In this article, I share a list of gluten-free bouillon cubes and test several brands for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Most people think gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats, is easy to spot in foods like bread, pizza, and pasta. However, the sticky protein hides inside many foods that don’t “look” like gluten, including soy sauce, gravy, gummy bears, licorice, and bouillon cubes, to name a few.
Many people flavor soups and stews with bouillon cubes or powders, which are dehydrated cubes or granules that, when dissolved in water, turn into a flavorful beef, chicken, fish, or vegetable stock. I even pop a bouillon cube into my rice cooker to enhance the flavor of white rice and quinoa.
Bouillon cubes and powders are cheaper and more environmentally sound than store-bought broths and stocks. It takes more resources to ship a large carton of chicken stock to the grocery store vs. a small dehydrated cube of bouillon.
Below I share what the leading bouillon brands say about gluten and whether their products are safe for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. I also tested several brands for hidden gluten.
Please note that while I share what all the major bouillon brands say about gluten, only the following brands are labeled gluten free (as of January 2023) and can be trusted: BOU, Edward & Sons, Herb-Ox, and Orrington Farms.
Always read labels carefully to ensure a product is safe and meets the FDA’s gluten-free labeling guidelines.
Better than Bouillon
Better than Bouillon describes its bouillon product as a concentrated food base made of cooked meat and vegetables. Like bouillon powders and cubes, the product can be used to make soups and add flavor to any recipe.
According to its website, Better than Bouillon products are NOT gluten free because they’re made in a facility where wheat ingredients are “housed.” The company also says it doesn’t test its products or ingredients for gluten, so the company can’t say if its products are gluten free.
I inspected the ingredient label of the Roasted Chicken Base and didn’t spot any gluten ingredients, although I would NOT use this product given Better than Bouillon’s warning. On the other hand, the Beef Base (not pictured) contains potential red-flag gluten ingredients, including yeast extract and caramel color.
I tested the Roasted Chicken Base for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device. Nima didn’t find any gluten, but I’m hesitant to share a photo with Nima smiling, given that this product is not reliably gluten free. I also worry that Nima may give a false negative if the product contains any fermented gluten, which Nima cannot detect.
Bottom Line: Better than Bouillon says its products are not gluten free; heed this warning and avoid this product.
All flavors of BOU Bouillon Cubes are labeled gluten free. The product is also non-GMO and contains no artificial flavors.
Always read labels carefully to ensure the flavor you’re purchasing is still gluten free, as ingredient formulations can change without warning.
Edward & Sons Not-Chick’N
Edward & Sons makes vegan bouillon cubes in various flavors, including chicken, beef, and vegetable.
You’ll see questionable ingredients such as yeast extract and maltodextrin; however, the company says its yeast extract is derived from nutritional yeast, and its maltodextrin is derived from corn.
I tested Edward & Son’s Not-Beef Bouillon cubes for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor. Nima smiled, which meant it didn’t find any gluten.
Hormel makes Herb-Ox bouillon cubes, and the company says its chicken, beef, and vegetable bouillon cubes are gluten free. The bouillon is clearly labeled gluten free on the front of the packaging.
Bottom Line: Herb-Ox chicken, beef, and vegetable bouillon are gluten free.
According to the Knorr website, if gluten is present in a product, it will be clearly listed in plain language on the ingredient label. Knorr says consumers should look for ingredients such as wheat flour, rye, barley, oats, and malt, a barley-based ingredient if they’re avoiding gluten.
Knorr says it’s imperative that consumers with food allergens, including those on a gluten-free diet, read labels carefully, as product formulations can change.
The following image shows the ingredients found in the chicken bouillon. While no gluten is listed in plain language, several red flag ingredients, such as monosodium glutamate and caramel color, would prompt me to put this product back on the shelf.
However, in the name of research, I tested this product for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor. You can see the results below.
Although I believe Knorr has changed its product labeling to remove barley from its vegetable bouillon (not 100% sure), I have been holding on to the following image for a few years to show you how Knorr has, in the past, noted barley as an ingredient in its yeast extract.
Bottom Line: Knorr products may contain gluten. Read labels carefully, and avoid this product when possible.
Orrington Farms broth base and seasonings are all labeled gluten free; check labels carefully to ensure the gluten-free claim is on the label.
You’ll notice the product contains questionable ingredients like yeast extract and caramel color; however, when a product is labeled gluten free, it means the company has tested the product, and it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten per the FDA’s gluten-free labeling guidelines.
I decided to test the product for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor. Nima smiled, which meant it didn’t find any gluten.
Bottom Line: Orrington Farms broth bases are gluten free; check for the gluten-free label on each package before purchasing.
Telma makes chicken-flavored stock cubes typically found in the kosher aisle at the grocery store. The product contains yeast extract, which is usually made from spent brewer’s yeast and contains gluten. The product also has a “May Contains” statement that says it may contain gluten.
Bottom Line: Heed Telma’s warning; avoid this product.
I spotted Wyler’s bouillon cubes, made by Kraft Heinz Foods, at Walmart and noticed that both the beef and chicken flavors contain gluten.
The beef cubes contain “wheat gluten,” which was easy to spot. The chicken cubes don’t contain wheat gluten, but they contain a slew of questionable ingredients, including yeast extract, caramel color, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Bottom Line: Wyler’s bouillon cubes are NOT guten free and should be avoided.
The Bottom Line on Bouillon
As you can see, bouillon is a risky product for the gluten-free community, and most leading brands contain gluten.
The gluten-free community must read labels carefully and consider only using brands labeled gluten free, including BOU, Edward & Son’s Not Chick’N and Not Beef Bouillon, Herb Ox Bouillon, and Orrington Farms Bouillon.
Be careful when consuming soup products outside of the home. Restaurants may not be aware of the hidden gluten threat posed by bouillon, and a well-meaning friend hosting you for a meal may not have thought to check their bouillon cubes and powders for hidden gluten.
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