Ideas for Gluten-Free Breading

Ali Segersten Jun 03, 2009 21 comments

I have been asked a number of times for ideas to bread chicken breasts, fish, and vegetables - gluten-free.

Tonight I thought I would offer some ideas on this topic, some of my own and some gleaned from my fellow foodies.

Tom was in Seattle this evening doing a food demo and talk at the IBS Treatment Center. So what is a mom of four little ones to do when dad is out of town? Make dinner quick and without a fuss. Yesterday I walked to the grocery store with the boys in the baby jogger (which is not all that close to our house) and bought organic fruit, cat food, and a few organic chicken breasts. Okay, I know Michael Pollan does not approve of Rosie's Organic chicken breasts; if you have read the Omnivore's Dilemma you'd know why. But the thought of thawing out one of my local, organic, pastured chickens sounded like too much of a hassle. Then to remove the breasts from the bone, no thank you. I just don't have time.

I cooked a pot of quinoa, sliced up two chicken breasts, and had the girls pick some greens from the garden in no time.

To make it really easy and fast, I breaded the chicken in a non-traditional way: place all of the ingredients over the sliced chicken breasts and toss together! I made sure my chicken breast slices were wet (with water) before adding these ingredients. This helps the flour adhere to the meat.

Here is the combo I used tonight:


Other Ideas for Gluten-Free Breading:

  • Polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal) ground in the food processor with your choice of dried herbs and salt
  • Corn flour
  • Sweet rice flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Crushed corn chips (or potato chips)
  • Crushed Brown Rice Crispy Cereal 
  • Crushed corn flakes
  • Bread crumbs made from dried out GF bread slices (pulse dried bread slices in a food processor to get crumbs)
  • Coconut flour 
  • Shredded coconut

Methods for breading:

There are a few methods for breading. Some chefs like to toss the food (meat, fish, tofu, veggie) in a starch such as arrowroot powder and then do an egg wash, then, finally toss to coat in the breading of choice.

I have done it this way with great results (an egg-free version): Toss your food item in a thick non-dairy milk (or dairy if you prefer), then toss in an egg-free wash made up of a semi-thick mixture of water and arrowroot powder, and then finally toss in the breading of your choice.

To sum it all up:

  1. Choose your breading and pulse it in the food processor with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs and spices. Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Dip your food into a dry starch or thick milk.
  3. Then dip your food into an egg wash or arrowroot (egg-free) wash.
  4. Finally, dip your food into the breading of your choice.
  5. If using the stove, have your pan hot and ready (wait to add the oil until you are ready). I use grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil for cooking at higher temperatures.
  6. If baking, make sure your oven is preheated and your pan is ready.

Please let us know if you have anything to add to the breading list in the comments section below. I am sure there are more options that I am not thinking of. Thanks and Happy Cooking!


About the Author

Ali Segersten

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is a Functional Nutritionist, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Alissa is the founder and owner of Nourishing Meals®.

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We've recently found the joy of breading - I adapted a farmgirl gourmet recipe for oven baked orange chicken to be GF, using all kinds of different crushed cereal. I think using crushed root vegetable chips would be amazing - next time Terra Chips go on sale I'll try them.

And I think I'll start storing the chips from the bottom of the bag in a glass jar until we have enough for breading!

I coat the meat w/ dijon mustard, then roll it in quinoa flakes with salt mixed in.

Hi again, Ali,

I recently saw this recipe, which calls for breading chicken tenders in cooked quinoa and some regular breadcrumbs (which I'm sure you could make gf).

I rarely use breading, but back when I did, I usually used ground or mostly ground Erewhon brown rice cereal. I once used a mixture of this Erewhon brown rice cereal and Gorilla Munch cereal (a Kix-like cereal), a bit of GF all purpose flour, shredded coconut, and salt and pepper; my husband, who loves coconut, especially enjoyed this. I've also heard of using crushed tortilla chips, but I try to avoid corn.

Diane - thanks for adding your ideas here! :)

Barb - No I have not worked with chestnut flour before. I will google it though, thanks. The smoked chestnut flour sounds fabulous. I can see why you have saved it for 6 yrs in your freezer! Thanks for sharing your ideas!

-Ali :)


Have you worked with chestnut flour? It is spectacularly flavored as a breading, especially paired with a touch of rosemary and sage. There are several local places that produce it (Google it).

When we lived in Italy, we got a package of smoked chestnut flour during chestnut season. I've shephered it for 6 years in the freezer (yes, I know, too too long) and the flavor is still terrific. A little dab'll do ya.

The Ligurian region (Genova) has a traditional mildly sweet, savory torta called Castagnaccio made of chestnut flour, raisins, pine nuts, rosemary, salt and olive oil. Yum!


