FeaturesAugust/September 2017 Issue

The Best Gluten-Free Sliced Breads: 2017

Even gluten-free folks still love bread, and now most of us buy it ready-made rather than baking ourselves. The Gluten Free & More team tasted and tested dozens of packaged gluten-free breads - here's how they stack up.

In a recent Gluten Free & More survey, we found that over 80 percent of our readers purchase packaged bread at least once a month. Almost 50% purchase it once a week or more. Most of us now buy packaged bread regularly.

About half of those surveyed said they’ve tried to make a loaf at home—but only half liked the outcome. Those who don’t make their own bread either don’t know how or think it’s too much work.

Let’s face it. Buying packaged bread is just easier. But how does it stack up? We tasted almost every gluten-free packaged brand in the United States to find out.

Compare packaged gluten-free white bread brands here:

GLUTEN FREE WHITE BREAD

Compare multigrain and whole grain packaged gluten-free breads here:

MULTIGRAIN BREAD

stack of bread

Oksana Charla

The Gluten-Free Bread Market Overview

Don’t let anyone tell you there aren’t enough gluten-free breads on the market. While you may only see a few on grocery shelves or freezers, there’s a good amount of gluten-free bread being sold throughout the United States. We found and tested over 75 different varieties of bread, encompassing over 30 brands! (Some are only available regionally or online.) This was way more than our editorial team expected to find.

Reader Favorites

We asked readers about their favorite packaged brands of bread. With over 2,000 responses, these are our readers’ top ten. Find the gluten-free bread varieties these brands offer in either the white bread category or multigrain/whole grain

Udi's ~20%
Canyon Bakehouse ~20%
Schar ~14%
Glutino ~5%
Trader Joe's  ~4%
Three Bakers ~4%
Franz Gluten Free ~3%
Aldi's liveGfree ~3%
Kinnikinnick ~3%
Rudi's ~2%

Editor’s note: Availability plays a factor here. The top brands shown are most widely distributed.

gluten free sliced bread varieties

Taste & Texture

Taste and texture are the supreme criteria our readers look for in gluten-free bread. This is no surprise, since gluten-free bread has been known for its lack of flavor and its crumbling, dense texture.

We all want bread that we can eat right out of the bag— slices that don’t have to be toasted first. You might think this is impossible—but it’s not. The taste and texture of many gluten-free loaves now closely mimic gluten-full bread. You can love your bread again.

Although the overall quality of gluten-free bread has definitely improved, a few brands still have a ways to go. In our taste tests, there were some slices we just couldn’t swallow, literally. Certain breads sucked the moisture out of our mouth like a dry sponge. Some slices crumbled when handled, even before toasting.

Celiac Safety & Certification

Almost 50 percent of survey respondents said they look for certified gluten-free bread, i.e., the package bears a symbol indicating the bread has been certified by a third-party organization. Currently, there are four gluten-free certifications:

certified gluten free logo

gluten free certification program

nsf international certified gluten free logo

      

1. CSA Gluten Free Certification by the Celiac Support Association

2. GFCO (Gluten-Free Certification Organization) by the Gluten Intolerance Group

3. GFCP (Gluten-Free Certification Program) by Beyond Celiac

4. NSF Gluten-Free Certification by NSF International

Many brands don’t offer certification but they produce their breads in a dedicated gluten-free facility and conduct in-house testing to verify safety. When buying gluten-free bread, look for certification and information on how the manufacturer ensures its product is celiac safe.

Packaged Gluten-Free Bread Ingredients

magnifying nutritional value

While nutrition is a critical aspect of food, readers in our survey found it less important than other factors when it came to their gluten-free bread, falling below price, loaf size, and product availability. Gluten free food is often more calorie-dense than its gluten-full counterparts. Check our chart to compare calories, fat, sodium, protein and sugar content per serving among brands.

Select bread made primarily with whole grains or ancient grains is a healthy choice. These nutrient-dense ingredients offer more protein, fiber and other benefits than loaves made with white rice flour and starches.

Gluten Free & More Editor Favorites

How did we come up with our favorites? We tasted every loaf of gluten-free shelf-stable and frozen bread we could find - over 75 in all. Slices were judged on texture (toasted and untoasted) and overall taste. We asked ourselves: “Would we buy this loaf with our next paycheck?” and, “Would we buy it for our family at full retail price?”

We’ve watched the gluten-free bread market blossom over the years. Gluten-free brands have stepped up their quality, improving taste and texture so much that we no longer feel left out when others are having toast or a sandwich. We’re excited to see how the market will expand in the years to come.

