Cheesy chicken parmesan, juicy breaded fish filet, your mom's classic Shake 'n' Bake Porkchops. Is your mouth watering yet?
A lot of recipes call for breadcrumbs, don’t they? And with good reason. Breadcrumbs give you that beautiful, crispy coating that crunches when you bite into it releasing the juiciness below.
But you’re gluten free. Those crispy panko crumbs are just not an option. What do you do?
You can buy gluten free breadcrumbs or make your own from gluten free bread that’s a little past it’s perfect freshness. But I think the best gluten free breadcrumbs are not breadcrumbs at all. There are creative and delicious gluten free breadcrumb alternatives that do a much better job. Try a few of these out and let me know what you think.
Before we get into gluten free breadcrumb alternatives, let’s set up your breading station. Once you master this simple technique, you can experiment with all kinds of crispy toppings.
Get out 3 plates.
The process is simple:
If you're baking, place the item onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spray with a little cooking oil.
If you're frying then place it into a frying pan with about 1/2 inch of oil or into a deep fryer.
It depends. Breadcrumbs work in two ways:
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Below are my 6 favorite gluten free breadcrumb alternatives along with some suggestions for how to use them. I've even added in links to some recipes I know you'll want to try.
Oatmeal is the best gluten free substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaf. It works as a filler to hold the meat together and to create bulk, making the meat stretch a little further. With the cost of gluten free food these days anything that helps the budget is a good idea in my books.
If you have celiac disease make sure you buy certified gluten free oatmeal. Oats are naturally gluten free but are often grown and processed alongside wheat. This causes the oats to be contaminated and not safe for celiac.
Gluten free oatmeal also works well in hamburger patties and meatballs. It doesn't matter if you're using ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey or even beans.
If you don't tolerate oats well, you can leave the filler out or try some other options like:
Nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals, and they're high in dietary fiber.
Crushed nuts like almonds and pecans make a crunchy and delicious gluten free alternative to breadcrumbs.
My Almond and Pecan Crusted Baked Haddock is an ideal example. White fleshed fish like haddock is very mild in flavor so the crunchy nutty topping is the perfect compliment.
Potatoes are naturally gluten free and often find their way into gluten free recipes. Take my gluten free Potato Pizza Crust for example.
Mashed potato flakes or instant mashed potatoes are the best gluten free substitute for panko breadcrumbs. They are light in color and have an airy, crispy texture. You can deep fry them or bake them in the oven with a little spritz of olive oil for that golden brown color.
Look for instant mashed potatoes in the grocery store or online. Betty Crocker has a few choices, but looking at the label there seems to be a lot of unnecessary ingredients. I found these Purest Potato Flakes online and the only ingredient is potatoes. Perfect!
Coconut is high in manganese which is necessary for healthy bones. It also helps with metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and cholesterol.1 If you're dairy free or on a keto diet, you may find coconut already plays a big part in your life.
Flaked coconut browns up beautifully and has a distinct sweet tropical flavor. It’s a classic with fish or seafood, but why stop there. Use coconut flakes for breaded eggplant or use it to coat chicken legs and pair with my tropical Curry Pineapple Chutney.
Choose unsweetened coconut flakes. You don't need the extra sugar. Also, the flakes have a lighter, crunchier texture than desiccated coconut which is ground into smaller bits.
Yes, the 70’s called…if you’re mom or your grandma never did this you missed out.
Are potato chips naturally gluten free? Yes, they are. Maybe not as healthy as the food I like to promote here but what the heck. You can’t be good all the time. Do check the label to make sure gluten hasn’t snuck in there somewhere, but if you’re using plain chips with no flavor, you should be fine. I use Lay’s classic.
Crushed potato chips are best with baked recipes. I don’t recommend deep frying them since they are already cooked and already quite fatty. Use crushed potato chips as a gluten free breadcrumb alternative for breaded chicken or fish or try it as a topping for a macaroni casserole.
Here are a few other ideas for crushing up snack food:
Don't forget to check the labels!
Or crush up cereal like:
Again, check the label!
Pork rinds are the keto dieter’s potato chip and can be used like chips or any of our other crumb toppings. If cutting carbs is the goal, sprinkling crushed pork rinds over a macaroni casserole would defeat the purpose, but what about a cheesy cauliflower casserole? Or, you can use them as a topping for chicken legs. They turn out a lot like KFC.
Are pork rinds healthy? Well, they are puffed up and processed so I’m not sure you want them every day, but as a low carb, gluten free treat, why not?
1. Danahy, A. (2022, April 12). 5 health and nutrition benefits of Coconut. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-nutrition#:~:text=Coconuts%20are%20especially%20high%20in,9%20%2C%2010%20%2C%2011%20).