Celiacs and Gluten Free Living
With an estimated 1 in 100 Americans suffering from Celiacs Disease, the gluten free bread industry has grown exponentially over the last ten years. The competition to provide wheat, rye and barley intolerant consumers with palatable substitutes for grain based breads is fierce. Especially so, as manufacturers can and do charge exorbitant rates for foods that are certified to be gluten free.
Consumers found many of the first gluten free bread products to be dry, flavorless and just plain disgusting, in addition to being fantastically over priced. A loaf of bread 10 inches in length typically cost $5-8. At these prices, most consumers expect to get tasty value for their money. Sadly that is usually not the case.
We have compiled a list of the best commercially available gluten free breads for every occasion. From the best gluten free French bread or sandwich bread to the best cornbread, biscuits and cupcakes, we have tasted them all, and here are the winners that are worthy of a place on your dinner table.
The Problem With Gluten Free Bread
Bread is essential to many of our favorite foods and recipes. Those who choose a gluten free life style quickly find that they will be paying 2-3 times the cost of normal fresh bread for a frozen loaf of bread that is one third the size of a standard loaf of bread.
Gluten free flour substitutes lack the elasticity of wheat flour. As a result many manufacturers resort to gums and tapioca to add the elasticity back into the batter. In order get achieve a consistent texture throughout the bread, bakers must bake smaller loaves of bread.
As the number of Americans diagnosed with Celiacs continues to climb, new grain substitutes and gluten free thickening agents are entering the market. These flour substitutes and super grains include:
- Quinoa (super grain)
- Teff (super grain)
- Rice Flour
- Potato Flour
- Garbanzo Bean Flour
- Arrowroot (corn starch substitute)
If you are interested in baking your own bread, try experimenting with combinations of the above flour substitutes, Teff, for instance, adds elasticity back into the dough. If baking fresh bread is too time consuming, read on for the best readily available bakery substitutes.
The Best Tasting Gluten Free Sandwich Breads
Udi’s wins both the “Whole Grain” and “White Bread” sandwich bread categories. Their whole grain gluten free sandwich bread has a rustic, old world bread taste. Best when toasted, this bread has a light airy consistency and is not too dry or sweet tasting.
Like most of the gluten free breads, it is slightly sweet, but the nutty character of the bread makes up for it. This bread was the most like fresh baked artisan breads of the 12 sandwich breads we tasted. Cost $4.99 per loaf.
Udi’s White Sandwich bread comes in second place for sandwiches and came in first place for making fresh bread crumbs and croutons or as an ingredient in homemade cornbread stuffing, meatloaf or meatballs. Cost $4.99 per loaf.
For use as a recipe ingredient, toast Udi’s white gluten free bread lightly to remove excess moisture, and allow it to cool before cubing or grinding into bread crumbs. If you are making croutons keep a careful eye on the bread as it tends to burn more quickly than traditional bread.
Kinnikinnick’s Brown Bread wins the pumpernickel challenge and comes in 3rd in the overall sandwich bread category. This brown bread has a hearty deep flavor that is reminiscent of old world pumpernickel breads. It pairs well with cream cheese and smoked salmon or can be used in a modified Reuben sandwich in place of traditional rye.
You may feel tempted to try their Gluten Free Italian White Tapioca Rice Bread – Don’t! Sweet, dry and fishy tasting were our thoughts on this loaf of disaster.
The Best Gluten Free French Bread
Against The Grain has the best French bread, hands down. However, it is more of a cross between French bread and the traditional popover. To increase the elasticity of the bread, they add a little mozzarella cheese to the dough. The result is a very light and airy center, like that of a popover, with a crunchy exterior. This bread is slightly sweet and pairs well with soft ripe cheeses.
Against The Grain also makes large dinner rolls and bagels with the same batter. Unfortunately, the rolls tend to be gummy in the center. If you are looking for a dinner roll, choose the bagel, which also has the same light airy interior as the French bread loaf with a crunchy exterior. The hole in the center of the bagel prevents it from becoming gummy in the middle.
Additionally, Against the Grain Gourmet also wins our prize for the most expensive of the commercially available breads. Expect to pay $7.99 for two 12" long loaves of French bread or a pack of 5 Bagels. The five bagels are a better value, but it won’t have the same eye appeal as the loaves do, if you have been yearning for traditional French bread.
Best Gluten Free Cornbread
Whole Foods GlutenFree Bakehouse wins this category with a slightly sweet cornbread that has the exact texture of traditional cornbread. Some of the gluten free cornbreads available in box mixes that we tried produced a rubbery textured bread.
Whole Foods has avoided that trap with a dense, slightly crumbly texture. Its cornbread makes a delicious cornbread stuffing or dressing, fills in as a great side dish to Southern main courses and makes a nice breakfast food with butter and honey drizzled over it. Cost: $5.99 per pound.
Why Gluten Free
Top Gluten Free Breakfast Breads
Best Gluten Free Waffles
Nature’s Path Homestyle Organic Waffles take first prize in this now crowded field. While other frozen gluten free waffles from Vans and Trader Joes were found to be be dry, flavorless and fell apart easily, these waffles are light, buttery and crispy and will hold up to any toppings you would like to smother them in.
Mix up your morning routine with waffles topped with bananas and whipped cream, fresh strawberries and whipped cream or a traditional maple syrup topping.
Best Gluten Free Bagel
While we enjoy Against The Grains’ bagels as a dinner roll, those seeking a true bagel experience will not be satisfied with that product. The bagel that most resembles the true deli style bagel is O’Dough’s Bagel Thins.
