Is there a sourdough bread that is gluten free?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to make sourdough bread that is gluten free. This requires using gluten free flours and starches as the base for the bread rather than regular wheat flour, as well as using a starter that has been cultured without any gluten containing ingredients. With some adaptations to ingredients and techniques, gluten free sourdough can have a similar taste and texture to regular sourdough bread.

What Makes Sourdough Bread Gluten Free?

Sourdough bread gets its distinctive tangy flavor from the starter, which contains yeast and lactobacilli bacteria that ferment the sugars in the dough and produce lactic and acetic acid. This gives sourdough its sour taste.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It provides the elastic texture and structure that allows bread to rise when regular wheat flour is used. To make gluten free sourdough, the starter and dough need to be made without any gluten containing flours.

There are a few main considerations for gluten free sourdough:

Gluten Free Flours

The base of the bread must be gluten free flours and starches. Common choices include:

– Rice flour
– Brown rice flour
– Sorghum flour
– Quinoa flour
– Buckwheat flour
– Tapioca flour/starch
– Potato starch
– Sweet rice flour
– Millet flour
– Chickpea flour
– Nut flours like almond flour

These flours either do not contain gluten at all, or contain very low levels that are considered safe for gluten free diets. Using a combination of different gluten free flours can help achieve the right texture in the bread.

Gluten Free Starter

The sourdough starter must be cultured without any gluten containing ingredients. Common options for gluten free starter bases include brown rice flour, sorghum flour, or a blend of gluten free flours.

The starter is activated by combining the flour and water with a small amount of yogurt, kefir, or grape must to provide lactobacilli cultures. It takes about 1 week to culture a new gluten free starter until it is active enough to leaven bread.


Since gluten free flours lack the gluten that provides structure, binders are often added to help hold the bread together. Common binders include:

– Xanthan gum
– Guar gum
– Psyllium husk powder
– Flax meal
– Chia seeds

These absorb water and provide the “glue” needed to give the bread some rise and an airy texture. About 1-2 teaspoons of a binder per loaf is typically used.

Adjusting Texture

Gluten free dough will be stickier and denser than regular wheat dough. Extra moisture is needed to activate the starches and allow the bread to bind together. Allowing for a longer fermentation time, often 12-24 hours, also helps improve the texture.

How to Make Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

Here is an overview of the basic process for making gluten free sourdough bread:


– Gluten free flours (combination of 2-4 different flours works best)
– Gluten free starter
– Salt
– Binder like xanthan gum or psyllium husk
– Water

Mix the Dough

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients – flours, salt, and binder
2. Add the starter and most of the water. Mix to form a shaggy dough.
3. Knead the dough, adding remaining water gradually until the dough becomes smooth. It will be sticky.
4. Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 8-24 hours.

Shape the Loaves

On floured surface, shape the dough into 1 or 2 loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Allow to proof for 2-4 hours until dough rises slightly.

Bake the Bread

Bake loaves at 350°F for approximately 45-60 minutes until deep golden brown. Smaller loaves may cook faster. The center should register at least 200°F on a thermometer.

Cool and Store

Let gluten free sourdough bread cool completely before slicing. Store in a paper bag at room temperature for 2-3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for several months.

Tips for the Best Gluten Free Sourdough

– Maintain a lively starter with a tangy sour smell. Feed it regularly.
– Allow for a long fermentation time to develop texture and flavor.
– Use a blend of gluten free flours for better nutrition and texture.
– Add vinegar for extra tangy flavor (1-2 tsp per loaf).
– Shape loaves gently to retain air pockets. Handle the dough as little as possible.
– Use parchment paper to prevent sticking while proofing and baking.
– Let bread cool completely before slicing for clean cuts and ideal texture.
– Store bread in a paper or cloth bag rather than plastic to prevent gumminess.

Are There Health Benefits to Gluten Free Sourdough Bread?

Sourdough bread offers some potential health benefits, which can also apply to gluten free versions:

– The fermentation process creates natural acids that are easier to digest and may be less likely to cause issues for those sensitive to gluten.
– Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than commercial yeasted bread. This means it does not spike blood sugar as much.
– The fermentation helps break down phytic acid, which improves mineral absorption.
– It can be a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium if using nutrient-rich gluten free flours.
– The prebiotic fibers feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiome.

For those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or who simply feel better going gluten free, sourdough bread using certified gluten free ingredients can provide the enjoyment of bread with reduced gluten content.

