Can You Eat Eggs If You're Gluten-Free?

How to Know When Eggs Are Safe for a Gluten-Free Diet

brown and white eggs in carton
These eggs should be gluten-free. Jasmin Kämmerer/EyeEm/Getty Images

Plain eggs and eggs prepared by themselves—for example, boiled eggs, poached eggs, and fried eggs made in a clean pan—are gluten-free. However, egg dishes such as quiche and eggs benedict are not gluten-free.

In addition, people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity nonetheless need to be very cautious with eggs and egg-based dishes, since they're quite susceptible to gluten cross-contamination in cooking.

Must-Know Facts About Eggs and Gluten

For most people who follow the gluten-free diet and who react when they eat eggs, any problems with eggs most likely stem from one of two places: gluten cross-contamination when the eggs are cooked, or from a sensitivity to the eggs themselves (eggs are one of the top eight allergens in the U.S., so it's not unusual for someone to suffer from sensitivities to both eggs and gluten).

If you're preparing your eggs in a gluten-free kitchen with dedicated gluten-free utensils, you should be fine. But in a shared kitchen, you'll need to watch out for potential problems with shared cooking spaces, utensils, and pans in order to keep your eggs safe. This is a particular problem because eggs so often are cooked together with gluten-containing breakfast foods, such as pancakes and French toast.

If you can solve the cross-contamination problem, many egg dishes usually are gluten-free, including:

Why Eggs Might Not Be Gluten-Free

Many restaurants that serve breakfast cook their eggs on the same grill as French toast and pancakes ... and that will thoroughly cross-contaminate your otherwise perfectly safe meal. In addition, some restaurants (the International House of Pancakes, for one) actually mix a little pancake batter into their scrambled eggs and omelets to make them fluffier (yikes!).

To stay safe eating eggs at a restaurant, follow the rules for eating out safely gluten-free. Specifically, ask that my eggs be prepared in their own, clean pan using clean utensils, as far away as possible from where any pancake batter or toast is being prepared. Most restaurants are willing to oblige, or at the least will tell you that they can't accommodate you.

Are Dishes or Products That Contain Eggs Gluten-Free?

There are numerous egg-based dishes that are not gluten-free. They include:

  • most quiche (quiche usually uses a flour-based crust and may have flour mixed into the eggs themselves)
  • eggs benedict (served on an English muffin)
  • breakfast egg sandwich (served on bread)
  • baked eggs (usually contain flour or baking mix, although here's a recipe for easy baked eggs that's gluten-free)
  • cheese souffle (usually contains flour)

You always should question egg dishes that clearly have other ingredients, since so many recipes for souffles and casseroles contain flour in addition to eggs.

Can Gluten-Eating Chickens Produce Gluten-Containing Eggs?

Some very sensitive people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have reported problems with eggs from chickens fed a heavy diet of gluten grains. These same people say they are fine when they eat eggs they obtain from farmers who don't feed their chickens gluten grains.

This may seem pretty far-fetched, but there's actually a small amount of indirect scientific evidence that indicates it may be theoretically possible for proteins or protein fragments to pass from chicken feed into the eggs themselves (gluten is a protein).

An Ohio State University graduate student experimented with feeding chickens a diet high in soy protein to see if he could influence the amount of soy isoflavones (a component of soy protein) in those chickens' eggs. He found that he could: chickens fed the high-soy diet routinely produced eggs higher in isoflavones.

Now, obviously this experiment did not involve gluten grains, and you can't extend the conclusions of the soy isoflavone experiment to gluten grains. However, this research indicates it may be theoretically possible for gluten-eating chickens to produce eggs that contain a tiny bit of gluten protein (or, more likely, gluten protein fragments).

If these eggs did have gluten in them, it would be a very small amount—likely far, far below even 1 part per million (for comparison, foods are generally considered "gluten-free" if they contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten, or are less than 0.0001% gluten). Commercially available tests for gluten in foods can't reliably detect gluten below around 3 parts per million (and can't detect small fragments of gluten protein at all) so it's impossible to say how much gluten or gluten fragments, if any, actually is in these eggs.

Regardless, you should remember that this is not a problem for the vast majority of people following the gluten-free diet. Most people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can consume plain eggs and eggs made to be gluten-free just fine.

However, if you believe you're getting glutened from your eggs, there's also a growing number of small farm operations that advertise soy-free eggs for people who are sensitive to soy proteins, and some are extending this to gluten grains. You can look around your area to see if truly free-range eggs are available, since those chickens will have dined on insects and seeds, not gluten grains.

A Word from Verywell

Eggs are a safe option on the gluten-free diet, and can provide you plenty of protein to jump-start your day. Just make sure that any eggs you eat are prepared in a way that guards against gluten cross-contamination.

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