Rice in its natural forms is a gluten-free food that is safe for people with celiac disease and those who are sensitive to gluten. 

Is Rice Gluten-Free?

A kitchen staple that’s popular across the globe, rice comes in several varieties and is classified based on its color, length, and texture. All rice — from white and brown to sushi rice and arborio rice — is naturally gluten-free. As such, it’s an important staple in any gluten-free diet and can be enjoyed in its natural form or goods made from rice flour. 

Since they retain their bran layers, brown rice varieties are whole-grain options with the benefit of additional fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Why it matters

An estimated three million Americans have celiac disease. In addition to this, between one and six percent of the population has non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Since there is no cure for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, people living with these conditions must rely on safe, gluten-free foods to keep their symptoms at bay. 

Reading labels, asking the right questions, and eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination are all essential daily tasks for those living a gluten-free lifestyle. Though natural rice is gluten-free, products made with additional spices, flavors or sauces might not be. Due to proximity to gluten-containing products, rice sold in bulk bins may also contain gluten. Purchasing certified gluten-free products is the best way to ensure gluten-free goods. 

Which Types of Rice Are Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free rice

If you’re wondering, “Does rice have gluten?” the answer is no. All natural forms of rice are gluten-free. Due to this fact, rice flour is a go-to ingredient in many gluten-free foods, from crackers and baked goods to pasta. When cooking, rice is a simple ingredient to combine with other gluten-free foods for satisfying, gluten-free dishes. 

Brown rice

Whole-grain brown rice is simply rice that has not had its bran layer removed. Minimally processed, brown rice retains more of its natural nutrients. It contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids, minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium, vitamins and fiber. Brown rice is also a low glycemic index food, meaning it won’t cause blood sugar to spike. 

What’s important to keep in mind is that brown rice also contains more arsenic than its white counterparts. A chemical found in nature, arsenic can be dangerous in high doses. People who consume large quantities of rice, including those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, should keep this in mind and switch up their dietary routines when possible.

White rice

Versatile and popular with people of every age, white rice is a handy, gluten-free food to keep in stock. Different types of white rice have different properties. Short-grain white rice becomes creamy when cooked, making it perfect for dishes like risotto and paella. On the other hand, long-grain white rice cooks up lighter and more separate. Varieties such as basmati and jasmine are more fragrant than others. Whether you’re making a comforting dessert or a special meal for Sunday night, white rice is a gluten-free kitchen powerhouse that can bring many ingredients together. 

Wild rice

Though marketed as a type of rice, wild rice is the grain harvested from specific types of semi-aquatic grass native to the U.S. and Canada. Naturally gluten-free, wild rice has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor that’s delicious in savory dishes. A nutritious alternative to rice, wild rice is known to be rich in fiber and several vitamins and minerals, such as folate, vitamin B-6, and zinc.

Rice Grains

Beyond its color, rice is classified by its length and texture. Here are the main types:

• Short-grain rice is small and round and is wider than it is long. It is starchier than long-grain rice, lending dishes a creamy texture. Popular varieties include bomba and sticky rice. 

• Medium-grain rice is two to three times longer than it is wide. It absorbs plenty of moisture when cooked, and becomes soft and fluffy. Popular types are arborio and Valencia rice. 

• Long grain rice is up to four times longer than it is wide. It separates when cooked, and is ideal for pilafs and rice salads. Popular varieties include basmati and jasmine rice. 

• Whole grain rice, or brown rice, is not processed like white rice so has its bran, germ, and endosperm intact. 

• Refined rice, or white rice, is highly processed to remove the outer layers of the grain, called the bran and the germ. In white rice, only the starchy endosperm remains. 

Which types of rice aren’t gluten-free?

All-natural rice is gluten-free. Where gluten can be present is when rice is seasoned or is an ingredient in pre-packaged foods. Boxed rice and cereals, or products manufactured alongside gluten-containing grains, such as barley and wheat, can also contain gluten. 

What alternative, gluten-free grains can I try?

Rice isn’t the only grain that is naturally gluten free. In fact, quinoa, corn and millet are all healthy, gluten-free alternatives that can easily be incorporated into any diet. Delicious in everything from baked goods to salads, quinoa is a protein-packed whole grain with a light,
nutty flavor. Corn tortillas or chips or corn pasta made from 100% corn are ideal on nights when you want an alternative to a side of rice. Though not as common, millet is great in stir-fries and other grain-based dishes.

Legumes, like beans and lentils, can also take the place of rice in several kinds of dishes. Bean flour is now commonly used to make gluten-free pasta. Beans and lentils are also filling and nourishing in soups, curries, stews and when eaten alongside fish, meat or plant-based proteins.

Rice and Gluten Safety

Beyond avoiding rice sold in bulk bins, there are other measures consumers can take to safeguard against accidentally ingesting gluten, at home and when eating out. 

Checking labels is key when shopping for groceries for home. Consumers should look for products with gluten-free labels or those that are certified gluten-free. It’s also important to know the sources of gluten, to recognize them when a gluten-free label is not included on a package. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid a product or call the manufacturer for additional info.

When dining out, it’s important to call the restaurant ahead to ensure that they not only take food allergies seriously but that they have safe menu items for people with celiac disease or those with gluten sensitivities. When possible, diners should opt for restaurants where the staff has food allergy training. Asking for plain rice, made without seasonings or additional ingredients, is safer than ordering complicated dishes, such as pilaf, which can include orzo, or fried rice, which is often made with gluten-containing soy sauce. 


Though rice is naturally gluten-free, not all rice products are. It’s important for people with celiac disease and for those with gluten sensitivities to always read labels when buying any type of rice. Relying on trusted brands is another way to stay safe and avoid gluten.    

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