However, there is no evidence that sourdough “degrades” gluten making it safe for those with celiac disease. And trace gluten contamination is still possible in sourdough products not made in a certified gluten free facility. Those with celiac should use extreme caution consuming any sourdough bread unless it has been tested gluten free.

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe

This basic gluten free sourdough bread recipe produces two small loaves. Feel free to adjust the flours to suit your dietary needs and what you have on hand. The long ferment time develops maximum flavor and rise.


– 150 g sorghum flour
– 100 g brown rice flour
– 50 g tapioca starch
– 50 g sweet rice flour
– 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
– 1 1/2 tsp salt
– 120 g gluten free starter
– 325 ml water, room temperature
– 1 tbsp honey (optional)


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together the starter and water. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms. Knead by hand for 2-3 minutes until dough holds together. It will be sticky.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 12-24 hours at room temperature. A longer time develops more sour flavor but even 8-12 hours will work.

4. Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into two pieces and gently shape each into an oval loaf. Place each into a parchment lined loaf pan. Cover and proof 2-4 hours until dough rises slightly.

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. When dough is proofed, make several slashes across the top of each loaf with a sharp knife or lame. This will allow the bread to properly expand.

6. Bake loaves for approximately 45-60 minutes until deep golden brown. The center should register at least 200°F on a thermometer. If needed, tent with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning.

7. Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Bread keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days. Freeze for longer storage.

Finding Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

While making your own gluten free sourdough bread can be very rewarding, it does require an investment of time to maintain the starter and allow for long fermentation. Thankfully, more bakeries and stores now offer ready-made gluten free sourdough loaves and baked goods. Here are some places to find them:

Specialty Bakeries

Many independent bakeries will produce gluten free sourdough bread fresh. Search for local bakeries that advertise their gluten free baking skills. Key words to look for are “gluten free bakery” or “artisan gluten free bakery”. They may require pre-ordering a loaf 1-2 days in advance.

Health Food Stores

Stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Earthfare often have gluten free sourdough loaves from bakeries stocked in the freezer section. Brands to look out for include Canyon Bakehouse, Katz, WheatFree Wonders, and Sami’s.

Online Ordering

For those without access to bakeries making it locally, several online stores ship partially-baked or frozen gluten free sourdough bread nationwide. Two popular options are Jennie’s Gluten Free Bakery and Sweet Cheeks Bakery.


There are also recipes available online to make gluten free sourdough bread conveniently using a bread machine or with a bread maker appliance. These simplify the process. King Arthur’s Gluten Free Bread Mix can be adapted to make sourdough loaves as well.

Common Questions

Is sourdough bread gluten free?

Traditional sourdough is NOT gluten free since it is made with wheat flour containing gluten. For sourdough bread to be gluten free, it must use certified gluten free flours and be made without any contact with gluten.

Is the gluten in sourdough easier to digest?

There is limited evidence that the fermentation process in sourdough may break down some gluten peptides and make the remaining gluten mildly easier to digest. However, sourdough bread is absolutely not suitable for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Anyone following a strict gluten free diet should still avoid it.

Can you make sourdough using gluten free flour?

Yes, it is completely possible to make authentic sourdough bread and baked goods using only gluten free flours if care is taken to avoid cross-contamination with gluten. The flavor and texture can be quite close to regular sourdough.

Does sourdough have health benefits?

Sourdough undergoes a long fermentation process which creates natural acids and breaks down phytic acid. This may improve the digestibility and nutrient bioavailability compared to commercial yeasted bread. It also has a lower glycemic index. These benefits can apply to gluten free sourdough as well.

Is store-bought gluten free sourdough safe?

When purchasing gluten free sourdough bread, only buy brands that are certified gluten free to ensure safety for those with celiac disease. Look for certification symbols from organizations like GFCO,, or NSF Gluten Free. Contact companies directly if you have any questions. Proper handling and labeling protocols must be followed in production to prevent cross-contact with gluten.


Gluten free sourdough bread offers an exciting option for those on a gluten free diet who crave the delicious taste and chewy texture of real sourdough bread. While more challenging to produce than regular wheat sourdough, it can be done successfully by using gluten free flours, culturing a gluten free starter, and allowing for longer fermentation time. When care is taken to avoid cross-contamination and adhere to strict gluten free protocols, the result can be bakery-quality loaves with all the nutrients of whole grain gluten free flours. With some practice and patience, homemade gluten free sourdough bread can become an everyday reality.

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