Great ideas! My teens favorite is Frito Chicken or fish. This is a messy one to make but it tastes great. They also freeze really well and cook up fast in the microwave and are still crunchy. Now I need to go make some to celebrate the end of the school year.

yogamama - Thanks for your comment! :)

Mike - Thanks, so glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. The company that raises and sells these chickens is called Osprey Hill Farms. They are located in Acme, WA and their website is: They are at the Bellingham Farmer's Market on Saturdays, a very convenient way to purchase them (they come frozen).

Shirley - Wow, thanks for adding more options for breading here! You have lots of great ideas! I would have never thought to use waffles for bread crumbs - that is a great idea! I actually don't use bread crumbs often or breading for that matter, but when I do it sure is nice to have plenty of GF options.

Thanks for your input! :)

CoconutGal - Yes, obviously you WOULD be a fan of the coconut flour/shredded coconut mix. :)

Barbara -

Thanks for your question. In theory using the flax gel sounds great, but....

Flax is high in polyunsaturated fats, which are unstable at high temps - frying is a high temp cooking procedure (with plenty of direct contact with the flax). I would stick with an egg-free wash made from arrowroot and water. This works very well.

The reason I am OK using the flax gel in baking is because the heat inside the baked good doesn't reach a super high temp.

Hope this helps! -Ali :)

These are all great ideas! I have only used rice flour before, but now I have options! I am very interested in trying the coconut flour option first.

Ali, first I would like to thank you for this informative blog. Second, you mentioned in your post something about whole local pastured chickens. I live in B'ham also and didn't know anyone was producing such thing. Could you give me the name of this company and a location where to purchase?
Thanks. Mike

Great post, Ali! I love how you shared how your meal came to pass. I think that’s reality for most of us … figuring out what we’ll have and how to make it quick and easy. Bravo on taking the twins in the jogging stroller to the store that’s not very close—you rock!

Thanks for linking to me, too! I appreciate it!! One of the nice things about using potato chips for breading is that it’s a great economical way to use the broken ones at the bottom of the bag … just crush a bit more and you’re good to go.

Like you, often I just use the “wetness” of what I’m breading to ensure that the breading sticks. Sometimes I dip in milk (non-dairy is fine), like with pork chops. I think having the oil at the proper temperature if frying the item also ensures that the breading stays on.

Rice cereal for babies makes a decent breading. You’ll just want to add seasonings.

I made a terrific breading for chicken livers the other night. The recipe was originally for fried oysters. When I used it for fried oysters back in the winter, my husband said they were the best he’d ever eaten so I thought I’d try them with liver. (I’m sure some of you are going ugh to both of those!) The recipe is one cup of cornmeal and one cup of gf flour. Both the cornmeal and flour were supposed to be self-rising so I added a tsp of baking powder and a half teaspoon of salt. This recipe did call for dipping in an egg before breading so I did. The results were really great.

Parmesan cheese can be a terrific light coating (and filler, like in meatballs or meat loaf) for those who do dairy.

I don’t like most of the commercial gf breadcrumbs and I don’t buy or make gf breads typically, so I sometimes buy Van’s gf waffles and toast them and grind them in my mini-food chopper for bread crumbs. Works great. I happened to try that when I need gf bread crumbs for a casserole one Thanksgiving morning. This is one of the few gf specialty products I use. I like that you can make as much as you need for any recipe. I rarely eat them as waffles. LOL

Instant mashed potatoes can make terrific breading, too. Ensure gf, and again, add seasoning.

We all need to help each other with this day-to-day info! Just makes life simpler and more fun to share our tips! ;-)

Thanks again, Ali!

I'm all for coconut flour and shredded coconut as breading :-)
Great tips Ali!!

Hi Ali,
Thanks so much for bringing up this topic! I haven't tried it yet, but what do you think of using flax seed "gel" for the glue (instead of eggs) so the flour/crumbs adhere? On the surface, it seems like a good choice. I'd love to hear your opinion.

cv - Thanks! Glad you enjoy! :)

Jenn - Thanks for adding this, I have used almond meal too for breading, but forgot to mention it. Using it to bread zuchinni sounds yummy!

Marissa - It looks like part of your comment was cut off, please try again if you check back. :)

T - Thanks, and yes I have made Phad Thai before but do not have any concrete recipe typed up. I will keep your idea in mind though.

-Ali :)

Thanks for sharing! I've been looking at ideas for breading, and these are truly the best I've seen so far!
Also, as an idea for the future, do you have any recipes to share for a Phad Thai type of dish that would be healthy?

a until it is like flour and use that when breading eggplant, zucchini, etc. Works fantastically!

I have used almond meal for breading and pan frying zuchinni... it was a bit of an experiment, but worked quite well.

Thanks so much! These are by far the best guidelines I've seen for gluten-free (and vegan!) breading.

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