blends or other gluten alternatives. This provides a quick and convenient option for having gluten-free ciabatta available. Be sure to check the label to confirm it is certified gluten-free.

Nutrition of Ciabatta

Here is the nutrition information for a 1 oz (28g) slice of classic white ciabatta bread:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 75
Carbohydrates 15g
Fiber 0.5g
Protein 2g
Fat 0.5g
Sodium 150mg

Ciabatta is a good source of carbohydrates from the wheat flour. A slice provides about 5% of the recommended daily intake of fiber. It also contains smaller amounts of protein and little fat.

The sodium content can vary depending on the amount of salt added to the bread dough. Ciabatta bread is often eaten as a sandwich bread or dipped in oils and seasonings, which would change the nutritional values.

When switching to gluten-free bread alternatives, the nutrition profile often changes slightly. Gluten-free breads may be higher in fats from nut meals and oils. Fiber, protein, vitamin, and mineral content varies depending on the flour substitutions used.

Cost of Ciabatta

Ciabatta is one of the more affordable artisan-style breads, though still pricier than typical sandwich bread. Here are some average price points:

  • Store Brand Ciabatta Loaf – $3-$4
  • Artisan Bakery Ciabatta Loaf – $5-$8
  • Gluten-Free Ciabatta Loaf – $8-$12
  • Precut Ciabatta Buns – $3-$5 for a pack of 4

Gluten-free specialty products tend to cost more than wheat-based foods. Gluten-free flours and starches are typically pricier, and more ingredients are needed to create the right texture. Pre-made gluten-free ciabatta can cost 2-3 times more than regular ciabatta.

Making ciabatta at home can help lower the cost. Homemade ciabatta may cost around $1-$2 for a loaf depending on the ingredients used. It requires more hands-on time and rising periods though.

How to Make Ciabatta Bread

Ciabatta dough is made from a wet, sticky dough that requires gentle handling. Here is an overview of the ciabatta bread making process:


  • Bread Flour – 500g
  • Water – 400g, lukewarm
  • Instant Yeast – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 1 Tbsp


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast.
  2. Create a well in the center and add in the water, oil, and salt.
  3. Mix together using a spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until combined.
  5. Shape the dough into a rough rectangle. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 2 hours.
  6. Turn the dough out and divide into two pieces. Gently shape each into an oblong loaf.
  7. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and proof for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 450°F. Make diagonal slices across the top of the loaves.
  9. Mist loaves with water and bake 20-25 minutes until deep golden brown.
  10. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

The key with ciabatta is being very gentle while shaping to avoid degassing the air bubbles in the dough. The high hydration dough should be handled minimally. Allowing a long proof time develops more complex flavors.

How to Store Ciabatta

Ciabatta has a softer crumb than many breads, so it tends to stale faster. Here are some tips for storing ciabatta:

– Store at room temperature up to 2 days in a bread bag or box. The paper bag helps wick away moisture.

– For longer storage, freeze ciabatta for up to 2-3 months in a plastic freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before use.

– Slice ciabatta before freezing to make it easier to thaw and use a few slices at a time.

– Avoid refrigerating ciabatta as the cold, humid environment causes it to stale quickly.

– Refresh stale ciabatta by sprinkling it with water and baking at 350°F for a few minutes to crisp the crust.

– Leftover ciabatta can be used for dishes like panzanella salad, bread pudding, croutons, and breadcrumbs.

Common Questions

Can I eat ciabatta on a gluten-free diet?

No, regular ciabatta contains gluten so it is not suitable for those following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free substitutes made from flours like rice flour, almond flour, and chickpea flour can be used instead.

Is sourdough ciabatta gluten-free?

Sourdough ciabatta is not gluten-free. While the fermentation process may make it easier to digest for some people, sourdough bread still contains gluten from the wheat flour used. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate any amount of gluten.

Does ciabatta bread have dairy in it?

Traditional ciabatta does not contain any dairy ingredients. However, some recipes may use small amounts of butter or milk to enrich the dough. Always check the ingredient label to see if any dairy has been added if you have dietary restrictions.

What can I use instead of ciabatta?

Good substitutes for ciabatta include French baguette, Italian bread, focaccia, pita bread, or gluten-free breads. Choose breads with a similarly light, thin crust and soft interior crumb. Sourdough and whole grain breads can also work well.


Ciabatta is a classic Italian white bread made from wheat flour, water, salt, and yeast. Since it is made entirely from wheat flour, ciabatta bread does contain gluten protein. This makes it unsuitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities who require a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free ciabatta can be made by substituting the wheat flour with a blend of gluten-free flours and starches. There are also many pre-made gluten-free ciabatta bread options available for purchase. When prepared properly using gentle handling, ciabatta is a delicious and airy wheat bread that pairs well with many foods.

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