Chicken bouillon can contain gluten depending on the brand and ingredients used. Many bouillon cubes and powders contain wheat-based ingredients like flour or maltodextrin which contain gluten. However, there are some gluten-free chicken bouillon options available made without wheat, barley or rye. Checking the ingredients list on chicken bouillon is the only way to determine if it is gluten-free or not.
Chicken bouillon is a popular broth base used for seasoning and cooking. It typically comes in the form of cubes, powders or liquids. Chicken bouillon is made by simmering chicken bones, meat and vegetables to extract flavor. The broth is then condensed down to make bouillon cubes or powders.
Bouillon often contains thickeners and flavor enhancers to improve the taste and texture. Common ingredients in chicken bouillon include:
- Chicken or vegetable stock
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Yeast extract
- Hydrolyzed soy protein
- Corn starch
- Wheat flour
- Natural flavors
Some of these ingredients, especially wheat flour and maltodextrin, contain gluten. This is where tracing the source of gluten in chicken bouillon comes into play.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten forms an elastic network that gives dough its chewy texture. Gluten helps baked goods like bread rise and maintain their shape.
People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten. When they eat gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue and headaches.
Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must strictly avoid all foods and products containing gluten to prevent illness and complications. This includes being vigilant about hidden sources of gluten like bouillon cubes, powder and certain condiments.
Why chicken bouillon may contain gluten
Chicken bouillon can pick up traces of gluten due to:
- Wheat flour – Used as a thickener and binder
- Maltodextrin – A food additive derived from wheat, barley, corn or potato starch
- Shared equipment – Bouillon made on equipment used for other products with gluten
- Thickening agents – Starches or gums that utilize gluten-containing grains
- Flavorings – Certain proprietary natural flavors
- Cross-contamination – From other gluten-containing ingredients in the facility
Many popular bouillon cube and powder brands list wheat flour as a primary ingredient right after salt. This adds both thickness and flavor. Maltodextrin derived from wheat is also common.
Broths and stocks are generally prone to cross-contamination as well since they are made in large batches. Trace amounts can transfer between batches of products.
Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should not assume bouillon is safe, even if the ingredients appear gluten-free. Hidden sources of gluten trip up many people trying to avoid it strictly.
Is all chicken bouillon made with wheat?
No, not all chicken bouillon contains wheat-based ingredients or gluten cross-contamination. There are some specialty brands that produce gluten-free bouillon made without these questionable ingredients.
Here are some ways chicken bouillon can be made gluten-free:
- Use cornstarch or tapioca starch instead of wheat flour
- Avoid maltodextrin or verify the source is gluten-free if used
- Manufacture bouillon in a dedicated gluten-free facility
- Substitute gluten-free grains like rice flour or sorghum flour
- Clean equipment thoroughly between batches to prevent cross-contact
- Explicitly label gluten-free bouillon as certified gluten-free
There are a handful of trusted brands that make high-quality gluten-free chicken bouillon. These types take extra care to avoid ingredients containing gluten or made on shared equipment.
How to find gluten-free chicken bouillon
Here are some tips for finding gluten-free chicken bouillon:
- Carefully read the ingredients list – avoid wheat flour, maltodextrin or ambiguous thickeners
- Look for bouillon certified gluten-free or labeled as gluten-free
- Choose brands that specialize in allergen-free foods
- Contact the manufacturer if uncertain about ingredients or processing
- Opt for liquid broth concentrate instead of cubes or powder
- Make homemade gluten-free bouillon using chicken, vegetables and gluten-free herbs
Reputable gluten-free brands like Kitchen Basics, Edward & Sons, Pacific Foods and Imagine Foods indicate “gluten-free” clearly on the label. This takes out the guesswork.
Liquid chicken broth concentrates or bases are less likely to have added thickeners and anti-caking agents. However, some may still contain maltodextrin. Always verify ingredients and check for a gluten-free claim.
