Is everything bagel gluten-free?

Everything bagels have become an increasingly popular breakfast and snack food item over the past few years. Their flavorful combination of multiple toppings like onions, garlic, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and salt provides a savory kick that many people love. However, with the rising awareness of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, many people wonder whether these beloved bagels are safe for them to eat.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It acts as a “glue” that helps foods maintain their shape and texture. For most people, gluten poses no health concerns. But for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, headache and skin rashes. Over time, the intestinal damage can also hinder nutrient absorption and lead to anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and other complications.

The only treatment for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. This means avoiding all foods and beverages containing wheat, rye, barley and triticale. Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often cross-contaminated with gluten during growing and processing.

Are everything bagels gluten-free?

The short answer is no—authentic everything bagels are not gluten-free. Here’s a more detailed look:


Traditional everything bagels are made using wheat flour, which contains the gluten protein. Some key ingredients in a classic everything bagel recipe include:

– Enriched wheat flour
– Water
– Yeast
– Malt barley
– Salt
– Garlic powder
– Onion powder
– Sesame seeds
– Poppy seeds
– Dried minced onion
– Dried minced garlic

The wheat flour and malt barley provide the gluten. Without these ingredients, the bagel dough wouldn’t have the elasticity needed to get the signature chewy bagel texture after boiling and baking.

Risk of cross-contamination

Even if a brand uses gluten-free grains instead of wheat flour to make everything bagels, there is still the risk of gluten cross-contamination during processing and preparation:

– Most bagel facilities also produce traditional wheat-based bagels, which introduces gluten into the shared equipment and environment. Trace amounts can get into “gluten-free” products.

– Bagels are often topped with sesame and poppy seeds sourced from facilities that also handle wheat-based products. The seeds can pick up traces of gluten along the way.

– At restaurants and cafes, everything bagels are typically stored and prepared alongside regular wheat bagels, increasing the chance for cross-contact with gluten.

So unless the product is certified gluten-free, everything bagels pose a high risk of gluten exposure.

What about gluten-removed wheat?

Some companies are now making “gluten-free” everything bagels using wheat that has been processed to remove gluten. However, experts don’t consider gluten-removed wheat to be a safe option for managing celiac disease or gluten sensitivity:

– There is limited regulation and oversight over gluten-removed claims. Research shows products often still contain levels of gluten that could cause issues for sensitive individuals.

– The root cause of the immune reaction is the wheat protein itself. Even tiny fragments of gluten left behind can trigger symptoms.

– It’s impossible to fully remove all gluten from wheat while maintaining the functionality and texture of flour.

So everything bagels made with gluten-removed wheat flour could still contain gluten and should be avoided on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free alternatives

While traditional everything bagels are off the menu for people avoiding gluten, some supermarket brands and bakeries now offer gluten-free versions made with alternate flours and grains. Here are some options:

1. Gluten-free flour blends

Specially formulated gluten-free flour blends are the most direct substitute for wheat flour in bagels:

– Blends made from grains and starches like rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour and millet flour mimic the texture and binding abilities of gluten.

– Popular brands include Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur and Cup4Cup gluten-free flour.

– Some added xanthan or guar gum improves elasticity.

The dough and taste is quite similar to traditional bagels. Just confirm the facility and any toppings used are gluten-free.

2. Individual gluten-free flours

Combinations of flours like brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, chickpea flour and oat flour can also be used to make gluten-free bagel dough. The texture may differ somewhat from traditional wheat-based bagels.

3. Grain-free options

Almond flour, coconut flour and cassava flour are grain-free choices for paleo, nut-free or low-carb everything bagels. The taste and texture will be lighter. Binders like eggs or xanthan gum are needed.

4. Ready-made gluten-free everything bagels

For convenience, many stores now sell pre-made gluten-free everything bagels:

– Brands like Canyon Bakehouse, Franz, Glutino, Udi’s and Bake Believe offer frozen and fresh packaged gluten-free everything bagels.

– They are produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities and tested to confirm gluten levels below 20 ppm.

– Read labels carefully to ensure no wheat, barley or rye ingredients.

5. From gluten-free bakeries

Many gluten-free and allergen-friendly bakeries also prepare fresh gluten-free everything bagels on-site using trusted ingredients and practices to avoid cross-contamination. These are great local options to try.

Are store-bought bagels processed in shared facilities safe?

Major brands like Thomas’ and Lender’s make some gluten-free bagels on the same lines as wheat-based bagels. They follow thorough sanitation protocols in between. But there is still some residual risk of cross-contact:

– One study found detectable gluten in 29% of gluten-free labelled foods made on shared lines.

– Around 10% had over 20 ppm, the maximum allowance to meet gluten-free labeling laws.

So individuals highly sensitive should exercise caution and look for dedicated facility brands. Others may be able to tolerate occasionally, but effects vary person-to-person. Check ingredient lists and call manufacturers with any questions.

Tips for safely eating store-bought gluten-free everything bagels

For those who can tolerate occasional trace gluten, these tips can further reduce exposure when buying gluten-free everything bagels made on shared lines:

– Look for dedicated toaster ovens labelled “gluten-free” at coffee shops and restaurants. Or request new gloves before handling.

– At home, toast bagels in a designated gluten-free toaster or toaster oven, not used for regular wheat breads.

– Avoid eating bagels toasted directly on shared bakery or pizza oven surfaces. Use parchment paper as a barrier.

