Is Yellow Rice gluten free?

Yellow rice is a popular side dish in many cuisines around the world. It gets its bright yellow color from turmeric, a spice that is commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. For those who need to follow a gluten-free diet, a common question is whether yellow rice contains gluten or is safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue and more. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, which avoids all foods and products containing gluten.

Some other grains like oats, while not containing gluten themselves, are often cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains. That’s why it’s also generally recommended that people with celiac disease avoid oats, unless they are labeled “gluten-free”.

Is Rice Gluten-Free?

Rice is a gluten-free grain. This includes all varieties of rice – long grain white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, sticky or glutinous rice, wild rice, rice flour, rice cereals and more. Rice does not naturally contain any gluten proteins.

However, in some cases, rice or rice products may become cross-contaminated with gluten. This could happen if rice is processed in a facility that also processes wheat or other gluten-containing grains. For people who are highly sensitive, even small amounts of cross-contamination can trigger symptoms. That’s why it’s important to check the label and look for a “gluten-free” certification on any rice or rice products, if you’re on a strict gluten-free diet.

Common Ingredients in Yellow Rice

The main ingredients in basic yellow rice are:

  • Rice – typically long grain white rice.
  • Water or broth – to cook the rice.
  • Turmeric – for the yellow color and flavor.
  • Oil – such as vegetable, canola or olive oil.
  • Salt and other spices – for seasoning like cumin or garlic powder.

Some recipes may also include:

  • Onion, garlic or other vegetables.
  • Carrots – for extra color.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Coconut milk.
  • Raisins or peas.

None of these additional ingredients contain gluten.

Risk of Cross-Contamination

When prepared at home using certified gluten-free ingredients, plain yellow rice made with rice, turmeric and oil is gluten-free. However, there are some risks of cross-contamination to be aware of:

  • Rice – Always check that the rice packaging indicates it’s gluten-free. Rice can be cross-contaminated in the field or during processing if it comes into contact with gluten-containing grains.
  • Turmeric – Pure turmeric powder or ground turmeric root should not contain gluten. But some mixed spice blends containing turmeric may have added wheat flour, barley malt or other questionable ingredients. Check the label carefully.
  • Broth – Broth and stock can sometimes contain gluten, especially if it contains hydrolyzed wheat protein. Opt for certified gluten-free broths and stocks only.
  • Cooking utensils – Make sure pots, pans, cooking tools and surfaces are thoroughly cleaned before preparing yellow rice, if they’ve been previously used to cook gluten-containing foods.

When dining out or purchasing pre-made yellow rice, there is a higher potential for cross-contamination to occur.

Is Yellow Rice Gluten-Free from Restaurants and Brands?

If you’re purchasing yellow rice from a restaurant, manufacturer or other food provider, be sure to ask if they can guarantee the dish or product is gluten-free.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Creamed yellow rice – Some restaurants make “creamed yellow rice” by adding wheat flour-based cream or bechamel sauce. This would not be gluten-free.
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein – Some brands add HWP as a flavor enhancer, which contains gluten.
  • Shared equipment – Even plain yellow rice could be cross-contaminated if cooked on shared equipment with gluten-containing menu items. Always verify preparation and cooking methods.
  • Ask about ingredients – Don’t assume yellow rice is only made with rice and turmeric. Ask brands/restaurants to confirm no gluten ingredients are used.

Some gluten-free yellow rice brands and options from restaurants include:

  • Lundberg Family Farms Organic Yellow Rice
  • Minute Ready to Serve Yellow Rice
  • 365 Everyday Value Organic Yellow Rice (Whole Foods Brand)
  • Near East Toasted Pine Nut Yellow Rice Mix (prepare with gluten-free broth)
  • Olive Garden – Plain yellow rice is gluten-free
  • Chipotle – Cilantro-lime rice and brown rice are gluten-free
  • Raising Cane’s – Plain white rice and Cane sauce are gluten-free

Always confirm directly with a restaurant or manufacturer before consuming their yellow rice, if you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Is Yellow Rice Gluten-Free? The Verdict

Plain yellow rice made at home with certified gluten-free ingredients like rice, turmeric, oil and salt is gluten-free. However, there is some risk of cross-contamination if care is not taken with ingredients and cooking tools.