When in doubt if a product is gluten-free, going directly to the source and contacting the manufacturer is advisable. Many are happy to verify the gluten-free status of their bouillon upon request.
Gluten-Free Chicken Bouillon Brands
Here are some recommended gluten-free brands of chicken bouillon:
Kitchen Basics makes an unsalted chicken bouillon that is certified gluten-free. It comes in a 16 ounce jug of concentrated gluten-free chicken stock.
Ingredients: Chicken stock, sea salt, natural flavor, onion powder, thyme
Pacific Foods offers select gluten-free broths and stocks, including their organic free-range chicken bone broth. It is sold as a 32 ounce liquid concentrate.
Ingredients: Chicken bone broth (water, organic free-range chicken bones), organic onions, organic carrots, organic celery, organic parsley, organic pepper
Edward & Sons
Edward & Sons makes bouillon cubes and gluten-free gravy mixes. Their Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cubes are vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free.
Ingredients: Salt, yeast extract, potato starch, soy sauce powder (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), onion powder, flavor (yeast extract, maltodextrin from corn, natural flavor)
Imagine Foods has a 32 ounce No-Chicken Broth that is certified gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher. It is a vegan chicken-flavored vegetable broth.
Ingredients: Filtered water, onion, carrot, celery, potato, garlic, tomato, parsley, thyme, rice starch, sea salt
Rapunzel makes a variety of gluten-free, vegan bouillon cubes and powders. Their chicken-flavored bouillon is non-GMO and suitable for vegetarian and paleo diets.
Ingredients: Sea salt, yeast extract, dried vegetables (onions, carrots, parsley root, celery), spices, garlic, flavorings.
Homemade Chicken Bouillon
Making homemade gluten-free chicken bouillon is also an option. This allows complete control over the ingredients.
To make about 4 cups of bouillon:
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 5 sprigs parsley
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 8 cups water
- Sea salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients except salt in a large pot.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours.
- Strain and discard solids. Allow broth to cool.
- Add sea salt to taste.
- Use immediately or store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 5 days or freezer for 4-6 months.
This homemade chicken bouillon avoids any questionable thickeners or anti-caking agents. It can be used as a base for soups, stews, sauces and rice or veggie dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Knorr chicken bouillon gluten free?
No, Knorr chicken bouillon cubes and granules contain wheat flour and are not gluten-free. The exception is Knorr liquid chicken broth in cartons, which does not contain gluten ingredients.
Does Better Than Bouillon have gluten?
Most Better Than Bouillon chicken and beef bases contain wheat and barley maltodextrin. However, their vegetarian bases do not contain gluten. Always check labels since formulations can change.
Is chicken broth gluten free?
Plain chicken broth and stock made solely from chicken and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. However, many canned, boxed and concentrated chicken broths have added ingredients that may contain gluten. Check labels carefully.
Is chicken base gluten free?
Chicken bases often contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat flour or wheat dextrin. Some brands of chicken base are gluten-free, like Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Cooking Stock. But many standard chicken bases are not gluten-free.
Is Maggi bouillon gluten free?
No, Maggi bouillon cubes contain wheat flour so they are not gluten-free. Maggi liquid seasonings are also made with wheat and barley extracts. The exception is Maggi Fondor, a liquid bouillon concentrate that is labeled gluten-free.
The Bottom Line
Many popular chicken bouillon products contain gluten due to ingredients like wheat flour or barley maltodextrin used as thickeners and stabilizers. Bouillon may also pick up traces of gluten through cross-contamination.
To avoid gluten, choose chicken bouillon with a gluten-free label and avoid ambiguous ingredients. Some trustworthy gluten-free brands include Kitchen Basics, Pacific Foods, Edward & Sons and Imagine Foods. Making homemade chicken bouillon is another safe option.
Checking labels carefully and contacting manufacturers about gluten-free status is recommended when selecting chicken bouillon. This ensures the product is appropriate for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance who require a strict gluten-free diet.