Is Corn Gluten Free?

Is Corn Gluten Free? Yes, plain corn off the cob is not a gluten grain. That being said, not all products made with corn are safe for gluten-free diets. Let’s get into it below!

A photo of salt being shaken onto raw ears of corn on the cob on a green and white background with text overlay that says "Is Corn Gluten Free?".

Corn Is Naturally Gluten Free

Plain corn, fresh off the cob or frozen, is a naturally gluten-free grain. And, as long as they’re free from risks like cross-contamination, many products made from corn are also fine to eat. In fact, many gluten-free baked goods and gluten-free pasta are made from ingredients like corn flour and cornmeal. 

However, at the end of the day, not all corn products are necessarily safe for gluten-free diets. This can be due to cross-contamination, additives, and other not-so-obvious ingredients in corn recipes that may contain gluten. If you have celiac disease or non-gluten sensitivity, it’s important to know what to look out for to ensure a product isn’t a surprising source of gluten

So, is there gluten in corn? How safe are processed corn products for gluten-free diets? Let’s discuss these along with some other corn-cerns below. Plus, I’ve rounded up over 15 gluten-free meals made with fresh corn that you can try below the post!

Related: Is Rice Gluten Free? 

Air fryer corn on the cob lined up on a rectangular wooden serving platter, next to salt and pepper shakers.

Processed Corn Products

It’s best to err on the side of caution when shopping for processed corn products, and never assume that a product is free from gluten simply because it’s made with corn. As always, the first choice is to look for products that are labeled or certified gluten-free. If needed, check with the manufacturer to be sure of a product’s gluten-free status before you use it.

Examples of some maybe-not-so-gluten-free commercial corn products include corn muffins, which are often made with wheat flour in addition to cornmeal. Another culprit is creamed corn (the kind that comes in cans). Canned cream corn often gets its thick, creamy consistency from additives like starches, and its flavor from seasonings or sweeteners, which may contain gluten. So, always check those labels.

Other Kinds of Corn

While some types of processed corn aren’t always gluten-free, there are many variations of corn that are considered safe to eat. You’ll even find some of them as an alternative to wheat products in many recipes. Let’s have a look at some of the more common ones:

Cornstarch

Cornstarch, also called maize starch, is made by grinding up the starchy part of corn grains into a fine powder. In its natural form, cornstarch is gluten-free. You’ll see it is often used as a thickener for soups, gravy, and sauces like this Gluten Free Cheese Sauce. Cornstarch is also frequently used in gluten-free flour blends.

Corn Flour

Like cornstarch, pure corn flour is naturally gluten-free and often used in gluten-free baked goods. However, due to the risks of cross-contamination (more on this below), always look for corn flour with gluten-free labeling.

Cornmeal

Cornmeal is a coarse maize flour and is also considered to be gluten-free. It’s used in recipes like Gluten-Free Cornbread and Polenta Fries. Like corn flour, always check if the cornmeal you’re using is labeled gluten-free, as this ensures that it was manufactured on gluten-free production lines.

Is Popcorn Gluten Free?

Like corn that comes off the cob, whole-kernel, unpopped popcorn is naturally free from gluten. It helps to pop it yourself at home to ensure that your crunchy snack stays gluten-safe! You can make your own popcorn using a popcorn machine, the microwave, or on the stovetop. It’s easy to play around with flavors, like Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Popcorn or this Green Popcorn with mint and chocolate.

If you’re buying bagged popped popcorn, or unpopped bags of microwave popcorn, always check the labels to be sure it’s free from flavorings or additives that might contain gluten.

Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Popcorn overflowing form a small tin bucket

Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is always a risk when it comes to gluten-free foods, not just corn. This is because many products and even whole foods, while naturally gluten-free, occasionally come into contact with gluten-containing ingredients during the manufacturing process. With corn, this can happen during harvest, during processing, or during packaging if it shares production lines with other grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. 