Made from sprouted whole grain flax with all natural products and no preservatives, the outside is generously coated with delicious sesame and poppy seeds much like an “everything” bagel. Slightly smaller than a traditional bagel, the bagel thins have a good crunchy bite after toasting and pack just 100 calories per bagel. Great for nova salmon and cream cheese or for spreads. Cost: $5.99.
Best Gluten Free Biscuits
It’s Whole Foods GlutenFree Bakehouse to the rescue again with their creamy biscuit. This is not a light fluffy biscuit, but the texture is creamy. They also make a cheddar cheese variation, but we found that it was too greasy. The creamy biscuit is already on the heavy side before adding cheese to the batter. Cost $5.99 for a box of 6 biscuits.
Best Chocolate Cake
Best Gluten Free Desserts
Whole Foods GlutenFree Bakehouse Cupcakes with vanilla icing are delicious. The cake cannot be differentiated from normal cupcakes, and they are topped with the same delicious icing used in their fresh bakery cupcakes. The entire family will love them, and while they are expensive, for once they are not more expensive than their Whole Foods traditional counterparts. Cost: 4 Cupcakes $5.99-7.99 (stock up when they are on sale!)
Trader Joes Flourless Chocolate Cake - This tasty cake is delivered fresh to the store, not to the freezer section. Our only complaint was that it actually needed a little more sugar. Sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar or add your own icing to sweeten it up. Cost $8.99.
French Laundry's Exquisite Gluten Free Flour
Want To Bake Your Own Breads and Pastries?
The Best All Purpose Flour - Cup4Cup created by the award winning chefs at the venerated Napa Valley restaurant, French Laundry, these artists have developed a flour substitute that can be used in recipes literally cup for cup.
Patrons of French Laundry have literally wept over the products this flour has produced. You may too when you see the price, but it is well worth every penny. Don't squander this precious flour on junk food recipes, but if you have been craving light, crispy-golden fried coatings on your okra, shrimp and fried chicken, this is the flour to make a great fried coating. It does not burn as quickly as rice flour and produces a fluffy, light crust.
Bakers love it or hate it, but the vast majority love it by a 20:1 margin. They also make a pizza crust mix as well as brownie, pancake and cupcake mixes.
How To Make Gluten Free Bread
Kella Hanna-Wayne on November 02, 2017:
Cornstarch, tapioca starch, and potato starch are also really common ingredients in gluten free bread, which can lead to relatively tasty but completely nutritionless carbs. Unlike white flour with gluten, gluten free flours aren't enriched with vitamins.
I'm from Oregon and we have a gluten free bakery in a nearby city called Happy Campers that makes really delicious whole grain bread. It's not so good for sandwiches cause the bread is very soft and floppy but toasted with jam it's to die for.
Agreed that Against the Grain is the best french bread! I can eat a whole loaf in a day no problem!
Kelly Kizer on March 11, 2017:
I'm sorry, I have to disagree with Udi's being the best GF bread out there and I've been so tired of that being my only option in grocery stores for too long. My favorite is Three Bakers. They have white, whole grain and a caraway that makes the best Rueben sandwich ever! It's great as a sandwich bread but toasted or grilled is even better. I also love Taylor Made buns..seriously, they taste and have the texture of regular bread and they're actually big enough to hold a burger! Canyon Bakehouse and Rudi's also make buns that kick Udi's you know what. My Bread makes a fantastic flat bread. I was recently served a new to me bread at a restaurant.. the bread is Rotella's Italian Bakery, soft deli white. Oh my was that good! With the exception of the last one these breads were found at chain grocery stores such as Kroger, HEB/Central Market, Whole Foods and Albertsons. I will agree Against The Grain is high on the list. Their frozen pizza is amazing too.
Jane Wilson (author) from Geogia on November 06, 2015:
Hi Emma - The only downside is the price, $8.00 for two small loaves.
Emma on November 04, 2015:
The Against The Grain Baguettes are absolutely amazing! They are soft and flakey and you don't have to bake them.
Jane Wilson (author) from Geogia on October 08, 2014:
Hi Sonia: Thanks for visiting. Which gluten free crackers have you noticed the fishy taste in? I have not experienced that, but would like to investigate them.
sonia on October 08, 2014:
Why does some gluten free crackers and cookies have a fishy taste?
Jane Wilson (author) from Geogia on July 28, 2014:
Hi Jaye: Yes, I think the celiacs runs in families. My mom was diagnosed at age 73, so we are very careful what she eats. I have my regrets when I go overboard on pasta! The only problem with Against the Grain is it is so expensive. $7.99 for two small loaves of french bread....
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on July 27, 2014:
My daughter was born with celiac disease, but when she was growing up there were no supermarket shelves filled with gluten-free products. It was rough! I'm glad she has more to choose form today. There seems to be a gluten sensitivity issue in our family tree because the doctor took my late mother off gluten during the last two years of her life, and at age 71 I can't eat gluten foods without regretting it. I've read from numerous sources that anyone with an autoimmune disorder (of which there are between 80-100) will have symptoms worse when eating gluten.
Whole Foods Market stocks the Against the Grain baguettes and buns. I treat myself to a package of two Against the Grain baguettes when I shop there. They are made with tapioca starch rather than rice flour, can be sliced in thin rounds by a serrated knife while still frozen and make wonderful toast rounds. For someone who always loved breads of all types, I'm delighted to have found these and am willing to do without something else to afford the price as an occasional treat.
I am not a person who bakes much (or ever has), although I do bake cornbread, but I'm of the opinion that cornbread should be salty, not sweet, so I make my own--never with a mix. The challenge is finding any type of gluten-free baking product that is also organic. Nature's Path does have some products (such as the waffles) that are both GF and organic.
I'll bookmark this page for reference of other products.