Which yeast extracts are gluten free?

Yeast extracts are common ingredients used to enhance flavor in many savory dishes. While most yeast extracts are naturally gluten free, some brands may contain gluten from added ingredients. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it’s important to choose verified gluten free yeast extracts.

What are yeast extracts?

Yeast extracts are concentrated yeast products made by autolyzing (self-digesting) yeast cells. This process breaks down the yeast cell walls, releasing amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals into a viscous, brown, hydrolyzed yeast extract.

The most common type of yeast extract is made from baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). However, some brands may use yeasts such as Candida utilis or Kluyveromyces marxianus.

Yeast extract imparts a savory, umami flavor to foods. It contains high levels of glutamic acid, an amino acid that enhances the perception of savoriness. Yeast extract is commonly used as a flavor enhancer in soups, gravies, stocks, ready meals, snack foods and vegan meat substitutes.

Are yeast extracts naturally gluten free?

Yeast extract begins as a gluten free ingredient. Yeasts do not contain gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley.

During the autolysis process, the yeast cells release amino acids and polysaccharides into the surrounding liquid, producing a viscous, protein-rich extract. This hydrolyzed yeast extract does not naturally contain any gluten.

Therefore, pure yeast extracts without added ingredients are inherently gluten free. They can safely be consumed on a gluten free diet.

Why check for gluten free certification?

Although yeast extract starts out gluten free, some brands may add ingredients that introduce gluten:

  • Flavors – Some flavors or natural flavors contain gluten.
  • Barley malt extract – Derived from gluten-containing barley.
  • Wheat starch – Added to thicken or stabilize the product.
  • Maltodextrin – May be derived from wheat or barley.

Since yeast extract powder is a concentrated product, even a tiny amount of gluten can be highly concentrated. Just 10-50 mg of gluten per day can cause issues for those with celiac disease.

That’s why it’s crucial to look for yeast extracts verified as gluten free when you’re on a gluten free diet. Don’t assume all yeast extracts are gluten free – look for certified brands to be safe.

What makes a yeast extract gluten free?

For a yeast extract to be gluten free, it must meet two key criteria:

  1. The yeast extract itself must be made without gluten-containing ingredients.
  2. It’s produced in a facility free from gluten cross-contamination.

Any gluten-containing additives like wheat starch or barley malt would disqualify the product. It also must be manufactured in a dedicated gluten free facility to prevent cross-contamination.

Which certification labels confirm gluten free status?

There are a few independent organizations that certify gluten free products:

  • GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization) – This program audits and certifies gluten free manufacturing facilities and products to contain less than 10 ppm gluten.
  • NCAF (National Celiac Association Certification) – Certifies facilities and products with less than 5 ppm gluten after testing.
  • 1C-GF (1 Degree of Gluten Free) – Tests finished products to verify less than 10 ppm gluten.

Any yeast extract displaying one of these gluten free certification symbols meets the highest standards for gluten free integrity. The certification verifies both the ingredient supply chain and facilities are gluten free.

What about kosher yeast extract?

Kosher symbols, such as OU, KOF-K, CRC and Star-K, indicate that a product adheres to Jewish dietary laws. However, kosher certification alone does not guarantee gluten free status.

Kosher labeling verifies proper preparation and handling according to kosher law. But even kosher certified products can contain prohibited ingredients like wheat, barley or rye.

So while yeast extracts labeled OU kosher may be suitable for those following a kosher diet, they may still contain gluten. Be sure to look for reliable gluten free symbols to confirm the product is free of wheat, rye and barley.

Which major brands of yeast extract are gluten free?

Here are some of the most widely available gluten free certified yeast extract brands:


Popular yeast extracts sold under the Knorr brand, including Knorr boullion cubes, paste and granulated boullion, are certified gluten free by GFCO.


Marmite yeast extract spread is certified gluten free by Coeliac UK. Both Marmite original and Marmite XO flavored yeast spreads are marked gluten free.


Many Unilever brand yeast extracts carry gluten free certification, including:

  • Knorr boullion cubes
  • PG Tips and Lipton soup cup boullion
  • Ragú gravy mixes

Look for the certified gluten free label on Unilever yeast extract products.

