Going Gluten-Free? Replace These 12 Kitchen Tools Immediately

They may harbor enough gluten cross-contamination to make you sick

When you go gluten-free, it's not enough to remove gluten products and clean out your kitchen—you'll also need to replace some of your cookware and kitchen utensils. Sadly, any cooking bowl, pot, or utensil that's porous or scratched can harbor tiny amounts of gluten in those cracks and scratches... and it takes very little gluten to make you sick (much, much less than you would think).

You don't need to spend a lot of money buying new kitchen tools. In fact, it's perfectly possible to get the majority of these items at your local dollar store and spend around $40 or even less, especially if you skip the new toaster.

However, it's critically important that you do replace these items in your kitchen. If you don't, you risk experiencing continuing symptoms from gluten and slowing your healing process substantially. Ready to get started? Here's what you'll need to replace:



toaster with bread
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A new toaster is at the top of this list for a good reason. Using an old toaster is a common way of accidentally ingesting gluten for people new to the gluten-free diet.

It's impossible to clean a toaster well enough to get rid of all the gluten bread residue it harbors. Once you've got that new, dedicated gluten-free toaster, make sure you never allow gluten bread to be toasted in it—keep it only for gluten-free products.


Non-Stick Pans

meat cooking in pan on stove
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If your non-stick pans are scratched at all (and we all know how easy it is to scratch them) you'll need to buy new ones. That's because the scratches in the non-stick coating can harbor minute amounts of gluten, even if the pan is scrubbed. Look at each of your pans closely for very small scratches, and if you see even one, that pan needs to go.

Stainless steel or solid aluminum pans with no non-stick coating on them don't need to be replaced, and in fact, can be shared between gluten and gluten-free foods as long as you wash them really well in between uses. You don't need to replace your pan lids, but give them an really good scrub, taking care to root out any food residue along the seams, before you put them into gluten-free service.


Cast Iron Pan

vegetables in cast iron skillet
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Iron is slightly porous, and yes, just like other porous materials, it can harbor gluten. Therefore, if you've ever used your cast iron frying pan to cook pancakes or for frying chicken or in any other gluten-containing cooking activity, including ones involving gluten-based sauces, you'll need to replace that pan. Alternatively, it's possible to clean and then re-season it.

If you decide to re-season your pan, you'll first need to send it through a cleaning cycle in a self-cleaning oven. The oven temperature reaches around 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle, and that's hot enough to destroy the gluten protein. Once you've cleaned your pan, you can re-season it. Just make sure you dedicate it to gluten-free food from now on.

Pizza stones are just as porous as cast iron pans, but you can do the same cleansing routine with a pizza stone as well, saving you the need to purchase a new one.


Cutting Boards

wooden and plastic cutting boards
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By nature, used cutting boards have scratches in them, usually many of them. And like the scratches in other types of cookware, the ones in your cutting boards can harbor microscopic deposits of gluten.

Therefore, you'll need to buy new cutting boards and keep them only for gluten-free use. Make sure you replace your meat carving board as well, if you have a separate one, since gluten-containing marinades or gravy you've used on meat could have cross-contaminated it.


Wooden Utensils

wooden spoons
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Many of us use wooden spoons, forks, and turners for cooking in non-stick pans, but wood is another porous material that can trap small amounts of gluten. Therefore, you'll need to buy new wooden spoons and other tools.

As with some of your other new cookware and kitchen utensils, you'll need to keep your new wooden spoons only for gluten-free cooking. Even one use in a pot of regular spaghetti can contaminate your new wooden cooking utensils, so be sure to label them carefully.


Silicone Spatulas

silicone spatulas on wooden plate
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When we bake, most of us use flexible silicone spatulas to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure we blend every last bit of batter. However, these used spatulas can trap particles of gluten, both in their handles (many have wooden handles) and in fine scratches on the surface of the blade.

Fortunately, it's not expensive to replace silicone spatulas. Some people get different colors for gluten-free baking. Just make sure to mark those intended for gluten-free use with a prominent "gluten-free" label (a Sharpie marker on the handle works just fine) to make certain no one in your household accidentally uses them to make a gluten-filled cake.


Plastic Turner/Spatula

cooking omelet pan and plastic turner
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If you use a metal turner (also known as a spatula, albeit a different kind of spatula), you don't need to worry about replacing it, even if you've decided to have a shared kitchen with people who eat gluten—just scrub it really well before using it with your gluten-free food.

However, if you have a plastic or nylon turner, especially one where the leading edge is scratched and frayed, you'll need to buy yourself a new one and dedicate it to gluten-free cooking. As with the silicone spatulas, labeling it will help, as will getting different colors. Make sure no one in your household uses it to flip foods with gluten, or you'll need to replace it again.


Rolling Pin

woman rolling dough with rolling pin
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This is a tough one—many people have rolling pins that have been handed down one or more generations from other family members, and they want to keep them for sentimental reasons. But it's absolutely essential to replace your old wooden rolling pin, since it will contaminate you the first time you try to use it in gluten-free baking.

You don't have to get rid of your old family friend—you can keep it and maybe even display it in your kitchen. Just don't use it to roll dough anymore, or it will make you sick.


Baking Sheets/Muffin Tins

woman t setting muffins in tin on wooden counter
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Just like your non-stick pans, your non-stick baking sheets and muffin tins need to go if they're scratched at all, since those scratches certainly contain gluten. It's hard enough to thoroughly clean a nonstick muffin tin without worrying about getting tiny specks of gluten from around the edges of the cups. You'll also need to replace silicone baking sheets and muffin tins that have been used with gluten products.

You might not need to replace stainless steel baking sheets and muffin tins if they're not particularly scratched—just make sure to scrub them thoroughly, especially in those corners and around seams.



colander draining water
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It's not possible to remove gluten from a used colander, even if you soak it and then run it through the dishwasher. The gluten from the pasta you drained in it sticks inside all those little holes, just waiting to make you sick.

Therefore, you'll need a new colander, and you'll need to make certain it stays gluten-free. Again, choose one in a different color, and remind your family repeatedly that this colander is for gluten-free use only.


Plastic Bowls

plastic mixing bowls
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If you use plastic mixing bowls or storage containers in your kitchen, you'll need to buy some new ones as any scratches pose the same old gluten problem. Check for plastic bowls you've used in baking activities, as well as your Tupperware stash.

Treat yourself to a new set of storage containers and plastic bowls. Once again, if you intend to share a kitchen with some gluten products, you might want to consider color-coding the bowls and the containers—e.g., blue for gluten-free, red for gluten.



flour sifter rolling pin tea towel on wooden cutting board
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Some gluten-free baking recipes call for sifting the ingredients. For obvious reasons, you shouldn't re-purpose a previously-used flour sifter because it's just not possible to clean it thoroughly enough.

Therefore, you'll need a new sifter, especially if you plan to do much baking from scratch (many people who follow the gluten-free diet bake from scratch). You also can use a fine mesh metal strainer for this purpose, but make sure the strainer's never been used with gluten either.

A Word From Verywell

Once you've purchased your new cooking tools, you'll need to make sure gluten-eating family members don't accidentally use them for foods that can cross-contaminate them.

Again, consider getting different colors (blue for gluten-free, red for gluten) so that everyone can tell at a glance whether they've grabbed the correct bowl and spatula. In addition, having a separate cabinet where you store your gluten-free bowls, pots, pans, cooking tools, and utensils can help prevent accidental usage.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Food Safety, Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Health hazard assessment for gluten exposure in individuals with celiac disease: Determination of tolerable daily intake levels and levels of concern for gluten.

  2. BeyondCeliac. Cross-contact.

By Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.