A lot went into the full version of our bread comparisons. Over twenty columns and seventy-five rows makes for a pretty huge chart. We can show you a preview of this chart, but you'll have to follow the links to view it wholly in detail: 

gluten free bread comparison

A sneak preview of our giant gluten-free bread chart!

GLUTEN FREE WHITE BREAD

MULTIGRAIN BREAD

All of the Gluten-Free Bread Brands We Reviewed

Here is a sample of just a handful of breads we reviewed. In the [full version of the list], we break down each bread by allergen inclusion, nutritional value, ingredients, and availability, in addition to cost and size. Below these tables is a snapshot of 25 gluten-free bread companies we tested - only a fraction of the brand list located on the complete chart.

ALDi logo

1. Aldi liveGfree

Aldi is a global discount supermarket chain with its own gluten free brand - liveGfree. It makes a full line of certified gluten-free foods, including frozen meals, baking mixes, crackers and pretzels. In the United States, you can find an Aldi grocery store pretty much anywhere on the eastern half of the country, but there are some locations in southern California as well.

arise bakery california

2. Arise Bakery

Arise is a California-based bakery that specializes in artisanal gluten-free breads and sweets. They make several kinds of gluten-free sourdoughs with interesting flavors, like their seasonal turmeric raisin and rosemary garlic. Arise Bakery products are regional to northern California, but you can purchase and ship orders from their website.

barely bread

3. Barely Bread

All of Barely Bread's products are 100% grain-free. They rely on almond flour and eggs in their variety of paleo, gluten-free breads, so this one is unfortunately not an option for vegans or people with nut allergies. It is, however, a tasty paleo bread. You can find this company in select grocers around the U.S., or you can ask your local store to carry it.

base culture logo

4. Base Culture

Base Culture makes a nice variety of paleo goods like granolas, treats made with an almond base, and baked goods. You can find Base Culture items regionally in supermarkets like Whole Foods, or you can order them online.

bfree gluten free logo

5. BFree

BFree has a lot of advantages in this comparison. It is not only gluten-free and vegan, but free from ALL top listed allergies. This bread is available nationally, so you should have no problem finding it in a supermarket near you. Bfree also makes wraps, bagels and dinner rolls.

bloomfield farms logo

6. Bloomfield Farms

Bloomfield Farms is brand new to the gluten free market, and they are showing promise. Vegan and free from the top 8 allergies, Bloomfield Farms bread is currently available online as a baking mix, with the sliced sandwich loaves hitting their online store soon!

bread srsly logo

7. Bread SRSLY

Bread SRSLY is based out of San Francisco and makes exclusively gluten-free sourdough breads. All of Bread SRSLY's products are vegan and free from all allergens, including chickpeas, sugar, potatoes, tapioca, and even preservatives. They also sell dinner rolls that are made without the use of gums.

canyon bakehouse

8. Canyon Bakehouse

Canyon Bakehouse is one of the most far-reaching and popular commercial gluten-free bread brands in the U.S. right now, so we had to test a few varieties. Available in major grocery stores and in over seven varieties, the only potential allergen this bread contains is eggs.

ener-g foods logo

9. Ener-G

Ener-G has provided food products for a wide range of eating restrictions since 1962. Based in Seattle, Ener-G foods can be found in regional health food stores, and in some supermarkets like Whole Foods. They sell a huge variety of products, from egg replacers, to pizza crusts, to Communion wafers.

the essential baking company logo

10. Essential Baking Company

The Essential Baking Company is not exclusively gluten-free, but its gluten-free products are certified. The breads are shelf-stable and reported to stay fresh for over a month, but we haven't confirmed that. Essential Baking products are available regionally, or online.

follow your heart foods

11. Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart is perhaps best known for being the maker of Vegenaise and VeganEgg, but it also produces many other condiments and vegan cheeses. Its breads are free from soy, dairy and eggs, and is available nationally. Use their online store locator to find this company near you.

food for life logo

12. Food for Life

Food for Life is most known for its Ezekiel bread, which is not gluten-free but is known for being organic, non-GMO, and sugar-free. These attributes are carried to the company's other products, including their sprouted breads and diabetic-friendly foods, and of course their gluten-free offerings. Food for Life sliced gluten-free breads are available in interesting blends like Bhutanese Red Rice, Black Rice, and Rice Pecan. Find Food for Life products in major supermarkets and regional health stores alike.