– Carefully wipe down surfaces before preparation to avoid cross-contact from crumbs. Don’t cut on same boards as wheat-based breads.

– Check that all topping seeds come from certified gluten-free suppliers. Some brands sell “gluten-free” bagels but don’t verify toppings.

– Request that cream cheese, butter and other condiments are taken from newly opened containers, not shared tubs.

Being extra vigilant provides peace of mind. But for those highly sensitive, choosing brands produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities remains the safest option.

What about oat everything bagels?

Oats don’t naturally contain gluten. However, most mainstream oats get cross-contaminated with barley, wheat and rye during growing and processing. So oat everything bagels are not considered gluten-free unless specifically labelled “gluten-free” or using purity protocol oats:

– Gluten-free oats are cultured and harvested under special procedures to prevent contamination in the field and facility.

– Purity protocol oatmeal has under 10 ppm gluten and is considered celiac-safe by many experts.

– Look for certified brands like GF Harvest, Cream Hill Estates and Glutenfreeda.

Oat everything bagels made with certified gluten-free oat flour provide another tasty option. Just confirm all other ingredients are also gluten-free.

Recipe for gluten-free everything bagels

Here is a sample recipe to make gluten-free everything bagels at home using trusted ingredients:

Dry ingredients:
– 1 1⁄2 cups gluten-free flour (blend of brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch)
– 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt

Wet ingredients:
– 1 cup warm water
– 1 1⁄4 tablespoons active dry yeast
– 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

– 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
– 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center.
2. Add the warm water and yeast to the well. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes.
4. Grease a bowl with oil and place dough inside. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
5. Punch down dough and divide into 6 pieces. Shape each into a ball.
6. Use fingers to shape a hole in the center of each ball. Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a skillet, bring 2-3 inches water to a boil.
8. Boil the bagels 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
9. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle on desired toppings.
10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until deep golden brown.
11. Cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

The trusted gluten-free ingredients and avoiding contact with any wheat flour makes these everything bagels safe for gluten-free and celiac diets.

Healthier alternatives to traditional everything bagels

In addition to being gluten-containing, traditional everything bagels are often high in refined carbs, calories, and sodium. Here are some healthier alternatives:

Make a veggie bagel

Substitute the white flour with almond flour or a blend of alternative flours like chickpea and oat fiber. Add shredded vegetables like zucchini, carrots or beets directly into the dough batter. Top with nutritional yeast instead of poppy seeds.

Open-faced everything bagel

Use just one slice of a gluten-free or veggie bagel. Load the open face with smoked salmon, avocado, tomato and red onion slices for more nutrition and less starchy carbs.

Everything bagel flatbread

Make bite-size everything bagel flatbreads with flaxseed meal crusts instead of dough. Top with onions, garlic, seeds and swap cheddar for mozzarella cheese. Bake into mini pizzas or soft tacos.

Loaded everything bagel yogurt bowl

Mix together non-fat plain Greek yogurt with scallions, everything bagel seasoning and hemp hearts. Top with cucumbers, radish, smoked salmon and fried eggs for a protein and probiotic-packed breakfast.

DIY everything bagel seasoning

Create your own no-salt, low-sodium everything bagel spice blend at home. Mix poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste. Sprinkle on eggs, avocado toast, salads, roasted veggies and more.

With some creativity, it’s possible to enjoy the flavors of an everything bagel in gluten-free, low-carb and more nutritious forms. The options are limitless.

Is everything bagel seasoning gluten-free?

The savory blend of seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt that mimics everything bagel flavor is naturally gluten-free. Major brands of everything bagel seasoning like McCormick, Trader Joe’s, and Spice & Tea Exchange do not contain gluten ingredients.

However, check labels to be sure. Avoid blends with maltodextrin, wheat, barley or rye. If concerned about cross-contamination, look for dedicated facility brands certified gluten-free, like Katz Gluten Free Bagel Seasoning. Or make your own blend at home.

Frequently asked questions

Are plain bagels gluten-free?

No, plain bagels made with regular or wheat flour contain gluten. However gluten-free plain bagels made with alternate flours are available.

What about blueberry, cinnamon raisin or chocolate chip bagels?

Flavored bagels made with wheat flour are also not gluten-free. Opt for gluten-free versions made in dedicated bakeries or facilities. Be sure any add-ins like chocolate chips are also gluten-free.

Can you make gluten-free bagels at home?

Yes, combining gluten-free flours with xanthan gum or eggs allows you to mimic traditional bagel texture and chewiness. Follow recipe guidelines to shape, boil and bake for homemade gluten-free bagels.

Do gluten-free bagels taste the same?

Today’s gluten-free bagels are often very close to traditional wheat bagels, especially brands using high-quality gluten-free flour blends. Texture and flavor continues to improve. However, preferences vary individually on how close they taste.

Are gluten-free bagels healthy?

Gluten-free bagels made with whole grains like millet, sorghum, brown rice flour and nut flours can provide more nutrition than wheat flour. But some gluten-free bagels are still high in carbs, so portion size matters. Look for high protein and fiber.

The bottom line

Traditional everything bagels made with wheat flour contain gluten and are unsafe for those managing celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Pre-packaged gluten-free versions made in dedicated facilities, as well as homemade alternatives using gluten-free flours and careful avoidance of cross-contamination, provide tasty options. When in doubt, thoroughly check ingredients and manufacturing processes for any sign of gluten. With some adjustments, people avoiding gluten can still enjoy the delicious flavors of an everything bagel.

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