For this reason, if you’re especially sensitive to traces of gluten, make sure to buy only certified gluten-free corn products. These products are produced in gluten-free facilities where there isn’t a risk of cross-contamination.

Is Corn Safe For Celiacs?

While corn is a type of grain, it’s from a different family than wheat, barley, and rye. Corn does contain what’s referred to as “corn gluten,” however, this is not the same type of gluten that people with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease need to avoid. 

In spite of this, there’s an ongoing debate in the gluten-free community as to whether people with celiac disease should avoid corn. If you’re celiac and aren’t sure, or if you’ve eaten corn and suffered from side effects, check with your doctor. There’s a chance that you may have a corn allergy or sensitivity to corn, which calls for a professional diagnosis.

At the end of the day, corn is a great alternative to gluten grains that you can use to add flavor and color to all kinds of recipes. I’ve included some of my favorites below! Always check labels, and consult your doctor if you’re concerned about whether corn is the right choice for you.

Air fryer corn on the cob lined up on a rectangular wooden serving platter, next to salt and pepper shakers.

15+ Easy Gluten-Free Corn Recipes

Here you’ll find some delicious lunches and dinners made with corn that you can try today. These recipes are full of flavor, family-friendly, and perfect for summer when corn is in season. And just as good all year round!

Air fryer corn on the cob lined up on a rectangular wooden serving platter, next to salt and pepper shakers.

Air Fryer Corn on the Cob

The air fryer is one of the quickest methods for juicy and sweet corn on the cob that's roasted in minutes. I smother mine with my favorite easy homemade herb butter. It's the next best thing to grilled corn!
Get The Recipe
A blue bowl of Chicken and Corn Chowder with a soup spoon.

Chicken Corn Chowder

This creamy corn chowder recipe is filled with tender chicken and healthy veggies for the ultimate comforting, feel-good bowlful. I love this protein-packed, gluten-free spin on a classic soup recipe that's perfect for weeknight dinners.
Get The Recipe
A serving spoon in a corn pudding casserole.

Corn Pudding

My creamy corn pudding casserole is one of our family-favorite side dishes for the holidays and beyond. Skip the corn muffin mix and try this easy version that's naturally gluten-free and just as full of flavor.
Get The Recipe
A bowl of charred corn kernels garnished with cilantro.

Chili Lime Corn

This chili lime corn is an easy side dish idea inspired by Bobby Flay, and it has all the bold flavors to show it! This spicy grilled corn recipe is a little creamy, deliciously crunchy, with irresistible char and a zesty chili kick.
Get The Recipe
A wooden platter of Peruvian street corn on top of a colorful placemat and a white cloth napkin.

Peruvian-Style Grilled Street Corn

This is an easy recipe for grilled street corn with a Peruvian-inspired twist. Topped with spicy Aji (Peruvian green sauce) and salty Cotija cheese, this corn on the cob has loads of flavor and makes the perfect summer side!
Get The Recipe

Gluten Free Chicken Taco Corn Chowder

Make the most flavorful corn chowder with a Mexican spin! This healthy chowder is loaded up with tender, juicy chicken, fire-roasted tomatoes, and sweet corn kernels, seasoned with zesty gluten-free taco seasoning. The perfect warming meal!
Get The Recipe
Tater tot shepherd's pie casserole in a baking dish with a serving missing.

Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie

If you love tater tots and shepherd's pie, wait until you experience both in the same cozy ground beef casserole! The savory filling is made from juicy beef with plenty of veggies, including sweet corn, carrots, and peas. Topped with crispy tater tots, this one is always a hit with the kids.
Get The Recipe
Close-up overhead view of a serving of rotisserie chicken soup in a blue bowl.

