Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Do Rice Noodles Contain Any Wheat?
Is there wheat in rice noodles? If you suffer from a wheat allergy or wheat intolerance, it’s vital that you avoid foods that contain wheat. Plus, people with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten must also avoid wheat.
Some people avoid rice noodles because they believe they contain wheat. But don't let this misconception stop you from enjoying this tasty and versatile food. You’ll soon discover why rice noodles are safe to eat, even if you’re avoiding wheat.
What Are Rice Noodles Made Of?
Rice noodles are made from rice, salt, and water. They contain moderate quantities of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein and are low in fat. Plus, they’re low in sodium and fat and contain no cholesterol.
Best of all, for those who are sensitive to wheat or gluten, rice noodles are still on the menu. Rice noodles do not contain wheat or gluten in their natural state. This makes them easy to eat for those who suffer from celiac disease or other digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Read the Label When Buying Rice Noodles
When you buy rice noodles, you may see the words "gluten-free" on the packaging but make sure you do. Some rice noodles contain added ingredients, like tapioca or cornstarch. These added ingredients may be gluten-containing grains—such as wheat flour—so read the label carefully before buying rice noodles.
Possible Additives That Can Contain Wheat
Although rice noodles in their natural state do not contain any wheat, manufacturers sometimes add other ingredients that may contain wheat. Tapioca and cornstarch are the two biggest offenders.
Tapioca is a starch derived from cassava root (a plant like yucca) that comes in granules or powder form. It's used as an alternative thickener for soups and sauces.
Tapioca is also used to make tapiocas—small cakes made with cassava paste mixed with sugar or honey. Manufacturers sometimes add tapioca to rice noodles to enhance their texture.
Cornstarch is another type of starch derived from corn (maize), but unlike other starches, it doesn't break down easily when heated with cold liquids because its molecules repel each other.
Cooks use cornstarch as a thickening agent in sauces and gravies, so the recipes have a pleasing texture without being too runny. If you've ever eaten homemade bisque soup before, odds are good that there was some cornstarch used to make it thick enough. Like tapioca, some rice noodle manufacturers add cornstarch to rice noodles to enhance their texture.
To ensure you’re not getting gluten or wheat, the package should state that the product is gluten- and wheat-free.
Rice Noodles on a Gluten-Free Diet
If you're following a gluten-free diet, rice noodles are an option. They're gluten-free and contain modest quantities of minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and copper. Plus, these versatile noodles contain small quantities of B vitamins.
What about carbohydrates? Rice noodles contain around 40 grams of carbohydrates per cup and less than two grams of fiber. With their high carbohydrate content balanced by only a modest amount of fiber, they can cause a sharp rise in blood glucose. So, there aren’t diabetic-friendly in large quantities.
Plus, they’re not a substantial source of protein, with only three grams per cup.
Ways to Enjoy Rice Noodles
Rice noodles are versatile. Here are some ways to enjoy them:
- In soup: Rice noodles work well in soups and stews because they absorb flavors well and offer a texture that makes the meal more filling.
- Stir-fried: You can also serve rice noodles stir-fried with vegetables and meats for a tasty side dish that offers lots of nutrients without feeling heavy like other carb sources like bread or potatoes might,
- In salads: Rice noodles make great additions to cold salads because they don't wilt like other types of pasta do when they're soaked in dressing.
- In casseroles: Cooked rice noodles also work well in casseroles made with meat or seafood because they absorb flavor well without becoming gummy or mushy if overcooked a little bit (which happens easily).
Where to Buy Rice Noodles
You can find rice noodles at most mainstream grocery stores. Plus, many Asian grocery stores carry these versatile noodles since they’re popular in Asian recipes and they’re available online. Plus, you can enjoy them both raw and cooked.
Is there wheat in rice noodles? Rice noodles are made from rice and don't contain wheat, which means they're an option for gluten-free cooking. Read labels carefully to ensure rice noodles don’t contain gluten from cornstarch or tapioca. If in doubt, consult with the company and ensure their product is wheat and gluten-free.
"Rice Noodles: Calories, Recipes, How to Cook, and More." 16 Dec. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-rice-noodles-healthy.
"Rice noodles, cooked nutrition facts and analysis.." https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Rice_noodles%2C_cooked_nutritional_value.html.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.