Is red lentil flour gluten-free?

Red lentils are a type of lentil that have had their outer hull removed, revealing the bright orange seeds inside. Lentils are pulses, which are edible seeds from plants in the legume family. Other types of pulses include beans, peas, chickpeas, and peanuts.

Red lentil flour is made by grinding dried red lentils into a fine powder. It can be used in place of traditional all-purpose flour in many recipes, especially for people following gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian diets. But is red lentil flour actually gluten-free?

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found naturally in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form elastic strands that give breads and other baked goods their chewy texture.

People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and experience digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain when they eat it. For these individuals, following a strict gluten-free diet is essential.

Gluten content of lentils

Lentils are pulses, not grains, so they do not naturally contain gluten. The seeds of lentil plants are entirely gluten-free. Therefore, red lentil flour made directly from red lentils contains no gluten.

However, cross-contamination during growing, harvesting, transporting, or processing is possible. Lentils may come into contact with gluten-containing grains in the field or during manufacturing.

To ensure the final product is gluten-free, companies producing gluten-free pulses, flours, and starches follow rigorous protocols to prevent cross-contamination. Tests are also conducted to confirm the finished food tests below 20 parts per million of gluten.

Certified gluten-free red lentil flour

When shopping for red lentil flour, look for brands that are certified gluten-free. This means the company has proven through testing that their product contains less than 20 ppm of gluten.

Some reputable brands offering certified gluten-free red lentil flour include:

Brand Certification
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
Hodgson Mill GFCO
King Arthur GFCO
Namaste Foods Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP)

The gluten-free certifications provide assurance that these brands have implemented best practices for avoiding cross-contamination. Their products consistently contain undetectable levels of gluten.

Using red lentil flour

Red lentil flour has an earthy, nutty flavor. It can be substituted for about one-quarter to one-third of the all-purpose flour called for in recipes.

Due to its lack of gluten, red lentil flour yields dense, crumbly baked goods. For best results, combine it with other gluten-free flours that can help with binding and structure. Some options include:

– Rice flour
– Tapioca flour
– Sorghum flour
– Potato starch
– Xanthan gum

Red lentil flour works well in pancakes, muffins, breads, tortillas, flatbreads, cookies, and bars. The flavor pairs nicely with coconut, nuts, warm spices, chocolate, and citrus.

Here is an example of a gluten-free recipe using red lentil flour:

Gluten-Free Red Lentil Oatmeal Cookies


  • 1 cup (96g) gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/2 cup (64g) red lentil flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (omit if using gums in other flours)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (67g) coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (64g) rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup (53g) dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes until set. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Risk of cross-contamination

While certified gluten-free red lentil flour contains no detectable gluten, there is a small chance of cross-contamination during processing and handling.

Here are some ways cross-contamination could occur:

  • Shared equipment – If a facility uses the same equipment to mill wheat flour and lentil flour, traces of gluten could get into the lentil flour.
  • Shared storage bins – Lentil flour stored in bins previously used for wheat flour could pick up gluten residues.
  • Airborne flour particles – Gluten-containing flours milled in the same facility could contaminate lentil flour through the air.
  • Errors by personnel – Workers not following protocols could accidentally introduce sources of gluten.

Reputable gluten-free brands have strict procedures in place to prevent cross-contamination through separation of equipment and storage areas, thorough cleaning protocols, and employee training.

However, the potential for trace gluten exposure can never be fully eliminated. Those with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity should be aware of this minimal risk when consuming any processed food labeled gluten-free.

Homemade red lentil flour

Red lentil flour can also be easily made at home in a high-powered blender from whole red lentils. This ensures there is no risk of cross-contamination from processing.

To make your own red lentil flour:

  1. Rinse dry red lentils and pat dry.
  2. Spread on a baking sheet and toast at 300°F for 7-10 minutes to enhance flavor.
  3. Let cool completely.
  4. In a high-powered blender, blend 1 cup of red lentils on high speed until a fine flour consistency forms, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Sift through a fine mesh strainer if needed to remove any remaining lentil pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.

Make sure to use gluten-free oats and purify the blender if it has been used for wheat flour previously. Check ingredients in baking recipes as well. With these precautions, homemade red lentil flour can be safely used by those avoiding gluten.

Label reading

When purchasing any product labeled “gluten-free,” including red lentil flour, it is essential to read labels carefully. Look for a certified gluten-free symbol from an organization like GFCO, GFCP, or Celiac Sprue Association (CSA).

Also check for advisory statements about the possibility of cross-contamination:

  • “Produced in a facility that also processes wheat.”
  • “Made on shared equipment.”
  • “May contain traces of wheat.”

The FDA allows foods with these statements to be labeled gluten-free since any gluten present is below 20 ppm. However, the most sensitive individuals may wish to avoid products with cross-contamination warnings.


