Is there gluten in broccoli cheddar soup?

Broccoli cheddar soup is a creamy, cheesy soup that is a popular appetizer or side dish. But for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, determining if broccoli cheddar soup contains gluten is an important consideration.

Quick Answer

Most traditional broccoli cheddar soup recipes do not contain gluten. However, some variations or pre-made broths may have gluten-containing ingredients. Checking the ingredients of any store-bought or restaurant broccoli cheddar soup is advised for gluten-free diets.

Gluten-Free Status of Broccoli Cheddar Soup Ingredients

The core ingredients in basic broccoli cheddar soup recipes are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cheese such as cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack
  • Onions
  • Fat such as butter or cream
  • Flour or cornstarch as a thickener
  • Vegetable or chicken broth
  • Milk or cream
  • Seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder

None of these ingredients inherently contain gluten. Broccoli is a vegetable and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Cheese made from cow’s or goat’s milk is also gluten-free. Onions, butter, broths, milk, cream, and spices and seasonings like garlic powder do not contain gluten.

The main ingredient to look out for is the thickening agent. Standard broth-based soup recipes often use flour or cornstarch to thicken and add body to the broccoli cheddar soup. Wheat flour contains gluten, but cornstarch and other thickening options like arrowroot or tapioca starch do not contain gluten.

Risk of Gluten Contamination

While the central ingredients in homemade broccoli cheddar soup are gluten-free, there are some risks of contamination to be aware of:

  • Flour dust – Working with wheat flour can release airborne particles that settle on other ingredients. Thorough cleaning of cooking areas and utensils is needed.
  • Shared equipment – Using the same pots, utensils, and surfaces for gluten-containing and gluten-free foods can transfer gluten to the gluten-free dish.
  • Packaged broths – Many pre-made vegetable and chicken broths use wheat flour or hydrolyzed wheat protein as thickeners. Check ingredient lists carefully.
  • Breading – Some broccoli cheddar soup recipes call for breaded, fried onions on top. Breadcrumbs usually contain gluten.

Being aware of cross-contact risks and dedicated gluten-free prep and cooking spaces reduces the chances of gluten exposure.

Gluten-Free Substitutions

There are several easy substitutions to make traditional broccoli cheddar soup recipes gluten-free:

  • Use cornstarch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch instead of wheat flour to thicken the soup.
  • Verify broths by choosing brands that are labeled “gluten-free” or checking for wheat-based ingredients.
  • Use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs or baked broccoli florets instead of breaded fried onions.
  • If concerned about trace gluten, choose cheese labeled “gluten-free” to ensure no cross-contact.

Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipes

Here are some recipe ideas for gluten-free broccoli cheddar soups:

Classic Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This recipe uses cornstarch as a thickener and chicken broth confirmed gluten-free. It can be made on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1⁄4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1 head broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook 5 minutes until tender.
  2. Whisk in cornstarch until well combined. Gradually stir in chicken broth.
  3. Add broccoli florets and simmer 10 minutes until broccoli is tender.
  4. Remove soup from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Add milk or cream.
  5. Puree soup with immersion blender or regular blender. Return to pot.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on low until ready to serve.

Loaded Baked Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This soup is thickened with potatoes. Bacon, chives, and extra cheese give it a loaded baked potato flavor.


  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1 head broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In large pot over medium heat, cook bacon 5 minutes until crispy. Remove bacon pieces to paper towel.
  2. Add onion to bacon fat and cook 5 minutes until soft. Add potatoes, garlic, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add broccoli and cook 5 more minutes.
  4. Turn off heat. Carefully transfer soup to blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Return to pot.
  5. Over low heat, stir in cheddar cheese and milk/cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Top bowls of soup with cooked bacon bits and chives.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Chicken breast and gluten-free chicken broth make this soup a complete meal.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Cook chicken pieces until no longer pink, 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes until softened. Stir in chicken broth, broccoli, and carrots.
  3. In small bowl, whisk cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water. Stir mixture into soup.
  4. Bring soup to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until broccoli and carrots are tender.
  5. Turn off heat. Stir in cheddar cheese and milk until smooth and creamy.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Top bowls with extra shredded cheese if desired.

Purchasing Gluten-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup

In addition to making homemade broccoli cheddar soup, there are more options now for purchasing prepared gluten-free versions:

  • Canned soups – Many brands like Campbell’s, Amy’s Kitchen, and Pacific Foods offer gluten-free canned broccoli cheddar soups.
  • Frozen soups – Frozen brands like Glutenfreeda and Jenny Craig sell gluten-free broccoli cheddar soups.
  • Boxed soup mixes – Gluten-free soup mixes from brands like Knorr and Idahoan can be prepared with milk and butter.
  • Restaurants – Some restaurants like Panera Bread offer gluten-free broccoli cheddar soup.

Always carefully read the labels and ingredient lists of any manufactured food products to confirm they are gluten-free before purchasing.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup at Restaurants

Dining out with celiac disease or gluten intolerance requires added awareness. Here are some tips for enjoying broccoli cheddar soup safely at restaurants:

  • Check if the restaurant has a specific gluten-free menu or protocol for gluten-free diners.
  • Ask your server detailed questions about how the soup is prepared and what the ingredients are.
  • Request any croutons or bread topping served on the side so you can decline them.
  • Ask that your bowl of broccoli cheddar soup is prepared separately from any wheat-based soups to prevent cross-contact.
  • Avoid soups described as “cream of” which often means a wheat-based roux is used to thicken.

Calling ahead to ask questions about menu items is also an option if you are unsure about dining choices. Many chefs are willing to adapt dishes as needed for gluten-free requirements.

Traveling Gluten-Free with Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli cheddar soup can make for an easy and comforting gluten-free meal while traveling. Here are some tips:

  • Pack shelf-stable Tetra Pak soups or portable soup cups that just require hot water.
  • Bring your own gluten-free soup mixes and prepare soup in electric kettles or hotel room microwaves.
  • Search for restaurants with gluten-free or allergy menus in the area you are visiting.
  • Plan accommodations with kitchens so you can cook your own gluten-free soups.
  • Order broccoli cheddar soup from room service if available and request no croutons or wheat-based thickeners.

With some planning ahead, you can enjoy warm, creamy broccoli cheddar soup while maintaining your gluten-free diet away from home.

Bottom Line

Broccoli cheddar soup made from core ingredients like broccoli, cheese, onions, broth, milk, and seasonings does not naturally contain gluten. However, flour is sometimes used to thicken soup, so homemade recipes can easily be adapted with cornstarch or other gluten-free starches. When purchasing prepared broccoli cheddar soups, always carefully read labels and check with restaurants to ensure no gluten-containing ingredients are used before consuming. With the right homemade recipe or manufactured brand, broccoli cheddar soup can be a delicious gluten-free option.

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