Gluten-Free Thai Food
Thai food is a great choice for gluten-free and dairy-free eaters because it is rice-based and uses a lot of coconut milk. Authentic Thai food should be completely dairy-free except for hot beverages that may be sweetened with condensed milk.
However, westernized Thai restaurants or Thai “Fusion” restaurants are more likely to include dishes with gluten, dairy, and other allergens. Check with the specific restaurant you select. ALWAYS ask about unlisted ingredients, especially if you have multiple food intolerances.
Also noteworthy: traditional Thai soy sauce is gluten-free, but restaurants may use wheat-based Chinese soy sauce. It can be insulting to ask about the soy sauce, so I recommend asking for no soy sauce and just taking your own if you like the flavor.
Gluten-free Thai food options:*
- Pad Thai (ask about food preparation)
- Curries (ask about thickeners, hidden ingredients, food preparation)
- Salads (ask about dressings and croutons, food preparation)
- Mango Sticky Rice (one of my favorites!)
- Use of soy sauce and oyster sauce (both may contain gluten)
NOTE: vegetarian dishes may use soy sauce in place of fish sauce
- Any fried foods (unless the food is not coated in wheat and fried in dedicated gluten-free fryer)
Other common allergens:
- Nuts (tree nuts and peanuts): watch for peanut sauce and peanut oil in many dishes
- MSG (monosodium glutamate): used as a flavor enhancer in many dishes
- Eggs: not always listed as an ingredient
- Shellfish: ask about shrimp, dried shrimp, shrimp paste, and oyster sauce
- Fish: ask about fish sauce, fish broth, and oyster sauce
- Soy: usually found in soy sauce and vegetarian options
- Select restaurants where everything is made from scratch and communication is relatively easy
- Always ask for NO SOY SAUCE and NO OYSTER SAUCE
- Thai food at vegetarian restaurants mitigate shellfish/fish allergies
- Nuts can often be accommodated in made-to-order dishes
*Refers to commonly-used ingredients only. Gluten contamination is ALWAYS a risk when dining out. Asian food preparation techniques commonly re-use woks and cooking oil, which may increase the risk of gluten contamination. Communicate your concerns with your server and consider using a dining card.
What’s your favorite gluten-free Thai dish?