Does cream of rice have gluten?

Cream of rice is a type of hot cereal made from ground rice. It has a creamy, pudding-like texture and is commonly used as a breakfast food or comfort food. But an important question for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or who follow a gluten-free diet is: does cream of rice have gluten?

The short answer is no, cream of rice does not contain gluten. Rice is naturally gluten-free. And pure cream of rice made from just rice and water would not contain gluten. However, there are some exceptions. Read on to learn more about whether cream of rice contains gluten and what to watch out for.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It helps give elasticity to dough, and often gives a chewy texture to baked goods. Gluten is found in many common grains and is a staple of products like bread, pasta, crackers and baked goods.

However, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten. When they eat it, it triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, fatigue and nutritional deficiencies. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

So for those who must follow a gluten-free diet, checking labels and understanding what foods contain gluten is extremely important.

Is rice gluten-free?

Yes, rice does not naturally contain gluten. Rice is considered a gluten-free grain and is not closely related to wheat or barley.

There are many different varieties of rice including white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice and more. All types of plain rice and rice products, including rice flour, rice noodles and rice cereals like cream of rice, are naturally gluten-free.

So pure cream of rice made from just rice and water would not contain gluten.

Does cream of rice have gluten?

Plain cream of rice that contains just rice and water does not contain gluten. However, some pre-packaged cream of rice mixes or flavored cream of rice products may contain other ingredients or cross-contamination risks.

Here are some considerations when evaluating if a cream of rice product has gluten:

  • Added flavorings or sugars: Some instant flavored cream of rice products have added sugars, syrups or natural flavorings that could contain gluten. Always check the label.
  • Cross-contamination: Even if the cream of rice mix itself is gluten-free, cross-contamination during manufacturing is possible if it’s made on shared equipment with gluten-containing grains. Look for verified gluten-free labels.
  • Added vitamins or minerals: Cream of rice sold as an enriched hot cereal may have added vitamins and minerals that potentially contain gluten. Check the ingredients.
  • Use of wheat starch: Some cream of rice cereals use wheat starch to improve the texture. This would contain gluten.
  • Grain blends: Blended or multi-grain cream of rice products may contain other grains like barley or rye that contain gluten.

So while plain cream of rice is gluten-free, flavored varieties may contain sources of gluten. Carefully read ingredient lists and look for gluten-free certifications when choosing packaged cream of rice products.

Is all rice gluten-free?

While traditional varieties of rice are gluten-free, there are some exceptions:

  • Wheat rice – This is made by combining rice flour with wheat flour. It would contain gluten.
  • Brown rice flour – Some brown rice flours may be milled together with other gluten-containing grains, contaminating the rice flour.
  • Processed rice products – Ingredients like rice syrup or rice malt can sometimes contain gluten if barley enzymes were used in processing. Check labels.

So in most cases, rice and rice products are gluten-free. But occasionally rice-based ingredients may be processed in a way that introduces gluten. It’s always best to verify the gluten-free status when choosing packaged rice foods.

What about arsenic in rice?

Rice does have higher levels of arsenic compared to other grains, because rice efficiently absorbs arsenic from soil and water.

Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal that can be harmful to health in large amounts. Long-term exposure to high levels in rice has been linked to increased risk of some cancers.

Rice products like cream of rice tend to have lower arsenic levels compared to brown or white rice. Still, eating a variety of gluten-free grains, not just rice, is recommended as part of a healthy gluten-free diet. Quinoa, oats, buckwheat, amaranth and millet are nutritious gluten-free alternatives.

Is cream of rice safe for a gluten-free diet?

Plain cream of rice made from just rice and water is safe for a gluten-free diet. It’s naturally gluten-free and does not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, barley or rye.

Just be aware that flavored, instant and pre-packaged varieties may potentially contain sources of gluten from added ingredients or cross-contamination. Your safest bet is to choose verified gluten-free brands or make your own basic cream of rice at home using gluten-free grains.

What about cross-contamination risks?

Even if a cream of rice product is made without gluten-containing ingredients, cross-contamination is still a risk.

This can occur if it’s produced on shared equipment or in the same facility as other products containing gluten. Some amount of gluten could get into the final product and be dangerous to those who are highly sensitive.

That’s why it’s important to choose cream of rice products that are certified gluten-free when possible. This means the company has processes in place to avoid cross-contamination with gluten.

Some trustworthy gluten-free labels and certifications to look for include:

  • Certified Gluten-Free by GFCO – This is one of the most widely available gluten-free certifications.
  • Gluten-Free Certification Program by NSF – Indicates facilities and processes are gluten-free.
  • Purity Protocol by Purity Foods – Tests all ingredients down to 5ppm of gluten.
  • Certified by 1-2-3 Gluten Free – Gluten levels must test below 10ppm.

Checking for these labels provides assurance that the product was made safely for gluten-free diets.

