People suffering from gluten intolerance constantly have to sift through what they consume, even if it means cutting off their favorite gluten-filled food from their diet.
What happens when one of your go-to snacks happens to be cornbread? Is cornbread gluten-free or not?
Let’s find out through this article if cornbread contains gluten and whether or not you can keep it in your gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein inherent to cereal grains like wheat, rye, and barley, to name a few.
It’s responsible for giving these grain flours their gluey structure, and the ability to hold together when combined with liquids.
It’s also why pizza doughs have that stretchy quality and where many pastries get their chewy texture. Thus, all wheat products like bread, cereals, and pastries naturally contain gluten.
Cornbread is a classic American quickbread recipe made with cornmeal or corn flour, wheat flour, egg, milk, and butter. With wheat flour in the equation, cornbread isn’t considered gluten-free.
This centuries-old recipe includes wheat flour to give cornbread its tender and chewy bite that we’ve all come to love.
On the other hand, cornbread recipes that solely use cornmeal, come out crumbly and coarse.
Why? Because cornmeal doesn’t have the same glutinous quality as grain flour.
Corns are naturally gluten-free grains. Instinctively, cornmeal and corn flour don’t have this glutinous protein too.
So, if you want to make cornbread using only a cornmeal base, your cornbread won’t have that same bread-like texture.
Now, you may think as long as your cornbread recipe omits wheat, it should be gluten-free, right? It isn’t that simple, though.
Although cornmeal and corn flour are both naturally gluten-free, there are cases where they aren’t.
These two corn products can be manufactured in a facility where wheat flour is also processed, making them susceptible to gluten cross-contamination.
People who suffer from coeliac disease and NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity) are at risk with even the smallest percentage of ingested gluten.
For those with coeliac disease, gluten can severely damage their digestive system.
Their bodies overreact at the slightest ingestion of gluten, commonly experiencing stomach pain, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal discomforts.
Other overactive symptoms may include skin rashes, bloating, weight loss, and even non-digestive symptoms like depression, fatigue, and anemia.
Those with NCGS can also experience similar digestive pains as those with coeliac disease, though they’re said to be slightly more gluten-tolerant than coeliac disease patients.
That’s why it’s best to lessen or avoid gluten consumption to keep yourself from experiencing further irritability.
Not all cornmeals are produced with coeliac disease patients in mind, so how is it possible to tell which cornmeal is gluten-free? It’s simple!
Look for cornmeal brands with certified gluten-free badges in their packaging.
These manufacturers disclose that your cornmeal is processed in a facility that doesn’t risk gluten cross-contact.
You have the assurance that your cornmeal is produced with the highest care and dedication to keep you safe!
Thanks to the increasing awareness of coeliac disease, an abundance of food manufacturers have considered gluten-free diets.
Now, there are more gluten-free ingredients to replace wheat flour in your cornbread recipe.
Take a look below at the best gluten-free flour alternatives.
With these wheat flour alternatives, you don’t have to worry about the slightest hint of gluten in it.
Although there are several other wheat flour alternatives, this selection is based on tried gluten-free cornbread recipes.
Almond flour is made from finely ground almonds. This healthy wheat flour alternative has been used in so many gluten-free and keto-friendly recipes.
With its distinct and sweet almond taste, your cornbread will taste even better with this flour. This recipe even proves almond flour makes your cornbread super moist and soft!
Coconut flour comes from dried and ground coconut meat. It has a strong coconut hint that some gluten-free consumers with acquired taste can appreciate!
Here’s a recipe that uses coconut flour to make a moist cornbread you can’t get enough of.
Another creative recipe uses only coconut flour, with baby corn or corn extract replacing cornmeal, to make this improvised cornbread. It’s just as good as the classic one.
Despite the wheat in this flour’s name, buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten. This earthy-flavored flour will give your cornbread an interesting flavor profile.
This healthy recipe using buckwheat is right up your alley!
A gluten-free flour blend is another innovative alternative to wheat flour. This is a mix of rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.
An alternate version of this blend is made from bean flour and whole grain white sorghum flour.
Boxed mixes are perfectly convenient for aspiring bakers who don’t have all the time in the world to be measuring every single ingredient.
With that said, boxed cornbread mixes come in handy when you need a quick fix.
Despite that, cornbread mixes aren’t generally gluten-free. It has pre-mixed wheat flour and contains other ingredients that aren’t gluten-free.
Do they also have gluten-free variants, though? Yes, there are a number of brands that carry this line of cornbread mixes.
Just be sure to check for that gluten-free badge and whether the back label says made in a gluten-free facility.
Cornbread muffins are made with the same ingredients as regular cornbread. The only difference is their shape and how they’re made. As such, cornbread muffins aren’t gluten-free either.
You can make cornbread muffins applying the same knowledge as you would for making cornbread. Use gluten-free versions for your muffin ingredient.
Cornbread stuffing has herbs, spices, and dried cornbread pieces. The cornbread content is the only ingredient that has gluten in this stuffing, so simply replace it with a gluten-free one instead.
To make sure your herbs and spices aren’t cross-contaminated with gluten, make sure they’re sourced organically and processed in gluten-free facilities.
When you’re making homemade cornbread, your flours aren’t the only ones that should be gluten-free.
In fact, you have to be more meticulous with the rest of your ingredients even if they’re naturally gluten-free. Ensure that they’re not manufactured by the same facilities as wheat flour.
Always check the back label of products for information that commonly mentions that they’re processed in the same facility as wheat, soy, or nuts. Remembering this will help you re-evaluate the products you buy.
Did you know that you can also risk gluten cross-contact at home while sharing equipment?
We even unknowingly carry gluten ourselves, as these particles can stay airborne for long hours where wheat is often used. Places like bakeries, pizza parlors, and even our own homes can be exposed to gluten borne in the air or stuck on surfaces.
Here are helpful tips even nonsensitive family members at home can practice for preventive measures:
- Don’t share utensils, pots, and pans between uses. Remember to always clean thoroughly before using.
- Don’t heat gluten-free food in the same appliance where gluten-containing food is heated. Gluten doesn’t dissolve in heat that easily.
- Avoid double dipping at all costs.
- Have a separate water bottle for yourself—one that’s not shared with nonsensitive family members and vice versa.
- Use personal cleaning items.
- Sanitize door handles, drawer knobs, and general surfaces.
It’s good to start practicing mindfulness at home so whenever you meet other people who are gluten-sensitive, you’re equipped to care for them.
Let’s make the world a better place for our gluten-sensitive friends!
Is cornbread gluten-free? It’s both yes and no.
Cornbread can be gluten-free if wheat flour isn’t used in a recipe. It can also be free of this sticky protein if the ingredients listed aren’t processed in the same facility as wheat products.
Additionally, there are some gluten-free flour options you can easily replace wheat flour with for your homemade cornbread.
So, enjoy gluten-sensitive folks! You’re free to keep cornbread in your gluten-free diet as long as you spot a gluten-free label and double check ingredients list each time.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.