Is there a gluten-free breadcrumbs?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and for those simply looking to cut down on gluten intake. For those following a strict gluten-free diet, navigating ingredient labels and being aware of hidden gluten sources is essential. One commonly overlooked potential source of gluten is breadcrumbs, which are used to coat and add crunch to many foods. So an important question for gluten-free consumers is: are there gluten-free breadcrumb options available?

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 breads keep their shape and have an elastic texture. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues or negative health effects. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, fatigue, headaches and more in gluten-sensitive individuals. The only treatment for celiac disease is strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet.

Hidden Sources of Gluten

While it may seem straightforward to avoid obvious gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley, gluten can sneak its way into foods from unexpected sources:

Thickening Agents

Wheat is often used to make thickening agents like wheat starch. Malt vinegar is made from barley malt.


Barley malt extract and wheat extract are commonly used as flavoring agents.


Gluten-free grains can become contaminated with gluten if they are grown or processed near gluten-containing grains. Oats are especially at high risk for cross-contamination.

Non-Food Items

Gluten can be found in some medications, vitamin/mineral supplements, lip balms and even the glue on envelopes and stamps.

This highlights the importance of vigilance in screening ingredients lists, understanding manufacturing processes, inquiring about preparation procedures at restaurants and being aware of non-food sources when following a strict gluten-free diet.

Do Breadcrumbs Contain Gluten?

Most conventional breadcrumbs are made from wheat bread, which contains gluten. Therefore, regular breadcrumbs are not considered gluten-free. Some people assume that breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread would also be gluten-free. However, extra precautions need to be taken to avoid cross-contamination when producing gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Risk of Cross-Contamination

There is a high risk of gluten cross-contamination during the process of making breadcrumbs:

– Most facilities that produce breadcrumbs also process wheat-based breads and other gluten-containing ingredients. It is very difficult to thoroughly clean equipment between processing different grains.

– Breadcrumbs tend to be produced in large batches. Even if a facility starts with gluten-free bread, if any wheat-based bread is processed in the same equipment, cross-contamination can occur.

– Breadcrumbs are often stored in shared silos and hoppers, allowing gluten-containing grains to mix in with gluten-free grains.

For these reasons, breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread are not guaranteed to be fully gluten-free unless proper precautions are taken by the manufacturer.

Finding Truly Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

When you are looking for gluten-free breadcrumbs, be sure to check the ingredient list and look for a certification label to verify the product’s gluten-free status. Here are some things to look for:

Dedicated Gluten-Free Facility

Opt for breadcrumbs produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, where no gluten-containing grains are processed. This eliminates the risk of cross-contamination.

GFCO Certification

The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) program certifies products that meet strict standards for gluten-free integrity. GFCO certification means the product contains less than 10ppm of gluten.

Grain-Free Options

Some gluten-free breadcrumbs are made from alternate gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa or buckwheat. This avoids the risk associated with manufacturing gluten-free wheat bread in shared facilities.

Legume-Based Options

Breadcrumbs can also be made from legumes like chickpeas or lentils. These provide a gluten-free, nutrient-dense option.

Gluten-Free Breadcrumb Substitutes

In addition to purchasing specialty gluten-free breadcrumbs, there are several pantry-friendly alternatives you can use:

Gluten-Free Cereals

Corn flakes, gluten-free oats and rice cereals can be crushed into breadcrumb-like consistency. Make sure to check for certification.


Finely chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans make great crunchy coatings for meats or fish.

Pork Rinds

Crushed pork rinds are a popular gluten-free breadcrumb substitute, providing texture and crunch.

Coconut Flakes

Toasted coconut provides both texture and sweetness when used as breadcrumb replacement.

Ground Crackers

Gluten-free crackers like rice crackers can be processed into crumbs using a food processor.

Gluten-Free Breadcrumb Substitute Texture Flavor
Corn flakes Crispy Mild corn
Chopped nuts Crunchy Nutty
Crushed pork rinds Crunchy, crispy Salty, savory
Coconut flakes Chewy Sweet
Ground rice crackers Crunchy Neutral

Homemade Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

For the most control over ingredients, you can also make DIY gluten-free breadcrumbs at home using:

– Gluten-free bread sliced and processed into crumbs
– Gluten-free panko-style breadcrumbs
– Gluten-free bagels, English muffins or buns
– Cornbread, brown rice bread or other gluten-free baked goods

Be sure all ingredients are certified gluten-free to start. To make your own crumbs:

1. Break up bread pieces and cubes into a food processor. Pulse to form coarse crumbs.

2. For finer consistency, continue processing to desired texture. Be careful not to overprocess into a paste.

3. For crispier crumbs, spread on a baking sheet and toast at 300°F for 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway.

4. Store cooled breadcrumbs in an airtight container. They will keep frozen for several months.

Ingredient Swaps in Recipes

When your recipe calls for regular breadcrumbs, you have ample options to swap in a gluten-free alternative:

Fried Foods

For breading fried foods like chicken tenders or eggplant, use finely ground corn flakes, crushed gluten-free pretzels or toasted nuts.

Casseroles and Stuffing

In place of breadcrumbs as a filler in casseroles, stuffing or meatloaf, substitute cooked quinoa, millet or buckwheat. Rice or oats also work well.

Binding Agent

If breadcrumbs are being used as a binder in meatballs or veggie burgers, try substituting crushed potato chips or ground sesame seeds instead.


For breadcrumb topping on gratins or crispy baked dishes, cover with crushed gluten-free corn chips or ground pork rinds before baking.


Since gluten-free alternatives may seem denser or involve smaller pieces, you may need to increase the quantity by 25-50% to get the right texture and volume.

Purchasing Ready-Made Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

More gluten-free breadcrumb options are available today in stores and online. Here are some recommended brands:

Brand Details
Ian’s – Made in dedicated GF facility
– Uses GF panko bread
Aleia’s – GFCO certified
– Made from cassava flour
Gillian’s – Verified GF oat breadcrumbs
– Kosher certified
Katz – Sundried GF breadcrumbs
– Vegan, non-GMO
FourTwenty – Made from cauliflower
– Paleo friendly

These brands offer traditional fine and panko-style breadcrumbs, as well as creative options like parmesan-flavored and whole-grain varieties. Prices range from $3-$6 per package.


While wheat-based breadcrumbs are a pantry staple for many home cooks, there are an array of gluten-free breadcrumb options available for those adhering to a gluten-free diet. Carefully choosing certified products, using creative substitutions, or making crumbs at home gives you lots of gluten-free possibilities. With some adjustments to recipes and vigilant label reading, even strict gluten-free diets don’t have to miss out on the texture, crunch and convenience of breadcrumbs.

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