Here are some recommended precautions regarding red lentil flour for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

  • Purchase brands that are certified gluten-free, like Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Look for possible cross-contamination warnings on labeling.
  • Inquire with the manufacturer about their testing and manufacturing procedures.
  • Consider making your own red lentil flour at home if highly sensitive.
  • When baking, use all gluten-free ingredients checked prior for cross-contamination.
  • Be aware that gluten exposure risk cannot be fully eliminated in commercially processed foods.

Following these tips will help minimize, but not fully remove, the chance of trace gluten exposure from red lentil flour. Those with celiac disease should discuss using it with their healthcare team.

Other considerations

Aside from gluten content, here are some other factors to consider regarding red lentil flour:


Red lentil flour is high in protein and fiber compared to all-purpose flour. One serving provides significant amounts of folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium as well.

However, it is not as nutritious as intact red lentils, since some vitamins and minerals are lost in milling. Using a mix of red lentil flour and whole lentils maximizes nutritional value.


Measured by weight, red lentil flour contains about 70% carbohydrates, mostly in the form of starch and fiber. This is comparable to wheat flour.

For those counting net carbs on keto or low-carb diets, 1/4 cup (30g) of red lentil flour contributes about 13 grams total carbs and 5 grams of fiber. It has a moderate effect on blood sugar.

Protein content

Red lentil flour contains around 26% protein, which is higher than all-purpose wheat flour at 12-14%. This makes it good for boosting protein in gluten-free baked goods.

However, the proteins in lentil flour lack gluten and do not form the elastic network needed for rising and structure. Combining with flours that mimic gluten is recommended.


Some people report bloating, gas, or discomfort after eating red lentils. This is due to the oligosaccharides (FODMAPs) in lentils that can ferment in the gut.

However, red lentil flour contains fewer FODMAPs than whole red lentils. The milling process breaks down some of these sugars. So flour may be easier to digest for sensitive individuals.


Red lentil flour is generally more expensive than regular wheat flour. Prices range from $0.12-$0.30 per ounce compared to $0.05 per ounce for all-purpose flour. Buying larger bags can help decrease the cost per ounce.

Making your own red lentil flour only requires a bag of dry lentils and blender. This is a more affordable option for regular baking. Though it requires more hands-on effort than purchasing pre-made flour.


Red lentil flour can be found in well-stocked grocery stores, health food stores, and online. Brand availability varies by location. Large chains like Walmart, Target, and Amazon carry it.

Smaller gluten-free or specialty brands may only be available through the company’s website or in local stores. Red lentil flour is easier to find than it used to be but remains less common than wheat flour.


Unopened red lentil flour keeps well in a cool, dry pantry for up to 1 year. The best by date on packaged flour should be followed for maximum freshness.

Once opened, store red lentil flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It will keep for 4-6 months. Signs it has gone bad are a rancid smell, change in color, or visible mold.

Freezing red lentil flour for up to 6 months can help maximize shelf life after opening. Let thaw completely before use.

Homemade red lentil flour has a shorter shelf life of 2-4 months due to the higher fat content. Keep refrigerated or frozen for best quality.


Some of the most popular uses for red lentil flour include:

  • Gluten-free baked goods – Use in cakes, muffins, breads, cookies, pizza crusts.
  • Pancakes and flatbreads – Works well combined with other flours.
  • Batter binder – Helps hold veggie or meat fritters together.
  • Breading – Makes a flavorful, gluten-free dredge for frying.
  • Sauces and gravies – Adds body and nutrition.
  • Crackers – Boosts protein in gluten-free crackers when combined with tapioca starch.
  • Oat flour – Substitute for up to 1/4 of the oat flour in recipes.

Red lentil flour works best when combined with other gluten-free flours and starches. Amount to use varies by recipe based on desired texture. Start with substituting 20-25% of the all-purpose flour.

Allergy information

Red lentil flour is free of many common food allergens:

  • Gluten – Lentils are naturally gluten-free.
  • Wheat – Does not contain wheat or grains.
  • Soy – Lentils are legumes but do not contain soy.
  • Dairy – Vegan by nature, contains no milk products.
  • Eggs – No eggs present.
  • Fish – Fish-free.
  • Shellfish – Does not contain crustaceans or mollusks.
  • Tree nuts – Lentil plants are not botanically related to tree nuts.

However, those with peanut or other legume allergies should avoid red lentil flour due to potential cross-reactivity. Consult your allergen specialist.

Facilities that also process wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, or other allergens have the potential for cross-contamination. Check labels carefully or contact manufacturers directly to verify allergen status.


Red lentil flour provides a versatile, gluten-free, plant-based flour option for baking and cooking. When purchased certified gluten-free from reputable brands following careful processing protocols, red lentil flour contains no detectable gluten.

However, those with celiac disease or extreme gluten sensitivity should be aware of the small possibility of trace amounts from cross-contamination. Using homemade flour can further reduce this minimal risk. Overall, red lentil flour is safe for the majority of people on gluten-free diets when used with proper precautions.

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