franz gluten free

13. Franz Gluten Free

Franz is a bakery regional to the Pacific Northwest, but products are also sold online and shipped nationally. Though not everything Franz makes is gluten-free, all gluten-free breads are certified and made in a dedicated facility. This company is over a hundred years old and still seems to be expanding. The gluten-free product line was launched in 2012 and is steadily building a good reputation.

genuine bavarian bread

14. Genuine Bavarian

This bread is a German volkornbrot-style, but it is much less dense and seedy than the traditional gluten-containing breads. There is no company website for this bread manufacturer, and the products are not certified gluten-free. It is very easy to find online retailers of Genuine Bavarian bread, however.

glutino logo

15. Glutino

Glutino makes a variety of gluten-free specialty products like wafer cookies, toaster pastries, flavored pretzels, and bagel chips. All products are celiac-safe, but NOT free from all allergens. Glutino bread does contain eggs, and may have traces of sesame and soy. You can find this company in health food aisles of supermarkets like Stop & Shop.

goodman gluten free logo

16. Goodman Gluten Free

Goodman's gluten free baked goods are renowned for their taste and texture. Founder Bob Goodman works with medical professionals and expert bakers alike to deliver the best quality gluten-, dairy- and nut-free breads. You can get Goodman Gluten Free products on their website or at regionally located grocery retailers. 

happy campers gluten free bread

17. Happy Campers

Regional to the San Francisco Bay Area, Happy Campers produces a nice selection of gluten-free bread loaves and sandwich buns. On average, these breads are 88% organic and 100% non-GMO. Most loaves are vegan and sugar-free too. You can have Happy Campers bread shipped to you. They offer some cool sampler packages and discount offers.

julian bakery logo

18. Julian Bakery

Julian Bakery is the largest Paleo food manufacturer in the world. Its facilities are dedicated gluten-free and non-GMO, and its products focus on delivering complete nutritional health to vegans, paleos, "pegans" (paleo vegans), and primal eaters. Julian Bakery products are available in the freezer aisles of many supermarkets.

katz gluten free logo

19. Katz Gluten Free

Everything Katz Gluten Free makes is gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. And Katz makes a LOT of different products, specializing in baked sweet treats like donuts and rugelach. Although most of their products include eggs, Katz does make a line of vegan bread foods. You can shop by allergy on their website or find their products in select supermarkets. 

kinnikinnick foods

20. Kinnikinnick

Not many can pronounce this brand's name, but gluten-free folks recognize it nonetheless. Kinnikinnick is one of the largest makers and distributors of gluten-free baked goods in the U.S. Its presence in food stores is ubiquitous, yet every Kinnikinnick item is produced in one of their two dedicated gluten-free facilities, and is guaranteed safe for celiacs. Most famous for their soft iced donuts, Kinnikinnick enjoys the reputation of great taste and variety.

kroger logo

21. Kroger

Kroger is a giant supermarket chain found in nearly every corner of the United States. It sells many exclusively gluten-free brands like Udi's and Kinnikinnick, but also produces a line of Kroger Gluten Free breads.

la brea bakery logo

22. La Brea Bakery

La Brea is an artisanal bakery with boutique cafes in select locations around the country. Though they primarily make traditional breads with wheat, their recently launched gluten-free breads have been highly reputed. The breads are certified gluten-free and sold outside of their cafes in select grocery stores.

little northern bakehouse logo

23. Little Northern Bakehouse

Little Northern Bakehouse makes three varieties of their vegan gluten-free loaves, as well as hot dog buns and sandwich buns. Their products are available in select grocery stores nationally, and are 100% non-GMO.

mikey's muffins logo

24. Mikey's

Mikey's paleo breads come primarily in muffin form, but they do make one gluten-free sliced sandwich bread, and a couple of muffin top varieties as well. This bread is easy to find in major food retailers - Walmart and Whole Foods alike. It does contain eggs and nuts.

new grains gluten free

25. New Grains

New Grains boasts an impressive celiac and vegan friendly line of gluten free baked goods. In addition to bread - including sourdough - you can buy many different kinds of cookies, dessert bars, ciabatta, and even gluten-free barbeque sauce, to name a few items. You can place an order on the company website and have freshly made bread shipped from their Utah headquarters.

o'doughs gluten free

26. O'Doughs

O'Doughs is the maker of gluten free bagels, "Sandwich Thins" (which are sub rolls, but thinner), frozen pizza kits, flatbreads, whole loaves, muffins and cakes. Products are available in Canada and nationally in the United States at certain retailers. These gluten free breads contain soy and possibly eggs.

