Top 8 Ingredients to Avoid When Baking Gluten-Free

Most of us following a gluten-free diet know the main grains to avoid - anything made with wheat, rye, barley or oats, right? Well this is partly true, but what about all the variations of those grains that can sneak into baking?

Being relatively new to the gluten-free diet myself, I have been tricked into using ingredients that I later found out were not gluten-free. And all the while I was thinking I was being so careful-which it makes it all the more annoying!

Through trial and error, I can now confidently set you straight on your gluten-free baking path. Baking can be fun and most importantly easy again!

This list of Top 8 Ingredients to avoid when baking will give you the confidence to try out your own gluten-free recipes.


Avoid: any flour called barley, graham, malt, oat, pharaoh, wheat, rye, spelt, dinkel or semolina.

Substitute for: Depending on the recipe you can use a wide variety of gluten-free flours, many of which are far healthier than wheat flour anyway! Otherwise, you can use an all-purpose gluten-free flour, like Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour, 22-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)

Watch out for: cornflour - despite the name, some are made with wheat.


Avoid: icing sugar mixture, if sourced from wheat, which must be, by law, declared on the package in Australia and New Zealand.

Substitute for: gluten-free icing sugar like Hain Pure Foods Organic Powdered Sugar, 16-Ounce Units (Pack of 6)


Avoid: liquorice, if identified from wheat, which is most brands.

Substitute for: gluten-free liquorice or anise oil which will give a liquorice flavour to foods. Try OrgraN Gluten-Free Molasses Licorice, 7-Ounce Package (Pack of 4)

Watch out for: as well as being hidden in confectionary, some herbal teas have liquorice flavours, so always check the label - I have been caught out on more than one occasion with this! However, liquorice in its pure root form is ok when used in herbal tea.


Avoid: dry-roasted nuts (wheat) or identified as processed on lines with other wheat products.

Substitute for: raw nuts and toast them yourself. Or gluten-free roasted nuts like Ann's House Soy Energy Blend 36 Ounce Value Container

Watch out for: flavoured nuts - just check there is no wheat lurking in the ingredient list.


Avoid: thickeners 1400 to 1450 (wheat), including dextrin, if derived from wheat, as well as anti-caking agents.

Watch out for: Pre-made gravies, sauces and some icecreams. Many of these seem to contain the thickener 1442, which if identified as sourced from wheat is going to be a problem for your gut!


Avoid: malt extract, milk, flavouring, syrup or vinegar identified from barley or wheat.

Substitute for: depending on what you're using it for, lemon or lime juice (as a flavouring) or brandy or wine (for adding some oomph to your sauces but I would not recommend putting this in your coffee before 6pm).

Watch out for: although this won't affect your baking, be aware that malt may be found in flavoured syrups in coffee and even in frozen French fries! I discovered this only after wondering how much trans-fat was in the bag and after eating a whole lot of fries!


Avoid: baking powder that is not marked "gluten free".

Substitute for: baking powder that is marked "gluten free" that one was pretty obvious! I have found that most of the major brands are in fact gluten free anyway, but it always pays to check! If in doubt use Bob's Red Mill Baking Powder, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)


Avoid: Ordinary custard powder and be aware that ready-made custards can contain wheat flour too.

Substitute for: custard or custard powder that is marked "gluten free" or has no wheat base in it. Such as OrgraN Custard Powder, Natural Vanilla, 7-Ounce Packages (Pack of 8)

Watch out for: wheaten cornflour baking powder, which can contain wheaten cornflour.

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