Is gluten rice flour gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and for those simply looking to cut back on gluten for perceived health benefits. For those following a strict gluten-free diet, it’s important to pay close attention to ingredient labels, as many foods and ingredients that you might not suspect actually contain gluten. One such ingredient is rice flour.

Rice flour is made from ground rice, so it would seem like an obvious gluten-free choice. However, some types of rice flour are processed and manufactured in facilities that also process wheat, putting them at risk for cross-contamination. Additionally, some rice flours have gluten-containing additives like barley malt added to them. So is gluten rice flour really gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Rice Flour?

Rice flour is a flour made from ground rice. It can be made from white rice, brown rice, or a combination. Rice flour contains no gluten itself, as rice is naturally gluten-free. However, cross-contamination with gluten is possible during processing, transport, and packaging.

There are several different types of rice flour:

White Rice Flour

White rice flour is made from polished white rice that has had the bran and germ removed. It has a mild flavor and light color. White rice flour works well in baked goods when you want a delicate texture.

Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour is made from unpolished brown rice that still has the bran and germ intact. It has a slightly coarser texture and nuttier, fuller flavor than white rice flour. The extra fiber and nutrients in brown rice flour can provide health benefits.

Sweet Rice Flour

Sweet rice flour, also called glutinous or sticky rice flour, comes from short-grain Asian rice varieties that have a higher starch content. It can add chewiness to baked goods. Despite its name, it does not contain gluten.

Rice Flour Blends

Some rice flours are blends of multiple rice varieties. Blending can produce a flour with specific properties like enhanced nutrition or lightness.

Is All Rice Flour Gluten-Free?

Rice does not naturally contain any gluten. So theoretically, all flour made directly from rice should be gluten-free. However, in reality several factors can introduce gluten into rice flour during processing:

1. Cross-Contamination

If rice flour is milled or packaged on shared equipment that also handles wheat flour, there is a risk of cross-contamination. Even tiny amounts of wheat flour residue can introduce gluten into the rice flour. Reputable gluten-free brands will use dedicated equipment and have high standards for thorough cleaning and testing.

2. Added Ingredients

Some rice flours contain added ingredients that are not gluten-free, like malt extract or wheat starch. Always check the ingredients list for any questionable additions. Pure rice flour will only contain rice.

3. Labeling Issues

There have been cases of rice flours tested to contain gluten even when the packaging said gluten-free. This is likely due to inaccuracies in labeling or manufacturing processes. Only purchase rice flour from trusted gluten-free brands.

So while rice flour should theoretically always be gluten-free, you can’t assume any rice flour is safe. Checking for a gluten-free certification and reading the label carefully is important.

Is Gluten Rice Flour Gluten-Free?

The term “gluten rice flour” is confusing, since rice contains no gluten. However, some manufacturers produce rice flours specifically labeled this way to indicate they are not gluten-free. Why would rice flour contain gluten? Here are some reasons:

Contains Wheat Starch

Some rice flours add a small amount of wheat starch, usually to help baked goods retain moisture and softness. This wheat starch adds gluten, so the product cannot be considered gluten-free.

Processed on Shared Equipment

Rice flours labeled “gluten rice flour” are likely processed on equipment shared with gluten-containing grains. They risk cross-contamination.

Added Gluten

Very rarely, some rice flours may have vital wheat gluten or other gluten-containing ingredients added intentionally. This would definitely make them unsuitable for gluten-free diets.


There is also a chance a rice flour labeled “gluten” is mislabeled and still gluten-free. Relying on the label alone is not enough – contact the manufacturer to confirm their processes.

So in summary, any rice flour labeled specifically as “gluten rice flour” almost certainly contains gluten and would not be safe for those strictly avoiding gluten. Stick to rice flours labeled simply “rice flour” and confirm they are certified gluten-free if needed for your diet.

