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Is Farro Gluten Free? Everything you need to know!

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Following a gluten free diet can be difficult, especially if you’re new to figuring out what does and doesn’t contain gluten. Chances are at some point you’ve heard that ancient grains are good for health, which probably has you wondering “is farro gluten free?”

Despite being considered an ancient grain, farro is NOT gluten free. Farro is one of those dreaded hidden sources of gluten.

In this article, I’ll lay out everything you need to know about farro, including why people mistakenly think it’s safe and what to eat instead. Keep reading to learn more or use the table of contents to jump around.  

Are you new here? I also have the following posts to help you live gluten-free without the stress!

…get valuable support from me, and gluten-free peers, in my EXCLUSIVE Facebook community “Stress-Free Gluten-Free” by clicking here!

The gluten-free guide below is based on personal experience and research.  Always be sure to discuss any medical changes with your doctor for your personal medical needs. Additionally, this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My full disclosure isn’t that interesting, but you can find it here

Ready to take back control of your meals and love your gluten free life? Take the 45 second quiz to get a personalized plan with the guide you need to thrive!

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What is Farro?

Farro is a nutritious ancient wheat grain that has been used in soups, stews, casseroles, salads, and even bread for thousands of years. It’s similar in nutritional value to quinoa.

It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture and is an increasingly popular and inexpensive substitute for other pantry staples like rice.

Farro wheat kernels in a wooden spoon

Is Farro Gluten Free?

No! Farro contains gluten because it is actually a type of wheat. Gluten is a protein that is found in certain types of grains including wheat, barley and rye.

Any foods that are hybrids or crosses of those grains, including farro, contain gluten. Furthermore, farro isn’t one specific type of grain, but a collective name for multiple species of wheat including einkorn, emmer or spelt. It’s important to note that none of these ancient grains are gluten free as they are actually just varieties of wheat.

Does Farro Have as much Gluten as Wheat?

No, farro actually has less gluten than wheat. What’s important to note however is that it still has both glutenin and gliadin–the two individual proteins that make up the larger gluten protein.

In order for food products to be considered gluten free, the FDA has mandated that they contain less than 20 PPM gluten. Farro exceeds this limit and is therefore not gluten free.

If you want to learn more about gluten free labeling and certification in the US, check out this post.

Keep reading to see what researchers discovered when studying the effect of various types of farro on people with celiac disease. 

What does the science say about Farro and Celiac Disease?

If you’re wondering about the specific response of someone with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease to ingestion of farro, you’re in luck, because there have been actual research studies that looked into this!

One study conducted in Italy and published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in 2009 actually studied the T-cell response of subjects with celiac disease to the consumption of farro (aka: t-cell response = the autoimmune response that someone with celiac disease has when ingesting gluten).

The research concluded that “farro wheats are a heterogeneous group of genotypes showing a wide variability in eliciting immune reactions by T-cell of CD individuals.”

Put simply, this means that not every farro plant is equal in gluten content. While some farro plants tested contained comparatively small amounts of gluten and invoked a milder T-cell reaction in patients with celiac disease, other farro plants had greater amounts of gluten and caused a stronger T-cell reaction.

The bottom line: In the study, the farro containing a smaller amount of gluten still caused a reaction! And there is no way for you, the consumer, to reliably know the levels of gluten in the farro you purchase.

Who Should Not Eat Farro?

Anyone with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, or wheat allergies should not eat farro. In the study noted above, even farro with smaller amounts of gluten caused a reaction. 

Farro is not safe to consume for anyone who is on a gluten free diet. 

Is There a Gluten Free Substitute for Farro?

There are many alternatives to farro for gluten free eaters. Things like rice, buckwheat and quinoa make excellent alternatives.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Anthony’s Organic White Quinoa

I love quinoa as a substitute because not only is it packed with nutrition, it’s also super convenient because it’s available at almost any store!

I especially like Anthony’s brand because it’s pre-rinsed and batch tested verified to be gluten free (and is WAY cheaper than the quinoa at my local grocery store. 

Buy Anthony’s Organic White Quinoa at Amazon here.

Pereg Roasted Buckwheat

Depending on what kind of cooking you want to use farro for, buckwheat groats can be used as a nutritious alternative. 

Pereg products are 100% pure, fresh, natural and never include any additives, preservatives, fillers, MSG, or food coloring. They’re also certified gluten free and certified Non-GMO. 

Purchase Pereg Roasted Buckwheat at Amazon here.

Smart Rice Long Grain Brown Rice

There are so many rice brands to choose from, and chances are you probably already have some in your pantry. What I like about this brand is their focus on sustainability.

Smart Rice is USA grown, Non-GMO and gluten free. This rice is grown locally, feeding 20% more people per farm/field, using 50%+ less water, and emitting 50%+ less greenhouse gases than traditional rice.

Get Smart Rice Long Grain Brown Rice at Amazon here.

Maskal Teff

Teff is another gluten free alternative to farro. Use it to add nutrients and flavor in stews, soups, baked items, or homemade breads and energy bars.

Maskal teff is gluten free, Non-GMO verified and grown in the USA.

Buy Maskal Teff at Amazon here.

Are Any Ancient Grains Gluten Free?

Yes! There are several ancient grains that are gluten free. Amaranth, fonio, millet, sorghum, buckwheat and teff are all gluten free.

Learn more about easy gluten-free substitutes and ingredient swaps with this super helpful guide.

Did you find this post about farro helpful?

If so, comment below to let me know or share it on social media or Pinterest using the social sharing buttons so you can easily find it later!

Ready to take back control of your meals and love your gluten free life? Take the 45 second quiz to get a personalized plan with the guide you need to thrive!

image of sharon mccaskill with computer with snag your ideal gluten free eating plan

>> Click here for your custom guide to success! <<

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