Chicken broth is every cook’s best friend. It is a light, tasty liquid that you can quickly make by simmering the chicken’s meaty parts. You can add it to soups or other dishes as the base – or simply jazz up the preparation method to eat it all by itself. But is chicken broth gluten free?
Chicken broth made using a traditional and simple recipe is gluten free unless it contains thickeners. Commercially produced chicken broth and bouillon cubes may have gluten-containing additives. We cannot ignore the chances of cross-contamination, either.
Generally considered safe for everyone, chicken broth may have some hidden gluten content that will harm you. So how will you ensure that the broth you’re about to have – whether home-cooked, prepped in a restaurant, or bought in the form of a cube – is safe for you? Let’s find out!
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What is Chicken Broth?
Chicken broth is a light liquid filled with the goodness of chicken. It is cooked by simmering the fleshy part of a chicken, i.e., carcass, skin, and meat, in water. You may confuse it with chicken stock, which is cooked by simmering chicken bones in water to extract gelatin for a thickened liquid.
Since chicken broth contains the goodness of chicken without the hassle of extracting the bone gelatin, it takes a lot less time to cook. The result is light but flavorsome because, during the preparation process, herbs, spices, and vegetables are usually added along with the chicken parts.
Thus, on a cold winter evening or a morning when you feel feverish, you can simply enjoy some plain chicken broth. That’s why it is a staple in America and European countries! You can also use it as a base for any soup, gravy, pasta, risotto, gumbo, etc., instead of the time-consuming chicken stock.
A lot of restaurants and local eateries also offer chicken broth. In addition, you can buy chicken broth in the form of ready-to-cook bouillon cubes or liquids. However, their health benefits are questionable as they usually contain flavoring agents, preservatives, too much sodium, etc.
The difference between stock and chicken is the use of bones in the first and cooking for a longer time, as opposed to using meaty parts in broth and cooking it for a shorter time. But the two terms are often used synonymously now. Some cooks use both bones and meat in their broth recipes.
Is Chicken Broth Gluten Free?
Ideally, chicken broth is gluten free, as it contains nothing but the meaty parts of a chicken. These are simmered in water, often with herbs, spices, and vegetables, to give you a flavorful and filling liquid that can be prepared quickly. There is no use of gluten grains in such a traditional recipe.
However, there are a few things you need to be careful about when you choose to buy commercially prepared chicken broth – whether at a restaurant or from a brand. That’s because these may contain additives to enhance the flavors and longevity of the broth – which may have hidden gluten.
Chicken broth may contain thickeners, flavoring agents, texture enhancers, etc. Check the label on packaged chicken broth to ensure that none of them have possible gluten ingredients. Commercially produced chicken broth, whether in restaurant food or packaged food, may contain gluten.
Another probable cause of gluten content in chicken broth is cross-contamination. This can happen in a restaurant or home kitchen if the utensils, storage units, etc., are common, and there is some faulty cleaning. It can also happen if there is double-dipping, which must be avoided.
As for packaged chicken broth varieties that come in cartons, cans, bouillon cubes, etc., cross-contamination is a possibility if the manufacturing and processing facilities are shared with gluten-containing products. So, don’t hesitate to place queries with the brand or restaurant.
The best option, however, is to either prepare your chicken broth at home in a completely clean, gluten free environment with nothing but gluten free ingredients. You can look for gluten free restaurants in your locality and find certified gluten free brands for ready-made versions.
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How can celiac patients be sure a broth is safe?
If you must follow a gluten free lifestyle, you must follow certain steps to ensure that everything you eat or drink is entirely gluten free. The first step is to use gluten free ingredients in your kitchen. Your chicken broth should contain such safe ingredients. Also, keep your kitchen and utensils clean.
As for restaurants, make sure to ask the kitchen or restaurant staff about the steps they take to ensure your safety. But what about packaged food? You can always look for the “gluten free” label, which is a sign that their products and facilities are tested to make sure that the final broth is gluten free.
