Gluten Free Guidelines: Avoiding Allergens When Ordering Pizza

30 March 2015
 Categories: Food & Cooking, Articles

If you're just starting out with a gluten free lifestyle, you're starting to understand that avoiding gluten is almost as difficult as avoiding sunshine-- it's all over the place, even in places where you might least expect it. When you're going out for pizza, it's important that you know where there could be hidden sources of gluten. It's also important to dine at places who take gluten free diets seriously.

Hidden Sources Of Gluten

Pizza and pasta are traditionally made from wheat flour. Gluten gives pizza and other baked goods the elasticity to have simultaneously crunchy and chewy texture. Therefore, regular pizza and pasta should be off limits. However, these are the easy things to spot. You may also find hidden gluten in things like:

  • pre-shredded cheese. It can be used to prevent clumping. Make sure to ask your pizza place if they grate their own cheese, or if the ingredients in the pre-shredded cheese are gluten free.
  • salad dressings. Even if your forgo croutons on your Caesar salad, many preservatives have a gluten component. Your best bet is to bring your own gluten-free dressing for a salad, or to order salads where the dressing is made fresh in house. 
  • soy sauce. Many pizza places branch out with pizzas inspired by Thai or Chinese cuisine. Soy sauce usually always had a wheat component, so it's best for you to stick to traditional toppings like cheese and tomatoes.
  • pepperoni. Most quality pepperoni will be gluten-free, but sometimes it can be manufactured on equipment that also process products with gluten. Always ask before ordering a pepperoni pizza, just to make sure you won't feel sick later.
  • beer. Brewer's yeast is used to make beer, and it is a source of gluten. If you want to drink with your meal, consider liquor from other sources, like red wine. 
  • french fries. If you want your pizza with fries, make sure they are un-battered. Some pre-cut, frozen fries have a light coating to give them come extra crisp. This coating is usually made from white flour. 
  • malt vinegar. If you want to use a vinegar, like balsamic vinegar, as a flavoring for your pizza, just make sure it has been distilled before you you use it. Vinegar that has not been distilled can have trace amounts of gluten. 

Taking Gluten Free Needs Seriously

If your local pizza place offers a gluten free options, they are to be congratulated. After all, it takes extra time and money to cultivate gluten free crusts and pastas that taste just as good as the real thing. However, not all gluten free options will be truly gluten free. Before settling on a pizza place, make sure you ask:

  • where the gluten free crust is made. If the crust is made in the mixers as the regular crust, needed on the same table in the same flour, and baked on the same plans, the chances of cross contamination is high. Pizza places that offer gluten free options should keep these crusts completely separate, using different equipment throughout the whole process.
  • what the ingredients of the crust are. Gluten free crusts are a reality, but many people are not clear on which grains actually contain gluten. Remember that "wheat free" does not necessarily mean gluten free. It's important to avoid other glutenous grains like rye and barley. Also, educate yourself on other names for wheat flours, like durum or semolina. 

Some people are high sensitive to gluten, and if you are one of them, you will learn to be vigilant about looking for and avoiding gluten. However, a great gluten free pizza from a great pizzeria is something you can enjoy-- if you know what to look for and what to stay away from.