Shabbat Shalom! This recipe for a gluten-free challah is dairy-free and can be made egg-free if needed. The recipe calls for 51 percent oat flour, the only gluten-free grain mentioned in the Torah. Read this article for details on why oat flour is an essential ingredient in gluten-free challah. This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosures.
The wait is over. If you love challah but have struggled to make it gluten free and kosher for Shabbat, you are in for a real treat!
Let’s say “amen,” because I have figured out how to make a delicious gluten-free challah recipe that everyone will love … even your overly-critical gluten-eating friends.
This post includes my gluten-free challah recipe so you can finally say “Shabbat Shalom” with a hamotzi-worthy challah bread made without the sticky gluten protein (and without the tummy aches and urgent bathroom runs too).
Please note that my recipe is free from gluten, corn, dairy, soy and can easily be made egg-free too.
Scroll down to learn how I make this a sweet challah for Rosh Hashanah too.
Note: If you’re not in the mood to make gluten-free challah from scratch, take a look at these gluten-free challah mixes.
On my quest to find a good gluten-free challah recipe, I found an article on Kveller.com about how challah can only be “taken” if made with one of the five grains mentioned in the Torah. The five grains mentioned are barley, rye, wheat, oat, and spelt.
As you can see, the only gluten-free grain of the five is oat.
Apparently bread made from other gluten-free grains (like rice and buckwheat) can be Kosher, but you cannot say, “hamotzi” or call it a challah.
Verid Meir, the author of the article, says she consulted with her rabbi who told her that the oat flour must be at minimum 51 percent of the total flour content in the bread in order for it to be considered a challah.
That’s what Meir, and many Jews like me, have attempted to do. Make a challah that contains at least 51 percent oat flour.
Gluten-free flour isn’t always easy to find as not all mainstream grocery stores carry it. Thank goodness for Amazon! Here is the exact gluten-free oat flour I use.
You Need a Challah Mold Pan
This recipe is sticky. Oh-so-sticky! You cannot braid it let alone handle it without it sticking to your fingers.
And that’s why you need a challah mold pan.
I may not get to eat “real” challah, but I still want my challah to look like a braided challah! That’s why I bought this awesome challah–shaped mold pan.
I simply put my dough into the pan after mixing it and allow the dough to rise inside the challah mold pan. Once the dough rises, I bake it.
You can see my pan has been used a lot as it’s starting to show some wear and tear. It may look funky, but it still works like a charm!
Alternatively, I found this beautiful stainless steel challah mold pan and love it even more! It’s my go-to pan and doesn’t show the same wear and tear as the silicon version. You can find it here instead.
Don’t Have a Challah Pan
Don’t worry, if you do not have a challah-shaped pan, or don’t want to invest in one, you can simple bake the dough in a loaf pan or a bundt pan (for a round-shaped challah).
How to Make Gluten-Free Challah
You’ll see this recipe requires quite a few ingredients, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy to do.
The first thing you’ll want to do is assemble all your ingredients. In addition to the challah-shaped mold pan, you’ll also need a few different flours. Remember, you cannot substitute any old rice flour for wheat flour, rather you need to combine a variety of starches and flours to get the just-right texture.
Also, in order for it to be hamotzi-worthy challah, you must use gluten-free oat flour vs. a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend.
Here are the flours you need to make this recipe:
- Gluten-Free Oat Flour – Make sure it’s gluten-free oat flour; regular oat flour is not safe.
- Tapioca Flour – This is super starchy, like potato starch, and will give the challah a chewy texture.
- Brown Rice Flour – Brown rice flour is readily available in most grocery stores. You can also use sorghum flour. I have tested it with both flours for great results.
- Xanthan Gum – This is required to help bind all the ingredients together. Don’t skip it! You can also use guar gum instead of xanthan gum.
- Flaxseed Meal – You’ll need flaxseed meal if you want to make this recipe egg-free. If you can eat eggs, you won’t need the flaxseed meal.
As mentioned, you can make this recipe with eggs or flax eggs. I’ve made this recipe both ways and both offer a light, chewy texture. The flax egg version is a denser challah, but still very doughy and tasty.
To make one flax egg, simply combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture sit for five minutes. (Note: You’ll need two flax eggs for this recipe, so two tablespoons of flaxseed meal + six tablespoons of warm water.) After five minutes, the flax will gel and voila, you have a flax egg to use in lieu of a regular egg.
Omit this step if you’re using eggs.
