Is Quinoa Gluten Free?

When you first see quinoa or hear about it you may think that it is actually a “grain”. Some people may even refer to it as such, but rest assured it is not a grain. It is actually a plant seed and a relative of green leafy vegetables such as spinach.

Quinoa, in the standard, raw form is gluten-free. Gluten is a protein that is found in grain products such as wheat, barley and oats. There may, however, be some risks to gluten exposure with certain quinoa products such as flour and flakes. These products go through processing plants that may use machines for wheat products and quinoa product thus causing cross contamination.

If you do not have a severe allergy to grains you may find these products do not cause any reaction. If your allergy is more serious you will want to make sure that you are getting these products from factories that do not use the same machines to produce quinoa products and grain products.

Gluten Free Quinoa Flakes

Here is a great quinoa cereal that is organic and gluten free. It has gotten good reviews and one Amazon reader actually uses it to make quinoa bread with her bread maker! I haven’t tried that myself, but it sounds like a good idea!


  1. I love this website!

    I am going grain-free and find this website to be the most informative! There are a few websites that claim to be “grain-free” but are really just gluten free. Big difference! I ordered your book from amazon and am very pleased with it.

    I “officially” start my grain-free eating tomorrow. I started off just going gluten-free, but now realize that is only half the story. Some gluten free recipes/food are far less nutritious (cake recipes made with cornstarch and tapioca flour, etc), and far more fattening than their glutenized counterparts.

    I have ordered a few books on grain free eating, and am now more than ready to take the plunge. Again, thanks for such an informative website. I had no idea Quinoa was NOT a grain!

    Now I am waiting for your (hopefully) second book!!!!

    Sincerely, Sheryl

  2. One question which I’ll post here since I don’t know where else to post it.

    Is Chia Seed a true grain? I keep reading it is, but then again I’ve heard Quinoa, Flax and Amaranth called grains too!

    Thanks! Sheryl

  3. Sheryl,
    Thanks for your comments! I am so glad you liked the book!

    Chia Seed is is an annual herb, not a grain. Your timing is great because I have two articles on chia seed that will be uploaded tonight or tomorrow. It’s a great little seed – very nutritious and I think it will be making quite a comeback over the next few years.

  4. But grains are plant seeds as well. Not sure what the distinction you are trying to make is.

  5. Dear Sheryl,

    Just wondering if raw Quinoa flakes are consumable, mixing with yougurt and nuts etc? for breakfast.

    thank You.

  6. Hi Rita
    I’m loving cooked quinoa warm with almond milk and maple sugar. I haven’t tried quinoa flakes yet – I can’t have grains, gluten, soy, eggs, dairy and more, which is very frustrating. Does anyone know if buckwheat is a grain?

  7. Thanks, Rita. I too, am wondering if we can substitute the quinoa flakes for oatmeal flakes in recipes and in ather uses –

  8. Was told to go on a grain free diet. Where do I start? Overwhelmed.

  9. Has anyone tried the fair trade quinoa vodka? I saw it at my Whole Foods but when I went back it was sold out. I was doing a search and this group of quinoa-knowledgeable folks popped up, so I figured I’d ask. Thanks! I’m trying to move to a completely gluten-free diet, including cocktails if possible.

  10. Buckwheat is NOT a grain. (From Wikipedia: The name ‘buckwheat’ or ‘beech wheat’ comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, and the fact that it is used like wheat.) This may be used in a wheat-free/gluten-free diet.

  11. I read on the GAPs Diet that they consider quinoa to have too much carbohydrate. I hope not. I love it!

  12. I saw some info on Wikipedia about buckwheat. It is NOT a grain.

  13. Hi,

    The Quinoa Vodka from FAIR. is gluten-free and extremely smooth! You should definitely try it 😉

  14. Grains = seeds of grass-family plants
    Non-grain seeds are seeds of plants that are not in the grass family.
    Yes, grasses are plants.
    Buckwheat is in the rhubarb family.
    I don’t know what family chia is but I am sure it’s not grass.
    Spinach, beets, Swiss chard, and quinoa are all in the same family.
    (Lettuce and arugula are in another family, different from spinach.
    Bok choy, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, turnips, are all in the same family- how weird, they don’t seem very similar to each other!)

    Nature is complicated. Corn is a grass family but it’s usually OK for people with “gluten” sensitivities even though it actually has gluten- it’s a different gluten though. (Corn gluten is actually used as an organic lawn weed killer!) People with celiac disease can usually eat corn without the same problem as with wheat/rye/barley gluten. But, interestingly, many people with celiac disease are also sensitive to corn. There is also such a thing as Certified Gluten Free oats.

  15. Grain-free diets are usually intended to prevent a disaccharide stage of carbohydrate diet in the intestine. This starves single-celled parasites to death and removes a certain type of stress from the digestive tract. A good book about a grain-free diet is Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. To accomplish the goals of a grain-free diet, you would not eat grass-family seeds, such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice, and millet. (Rice and millet are gluten-free, but they are grains as far as I know.) You could eat buckwheat and quinoa. You could eat root vegetables. If you are trying to avoid disaccharide stage of carbohydrate breakdown, you would avoid potatoes, but you could still eat sweet potatoes and all other root vegetables, and you would avoid cane sugar.
    It depends somewhat on the goals of the diet. Find out the goal behind this grain-free diet. A naturopath would know more than I do, about specific foods.

  16. I would be very careful about recommending quinoa to people with gluten sensitivity. Seeds are hard to digest and often contain lectins, which should also be avoided, as they can cause similar immune responses to gluten, dairy, soy, etc.

    I think it’s best to forego grains and ‘grain substitutes’ like quinoa if you are already sensitive and value your digestive health. They’re really not necessary to be healthy; it’s more of a comfort/habit thing for most people.

  17. Oats are Gluten Free. You should edit your content.

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