pure knead allergy friendly

27. Pure Knead

All Pure Knead products are free from the top 8 allergens. Based in Decatur, GA, Pure Knead produces gluten free bread loaves and hamburger buns, as well as "Communion Loaves" and sweet baked treats.

rudi's gluten free bakery

28. Rudi's Gluten Free

Found in both the bakery aisle and the freezer aisle, Rudi's Gluten Free breads are widely available in U.S. supermarkets. These breads contain eggs, but they are nut- and dairy-free, and also exclude preservatives.

sam's choice logo

29. Sam's Choice

If you weren't sure, Sam's Choice is a Walmart grocery brand. The company was originally selling sparkling water as its main item, under the name Sam's American Choice. Now Sam's Choice produces food for Walmart's grocery sections - gluten-free included. Sam's Choice is certainly a more cost efficient choice when it comes to gluten-free sliced bread.

schar gluten free logo

30. Schar

Schar has an impressively diverse repertoire of gluten-free items for sale. These include pantry foods like gluten-free croissants and crackers, boxes of gluten-free pastas, hot dog buns, cookies, and of course, sliced bread. You should be able to find Schar products in major grocery stores.

SPROUTS farmers market logo

33. Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts is a health and wellness supermarket chain scattered throughout the southern half of the United States. Use the store locator on their site to see if the one closest to you carries their gluten free line.

THREE BAKERS LOGO

34. Three Bakers

Three Bakers is a dedicated gluten-free brand with a strong variety of quality gluten-free breads. Sold widely in grocery stores, Three Bakers breads are certified gluten-free, and also soy-free and dairy-free.

trader joe's logo

35. Trader Joe's

Up until the last couple of years, safe gluten-free foods were scarce at Trader Joe's. The brand has done a lot to change that recently, however, and now offers several gluten-free sliced bread varieties in stores. A main ingredient in this bread is tapioca, and it contains eggs. This brand is on the cheaper side of the gluten-free bread scale.

udi's logo

36. Udi's Gluten Free

Just like Kinnikinnick, Udi's Gluten Free is one of those food brands you see everywhere. They make many different baked gluten-free items, as well as some frozen meals. You can find Udi's products almost anywhere in the U.S. Look for this brand in the freezer aisle.

whole foods logo

37. Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market sells gluten-free products from their bakeries in select stores. Specific offerings depend on your store location, but bakery items can be made to order in some cases. Call your local Whole Foods Market ahead of time and inquire about the Gluten Free Bakehouse to see what they have in your area.

gluten free sliced bread

Specialty Gluten-Free Breads

usda organic label

non-gmo project verified label

Organic + Non-GMO

If you’re looking for organic or non-GMO gluten-free breads, you’re in luck. Many loaves, including the larger brands with wide distribution, are now including organic ingredients or are GMO free. Look for the certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified symbol or check product websites for ingredient information.

Gluten-Free Sourdough

gluten free unicorn

© Thinkstock/IStock/Anhut

Gluten-free packaged sourdough bread used to be like a unicorn, a beautiful idea but a myth. Nowadays, we’re fortunate to have several brands of gluten-free sourdough on the market. Our favorite is Bread SRSLY, a vegan sourdough loaf available in the San Francisco Bay area and online. Bread SRSLY also offers sourdough rolls, larger Pullman loaves and sourdough made with kale and with sweet onions.

Other quality sourdough brands include Arise Bakery’s Wild Yeast Sourdough from Humboldt County, California, Ener-G Select Sourdough White, and New Grains Sourdough out of Provo, Utah.

The best store-bought gluten-free sourdough brands are reviewed on the 2017 Sliced Gluten-Free White Bread List:

GLUTEN FREE WHITE BREAD

Paleo Breads

happy caveman

© Shutterstock/Lorelyn Medina

The paleo diet is still trending and new products are being introduced, including grain-free packaged breads. We tested a handful of frozen paleo loaves. They have a unique, egg-heavy flavor and a dry texture—definitely an acquired taste. Primarily made with nut flours and eggs, they’re denser than traditional gluten-free bread and must be toasted for best results. Expect to pay a few dollars more for a paleo loaf, even more than typical gluten-free bread.

We found that Barely Bread is the best-tasting paleo bread; it has good texture without a strong egg taste. Base Culture, out of Florida, is a close second. Base Culture is made primarily from almond butter, cashew butter, coconut flour and almond flour. These breads are available regionally and online.

