How to order gluten free in Spanish?

Ordering gluten-free food in Spanish can seem daunting if you don’t know the right phrases or vocabulary. However, with some key sentences and preparation, you can successfully order gluten-free meals in Spanish-speaking countries.

Why Order Gluten-Free in Spanish?

There are a few main reasons you may need to order gluten-free food in Spanish:

  • You have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
  • You are following a gluten-free diet.
  • You want to avoid wheat/gluten while traveling in Spanish-speaking countries.

Knowing how to communicate about gluten in Spanish enables you to eat safely and enjoy the wonderful cuisines in Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking destinations.

Challenges of Ordering Gluten-Free in Spanish

Some key challenges when ordering gluten-free in Spanish include:

  • Language barrier – You may not know the right Spanish terms.
  • Awareness – Not all restaurants/food vendors understand gluten-free needs.
  • Cross-contamination – You need to communicate steps to avoid cross-contact.
  • Fewer gluten-free options – The gluten-free movement is smaller in some regions.

With preparation and by learning key phrases in Spanish, you can overcome these challenges successfully.

Key Spanish Vocabulary and Phrases for Gluten-Free Dining

Here are some of the most important Spanish words and phrases to know when ordering gluten-free:

Gluten-Free Diet Terms

  • Gluten-free = Sin gluten
  • Wheat-free = Sin trigo
  • Celiac Disease = Enfermedad celiaca

Questions to Ask

  • Does this contain gluten? = ¿Esto contiene gluten?
  • Can you prepare this gluten-free? = ¿Puede preparar esto sin gluten?
  • Is there wheat in this? = ¿Hay trigo en esto?
  • Was this prepared with the same utensils as gluten foods? = ¿Esto fue preparado con los mismos utensilios que otras comidas con gluten?


  • I need a gluten-free meal = Necesito una comida sin gluten
  • Please prepare this without gluten = Por favor prepárelo sin gluten
  • Separate gluten-free preparation area = Área de preparación de comida sin gluten separada
  • New pots, pans and utensils = Ollas, sartenes y utensilios nuevos

Food Items to Double Check

When eating gluten-free in Spanish, there are some key food items that often contain gluten or wheat. Here are some important things to double check:

Breads and Grains

  • Wheat bread = Pan de trigo
  • Corn tortillas = Tortillas de maíz (should be gluten-free)
  • Flour tortillas = Tortillas de harina (contain wheat flour)
  • Bread crumbs = Migas de pan (contain gluten)
  • Pasta = Pasta (typically contains gluten)

Sauces, Soups and Broths

  • Soy Sauce = Salsa de soja (contains wheat)
  • Mole sauce = Salsa mole (can contain gluten)
  • Beef broth = Caldo de res (can contain gluten)
  • Chicken broth = Caldo de pollo (can contain gluten)

Flours and Starches

  • Wheat flour = Harina de trigo
  • Corn starch = Maicena (make sure 100% corn and no additives)

Seasonings and Additives

  • Flavor additives = Saborizantes (can contain gluten)
  • Seasonings = Condimentos (can contain wheat/gluten)

Beer and Spirits

  • Beer = Cerveza (contains gluten)
  • Lager = Cerveza lager (contains gluten)

Double check these common culprits, and when in doubt, ask if it contains gluten!

Dining Scenarios

Here are some sample conversations and helpful phrases for common dining scenarios when eating gluten-free in Spanish:

At a Restaurant

You: Disculpe, ¿tienen opciones sin gluten? Estoy siguiendo una dieta sin gluten.
Excuse me, do you have gluten-free options? I’m following a gluten-free diet.

Waiter: Sí, tenemos una carta para comidas sin gluten. También puede pedir cualquier plato y podemos adaptarlo.
Yes, we have a gluten-free menu. You can also order any dish and we can adapt it.

You: Perfecto, gracias. Por favor asegúrese que todo se prepare sin contaminación cruzada.
Perfect, thank you. Please make sure everything is prepared without cross-contamination.

Ordering a Meal

You: Quisiera pedir el pescado al horno con verduras. Por favor prepárelo sin gluten, con utensilios limpios.
I would like to order the baked fish with vegetables. Please prepare it gluten-free, with clean utensils.