Testing Rice Flour for Gluten

Since rice flour labeling can occasionally be unreliable, the only way to be 100% sure a particular brand of rice flour is gluten-free is to test it. There are a few options for testing rice flour:

Look for Gluten-Free Certification

The most trusted rice flours will display a gluten-free certification label from an independent organization like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) or the Celiac Support Association (CSA). This involves rigorous testing and inspection of facilities.

Contact the Manufacturer

Reach out to the company and ask directly about their manufacturing processes. Reputable brands should be transparent and able to provide detailed information showing a rice flour is gluten-free.

Use an At-Home Test Kit

There are test kits available that allow you to swab a sample of the rice flour and test it for the presence of gluten. Look for a test sensitive to under 20 parts per million of gluten.

Send to a Lab

For the highest level of accuracy, you can send a rice flour sample to a lab specializing in food testing. They can test for gluten content down to precise ppm levels.

Getting rice flour tested provides an extra level of assurance if you are highly sensitive to even small amounts of gluten. Talk to your doctor if you need help finding a reliable rice flour to fit your gluten-free medical needs.

5 Certified Gluten-Free Rice Flour Brands

If you require gluten-free rice flour, save yourself the uncertainty and choose one of these reputable brands that are meticulously tested and confirmed gluten-free:

1. Bob’s Red Mill

Bob’s Red Mill offers many styles of gluten-free rice flour, including white, brown, sweet/glutinous, and superfine. Their products are certified gluten-free to below 20 ppm.

2. King Arthur

King Arthur produces several gluten-free rice flours tested to less than 5 ppm gluten. Their white rice flour is finely milled for delicate baked goods.

3. Lundberg Family Farms

Lundberg is a trusted producer of gluten-free rice products. Their rice flours are certified gluten-free by the GFCO to below 10 ppm.

4. Arrowhead Mills

Arrowhead Mills has gluten-free certification from the GFCO. Try their organic brown rice flour for enhanced nutrition.

5. Anthony’s

Anthony’s offers both white and brown rice flours certified gluten-free to below 10 ppm. Their products are also non-GMO and kosher.

These leading brands follow best practices to avoid cross-contamination and provide reliably gluten-free rice flours. Always double check that the specific rice flour is marked “gluten-free” before purchasing.

Is Rice Flour Safe for a Wheat Allergy?

For those with a wheat allergy, choosing the right rice flour also involves caution. While rice itself does not contain wheat, cross-contamination during processing can introduce enough wheat protein residues to cause an allergic reaction in highly sensitive individuals.

Here are tips for finding wheat-free rice flour if you have a wheat allergy:

– Only choose brands that are certified gluten-free/wheat-free to under 10 ppm or less.

– Contact the manufacturer and ask specifically about wheat allergen controls in their facilities.

– Look for flours processed in dedicated allergen-free plants.

– Stick to reputable allergy-friendly brands like Bob’s Red Mill.

– Consider opting for brown rice flour, as wheat cross-contamination is less likely.

– Be extra diligent about reading labels and checking certifications.

While tiny traces of wheat may still be possible in any product, these steps will help identify the safest rice flours for wheat allergy diets. Consult your doctor if you have concerns about finding an appropriate rice flour.

The Best Substitutes for Gluten Rice Flour

If you need to avoid questionable “gluten rice flours,” you have a few good baking substitutes including:

Gluten-Free Oat Flour

Finely ground gluten-free oats create an all-purpose flour with a mild flavor. Use it cup-for-cup in place of rice flour.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour

Many all-purpose blends use rice flour as a base along with other gluten-free flours. Replace rice flour 1:1 with these premixed flours.

100% Corn Flour

Stone-ground corn flour gives structure and a sweet flavor to gluten-free baking. Substitute by weight for rice flour.

Gluten-Free Potato Starch

Potato starch adds moisture and binding. Use about 1/4 cup less potato starch for each cup of rice flour.