Mikey’s newly launched gluten-free grain-free paleo sliced sandwich loaf has a heavy almond-flour taste. It’s available in the freezer section of select grocery stores nationwide.

See all the interesting paleo breads reviewed on the 2017 Sliced Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread List:

MULTIGRAIN BREAD

Vegan Gluten-Free Breads

vegan heart

© Thinkstock/IStock

While it’s easy to find gluten-free and dairy-free packaged bread, eggs are prevalent in most gluten-free breads. Fortunately, there are many delicious vegan loaves with soft, flexible slices on the market.

We had several favorites. Follow Your Heart won our hearts with its certified gluten-free millet, oat and brioche breads. Happy Campers offers a line of certified gluten-free breads, including our favorite, the Classy Slice. Its hearty texture and savory flavor, with a hint of sweetness from raisin juice, make Classy Slice one of our top finds. Bloomfield Farms just launched a certified gluten-free vegan bread that’s soft and flexible; it reminds us of the white bread we enjoyed before diagnosis. We also like Canadian brand O’Doughs; its vegan breads, sandwich thins, bagel thins and more are some of our favorites.

Bread Sweetness

We tested two sweet loaves—and loved them. If you’re making French toast or just prefer sweeter bread, Katz Gluten-Free offers a challah loaf that’s available in stores and online. Follow Your Heart makes a gluten-free vegan brioche sandwich bread that’s sweet, delicious and available nationwide in the freezer section in specialty grocery stores.

ruler

© Thinkstock/IStock

Does Size Really Matter?

According to a quarter of our survey respondents, bigger slices are better. Gluten-free breads of old were small, square loaves that didn’t cover deli meat or fillings. Today, gluten-free bread producers understand that we want more. Look for larger loaves from Canyon Bakehouse Heritage Loaves, Schar Artisan Baker and Deli Style Bread, Franz Gluten Free, Essential Baking Company, Ener-G Select and BFree.

The Cost of Gluten-Free Bread

Do you remember when you could pick up a loaf of conventional bread for under $2? In the world of gluten-free bread, that price point is impossibly low. Gluten-free packaged bread can cost anywhere from $4.50 to $10 a loaf, maybe even more for boutique brands or specialty loaves.

money bag

© Thinkstock/IStock

Why is gluten-free bread so expensive? We asked food editor Beth Hillson and associate editor Jules Shepard, experts at gluten-free baking and running their own gluten-free businesses.

Ingredients: Higher costs can be due to the expense of the ingredients themselves or the cost included in testing each ingredient to verify its gluten-free status. Larger businesses can purchase ingredients in bulk and save money, which isn’t possible for smaller-scale producers. In addition, some producers make their gluten-free bread with more nutrient-dense ingredients, like ancient grains, which cost more than standard rice flour and starches.

Production: Dedicated gluten-free facilities can be more expensive and are less available than conventional commercial facilities. Certifying the product and/or the facility as gluten-free requires an additional expense. In addition, packaging and shipping cost more for small brands because they don’t have the scale of larger manufacturers.

online shopping

© Thinkstock/IStock

shopping cart

© Thinkstock/IStock

Where to Buy

Most readers purchase their gluten-free packaged bread at conventional supermarkets. Less than half buy bread at natural grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. Fewer than 10 percent of our readers order gluten-free bread online. If you’re looking for a way to widen your bread options, you must go online. You may be missing out on a hidden gem!

Store brand champions emerged from our research. Trader Joe’s store brand and Aldi’s liveG-free store brand were top reader favorites. Other high-scoring options included Walmart’s store brand Sam’s Choice and Kroger’s store brand. Sprouts just launched a certified gluten-free private label bread and we were pleased with the loaf we tried. Whole Foods’ gluten-free bread wasn’t as popular as the other lines for us or our readers.

As more stores offer their own gluten-free brands, it will become easier for gluten-free consumers to find a wider selection of quality loaves at lower prices, especially in rural areas.

Managing editor Erica Dermer is author of Celiac and the Beast: A Love Story Between a Gluten-Free Girl, Her Genes and a Broken Digestive Tract.

Comments (1)

I did not see a listing for Sami's Bakery in Tampa, Florida. I was turned on to it by the owners of a local health food store. Most gluten-free breads I have tried tasted like sawdust. This bread (millet & flax) to me tastes more like bread and is gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free, all of which I cannot have.
Carolyn

Posted by: Carolyn2725 | July 12, 2017 5:48 AM    Report this comment

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