Some of your food choices are naturally more limited if you’re sensitive to gluten. Breads, pasta noodles, and even desserts can be off the table because they contain gluten. But do rice noodles have gluten and are they a good substitute for carb lovers who can’t eat wheat or gluten?
Luckily, most of the time rice noodles are gluten-free. They’re made with rice flour which does not contain wheat or wheat products. That being said, not all dishes or meals made with rice noodles are gluten-free. In addition, some rice noodle products may come into contact with trace amounts of gluten in manufacturing facilities or contain additives with gluten.
Let’s explore why rice noodles can be a good gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta.
Rice Noodles and Gluten
Most people know that whole or refined wheat flour is one of the main ingredients in pasta and noodles. For this reason, they may assume rice noodles contain the same ingredients. However, this isn’t true.
Rice noodles are made out of rice flour. As a general rule, rice does not contain any gluten. You’ll find packaged rice noodles in most major supermarkets and in many Asian food dishes.
For example, pad Thai is a popular Asian meal with rice noodles. Other meals, such as soups, may contain rice noodles. Those meals may contain gluten when rice noodles are prepared with other ingredients.
It’s also important to check the list of ingredients and any advisories on food labels. There’s always the possibility a specific brand of rice noodles will contain trace amounts of gluten from exposure in factories or added seasonings.
Should I Eat Rice Noodles if I Have Celiac Disease?
While learning most rice noodles are gluten-free might prompt you to run out and buy some, you should always check with your doctor. Celiac Disease symptoms can be complex, and you may have additional unknown food allergies.
Before you buy or eat rice noodles, send a message to your doctor or make an appointment. They may give you thumbs up or down, depending on the brand or meal that contains rice noodles. Some doctors may recommend a few brands that won’t flare up your symptoms.
You might also want to ask about substitutes for meals that may aggravate Celiac Disease. For example, pad Thai can contain sauces with gluten. A doctor or nutritionist can tell you about gluten-free substitutes for those sauces so you can continue to enjoy your favorite meals.
Read More >> Is Vermicelli Gluten-Free?
What Ingredients Are in Rice Noodles?
Most rice noodles are made from a base of rice flour and water. However, that’s usually not enough to make rice flour and water stick together. Therefore, many food manufacturers add the following ingredients:
- Corn starch
More often than not, only one of the above ingredients will be in rice noodles to hold the rice flour and water together. Neither corn starch nor tapioca contains wheat or gluten. However, food manufacturers can make rice noodles in various sizes, textures, or shapes.
You may find rice noodles for sale in the dried food section near the pasta and egg noodles. Some forms of rice noodles come in frozen or fresh varieties, so you should also check the frozen food and refrigerated sections of your grocery store.
Similar to pasta, rice noodles can be thick, thin, or in between. You may also find rice noodles in various shapes. Major or mainstream grocers may not have as many varieties, so you might have more luck at an Asian grocery store.
Which Rice Noodles Are Gluten-Free?
If you want to skip a consultation with a nutritionist, there are specific types of rice noodles that are known to be free of gluten. Those include the following:
- Pad see ew
- Rice vermicelli
- Silver needle
- Rice sticks
- Lai fan
- Chee cheong fun
- Kway teow
- Chow fun and mi xian
Now, you may not find some of these rice noodle varieties in all grocery stores or online grocers. You might want to see what’s at your neighborhood or local grocery chains before you shop online. That’s because anything sold from an online grocer will be limited to dry noodles.
Not everyone likes dry noodles, although they have some of the longest shelf lives. Nonetheless, dry noodles take longer to cook and may not taste as fresh.
Most rice noodles are gluten-free and suitable for individuals with wheat or gluten sensitivities. You’ll find that rice noodles are more transparent or translucent in appearance than traditional pasta. Yet, rice noodles have a bland, mild taste like pasta.
Before you eat rice noodles, you should check the list of ingredients or ask your restaurant server what ingredients are in the dish. That’s because some prepared meals and packaged rice noodles do contain gluten in the added ingredients. Find or ask for gluten-free substitutes instead.