Almond Flour

Nutty, protein-rich almond flour can replace up to about 30% of the rice flour in a recipe. Adjust any other wet/dry ingredients.

Gluten-Free Soy Flour

Soy flour adds protein and heaviness when subbed for rice flour. Use 20% less soy flour than the amount of rice flour.

With so many great gluten-free flour options, avoiding questionable “gluten rice flours” does not mean sacrificing tasty baked recipes.

Is Rice Flour Healthy?

Rice flour offers a few potential health benefits:


Rice flour obviously provides a gluten-free alternative for anyone avoiding gluten. This includes people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


In addition to being naturally gluten-free, rice flour is unlikely to cause other allergy issues. It’s typically well tolerated by those with food sensitivities.

Highly Digestible

The starches in well-cooked rice flour are easy for most people to digest. This makes rice flour recipes gentle on sensitive digestive systems.

Neutral Taste

Rice flour has a relatively neutral taste compared to other gluten-free flours. This makes it versatile to use in both savory and sweet recipes.

Brown Rice Flour Nutrition

Brown rice flour specifically offers a health boost from retained bran and germ. This provides extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

However, rice flour does lack protein compared to wheat flours. Combining it with higher protein alternative flours can create a more balanced nutritional profile. Check with a dietitian if you rely heavily on rice flour in your gluten-free diet.

Tips for Cooking with Rice Flour

Rice flour performs a bit differently in recipes than traditional all-purpose wheat flour. Here are some tips:

– Expect a lighter texture in baked goods made with rice flour. They won’t rise as high.

– Rice flour absorbs more moisture than wheat flour. You likely need less liquid.

– Combining rice flour with xanthan or guar gum improves binding.

– Let batters sit before baking to allow rice flour to fully hydrate for the best volume.

– Cook rice flour thoroughly as undercooked starch can be hard to digest.

– White rice flour works best for delicate cakes/cookies, brown for breads.

– Mix and match rice flour with other gluten-free flours to achieve desired textures.

With some experimentation, rice flour can produce delicious gluten-free recipes. Take note of adjustments needed for wetness, rising, and cooking times when substituting rice flour in regular recipes.

Gluten-Free Baking Mixes Containing Rice Flour

For convenience, many manufacturers offer premixed gluten-free baking flour blends containing rice flour. Some popular blended flours include:

King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour

This precise blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum acts as an all-purpose baking mix.

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour

A balance of brown rice flour, sweet white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour create an easy substitute for all-purpose wheat flour.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Mix

This Betty Crocker blend mixes rice flour with potato starch, tapioca starch, and binders. Just add wet ingredients for quick baking.

Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour

This blend specially formulated to mimic wheat flour contains white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum.

Pillsbury Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

Pillsbury’s mix includes white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum to closely recreate wheat flour properties.

Gluten-free all-purpose baking mixes take the guesswork out of gf baking and are especially handy for new gluten-free bakers. Make sure any blended flour you choose is third-party certified gluten-free for safety.


While rice flour seems like an inherently gluten-free choice, not all rice flours on the market are actually safe for gluten-free diets. Flours labeled “gluten rice flour” in particular likely contain gluten from wheat starch, shared equipment, or other sources. To ensure you choose a reliably gluten-free rice flour:

– Carefully read ingredient labels looking for any suspicious additions.
– Verify the brand has gluten-free certification from a reputable organization.
– If needed, consider contacting the manufacturer or having the rice flour tested.
– Stick to buying well-known gluten-free brands such as Bob’s Red Mill.
– Opt for brown rice flour when possible, as cross-contamination risks are lower.

With so many clearly labeled gluten-free rice flours available, there is no reason to take a chance on anything potentially contaminated with gluten sources. Choosing a certified gluten-free rice flour lets you enjoy all the benefits of this versatile flour while staying strictly gluten-free. Use trusted gluten-free rice flour to whip up great-tasting and safe gluten-free baked goods at home.

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