Is American flatbread gluten free?

American flatbread, also known as naan, lavash, pizza dough, and more, is a staple food in many cuisines around the world. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, determining if these flatbreads are safe to eat can be challenging. This article will examine the ingredients, manufacturing processes, and certifications related to gluten content in various types of American flatbread. Quick answer: Most traditional American flatbread recipes contain gluten, but gluten-free options are increasingly available from brands certified gluten-free.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten provides the elasticity and structure that allows bread to rise. For most people, gluten poses no health concerns. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can cause issues for those with gluten disorders.

Common American Flatbread Types

There are many varieties of flatbread popular in American cuisine:

Pizza Crust

The thin, chewy crust used on most pizzas is a type of flatbread. Traditional pizza dough contains wheat flour, which provides the gluten structure. Gluten-free pizza crust alternatives utilize ingredients like rice flour, tapioca flour, almond flour or chickpea flour in place of wheat.

Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas have a thin, pliable texture. Traditional flour tortillas are made from wheat flour and contain gluten. Corn tortillas are gluten-free, but need to be designated as such to avoid cross-contamination.


Naan is a popular Indian flatbread traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven. It is made from a wheat flour dough and contains gluten. Gluten-free naan alternatives typically substitute rice flour, sorghum flour, chickpea flour, almond flour or coconut flour for the wheat flour.


These round flatbreads are known for their pocket-like interior when baked. Traditional pita is made from wheat flour and contains gluten. Gluten-free pita bread substitutes other flours like rice flour and tapioca flour.


Lavash is a soft, thin Armenian flatbread. Traditional lavash contains wheat flour and is not gluten-free. Gluten-free lavash options are made with almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour or sorghum flour instead.


Roti is an Indian flatbread made from whole wheat flour known as atta. Since it contains wheat, roti is not gluten-free. Gluten-free roti alternatives use rice flour, sorghum flour, chickpea flour or other gluten-free flours.


This spongy Ethiopian flatbread is traditionally made from teff flour. Some injera recipes also incorporate wheat flour, in which case it would contain gluten. 100% teff injera would be gluten-free.

Gluten Content in Flatbreads

Most traditional flatbread recipes call for wheat flour, which contains the proteins necessary to form gluten. Rye and barley also contain gluten. However, there are several gluten-free grains and flours used to produce flatbreads:

Naturally Gluten-Free Grains

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats*
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

*Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten during growing or processing. Only oats labeled “gluten-free” should be considered gluten-free.

Bean Flours

  • Black Bean Flour
  • Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • Fava Bean Flour
  • Lentil Flour
  • Pinto Bean Flour

Nut & Seed Flours

  • Almond Flour
  • Cashew Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Flaxseed Meal
  • Hazelnut Flour
  • Sunflower Seed Flour

Using these gluten-free ingredients, it is possible to create gluten-free versions of various flatbreads. However, contamination with glutenous ingredients can still be a concern in facilities producing both gluten-free and conventional options.

Is American Flatbread Gluten-Free?

Given the prevalence of wheat flour in traditional recipes, most American flatbread contains gluten. However, there are some exceptions:

  • 100% corn tortillas are gluten-free
  • Injera made from 100% teff flour is gluten-free
  • Flatbreads made from certified gluten-free oats are gluten-free
  • Flatbreads made with solely gluten-free ingredients in dedicated gluten-free facilities are gluten-free

For all other flatbread products, it is important to check the ingredients and manufacturing processes to determine if gluten could be present. Consumers need to be aware of potential cross-contamination even in products marketed as gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Certifications

To provide standards and assurance to gluten-sensitive consumers, there are organizations that certify food products as gluten-free. Some well-recognized gluten-free certifications to look for include:

  • Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
  • National Celiac Association Recognition Seal
  • Celiac Support Association Recognition Seal
  • Gluten Intolerance Group Certified Gluten-Free
  • Coeliac UK Gluten Free

Products bearing these logos have been tested to verify they contain less than 10-20ppm of gluten, depending on the certifying organization. This level is generally considered safe for most people with gluten disorders.