Waiter: Claro, con gusto. Para evitar la contaminación, usaremos sartenes y utensilios nuevos.
Of course, with pleasure. To avoid contamination, we will use new pots and utensils.

You: Gracias, lo aprecio mucho.
Thank you, I really appreciate it.

Asking about Specific Dishes

You: ¿El arroz contiene gluten o fue preparado con caldo de pollo?
Does the rice contain gluten or was it prepared with chicken broth?

Waiter: El arroz solo contiene arroz, sin gluten. Y usamos caldo de verduras, sin contaminación.
The rice only contains rice, without gluten. And we use vegetable broth, without contamination.

You: ¡Excelente! Lo ordenaré entonces.
Excellent! I will order it then.

At a Bakery

You: Disculpe, ¿tienen panes, galletas u otros productos horneados sin gluten?
Excuse me, do you have breads, cookies, or other baked goods without gluten?

Employee: Sí, tenemos algunas opciones sin gluten, como pan de centeno y galletas de azúcar. También pueden hornear productos especialmente sin gluten si los pide con un día de anticipación.
Yes, we have some gluten-free options, like rye bread and sugar cookies. We can also bake gluten-free products specially if you order them one day in advance.

You: ¡Qué bueno! Déme una hogaza de pan de centeno sin gluten y media docena de galletas de azúcar sin gluten, por favor.
How great! Let me get one loaf of gluten-free rye bread and half a dozen gluten-free sugar cookies, please.

At Street Food Vendor

You: Perdón, ¿las empanadas tienen trigo? Necesito comida sin gluten.
Excuse me, do the empanadas have wheat? I need gluten-free food.

Vendor: Si señor, las empanadas tienen masa de harina de trigo. Pero también vendo tamales de maíz que pueden ser sin gluten. ¿Le gustaría un tamal de pollo?
Yes sir, the empanadas have wheat flour dough. But I also sell corn tamales that can be gluten-free. Would you like a chicken tamale?

You: ¡Sí, excelente! Un tamal de pollo sin gluten, por favor.
Yes, excellent! One gluten-free chicken tamale, please.

Requesting Gluten-Free Side Dishes

You: Quisiera los vegetales asados y el arroz como guarniciones, por favor. Sin embargo, soy celiaco, así que por favor confirme que no tienen gluten ni contaminación cruzada.
I would like the roasted vegetables and rice as side dishes, please. However, I have celiac disease, so please confirm they don’t contain gluten or cross-contamination.

Waiter: Por supuesto. Nuestras verduras y el arroz solo tienen ingredientes simples, sin gluten. Puedo asegurarle que no hay contaminación cruzada en la preparación.
Of course. Our vegetables and rice only have simple ingredients, without gluten. I can assure you there is no cross-contamination in the preparation.

You: Perfecto, muchas gracias.
Perfect, thank you very much.

Trying Traditional Dishes Gluten-Free

Many iconic dishes in Spanish/Latin cuisine are naturally gluten-free or can be modified. Here are some tips for enjoying traditional foods on a gluten-free diet:

Tacos and Tortillas

– Request 100% corn tortillas to avoid wheat flour
– Fillings like meat, beans, veggies are usually gluten-free
– Ask about seasonings and salsas that may contain gluten


– Raw fish cured in citrus, without breading or batter
– Choose corn tortilla chips vs. wheat flour chips


– Filled corn dough should be safe, but confirm fillings/wrappers are gluten-free
– Banana leaf tamales are naturally gluten-free


– Request filling without wheat flour in the dough or sauce
– May be able to do cornmeal or cassava flour empanada dough


– Ask if they can be fried in a separate gluten-free oil
– Dust with cinnamon-sugar instead of wheat flour after frying


– Traditionally rice-based, but check broths/ingredients
– Seafood and veggie paella are good gluten-free choices

With some adjustments, you can enjoy the incredible flavors of Spanish and Latin American food gluten-free!

