Is hummus OK for celiac?

Hummus is a popular Mediterranean spread made primarily from chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, hummus seems like it would be a good gluten-free option. However, traditional hummus recipes often include ingredients like wheat flour or pasta that contain gluten. So is hummus actually OK for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. In people with celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. This damages the villi, which are tiny finger-like projections that absorb nutrients from food. Damaged villi can’t properly absorb nutrients, which can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia. Additionally, people with untreated celiac disease have a higher risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions, and certain cancers. The only treatment for celiac disease is sticking to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.

What Foods Contain Gluten?

Gluten is found in grains like:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Malt

It’s also commonly added as a thickening or binding agent in processed foods and sauces. Some examples of foods that contain gluten include:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, and donuts
  • Beer
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Imitation meats
  • Fried foods with batter

It’s important for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to closely inspect ingredient labels, as gluten can hide in unexpected places.

Is Chickpea Flour Gluten-Free?

Traditional hummus is made by blending chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. So it would seem like hummus should be safe for gluten-free diets. However, many hummus recipes also include ingredients like wheat flour to help create a creamier consistency. But there’s good news for hummus lovers who need to avoid gluten. Chickpea flour, also known as garbanzo bean flour or besan, is naturally gluten-free.

Chickpeas are legumes, not grains, so they don’t contain any gluten. And chickpea flour gives hummus a similar creamy, thick texture as wheat flour, without any of the gluten. So hummus made with chickpea flour instead of wheat flour can be perfectly safe for a gluten-free diet.

Should You Buy Pre-Made Hummus?

In theory, pre-made store-bought hummus could be a quick and convenient gluten-free option. But in reality, it’s important to read labels carefully. Many pre-made hummus varieties do contain gluten:

  • Some brands add wheat flour or pasta to thicken the hummus.
  • Hummus made in facilities that also process wheat products can be cross-contaminated.
  • Flavored hummus may contain gluten-containing ingredients.

On the other hand, there are some gluten-free pre-made hummus options available:

  • Look for hummus made without any wheat- or gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Seek out brands that are certified gluten-free, indicating they test for cross-contamination.
  • Stick to plain hummus without added flavors, which tend to be safest.

So checking labels is a must when purchasing pre-made hummus to ensure it’s gluten-free.

How to Make Gluten-Free Hummus

Making homemade gluten-free hummus is relatively simple. Here is a basic recipe and instructions:


  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2–3 tbsp water


  1. In a food processor, combine the drained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, cumin, paprika, and salt.
  2. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. With the food processor running, stream in water gradually until the hummus reaches the desired creaminess.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil and paprika.
  6. Enjoy with gluten-free crackers, vegetables, or on sandwiches.

Making hummus this way ensures there is no risk of gluten contamination. Feel free to play around with additional seasonings and garnishes too.

Hummus Brands that are Gluten-Free

If you don’t have time to make homemade hummus, here are some store-bought brands that are certified gluten-free:

  • Sabra – Specifically the Classic Hummus, Original Hummus, and Organic Hummus varieties
  • Hope – All hummus varieties are certified gluten-free
  • Tribe – Certified gluten-free
  • IGA – Labeled gluten-free
  • Abuelita’s – Certified gluten-free
  • Cedar’s – Labeled gluten-free
  • O Organics – Labeled gluten-free

Just double check the label to confirm the specific variety is gluten-free, as some flavored versions may contain gluten. Plain hummus tends to be safest.

Is Hummus Gluten-Free at Restaurants?

Dining out with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can be tricky. But many restaurants offer hummus that can fit into a gluten-free diet. Here are some tips for finding safe gluten-free hummus when eating out:

  • Check if the restaurant has a specific gluten-free menu with labeled items.
  • Ask your server detailed questions about how the hummus is prepared.
  • Request hummus made without wheat flour.
  • Avoid flavored hummus, which is more likely to contain gluten.
  • Seek out restaurants that are knowledgeable about gluten-free needs.
  • Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants often offer traditional gluten-free hummus.
  • Indian restaurants may prepare chickpea-based hummus varieties.

With the rise in gluten-free diets, more and more restaurants are accommodating gluten-free diners. But it’s always smart to ask questions to ensure the hummus is safe.

Should Hummus Be a Staple on a Gluten-Free Diet?