You can also look at the list of ingredients. Some packaged chicken broth varieties contain thickeners with ingredients like flour, wheat starch, barley, maltodextrin, etc. – all of which should be avoided. Some flavor enhancers like autolyzed yeast extract or natural flavors may hide gluten.
Hydrolyzed wheat protein is another ingredient used in commercially produced chicken broth as it has emulsifying properties. Choose a brand that at least makes it a point to mention that its products may contain gluten – so that you can be sure that what you buy and consume may contain gluten.
Health Benefits of Chicken Broth
The reason chicken broth is so popular is that it is full of health benefits – besides the fact that it is easy and quick to prepare. Whether or not you add vegetables to the broth, it is still a wholesome addition to your diet – full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, selenium, fatty acids, and carnosine.
Everyone knows that chicken broth is much like a soul food that soothes you when you’re cold or ill. That’s because it’s healthy and full of nutrients. It is an excellent choice when you suffer from flu or food poisoning when every other food or beverage feels too heavy, spicy, or even nauseating.
It can clear airways, enable mucus movement, and release nasal congestion. It is also known to reduce inflammation, boost your body’s hydration, and replenish electrolytes. Chicken broth is great for weight management. It is a low-calorie substitute for high-fat stocks, soups, and bases.
Gluten Free Chicken Broth Recipe
So, is chicken broth gluten free and safe for you? If you follow a rustic, old-school recipe to cook it at home, you don’t need to worry about the gluten content as much as you do when you buy it from the restaurant or use packaged broth. The good news is that chicken broth is easy to make at home.
Here’s a recipe for a gluten free chicken broth that, when cooked in a clean kitchen, is safe for you:
- Chicken parts (carcasses, wings, necks, legs and thighs, etc.) – 3 lb
- Onion (large) – 2 (diced medium, with peel)
- Celery stack – 6
- Carrot/parsnip/turnip – 4
- Parsley – 1 bunch
- Ginger – 1 piece (1 inch)
- Garlic – 6 cloves
- Bayleaf – 2
- Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
- Water – 2 quarts
- Kosher salt – 1 tsp
- Cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces and set aside.
- Coarsely chop celery stalks, carrots, parsnips, turnips, parsley, ginger, and garlic. (Remember that these are optional; you can use as many or as few as you want.)
- Turn the heat of the stove on to medium-high.
- Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on it.
- Put the oil into the pot and let it heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add chopped onions, carrots, parsnips, turnips, ginger, and garlic, along with the chicken pieces.
- Saute for about 5-7 minutes until the chicken pieces are not pink anymore.
- Bring the heat down to Low and cover the pot. Let it sit like that for 15-20 minutes.
- Increase the heat to High and uncover the pot. Add water, salt, bay leaves, and celery.
- Allow the water to come to a simmer. Then reduce the heat again to Low and cover the pot. Let it cook for around 20-30 minutes.
- Strain and remove the solid parts.
Your gluten free chicken broth is ready. You can follow a few other tips to make the broth even better. Add 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar along with the water for a well-rounded flavor profile. Add bony parts like feet and breast bones, and cook for 1-2 hr for a fuller taste and texture.
Gluten Free Chicken Broth Brands
If you are not in the mood to cook chicken broth at home, a low-sodium broth available in a can, carton, or bouillon cube may solve your problem. Let’s take a look at some of the best gluten free chicken broth brands that you can use in your kitchen for a quick bowl of chicken-enriched base.
- Kettle & Fire (certified)
- Imagine (certified)
- Meijer (labeled)
- Simple Truth Organic (labeled)
- College Inn (as claimed on the website)
Is chicken broth gluten free? The answer depends on the recipe. Traditionally, a simple recipe for chicken broth does not require the use of gluten components. However, restaurants and packaged food brands often use gluten-containing additives in old-school chicken broth.
Beware of thickeners, flavoring agents, texture enhancers, and preservatives added to store-bought or packaged chicken broth. While there are gluten free chicken broth brands, it is best to cook a large batch at home in a clean environment with no possibility of cross-contamination.