When you hear 'corn,' you may immediately imagine chomping down on a corncob hot off the grill. And for those following a gluten-free diet, this is probably the safest way to eat this beloved barbecue veggie.
Corn on the cob is naturally gluten-free and safe to eat, assuming it's not prepared with any ingredients containing gluten. But that doesn't mean you have the green light on all corn products. Before you add any corn-based dishes or foods to your kitchen, carefully check the packaging.
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When in doubt, DIY with a few of our nutritious gluten-free corn recipes below.
Is Corn Gluten-Free?
Plain corn is naturally free of gluten and safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. Corn is not one of the three main gluten-based grains, which are wheat, rye and barley, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Especially when it's eaten right off the cob, corn is a healthy gluten-free food to add to your diet.
Both a vegetable and whole grain, corn is a good source of fiber and magnesium and is especially high in vitamin A, according to the Whole Grains Council. The grain is also high in natural starch, which can help you feel satiated and may help you maintain healthy gut bacteria.
While corncobs from the produce aisle are generally safe to eat, pay attention to the ingredients when buying corn products or ordering in a restaurant. As with all gluten-free foods, cross-contamination is always a risk that you need to consider.
Cross-contamination happens when foods come in contact with gluten ingredients either through preparation or manufacturing, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. If corn is stored or cooked in the same container or area as a gluten-containing food, it can become unsafe for those who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
What to Look for in Gluten-Free Corn Products
You can protect yourself from potential cross-contamination by checking the packaging and reading the nutrition label on the foods you buy. Cornmeal, creamed corn, corn tortillas and corn chips are all corn-based but they may not necessarily be free of gluten.
First, check the ingredient label and allergen listing for any wheat, rye or barley-based foods. Then, look for a "gluten-free" label on the product. This label is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration and signifies that the food you're eating is less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is generally safe for even gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive individuals to eat.
If you want even more security, buy foods that are certified gluten-free by trusted third parties, like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). The GFCO has especially strict standards, certifying foods that are only 10 ppm of gluten or less, according to the organization's website.
Gluten-Free Corn Products to Try
If you're craving some corn-based products, try these gluten-free options from trusted brands.
1. Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornmeal
Bob's Red Mill is a great go-to for gluten-free grains. If you're looking for a gluten-free cornmeal, this is definitely one to add to your cart.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $13.92
2. Popcorners Snacks Variety Pack
These certified gluten-free corn chips are low in calories and made with simple ingredients — plus, they come in a variety of flavors.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $12.99 for a pack of 18
3. Krusteaz Gluten-Free Honey Cornbread Mix
Cornbread is a classic comfort food, but finding a gluten-free mix can be tricky. Krusteaz offers a honey-flavored gluten-free mix that's easy to prep with just a few additional ingredients.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $3.78
4. Del Campo Soft Corn Tortillas
Although they're corn-based, not all corn tortillas are gluten-free due to cross-contamination during production. Luckily, these corn tortillas from Del Campo are free of gluten and safe to add to your pantry.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $12.50
Gluten-Free Corn Recipes
Once you've stocked up on a few of your favorite corn foods and products, give these nutritious gluten-free corn recipes a try.
1. Artichoke, Chicken and Corn Grain Salad
- Calories: 373
- Protein: 25 grams
Packed with satiating nutrients, this recipe is a sure way to keep you feeling full all afternoon. This salad packs about 10 grams of fiber, which is nearly half the daily recommendation, according to the Mayo Clinic. Each day, women should aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber, while men should shoot for 38 grams.
Fiber is not only satiating but will help keep your digestion healthy and regular. The nutrient can also help control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss.
Get the Artichoke, Chicken and Corn Grain Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Zucchini and Roasted Corn Mason Jar Salad
- Calories: 746
- Protein: 12 grams
While this salad is packed with nutritious, healthy veggies, it is a little calorie-dense, so you'll want to either share with a friend or split it into two servings.
Most of the calories in this salad come from the olive oil dressing. While olive oil is a source of fat, it's composed of mainly unsaturated fats, which are great for your heart health, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
If you want to cut back on the calories or fat content in this recipe, you can mix half a serving of olive oil with either balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, both of which are very low in calories.
Get the Zucchini and Roasted Corn Mason Jar Salad recipe and nutrition info here.
3. High-Protein Gluten-Free Cornbread
- Calories: 144
- Protein: 5 grams
If you're cooking up an elaborate brunch or just looking to prep a comfort-food recipe, this high-protein cornbread deserves a spot on your menu. Expecting guests? This recipe takes a little over an hour to prep, so plan accordingly.
Unlike most cornbread recipes, this version incorporates broccoli into the dough, adding some extra nutrients. This veggie is especially high in vitamin C and provides about 90 percent of your daily recommended value per cup, according to the USDA.
Get the High-Protein Gluten-Free Cornbread recipe and nutrition info here.
- Celiac Disease Foundation: "Sources of Gluten"
- Whole Grains Council: "Corn — October Grain of the Month"
- Food & Drug Administration: "Gluten and Food Labeling"
- GFCO: "About Us"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Choosing Oils for Cooking: A Host of Heart-Healthy Options"
- USDA: "Broccoli"