Rotisserie Chicken Soup

This hearty and nourishing rotisserie chicken soup recipe is the best way to use up leftover cooked chicken! It's easy to make and jam-packed with protein, potatoes, and veggies, with delicious pops of yellow corn kernels.
Get The Recipe
white chicken chili in a blue bowl with cilantro, jalapeno slices, and tortilla chips on top

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

White chicken chili is one of our favorite game day foods and this healthy recipe is all kinds of cozy, creamy, and flavorful all at once. It's a hearty gluten-free chili filled with tender sweet corn and a spicy jalapeño kick.
Get The Recipe
striped napkin on a white picnic table with a blue bowl of mexican macaroni salad

Mexican Pasta Salad

Looking for the perfect BBQ side to bring to your cookouts this summer? This gluten-free Mexican pasta salad is filled with Tex-Mex staples. It's made with hearty black beans, bell peppers, and fresh corn, tossed together with gluten-free pasta in a zesty Southwestern dressing.
Get The Recipe
A wooden serving bowl with Sauteed Zucchini, Squash, Tomatoes, and Corn in Brown Butter

Browned Butter Summer Vegetable Saute

Browned butter brings loads of richness and flavor to this simple and delicious recipe for sauteed vegetables. Made with fresh summer veggies like zucchini, ripe tomatoes, and corn, it's a healthy side that's easy to make for weeknight dinners and BBQs.
Get The Recipe

Cheddar Barbecue Sausage and Potato Foil Pack Dinner

Campfire meals are some of my best childhood memories, and this easy foil packet dinner with sausage, potatoes, and corn is one of my favorites to make with or without the campfire! It's an all-in-one meal with plenty of protein, veggies, and melty cheddar cheese with savory BBQ sauce. Plus, baking it in foil makes cleanup a breeze.
Get The Recipe
Slow Cooker Peruvian Pulled Pork served over cauliflower rice with corn, a drizzle of aji sauce, and crumbled queso fresco.

Slow Cooker Peruvian Pulled Pork Cauliflower Rice Bowls

This crock pot Peruvian-style pulled pork is loaded with South American flavor and perfect to serve over cauliflower rice. I love topping my rice bowls with fresh corn, queso fresco, and a drizzle of spicy Peruvian Aji sauce. It's the ultimate gluten-free dinner that's also low in carbs!
Get The Recipe
Shrimp Cobb Salad with hard boiled eggs, bacon, limes, tomatoes, avocado, cotija cheese, grilled corn, and cilantro lime dressing in a white serving bowl

Grilled Shrimp Cobb Salad

Charred corn, crumbly Cotija cheese, and creamy cilantro and lime dressing give this healthy Cobb salad with grilled shrimp a Mexican-style twist. It's a fresh and flavorful summer salad that you'll want to make again and again.
Get The Recipe
big white bowl of romaine topped with sliced grilled steak, grilled corn and asparagus, and halved tomatoes next to a stack of small white plates

Grilled Steak Salad

This hearty salad combines the very best that grilling season has to offer: tender and juicy grilled steak, charred corn, and asparagus piled over crisp lettuce with ripe summer tomatoes. It's an easy high-protein lunch or light dinner.
Get The Recipe
serving spoon resting in a pan of ground beef taco skillet with a scoop already missing from the pan

Mexican Ground Beef Taco Skillet

This ground beef taco skillet recipe is a must-try one-pan dinner! It's filled with savory ground meat, rice, and beans, with zesty Southwestern spices and sweet corn. Topped with melty cheese, it's guaranteed to turn your next family meal into a flavorful fiesta.
Get The Recipe
Shrimp Mashed Potato Bowl

Home-Style Shrimp Bowls

It doesn't get easier than a bowl of hot and creamy mashed potatoes topped with succulent and spicy baked shrimp and corn. I toss the shrimp with adobo sauce and saute the corn with chilies and butter for a nice hit of heat. These quick shrimp bowls are the best kind of comfort food!
Get The Recipe

If you’re new to going gluten-free, visit my gluten-free resources for more helpful guidance and tips. Don’t forget to check out my recipe finder for even more recipes made with your favorite gluten-free ingredients!