My sister-in-law is an American living in China, and while visiting the US, learned that reducing certain foods, including gluten, seems to have an improvement in her health.

She is trying to figure out what her diet in China should look like, and noted some confusion about glutinous rice. She said that rice is on her list of gluten-free foods, but since glutinous is in the name, she assumes that gluten is added to it.

Does glutinous rice actually have gluten in it, or is something lost in translation?

  • 4
    Recent studies suggest that the gluten sensitivity issue might be overhyped ... the symptoms are real, but may be either a nocebo effect (opposite of a placebo effect), or caused by other FODMAP ingredients. (and I suspect that not eating an ingredient for a while, then trying go back on it could be problematic, as you'll have lost the gut flora that help digest.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


No, it doesn't. Rice is always gluten free.

It just so happens that words like "gluten", "glutinous" and "glue" are words which have a common root, meaning "sticky". Glutinous rice is sticky due to a high proportion of bushy starches in the rice grain. It has nothing to do with gluten, which is a complex formed by wheat proteins, and not contained in any type of rice.

See also our list of gluten-free grains, which also notes the gluten-glutinous distinction.


Glutinous rice doesn't contain gluten, the term just relates to its sticky texture when cooked. From Glutinous rice on Wikipedia:

Like all types of rice, glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and should be safe for gluten-free diets.

While that is marked citation needed doing a search on around 20 Celiac related pages all seem to give advice it is safe for people with Celiac disease, which is probably a good way to search for gluten free foods.


Yes and no, depending on one's definition of gluten.

I don't have all the proper references on hand right now, so please forgive me if the explanation is missing the full chemical explanation (references to peptides and such). I'm recalling all of this from memory from a presentation given by an all-types-of-gluten celiac I met several years ago.

All grains contain "gluten," but there is more than one type of gluten. When one commonly refers to a gluten, that person is referring to the type of gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye. (Oats are often in contact with wheat. As a result, oats may contain enough gluten to set off a celiac and are often included on the list of banned grains.) Rice contains its own "glue-like" properties and proteins, but it is not the same as in wheat, barely, or rye.

So your sister-in-law is safe to eat rice, so long as she only reacts to the generic "gluten." In which case, tell her to watch out for soy sauce, as that often has added wheat.

Edit: I can't seem to comment on my own answer post. (I just found this site today) Hm... Anyway,the OP mentioned that his sister-in-law's health improved by removing certain foods, such as gluten. The gluten she needs to avoid depends on her level and type of intolerance. In rare occasions, one will not have a textbook case of gluten-intolerance or celiac. My sister is a textbook celiac; I have a nonstandard gluten-intolerance. She can eat rice; I cannot. In short, if the gluten sensitivity is standard, consider all rice to be gluten-free. 'Glutinous' merely describes the amount of sticky starch in the grain (and possibly its fattening potential ;) ), not gluten.

Edit: I still can't seem to respond to other comments. @nico Rice can contain both starch and protein, same as wheat. I was trying to say that 'glutinous' refers to starch, not protein. If that distinction doesn't seem clear I can try to better edit the response.

P.S. This response probably has more details than necessary for a general gluten-sensitivity. Also, if the format is not yet up to par, please be patient with me while I familiarize with the site protocol.

  • I don't think you need to vacillate here - this comes down pretty firmly on the side of "no gluten", even if there are similar proteins present in rice.
    – logophobe
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 17:28
  • -1: rice contains starch, which is a chemically completely different thing (carbohydrate vs protein).
    – nico
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 20:34
  • 2
    This is factually incorrect. Gluten is a protein combination of Glutennin and Gliadin that only occurs in cereal grains closely related to wheat. The Gliadin is what causes reactions in the case of Celiac disease. A "nonstandard gluten-intolerance" that reacts to non-wheat related products has nothing to do with gluten and is a reaction to an entirely different protein. Blaming that on gluten is akin to blaming a milk protein intolerance on some mysterious "milk-gluten".
    – Tremmors
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 23:01

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