Is Risotto Gluten Free? | Build a Stash

Key Takeaways

  • People on a gluten-free diet can enjoy risotto.
  • Risotto usually contains zero gluten.
  • Some unusual varieties may include grains with gluten.
  • Cross contact/cross contamination may add gluten to the food.
  • You can talk to the cook or buy certified gluten-free risotto mixes.

On a gluten-free diet, you need to avoid some grains but can eat others. Is risotto gluten-free? What are the ingredients?

Risotto is usually free of gluten because most types of grain are gluten-free. Risotto does not include wheat, rye, or barley, so it is usually fine on a gluten-free diet. Some unusual risotto recipes may contain grains with gluten.

I am on a gluten-free diet and love risotto. It is not difficult for me to digest and does not give me any gluten sensitivity symptoms. One of my favorite meals is gluten-free mushroom risotto.

Table of contents


There's A Small Chance Risotto Contains Gluten

Yes, risotto is usually gluten-free. However, there's a small chance of it containing ingredients with gluten in them. Someone with celiac disease can get sick from unusual ingredients in risotto.

You might be able to eat risotto ten or twenty times without harm. However, the 11th or 21st time might make you sick.

Whether or not you have to worry may depend on how serious your gluten intolerance is. If your reactions to gluten are not that severe, you might have risotto without being sure, because it quite likely won't contain gluten.

What Is Risotto?

Risotto is a creamy rice dish that originated in Italy. It can be either a side dish or a complete meal. If seafood or vegetables are added, risotto may be the main course.

What Is Risotto Made From?

Arborio rice is slowly cooked in vegetable or chicken stock until it becomes creamy. It is cooked with shallots, parmesan cheese, butter, and white wine.

Is Risotto Gluten Free?

Most of the time, risotto is gluten-free and safe on a gluten-free diet. The grains used to make this traditional Italian rice dish are naturally gluten-free.

However, some gluten is sometimes intentionally or accidentally added to a dish that is usually fine on a gluten-free diet. It is not that easy to be completely sure it has only gluten-free ingredients.

When you buy risotto, look for gluten-free options. You can buy a risotto mix that is labeled gluten-free. Ideally, it should be certified and not only labeled, as it might not be tested properly if it has a gluten-free label.

Where Can You Get Gluten-Free Risotto?

If you have celiac disease, you might want to be very sure that you don't accidentally eat gluten. Sometimes, the symptoms are bad enough that you want to never eat gluten again.

In that case, you need risotto that is certified gluten-free. Some companies that offer gluten-free risotto mixes include Lundberg, Stonewall Kitchen, and Roland Food.

Making Gluten-Free Risotto From Scratch

Making Risotto without buying a Risotto mix first is fairly easy. You can easily avoid adding any ingredients that contain gluten. I make gluten-free mushroom risotto from raw gluten-free ingredients.

However, there is some possibility of the ingredients you buy being cross-contaminated with gluten. For example, some wheat might be harvested alongside another grain, so some wheat might end up in your food.

It’s not easy to guarantee that your food is gluten-free. However, you can still enjoy this traditional Italian dish. Anything with gluten-free certification was tested to have less than 10 or 20 parts per million of gluten.

Is Risotto Gluten-Free In Restaurants?

Risotto is usually prepared and cooked without anything that contains gluten. However, there could be a small amount of gluten in the broth, or your risotto could contain uncommon gluten-containing ingredients.

Risotto is a great meal and you probably shouldn’t avoid it even if you have celiac disease. Ask the cook whether they can be sure it’s gluten-free. They may be able to nearly guarantee that there are no traces of gluten grains in your food.

Do You Have To Worry About Cross Contamination?

Whether or not you have to worry about cross-contamination depends on how badly you react to gluten and how many risks you want to take.

Certainly, I would be sick often if I regularly ate wheat bread and other high-gluten foods. However, I only have to keep my gluten intake low and not reduce it to zero. Therefore, food cross-contaminated with a small amount of gluten probably won't affect me at all.

Some People Are More Sensitive Than Others

However, some other people, especially if they have celiac disease, are much more sensitive. A small amount of gluten is enough to make their immune system massively overreact. They need to avoid gluten strictly.

If you need to be as careful as possible, only make risotto out of ingredients that are certified gluten-free. Anything certified gluten-free is tested to have less than 10 or 20 parts per million of gluten, which is safe even if you have celiac disease. Buying a gluten-free risotto mix is easier than buying multiple ingredients that are certified gluten-free.

How Does Gluten Get In Risotto?

There are many ways for gluten to get into Risotto even though it mostly counts as a gluten-free food. Risotto is cooked in broth, and broth might have a small amount of gluten in it. Possibly, this could be enough to give you an allergic reaction if you are very sensitive.

Even if the broth doesn't contain gluten (and it likely doesn't) there could be a bit of gluten in the broth from cross-contamination. However, the quantity may be so low that it won't affect you.

It May Be Intentionally Added

Somewhere around 95% of Risotto is gluten-free. However, some Risotto recipes call for unusual ingredients, including grains with gluten.

Sometimes, the other grains are added in addition to the usual rice found in risotto. Other times, they replace the rice, making it almost a different food. Risotto made from whole wheat berry or pearled barley has far too much gluten in it.

In these cases, you can look at the ingredients list or ask at a restaurant. It will be obvious that the food contains wheat or barely. Always double-check the ingredients if you buy risotto from the store and ask the staff when ordering risotto.

What is Cross-Contact?

Cross-contact or cross-contamination is where your normally gluten-free meal is accidentally contaminated with other ingredients. Some wheat, barley, or rye might accidentally end up in rice if the two are harvested together or processed on the same equipment. Gluten-containing grains can get into your food even if they aren’t on the ingredients list.

What Are Risotto Cakes?

Some people eat risotto in the form of fried patties. These often contain wheat flour and are not ok. If you can't find out what the ingredients are, don't eat them.

Is Rice Always Naturally Gluten Free?

Yes, rice is gluten-free. There are no varieties of rice that naturally contain gluten.


Mark Walker

Mark Walker

I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.

Read More About Mark Walker