Gluten-Free Alternatives for Croutons

Croutons add a delicious crunch and garlicky flavor to your salads, but when you need to maintain a gluten-free diet, croutons just don't cut it. Croutons are made from dried bread, butter, salt and garlic - so they're definitely not a gluten-free salad option.

The good news: you can add a garlicky crunch to your salads without the help of croutons. If you're seeking gluten-free alternatives for croutons, we've got suggestions! Some of the following food options deliver the crunch of croutons, others deliver the garlic and salty flavor, and some deliver both. Here's what you need to know.

Reasons to Go Gluten-Free

Before covering the gluten-free alternatives for croutons, you should know why some people choose to go gluten-free. It's not a way of losing weight, and it's not an extra-healthy option. Some people can't or shouldn't eat gluten, and that's why they need a gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease. People with celiac disease can't digest gluten because it causes the immune system to attack the small intestine. Eating a lot of gluten over time causes repeated attacks, which can do lasting damage to the digestive system and some of the body's other systems.

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). DH is a type of celiac disease that causes itchy, bumpy, painful rashes, and may even develop intestinal cancer.

Gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity happens to people who can't process or metabolize gluten. People with gluten sensitivity may experience gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation when they eat gluten. People who suffer from gluten sensitivity may eat some gluten without doing lasting damage to their body, but they will continue to experience symptoms of the condition until they cut gluten out of their diet.

If you believe you have any one of the conditions above, speak to your doctor to get a diagnosis. Cutting gluten out of your diet without getting a diagnosis could make diagnosing your condition more difficult, which could lead to a misdiagnosis, or may lead your doctor to miss something about your condition that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Crouton Alternative #1: Roasted Root Vegetables

Cube root vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, parsnips and sweet potatoes, then coat them with oil and (if you like) a little salt. Roast the root vegetables in the oven on a piece of parchment at 375 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Roasted vegetables aren't crunchy in the way that croutons are, but they definitely add the savory quality of croutons. If you'd like to add a crunch to your roasted vegetables, slice them thinly and bake them at a lower temperature for slightly longer, turning them once midway through.

Crouton Alternative #2: Toasted Nuts or Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and cashews are naturally gluten-free, as are sunflower seeds. They also help make your salad more filling. Toasting your nuts and seeds gives them extra crunch and a little extra flavor.

To toast your nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 15 or 20 minutes. Stir them occasionally, to prevent them from burning. Toasting your nuts and sunflower seeds brings out their natural flavor and scent.

Crouton Alternative #3: Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas come in pre-seasoned bags sold at the grocery store, but you can make them yourself without a lot of extra effort. Simply rinse canned chickpeas, stir them with spices and spread them on a baking sheet with parchment.

Bake the chickpeas at about 400 degrees for 15 minutes. You can choose whatever spices you want, but if you're looking for a crouton substitute, garlic, salt and cumin make good choices.

Crouton Alternative #4: Toasted, Smoky Coconut Slices

Coconut takes on a savory flavor when it's marinated in a mixture of olive or coconut oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, tamari and paprika. Bake it at 300 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes. This gives your coconut a smoky-sweet flavor that is in many ways reminiscent of bacon.

Crouton Alternative #5: Dried Apple Chips

Dried apple chips are available for sale in grocery stores, health food stores and sometimes even in convenience stores. Apple chips are gluten-free if they're made from pure apples. Avoid buying apple chips that have a lot of extra ingredients, as these may not be gluten-free.

Crouton Alternative #6: Kale Chips

Kale chips became very popular a few years ago, and can still be found for sale in some health food stores and grocery stores. Kale chips can also be made at home. Kale chips are saltier than apple chips, and are more akin to actual croutons than apple chips. If you'd like to add a savory crunch to your salad instead of a sweet crunch, kale chips are a solid option.

Crouton Alternative #7: Carrington Farms Gluten Free Crounons

If you're wishing you could eat croutons and just can't, Carrington Farms Organic Crounons have all the benefits and none of the problems that can come from eating gluten.

Carrington Farms Crounons are a gluten-free crouton substitute made from crispy puffed quinoa. Crounons are clean-label, ready to eat, have all the crunch of a crouton and are available in 3 lightly seasoned flavors including garden herb, garlic parmesan and cracked pepper with sea salt.

Many gluten-free consumers also avoid breaded proteins as salad toppers because of the gluten. Carrington Farms makes gluten-free breadcrumbs, that are also low carb, high in protein and fiber that gives chicken and fish a crispy, golden crunch, easily prepared in the oven, air-fryer or stovetop.

Need for Gluten-Free Alternatives for Croutons? Shop Carrington Farms

Gluten-free alternatives for croutons are available through Carrington Farms. Order your gluten-free Crounons and breadcrumbs today, to make your salad delicious.