Gluten-Free American Flatbread Brands

There are a growing number of brands producing gluten-free versions of popular American flatbread products:

Pizza Crust

  • Against the Grain Gourmet Gluten-Free Pizza
  • Calise & Sons Bakery gluten-free pizza crust
  • Cappello’s gluten-free pizza crust
  • Gillian’s Foods gluten-free pizza crust
  • Namaste Foods gluten-free pizza crust


  • Food For Life brown rice tortillas
  • La Tortilla Factory gluten-free tortillas
  • Mission Foods gluten-free tortillas
  • Siete Foods grain-free tortillas
  • Tumaro’s gluten-free tortillas


  • Against the Grain Gourmet naan
  • Polentina’s Bakery gluten-free naan
  • Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value gluten-free naan

Pita Bread

  • Against the Grain Gourmet gluten-free pita
  • Kinnikinnick Foods gluten-free pita bread
  • Schar Gluten-Free Pitas
  • Toufayan Bakeries gluten-free pitas


  • Against the Grain Gourmet gluten-free lavash
  • Dr. Schar Lavash-Style Flatbread
  • Ian’s Natural Foods gluten-free lavash
  • Toufayan Bakeries gluten-free lavash


  • Ian’s Natural Foods gluten-free roti
  • South Asian Delights gluten-free roti
  • Tandoor Chef gluten-free roti

Making Gluten-Free Flatbread at Home

With some adjustments, many flatbread varieties can be made gluten-free at home:

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

  • Use a blend of flours like brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum
  • Let dough rise longer to develop texture without gluten
  • Roll dough thinner than regular crust
  • Bake at high heat on pizza stone or steel

Gluten-Free Tortillas

  • Mix masa harina with water and olive oil
  • Can also use combination of corn starch and gluten-free flour
  • Roll thin and cook briefly on each side in a hot pan

Gluten-Free Naan

  • Make dough from blend of gluten-free flours like rice flour, tapioca flour, chickpea flour
  • Add xanthan or guar gum to help mimic gluten
  • Shape naan and cook in a hot pan with ghee or oil

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

  • Use teff flour or sorghum flour for structure
  • Leaveners like baking powder help puff up the pita
  • Roll dough thin and bake at very high heat

With some experimentation, gluten-free alternatives can be developed for most flatbread recipes. Allowing extra rising time and using binding agents helps create the desired texture. Cooked in a dry skillet, grill pan or oven at high heat also helps achieve an authentic flatbread flavor and feel.

Potential Gluten Exposure from Flatbread

While many gluten-free flatbreads are available, there are some risks of gluten exposure to be aware of:

  • Cross-contamination during processing, especially on shared equipment
  • Use of wheat flour in restaurant kitchens making gluten-free items
  • Gluten-containing add-ins like cheese, garlic oil, seasoning
  • Use of same pans and utensils for glutenous and gluten-free flatbreads

To avoid inadvertent gluten consumption, dedicated gluten-free preparation areas and diligent label reading is required. Homemade flatbreads have the benefit of controlling the whole process.

Flatbread Alternatives for a Gluten-Free Diet

In addition to seeking out gluten-free flatbreads, there are many other naturally gluten-free bread options to consider:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Rice paper wrappers
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Collard green wraps
  • Sweet potato toast
  • Gluten-free bagels
  • Gluten-free buns
  • Gluten-free bread loaves

These alternatives allow those avoiding gluten to still enjoy sandwiches, burgers, tacos and other dishes typically served on or wrapped in flatbread.


While most traditional American flatbread recipes contain gluten, there are an increasing number of gluten-free options available. With proper gluten-free certification and preparation protocols, flatbreads like pizza crust, tortillas, naan and more can be made safe for gluten-sensitive diets. Careful label reading and safe preparation practices at home and restaurants are still important to limit risk of exposure. Thankfully, creativity and expanding gluten-free offerings provide more flatbread choices than ever for those avoiding gluten.

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