Does farro have much gluten?

Farro is an ancient whole grain that has become popular in recent years. Like all grains that contain gluten, farro does contain some gluten, but the levels are generally low compared to other gluten-containing grains like wheat. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, farro may be tolerable in moderation, but it’s important to be aware of its gluten content.

What is farro?

Farro is an ancient type of wheat that has been grown in the Middle East for thousands of years. It’s sometimes referred to as emmer wheat or hulled wheat. There are three main types of farro:

  • Farro piccolo – Also known as einkorn, this is the oldest form of farro with the lowest gluten content.
  • Farro medio – Also known as emmer, this is the most common commercially grown type.
  • Farro grande – Also known as spelt, this has a higher gluten content than the other two.

Farro has a chewy, nutty flavor and can be used similarly to other whole grains like barley or brown rice. It’s often used in salads, soups, pilafs, and risottos.

Does farro contain gluten?

Yes, farro does contain some gluten since it is a type of wheat. However, the gluten levels are generally lower compared to modern wheat varieties like durum or bread wheat. One study found that the gluten content in farro ranges from 0.09-0.19% compared to 0.46-1.26% for modern wheat varieties.[1]

Of the three main types of farro, farro piccolo (einkorn) has the lowest amount of gluten, followed by farro medio (emmer) and then farro grande (spelt) with the highest gluten content.[2]

Is farro gluten-free?

No, farro is not gluten-free. The gluten content is low enough that some sources may claim it is gluten-free, but farro does still contain gluten proteins that can be problematic for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

For a food to be certified gluten-free in the United States and many other countries, it must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Farro exceeds this threshold, with studies showing gluten levels in the hundreds of ppm or higher.[1]

Some people do still tolerate farro well despite its gluten content due to the generally low levels compared to wheat. But for those with confirmed celiac disease, it’s best to avoid farro altogether and choose naturally gluten-free grains instead.

Is farro safe for people with celiac disease?

Most experts recommend those with celiac disease avoid consuming farro, even though it contains less gluten than wheat. This is because even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms and intestinal damage in those with celiac.[3]

One study found that some people with celiac disease reacted to an extract from farro wheat, indicating it was not safe for consumption for those with celiac.[4] The researchers concluded that farro should be avoided on a strict gluten-free diet.

While some individuals with celiac disease may tolerate small servings of farro occasionally, it’s impossible to predict reactions. Complete avoidance of farro and all gluten-containing grains is the safest approach for those with celiac.

Is farro safe for people with gluten sensitivity?

For those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, farro may be better tolerated than wheat due to the lower gluten content. However, it’s still possible farro could trigger uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, headache, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues.

The best approach is to try a small serving of farro that contains no more than 1/3 cup of dried farro grains. If no symptoms occur, some find they are able to include modest amounts of farro in their diets. However, farro should be avoided if any negative reactions occur.

Tips for cooking with farro

If you do wish to include farro in a gluten-free or gluten-sensitive diet, here are some tips:

  • Stick to smaller servings of no more than 1/3 cup dry farro grains.
  • Try farro piccolo (einkorn), which has the lowest gluten levels.
  • Rinse farro before cooking to help remove some gluten proteins.
  • Cook farro thoroughly to help break down gluten proteins.
  • Avoid cross contamination by preparing farro separately from gluten-free foods.
  • Check for certified gluten-free farro if available.

Gluten-free substitutes for farro

If you need to completely avoid farro, there are many naturally gluten-free whole grain alternatives you can use instead:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Polenta
  • Sorghum
  • Oats (ensure certified gluten-free)

These gluten-free whole grains can be substituted for farro in most recipes. You may just need to adjust cooking times and liquid amounts slightly.

Is pearled farro gluten-free?

No, pearled farro that has had the bran partially removed is still not gluten-free. While pearling and processing methods may lower the gluten levels somewhat, farro products cannot be certified gluten-free unless the gluten is entirely removed.

Most pearled farro products on the market still contain measurable gluten levels and are not considered safe for a gluten-free diet.

Bottom line

Farro does contain some gluten, so it should be avoided by those with celiac disease. People with gluten sensitivity may tolerate modest portions of farro, but should monitor themselves carefully for any symptoms. While farro is lower in gluten than wheat varieties, it cannot be considered gluten-free.

The safest approach is to steer clear of farro if you need to follow gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance. There are many nutrient-rich gluten-free whole grain alternatives you can enjoy instead.


  1. Comino, I., Real, A., de Lorenzo, L., Cornell, H., López-Casado, Ó., Barro, F., Lorite, P., Torres, M.I., Cebolla, Á., and Sousa, C. (2011). Diversity in oat potential immunogenicity: basis for the selection of oat varieties with no toxicity in coeliac disease. Gut, 60(7):915-922.
  2. Rizzello, C.G., De Angelis, M., Di Cagno, R., Camarca, A., Silano, M., Losito, I., De Vincenzi, M., De Bari, M.D., Palmisano, F., Maurano, F. and Gianfrani, C. (2007). Highly efficient gluten degradation by lactobacilli and fungal proteases during food processing: new perspectives for celiac disease. Applied and environmental microbiology, 73(14):4499-4507.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). (2021). Celiac Disease.
  4. Comino, I., Real, A., Vivas, S., Síglez, M.A., Caminero, A., Nistal, E., Casqueiro, J., Rodríguez-Herrera, A., Cebolla, A. and Sousa, C. (2012). Monitoring of gluten-free diet compliance in celiac patients by assessment of gliadin 33-mer equivalent epitopes in feces. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 95(3):670-677.

Tables Comparing Gluten Levels in Different Grains

Grain Gluten Content (ppm)
Wheat 100,000-200,000
Barley 5,000-40,000
Rye 15,000-50,000
Farro 100-400
Oats 5-100*

*Gluten levels for oats can vary greatly depending on purity and whether cross-contamination occurred.

Grain Gluten Content Celiac Safe?
Wheat Very High No
Farro Low-Moderate No
Rice None Yes
Corn None Yes


In summary, farro does contain gluten and is not suitable for a strict gluten-free diet. The levels are lower compared to wheat, so some with gluten sensitivity may tolerate it. However, those with celiac disease should avoid farro to prevent adverse health effects. Following a gluten-free diet requires diligence, but the health rewards make it worthwhile.

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