Finding Gluten-Free Mexican Food

In Mexico, wheat/corn tortilla options make it relatively gluten-free friendly. Here are tips for eating gluten-free in Mexico:

Tacos and Antojitos

– Corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free
– Request fillings without wheat/gluten additives
– Ask for homemade salsas and corn chips vs. packaged

Street Food

– Elote, fruit cups are safe gluten-free bets
– Tamales, soups, ceviche are good options
– Inquire about empanadas, molotes dough ingredients

At Restaurants

– Look for “sin gluten” menus or options
– Explain your needs; many chefs can accommodate
– Try grilled meats, seafood dishes with rice and veggies

Being Precautious

– Wheat tortillas, soy sauce, broths/bouillons may have gluten
– Avoid deep fried items with potential cross-contamination
– Check seasonings, sauces, and desserts for wheat ingredients

Some Naturally Gluten-Free Dishes

– Pozole (corn hominy stew)
– Carnitas (braised pork)
– Arroz con pollo (chicken + rice)
– Aguas frescas (fresh fruit drinks)
– Fruta con chile y limón (fruit bowl with chili powder + lime)

With basic precautions, you can indulge in incredible Mexican food gluten-free!

Eating Gluten-Free in Spain

Spain has amazing culinary traditions, but wheat is ubiquitous. Here are tips for finding gluten-free food in Spain:

Tapas and Pintxos

– Grilled meats, seafood, cheese, olives are good tapas picks
– Avoid breaded/fried options and bread topping pinchos
– Check pâtés, croquettes for gluten ingredients

Paella and Rice Dishes

– Paella is traditionally gluten-free, but confirm specific ingredients
– Other rice dishes like arròs negre are good if avoid gluten additives
– Check soy sauce, stocks, and flavorings

Soups and Gazpacho

– Ask if wheat is used to thicken broths
– Request gazpacho without bread garnish on top
– Avoid caldo verde and bread-thickened sopa de ajo


– Flan, rice pudding, fresh fruit are gluten-free choices
– Avoid churros, cookies, almond cakes with wheat flour
– Inquire about gelatos, sorbet ingredients


– Wine, sherry, cava, coffee, mineral water are gluten-free
– Beer contains gluten; cider, rum, tequila are gluten-free alternatives

With vigilance, you can safely navigate Spanish meals! Explain your needs and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Tips for Eating Gluten-Free in Spanish Speaking Countries

Here are some overall tips for sticking to your gluten-free diet in Spanish speaking countries:

Research Ahead

– Find gluten-free dining guides for the region you’re visiting
– Note restaurant options with “sin gluten” menus or call ahead

Explain your needs

– Have gluten-free info cards handy to present to staff
– Politely explain diet, allergies & need to avoid cross-contamination

Know risky ingredients

– Wheat, rye and barley must be avoided
– Soy sauce, malt vinegar, beer, broths often have gluten

Request plain preparations

– Get meat, fish, veggies simply grilled, baked, or steamed
– Ask for salad dressings, salsas, marinades on the side

Enjoy naturally gluten-free foods

– Corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits, vegetables
– Lean meats, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds

Pack snacks

– Bring gluten-free bars, nuts, dried fruit in case of limited options
– Grocery shop for gluten-free snacks like corn chips too

Check labels

– Verify packaged foods have Spanish “sin gluten” label
– Watch for hidden wheat ingredients like maltodextrin

Use a translation app

– Have must-know gluten-free phrases handy
– Apps can help you ask about ingredients, cross-contamination, etc.

Key Takeaways

Ordering gluten-free meals in Spanish may seem challenging, but with the right phrases and preparation, you can dine safely in Spanish-speaking countries. Some key tips include:

– Know the Spanish terms for gluten-free and common allergens like wheat
– Ask questions about preparation methods and ingredients
– Request foods be made without cross-contamination
– Double check menu items like breads, sauces, broths for hidden gluten
– Seek out naturally gluten-free dishes like corn tortillas, grilled meats, rice dishes
– Explain your needs clearly and politely to restaurant staff
– Use a translation app or gluten-free dining card to aid communication

With the essential gluten-free phrases, knowledge of ingredients, and precautions around cross-contact, you can happily indulge in the incredible cuisine across Spain, Mexico, and more! Buen provecho and happy gluten-free dining!

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