Hummus made without gluten-containing ingredients can absolutely be part of a healthy gluten-free diet. Here are some reasons why hummus is a great staple:

  • Nutritious – Hummus provides fiber, plant-based protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients.
  • Satisfying – The creaminess and fiber keep you feeling full.
  • Versatile – Hummus can be used as a dip, spread, dressing, or eaten on its own.
  • Naturally gluten-free – Chickpeas are an ideal gluten-free base.
  • Easy to make – Whir up a batch of hummus in minutes.
  • Kid-friendly – Hummus is a great way to add nutrition to kids’ gluten-free diets.
  • Delicious flavor – The savory, nutty, and tangy taste satisfies cravings.

Eating hummus regularly can help add important nutrients like fiber, plant-based protein, and healthy fats into your gluten-free diet. Hummus is a versatile, portable food that makes healthy gluten-free eating simple and delicious.

Potential Drawbacks of Hummus

Hummus has many benefits, but there are a few potential drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • Allergies – Hummus contains sesame which may cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • High in calories and fat – Hummus is relatively high in calories and fat, so portion sizes should be monitored.
  • Prepared hummus allergy risks – Pre-made hummus may contain allergens like soy or shellfish depending on manufacturing.
  • Sodium content – Store-bought and restaurant hummus can be very high in sodium.
  • Gassiness or bloating – Some people may experience gas or bloating from the chickpeas.
  • Risk of cross-contamination – Gluten cross-contact is possible depending on manufacturing or restaurant prep.

Being aware of any allergies, sodium content, and cross-contamination risk is important. And hummus is still a calorie-dense food, so reasonable portion sizes are key. But overall, hummus can be safely enjoyed as part of a healthy gluten-free diet for most people.

Tips for Incorporating Hummus

Here are some simple tips for enjoying hummus on a gluten-free diet:

  • Dip raw veggies like carrots, celery, peppers, radishes, or cucumber in hummus for an easy snack or appetizer.
  • Spread hummus on gluten-free bread, bagels, or wraps instead of mayo or mustard.
  • Use hummus as a dip for gluten-free chicken nuggets or falafel.
  • Whisk hummus with olive oil and vinegar for a zesty salad dressing.
  • Top gluten-free pizza crust with hummus, vegetables, and feta cheese before baking.
  • Stir hummus into cooked rice, quinoa, or gluten-free pasta for extra creaminess.
  • Use hummus as a sandwich spread, topped with veggies and roast beef or turkey.
  • Blend hummus into smoothies for a protein and fiber boost.

Hummus is endlessly adaptable, so get creative with incorporating it into gluten-free meals and snacks!

Hummus Recipes

Here are some delicious gluten-free hummus recipes to try:

Classic Hummus

This basic hummus recipe is naturally gluten-free and perfect with fresh vegetables or pita chips.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Pureed roasted peppers give this hummus a delicious sweet and smoky flavor.

Edamame Hummus

For a twist, this hummus uses protein-packed edamame instead of chickpeas.

White Bean Hummus

Cannellini beans create a silky, lighter-colored hummus perfect for dipping.

Avocado Hummus

Creamy avocado gives hummus a fresh green color and rich, buttery texture.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Savory sun-dried tomatoes add intense umami flavor to hummus.

Pesto Hummus

Nutty basil pesto swirled into hummus makes a delicious appetizer for parties.

Beet Hummus

Blended beets give hummus a vibrant pink hue and earthy, sweet taste.

The possibilities are endless when making gluten-free homemade hummus! Try out unique flavor combinations using your favorite herbs, spices, vegetables, and beans.

Who Should Avoid Gluten-Free Hummus?

While hummus prepared without gluten is safe for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, a couple groups should use caution:

  • People with chickpea allergies – Anyone allergic to chickpeas should avoid hummus, even if it’s gluten-free.
  • People with sesame allergies – Hummus contains tahini made from sesame seeds, which can cause allergic reactions.

For most people gluten-free hummus is perfectly healthy. But those with specific food allergies should take precautions and likely avoid it.

Is Hummus Gluten-Free? The Verdict

Traditional hummus made simply from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and spices contains no gluten. However, some manufactured and restaurant hummus includes wheat flour or is at risk for cross-contamination. So checking labels and inquiring about prep methods is important.

Overall, hummus can be a delicious and safe addition to a gluten-free diet as long as it’s made properly without gluten-containing ingredients. Both homemade hummus and some commercial brands give you flavorful options. Hummus provides important nutrients and satisfies cravings, making it a nutritious staple food for many gluten-free eaters.

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