Pre-packaged yellow rice and yellow rice from restaurants may contain questionable ingredients or get cross-contaminated during processing and preparation. Always thoroughly check labels for gluten-containing additives and call manufacturers with any questions or concerns.

To enjoy worry-free yellow rice on a gluten-free diet, your safest bet is to make it yourself using verified gluten-free ingredients. With some extra care taken to avoid cross-contamination, yellow rice can be a great gluten-free side dish option.

Tips for a Gluten-Free Yellow Rice Recipe

Here are some tips for preparing gluten-free yellow rice at home:

  • Use a certified gluten-free rice like Lundberg or Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Verify your ground turmeric powder is 100% turmeric without gluten-containing additives.
  • Use oil that’s free of additives, like avocado, coconut or olive oil.
  • Choose gluten-free vegetable or chicken broth.
  • Avoid adding any thickening agents like wheat flour or roux.
  • Use a clean pot and utensils that have not contacted gluten.
  • To avoid cross-contamination, prepare rice before any gluten-containing foods.
  • Store leftover rice in an airtight container and reheat thoroughly before eating again.

Here is a simple recipe for gluten-free yellow rice:

Gluten-Free Yellow Rice Recipe


  • 2 cups gluten-free rice
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 cups gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear. Drain well.
  2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add rice and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add broth and salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
  5. Fluff rice with a fork before serving. Add any extra desired seasonings.

This simple and tasty yellow rice pairs perfectly with so many gluten-free main dishes! Plus you can customize it by adding vegetables, coconut milk, raisins or other gluten-free ingredients of your choice. Enjoy your worry-free yellow rice meal!

Nutrition Facts of Yellow Rice

Here is the nutrition information for a serving of plain yellow rice made with white rice, oil and turmeric:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 216
Fat 2g
Carbohydrates 44g
Protein 4g
Fiber 1g

Yellow rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates to provide energy. It also contains a small amount of fat from the oil used for cooking.

There are 44 grams of carbohydrate in a serving of yellow rice, which makes it a great gluten-free side dish option for low-FODMAP diets. The minimal fiber content is also unlikely to cause gastrointestinal issues.

So for those needing to follow a gluten-free diet, yellow rice can be a tasty, energizing and gut-friendly addition to your meal!

Common Questions about Yellow Rice and Gluten

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the gluten-free status of yellow rice:

Is yellow rice gluten free at Chinese restaurants?

Plain white or brown steamed rice served at Chinese restaurants is usually gluten-free. However, yellow rice may be made with soy sauce or other questionable ingredients. Check with the restaurant before ordering.

Does rice have gluten?

Rice does not naturally contain gluten. However, rice can become cross-contaminated if processed or manufactured with gluten-containing grains. So always look for a “gluten-free” label when purchasing any rice products.

Is all purpose seasoning gluten free?

Many all purpose seasonings contain gluten, especially wheat flour or maltodextrin derived from wheat. Read labels carefully or call manufacturers to verify gluten-free status.

What makes rice yellow?

Turmeric and annatto are the most common ingredients used to create yellow rice. Curcumin in turmeric and bixin in annatto provide the yellow pigments.

Is saffron rice gluten free?

Yes, saffron rice is gluten-free. Saffron provides the yellow color instead of turmeric. Always confirm the rice itself is certified gluten-free.

Is tomato chicken rice soup gluten free?

Chicken rice soup can be gluten-free if care is taken with the broth and any thickening agents. Check for hydrolyzed wheat protein in the broth and avoid flour thickeners. Use cornstarch instead.


Yellow rice made fresh at home with certified gluten-free ingredients can be a safe and delicious gluten-free side dish. When dining out or purchasing pre-made yellow rice, always verify the gluten-free status by checking labels for ingredients and potential cross-contamination issues. With the proper precautions, people who need to follow gluten-free diets can enjoy yellow rice without worry or symptoms. A tasty rice dish brings comfort, color and flavor to your gluten-free plate!

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