How to make homemade cream of rice

One of the healthiest and cheapest options is to make your own basic cream of rice at home.

This only requires two simple gluten-free ingredients:

  • Rice – Use a gluten-free variety like white rice, brown rice or basmati rice.
  • Water or milk – For totally dairy-free, use water or an unsweetened non-dairy milk.

Here is a simple stovetop recipe to make 2 servings of basic cream of rice at home:


  • 1⁄2 cup white rice
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water or milk
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
  2. Add the rinsed rice, water or milk and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender and creamy.
  4. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more liquid if needed.
  5. Remove from heat and serve warm. Top with preferred toppings like fruit, nuts, maple syrup or milk.

You can make a larger batch and store any leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat servings with a little extra milk or water to get the desired creamy consistency.

This basic homemade cream of rice is gluten-free, economical and customizable. Feel free to experiment with different types of rice or dairy and plant-based milks. Brown rice and coconut milk is a tasty combo!

What about oats?

Oats are a common gluten-free substitute for rice in breakfast cereals and porridges. But it’s important to use certified gluten-free oats.

Oats themselves do not contain gluten. However, they are often cross-contaminated with wheat or barley during growing and processing.

Be sure to choose oats that are certified gluten-free and say “gluten-free” on the packaging. These come from dedicated gluten-free facilities and are uncontaminated.

Popular gluten-free oat brands include:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats
  • GFCO Certified Gluten-Free Oats
  • Oat Dream Oat Brand Gluten Free Oats
  • Harvester Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
  • Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Oats

Look for these gluten-free oat options if you want to use oats instead of rice for your morning porridge. They are a hearty, gluten-free alternative to cream of rice.

What about other hot breakfast cereals?

In addition to cream of rice and oatmeal, some other naturally gluten-free breakfast porridge options include:

  • Millet porridge – Made from tiny gluten-free millet grains. Has a nice crunch.
  • Quinoa porridge – Made from protein-rich quinoa. Often made in non-dairy milks.
  • Buckwheat porridge – Made from buckwheat groats. Has an earthy, nutty flavor.
  • Corn grits porridge – Made from dried and ground corn. Has a corny taste.
  • Amaranth porridge – Made from tiny amaranth seeds. Has a porridge-like texture.

Mix up your morning routine by trying out these alternative hot breakfast cereals. They provide variety and rotate different nutrient-dense gluten-free grains.

What about gluten-free cream of wheat?

Cream of wheat is a similar hot breakfast cereal, but made with wheat instead of rice. Traditional cream of wheat contains gluten and is not safe for a gluten-free diet.

However, there are some gluten-free cream of wheat options made from other grains like corn, rice or quinoa. Brands include:

  • Better Oats Cream of Rice Hot Cereal
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Creamy Wheat
  • 3000 BC Corn Cream of Wheat
  • Ordibe Rice Cream of Wheat

Be sure to vet the ingredients and look for gluten-free certifications when purchasing these alternative cream of wheat products. But they can provide a similar creamy, porridge-like texture using gluten-free whole grains.

Is rice pasta gluten-free?

Pasta made from rice flour, rather than wheat flour, is gluten-free. Rice pasta makes a good substitution for traditional wheat pasta for those following a gluten-free diet.

Some popular brands of gluten-free rice pasta include:

  • Lundberg Organic Rice Pasta
  • Tinkyada Rice Pasta
  • DeBoles Organic Rice Pasta
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Rice Pasta
  • Barilla Gluten Free Rice Pasta

Rice noodles and rice vermicelli are also gluten-free pasta alternatives made from rice. Check that any rice pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility to avoid cross-contamination.

Is rice gluten-free for people with celiac disease?

Yes, all types of plain rice are considered gluten-free for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Rice does not contain the gluten proteins that trigger health issues.

Some studies have even shown that introducing rice early on can help improve symptoms for infants newly diagnosed with celiac disease.

However, those with celiac disease have to be extra cautious about cross-contamination when purchasing processed rice products like cream of rice. Be sure to look for “gluten-free” labels indicating no contamination.

Overall though, rice is one of the most convenient, gluten-free grain options for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It offers flexibility to make substitutions like using rice pasta or cereals.

Bottom line

Plain cream of rice made from just rice and water is gluten-free. But flavored, instant and packaged varieties may contain other ingredients or risks of cross-contamination with gluten. When buying pre-made cream of rice products, be sure to check the ingredients list and look for reputable gluten-free certifications on the label. Your safest option is to make basic cream of rice yourself at home using certified gluten-free rice and water or milk.

The takeaway

Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain, so plain cream of rice made from just rice and water is gluten-free. But packaged cream of rice mixes may contain other ingredients, additives or cross-contamination risks. Read labels carefully and look for verified gluten-free labels when choosing pre-made cream of rice products. Making your own basic cream of rice at home guarantees it’s gluten-free. Rice offers flexibility in following a gluten-free diet, but be wary of processed rice products that may introduce gluten.

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