While your flaxseed egg is gelling, combine warm water, yeast and honey in the bowl of your standing mixer. Allow it to sit and bubble for about five minutes.
In the meantime, combine all your dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
Once the yeast mixture is a bit bubbly, add all the wet ingredients – oil, eggs (or flax eggs), and apple cider vinegar – to the yeast mixture, then, very slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing on low until everything is well combined. Mixture will be ultra-sticky!
Add your dough to your challah mold pan (or any bread pan will work), cover it with a dishtowel, and let it rise for 90 minutes to two hours (longer okay too). Warm conditions will allow the bread to rise more quickly.
To ensure a good rise, which is essential to a light and doughy bread (don’t skip this part!), I like to place the pan on a warming mat. This is the exact warming mat I use and it gives my challah a beautiful rise every time!
Then bake the bread for about 35 minutes until slightly brown. Leave it in your pan for 10 minutes to cool before putting it on a wire rack to fully cool.
Here is what a fully baked challah looks like (with eggs):
Here’s what the challah looks like made with flax eggs instead:
I’ve been eating gluten free for so long that I’ve lost the taste of real challah; however, to me, this challah is quite tasty. It’s doughy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. I love the spongy texture personally – it’s got great mouthfeel.
Options and Tips
Here are a few tips to make your gluten-free challah making a success.
Tip #1: Using a Store Bought Challah Baking Mix
I realize that not everyone is in the challah-making mood, but many of you sure would love a gluten-free challah on your Shabbos table. Take a look at these awesome gluten-free challah mixes by Blends by Orly. (Please note some of the mixes come in a box and others come in the pouch packaging.)
I made the Blends By Orly gluten-free challah mix and loved how they turned out. The challah tastes like delicious challah to me!
Please note that the Blends By Orly does not contain enough oat flour to be hamotzi-worthy. That said, it gives you that flavor and look of challah you might be going for.
The best part is that Blends By Orly’s dough is braidable (whereas my gluten-free challah recipe is not).
Tip #2: Making a Sweet and Round Challah for Rosh Hashanah
If you want to make a challah for Rosh Hashanah, first use a round bundt pan. A Rosh Hashanah challah is round like a crown for God.
Rosh Hashanah challahs are also sweet, to help ring in a sweet New Year. To make this dough sweet, I suggest adding 1/4 cup of applesauce to the wet mixture, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry mixture, and then folding in 1/2 cup of raisins in at the end.
You can also add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to the bottom of the bundt pan, then add your dough. This will ensure the top of the challah is extra sweet.
Tip #3: Pre-Measure Dry Ingredients
The dry ingredients can be a pain to assemble each week, so I measure out all the dry ingredients ahead of time and put them into zip top bags. Then, when I’m ready to make challah, all the measuring is done. I simply empty the bag of flour into the wet ingredients and I’m done! I usually make 8-10 bags every few months, enough to last me for several week’s worth of Shabbats!
Tip #4: Make Mini Loaves
Finally, my last tip is if you’re making gluten-free challah just for you (not to share with others), divide the dough into mini loaves. You can use this mini loaf pan to do it or a muffin pan.
Let the dough rise in the pan, then bake it up and freeze each mini challah. You’ll need to adjust your baking time – check the loaves after about 20-25 minutes for doneness. Come Shabbat, take one out of the freezer just for you.
However you “slice” it, I hope you enjoy this gluten-free challah recipe as much as me. It truly is my go-to challah recipe and is beloved by so many of my friends and family.
Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!
Gluten-Free Challah Recipe
- Challah mold pan
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 large eggs or see notes for egg-free version
- 1/4 cup avocado or vegetable oil of choice
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oat flour 200 grams
- 1 cup tapioca starch/flour 140 grams
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour 40 grams - see notes
- 1 Tbsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- Add yeast, 1 1/4 cup of warm water and honey to the bowl of your standing mixer. Whisk together by hand and allow the mixture to bubble for a few minutes to activate the yeast.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oat flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- Add oil, eggs (or flax eggs), and apple cider vinegar to the yeast/water mixture.
- With your mixer running on low, slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until well combined.
- Add dough to a lightly greased challah mold pan (or any loaf pan will work). Cover dough with a clean dish towel and let it rise for at least two hours. Allow it a rise in a warm place. You want the dough bursting out of the pan. If it does not rise, give it more time, put it in a warmer location, or it may mean your yeast is dead and did not work.
- Preheat oven to 375º F and bake for about 35-40 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. Shabbat Shalom!