Augason Farms

The emergency food brand Augason Farms carries gluten free certified vegetable and chicken boullion in #10 cans. Their yeast extracts are certified under the GFCO program.

Hoosier Hill Farm

Hoosier Hill Farm boullion powder is certified gluten free to contain less than 10 ppm gluten. Both their chicken and beef boullion yeast extracts carry the GFCO symbol.

Frontier Co-op

Frontier Co-op organic yeast extract powder is certified gluten free under the NCAF program. Their yeast extract meets certification standards of less than 5 ppm gluten.

Savory Spice Shop

This specialty spice brand sells yeast extract powder certified gluten free by the NCAF. Their yeast extracts are verified to contain under 5 ppm gluten.

Are yeast extract pastes and spreads gluten free?

Some savory yeast extract pastes and spreads are certified gluten free, including:


Both the original and XO flavored Marmite yeast spreads are marked gluten free in the UK, certified by Coeliac UK.


This Australian yeast spread is labeled as gluten free. Some facilities also carry official gluten free certification.

Cauldron Foods

Cauldron Foods’ Marmite-like yeast extract spread is certified gluten free under the UK Coeliac Scheme to contain less than 20 ppm gluten.

Always check the packaging for an official gluten free certification symbol on yeast spreads. Some store brand versions may contain gluten.

What about brewer’s and baker’s yeast extracts?

There are a few specialty yeast extracts made from brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast. These include:

  • Brewer’s yeast extract
  • Baker’s yeast extract
  • Beer yeast extract
  • Nutritional yeast flakes

While these yeast sources themselves are gluten free, the final products can sometimes include grain-based ingredients. Check for gluten free certification before consuming.

For example, some nutritional yeast brands add in gluten-containing ingredients like wheat starch. But there are certified gluten free options available, such as KAL Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

Can I make my own gluten free yeast extract?

It is possible to make your own homemade yeast extract powder using brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast:

  1. Add nutritional yeast flakes to a food processor and process into a fine powder.
  2. Mix 1 tbsp powder with 1 cup warm water.
  3. Whisk together and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
  5. Dehydrate the liquid extract at low heat into a concentrated paste.
  6. Further dehydrate the paste in an oven on the lowest setting to form a dry powder.

Since you control the ingredients, DIY yeast extract like this is guaranteed gluten free. Use it as a base for homemade boullion cubes or gravies.

What about yeast extract in stock cubes and boullion?

Many boullion cubes, powders and pastes contain yeast extract as a flavor enhancer. Brands like Knorr, Maggi and Clibanarius use yeast extract in certain boullion products.

Always check the package for gluten free certification. Some boullion contains wheat, barley malt or questionable “natural flavors.” But major brands like Knorr, Augason Farms and Hoosier Hill Farm sell gluten free certified boullion with yeast extract.

Is yeast extract safe in a gluten free diet?

Yes, certified gluten free yeast extracts are generally considered safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The autolysis manufacturing process destroys gluten proteins from the yeast cells.

Independent lab testing verifies certified brands contain less than 10-20 ppm gluten. This is far below the FDA threshold of 20 ppm for labeling items “gluten free.”

Of course, always look for reputable third party certification from GFCO, NCAF or 1C-GF. Avoid any yeast extract listing wheat, barley or questionable “natural flavors” in the ingredients.

With care to choose certified brands, yeast extract can be a safe and beneficial addition to a gluten free diet. The savory, umami taste makes it an ideal replacement for wheat-based boullion and stocks.

The bottom line

When shopping for yeast extract powder, cubes, spreads or pastes, be sure to check labels carefully for gluten free certification. Look for trusted symbols like GFCO, NCAF or Coeliac UK.

While yeast extract starts out gluten free, some products may contain added wheat, barley or maltodextrin derived from gluten sources. Only third party certified gluten free products can be considered definitively safe for gluten free diets.

With care in label reading, brands like Marmite, Knorr, Augason Farms and Hoosier Hill offer yeast extracts suitable for celiacs, those with gluten sensitivity and people eating 100% gluten free. Yeast extract adds savory umami flavor to recipes when wheat flour and soy sauce aren’t options. Choose verified gluten free yeast extract to safely boost gluten free cooking.

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