Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and for those simply looking to cut back on gluten for health or dietary reasons. For those following a gluten-free diet, pizza can seem off-limits, but thankfully there are many delicious gluten-free pizza options available today. When monitoring carbohydrate intake, an important question for those eating gluten-free pizza is how many grams of carbohydrates are in a single slice. This can help you make informed decisions about your diet and how to best fit gluten-free pizza in. Below we will explore this question in depth and provide the carb counts for different types of gluten-free pizza slices.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Before looking at the carb counts for gluten-free pizza specifically, it helps to understand what carbohydrates are and why their intake matters for those monitoring their health and diet. Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients found in foods, along with protein and fat. Many foods contain combinations of these three macronutrients in varying amounts.
Carbohydrates are vital compounds that provide the body with its main source of energy. All carbohydrates are composed of sugar molecules that are eventually broken down into glucose in the body. Glucose enters the bloodstream and insulin helps shuttle it into the body’s cells where it can be used for energy.
There are three main types of carbohydrates:
- Sugars – Found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products. Also added to foods and drinks as a sweetener.
- Starches – Found in grains, vegetables, beans/lentils. The main carbs in gluten-free pizza crust.
- Fiber – Found in plant foods. Not fully digested and absorbed by the body.
When looking at carb contents, the main focus is on total carbohydrates, which includes all three types. Fiber is sometimes listed separately since it does not impact blood sugar. For those looking to control blood sugar levels and insulin response, monitoring total carb intake from all foods is recommended, including gluten-free pizza.
Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts and Carbs
The main source of carbohydrates in pizza comes from the crust. Traditional pizza crust contains flour made from wheat, which provides starch and protein. Gluten-free pizza cannot contain wheat, barley, or rye to avoid gluten. Instead, gluten-free crusts are typically made with flours and starches from grains and starchy vegetables that do not contain gluten. These include:
- Rice flour
- Tapioca flour
- Potato starch
- Corn flour
- Nut flours (almond, coconut)
- Bean flours (chickpea, lentil)
Different gluten-free crusts use various combinations of these starches and flours. The carbohydrate content can vary somewhat based on the specific ingredients. However, most gluten-free pizza crusts provide between 30-50 grams of total carbs per regular thin crust pizza crust or 7-12 inch crust.
Some key factors impacting the carb content:
- Type of flours used – Nut flours are lower carb than grain/bean flours
- Thickness of the crust – Thin crust pizzas have fewer carbs from less crust
- Crust size – Smaller crust sizes (personal pizzas) have fewer carbs
So when looking at a slice of gluten-free pizza, you can estimate the crust contributes approximately 15-25g of total carbs depending on the size and thickness.
Cheese and Sauce Carb Content
In addition to the crust, the cheese and sauce on top of the pizza also contribute to the overall carb content per slice. Cheese is generally low in carbohydrates, providing less than 1g carb per ounce. So a typical sprinkle of mozzarella or cheddar cheese adds minimal carbs.
Pizza sauce can have more variability in carb content. Simple pizza sauces are based on tomatoes and herbs, providing around 3-5g carbs per 1/4 cup sauce. More complex white sauces made with flour, milk, and cheese provide around 10-15g carbs per 1/4 cup.
For a typical slice with 2-4 ounces of cheese and 1/4 cup of sauce, you can estimate around 5-10g of additional carbs from these toppings.
Impact of Other Toppings
Beyond the crust, cheese, and sauce any additional pizza toppings included can also boost the carbohydrate counts. Some low-carb veggie options like mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach only provide around 2-5g carbs per serving. Other higher-carb veggie toppings like olives, tomatoes, and artichokes may provide 5-10g each.
Meats like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, chicken have minimal carb counts of 0-2g per serving. Higher carb toppings like plant-based meats, pineapple, and corn can add anywhere from 5-15g carbs to a slice.
So if you load up your gluten-free pizza with lots of high-carb toppings beyond a couple veggies, expect the carbs to rise significantly compared to a basic cheese pizza.
Nutrition Facts for Gluten-Free Pizza Slices
Now that we’ve explored how the crust, sauce, cheese and toppings impact the carb counts, let’s look at some actual nutrition facts examples for gluten-free pizza slices from popular national brands.
Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza
|Pizza Type||Serving Size||Total Carbs|
|Cheese Pizza||1/6 pizza (140g)||30g|
|Supreme Pizza||1/6 pizza (140g)||32g|
|Margherita Pizza||1/6 pizza (140g)||30g|
As you can see, Udi’s gluten-free pizzas provide around 30g total carbs per slice regardless of toppings, since the crust contributes most of the carbs.
Against the Grain Gluten Free Pizza
|Pizza Type||Serving Size||Total Carbs|
|Cheese Pizza||1/3 pizza (133g)||41g|
|Pesto Pizza||1/3 pizza (133g)||41g|
|BBQ Chicken Pizza||1/3 pizza (133g)||43g|
Against the Grain pizzas contain slightly more carbs with around 40-43g per slice. Their crust uses a blend of rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.
Caulipower Gluten Free Pizza
|Pizza Type||Serving Size||Total Carbs|
|Margherita Pizza||1/3 pizza (106g)||17g|
|Cheese Pizza||1/3 pizza (106g)||19g|
|Veggie Pizza||1/3 pizza (106g)||21g|
Caulipower uses cauliflower crust to make their pizzas lower in carbs with only 17-21g per slice. Their smaller crust size and thin, veggie-based crust reduces the total carb content.
Other Brand Comparison
Looking beyond these examples, most gluten-free pizzas range from 20-45g total carbs per average slice depending on the crust ingredients, thickness, and size. Personal size gluten-free pizzas may have 15-30g carbs for the whole pizza.
Some other brand comparisons:
- Calise & Sons Bakery – 25-35g carbs per slice
- Palermo Villa – 35-40g carbs per slice
- Gillian’s – 30-40g carbs per slice
- Schar – 25-35g carbs per slice
- Glutino – 25-35g carbs per slice
- Sam’s Choice (Walmart) – 30-40g per slice
As you can see, most major gluten-free pizza brands provide a relatively similar carbohydrate profile. Checking the nutrition facts label or company website can give you the exact counts for any brand.
Tips for Lower Carb Gluten-Free Pizza
If you are looking for ways to reduce the carbs in your gluten-free pizza, consider these tips:
- Choose thin crust over thick crust
- Select a smaller pizza size or mini personal pies
- Look for crusts made with nut flours or cauliflower
- Load up on low-carb toppings like meat and veggies
- Limit high-carb toppings like pineapple, plant-based meats, etc.
- Order only 1-2 slices instead of eating a whole pizza
- Scrape off excess sauce or blot with a napkin to reduce carbs
Making your own gluten-free pizza at home also lets you control the specific ingredients and portions for a lower-carb pizza.
Health Impact of Gluten-Free Pizza
For those who need to follow a gluten-free diet, being able to still enjoy pizza is a great option for when you want a quick and tasty meal. Even though gluten-free pizza tends to be higher in carbohydrates than a low-carb meal, it can be incorporated as an occasional treat within a healthy gluten-free diet.
Some benefits of choosing gluten-free pizza include:
- Provides variety from standard gluten-free meals
- Lets you enjoy a favorite food like pizza
- Suitable for social events, parties, family meals
- Can be a source of protein, vitamins, minerals from cheese/veggies
- Offers convenience for busy schedules
Of course, overdoing any one food in your diet is not ideal for health. Gluten-free pizza should be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall nutrient-dense gluten-free diet, not as an everyday meal. Consider it one tasty option that adds joy and flexibility to your gluten-free lifestyle.
In summary, a slice of gluten-free pizza contains approximately:
- 15-25g net carbs from the gluten-free crust
- 5-10g additional carbs from cheese and sauce
- 0-15g extra carbs from any toppings
This brings a total typical range of 20-45g net carbs in one slice of gluten-free pizza depending on the brand, type, size, and toppings included. Factors like a thin, cauliflower-based crust and lower-carb toppings can reduce the carbs, while thick crusts and high-carb toppings increase carbs.
When planning your gluten-free diet, be sure to check labels and fit your favorite pizza in reasonably. With some adjustments and thoughtful portions, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of gluten-free pizza while maintaining a healthy diet!