7 Gluten-Free Grains

  • 01 of 09

    Gluten-free grains: What they are (and what to do with them!)

    A variety of grains

    Photo from Fotografia Basica

    Which whole grains are gluten-free grains?

    Avoiding gluten means eating fewer processed foods with hidden additives—and that's a good thing! If you're anything like me, you love shopping in the bulk foods section of your local co-op and stocking up on healthy grains and legumes for cheap, filling, and healthy vegetarian and vegan meals. Keep reading to find out about seven gluten-free grains you should try.

    You may have heard of some of them, but I met you haven't tried all of them! Not sure what to do with these grains? Here are some quick ideas:

    • Make a hot breakfast porridge (like oatmeal) with raisins, fruits, nuts, etc. Sample recipe: Maple cinnamon breakfast quinoa
    • Pair them with any kind of vegetarian curry, a vegetable stir-fry, vegetable chili or Indian dahl instead of plain white rice
    • Add a handful of any of these gluten-free grains to just about any kind of soup, chili or salad to stretch it out and fill it up
  • 02 of 09


    Teff - a whole grain, ancient grain and gluten-free grain

    If you've ever been out to an Ethiopian food restaurant, chances are you've had teff but didn't even know it. That thin, spongy, flatbread which is used to scoop up food in place of utensils at Ethiopian restaurants is made from teff flour. If you've never had Ethiopian food, I highly recommend you seek one out and try it! The food is unforgettably delicious, and most will have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. 

    But back to teff. Teff isn't a great substitute for rice or quinoa the way other whole grains are. For example, you can't really make a teff salad the way you can make a barley salad. Why not? Because the grains are so tiny that when cooked, they sort of congeal together. But that just makes teff perfect for things like a teff breakfast porridge, adding in to soup for a little bit of thickening, and creamy dishes like teff polenta. And, just like polenta, cooked teff will become firmish when cooked and then cooled, so, plan to reheat it with a bit of extra liquid if you have leftovers, or, slice it and fry it up just like leftover polenta!

  • 03 of 09


    Millet - a gluten-free whole grain

    Millet is my favorite quinoa alternative. Check and compare the price, then ask yourself why you're not choosing millet! Millet is usually about 1/6th the price of quinoa, which has me scratching my head and wondering why it's not more popular. It certainly should be!

    Millet is relatively high in protein (not as high in protein as quinoa, though), and is a great source of iron and zinc, which are important nutrients for everyone, but especially for vegetarians and vegans.

    And, of course, since millet is actually a seed and not a grain, it's completely gluten-free!

  • 04 of 09



    Kaniwa, a relative of quinoa, looks a bit like teff in its uncooked state, but it cooks up very differently. While teff will congeal, kaniwa cooks up more like quinoa, but because it's so tiny, the texture is very different. If you love quinoa, you might just love kaniwa, too. With 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup dry, kaniwa is also an excellent source of protein for vegetarians

    Whole grains like kaniwa are perfect to keep on hand. I like to cook extra and freeze it so I always have some ready to go to add to soup simmering on the stovetop for extra texture and protein, or, when I'm packing a green salad to take to the office for lunch, I'll toss in a small handful of kaniwa to add some bulk and fiber, and, like most whole grains, kaniwa can be used in just about any way that you usually use rice: in a pilaf, alongside a vegetable stir-fry, or with a vegetable curry. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09


    Buckwheat groats
    Sergey Chushkin / Getty Images

    Like millet and quinoa, buckwheat, despite the name, is not actually a wheat or even a grain, but rather a gluten-free seed. Out of all the whole grains, buckwheat is very easy to identify due to its pyramid-like shape. 

    Buckwheat usually comes in two different varieties: raw and toasted. The toasted buckwheat, pictured above, is slightly darker and almost auburn reddish in color, and may be called kasha, which yes, can be slightly confusing. Raw, untoasted buckwheat is a lighter tannish color. 

    Buckwheat is the primary ingredient in Japanese soba noodles, which are, yes, gluten-free!

  • 06 of 09


    Amaranth grain - a gluten-free ancient grain

    Lew Robertson / Getty Images

    Another gluten-free grain you probably haven't tried? Amaranth!

    Shopping for amaranth? It looks a lot like quinoa, though it is smaller and more spherical in shape while quinoa is a bit more like a flat cylinder. Like quinoa, amaranth is an excellent source of protein with 8 grams per 1/4 cup dry, and, like millet, it's a great source of iron. 

    Amaranth cooks up slightly differently than other gluten-free grains, and the texture may take a little bit of getting used to if you're used to only eating rice or quinoa. 

  • 07 of 09


    Quinoa fried rice with bok choy and mushrooms - vegetarian and vegan

    By now you've probably already tried quinoa, and maybe even a few quinoa recipes, but did you know that quinoa isn't actually a grain, but a seed, and so it's actually gluten-free? Well, it is, and now you do!

    Yes, quinoa, the trendy food which rose to popularity just recently is indeed, a gluten-free ancient grain that is actually a seed. One of the reasons quinoa is so popular, at least amongst vegetarians and vegans, is that it's a great source of plant-based protein (along with beans, nuts, and legumes). 

  • 08 of 09


    Vegan paella with green peas, artichokes and bell pepper photo by Fuse / Getty Images

    Fuse / Getty Images

    Yes, rice is a grain and it is completely gluten-free! Don't overlook rice when thinking about gluten-free grains and planning out meals. White rice, brown rice and even wild rice (another seed masquerading as a grain) are all great options if you need a gluten-free grain. 

    Think about all the things which rice can be used for, and you'll realize just how many meals you can enjoy on a gluten-free diet: rice and beans, rice pilaf, jambalaya, rice quiche, rice pudding, rice-stuffed bell peppers, dirty rice, stuffed grape leaves (dolmas), fried rice balls, risotto, paella, fried rice, not to mention vegetarian sushi!

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    More gluten-free vegan recipes and resources

    Gluten-free vegan meals
    Gluten-free vegan meals.

    These gluten-free whole grains are great for pairing with vegetable stir-fries or curries, to make a complete meal. Here's a few more resources that you'll want to check out if you're on a gluten-free vegetarian or gluten-free vegan diet: