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The Everything Guide to Making Gluten Free Bread – Including Troubleshooting Tips

Allergy Free Alaska, LLC Copyright © 2013

When I first went gluten free, I think the most important and difficult food item for me to replicate was a loaf of really good gluten free bread. I tried many, many recipes, but with each one the texture was different, the taste was different, it wouldn’t last past a day… etc. I was beyond frustrated and tired of wasting expensive ingredients. All I wanted was a loaf of fresh bread I didn’t have to toast and would stay fresh out on the counter for at least 3 days. Is that too much to ask?

No. It’s definitely not.

GF Rice Free Multigrain Bread (Small)Click HERE for the recipe: Gluten & Rice Free Multigrain Bread

I finally got so frustrated with other recipes that I decided to make my own. At first there were many failures and tears. And through it all, I am so thankful my husband never ever said one condescending word to me about wasting ingredients or that perhaps it was my (in)ability to cook which was affecting the outcome of the recipes. Nope, he held my hand and encouraged me through the whole process (thanks, babe… I love you).

It was through my husband’s encouragement and my need for delicious bread that drove me to keep experimenting. Thankfully, it all one day paid off.

My bread finally met all of my expectations. It tasted and smelled like a real loaf of bread. It was soft, had wonderful texture, wasn’t grainy, I didn’t have to eat it toasted, and it lasted out on the counter for more than a day. I don’t think the words overjoyed, elated, or incredibly happy even begin to express my emotions surrounding that one first successful loaf of bread. It was victory. 

All of you deserve that kind of bread. Which is why I’ve written this- it’s my intention and desire that you are able to replicate amazing bread at home.

My favorite gluten & dairy free bread recipes (click on the link for the recipe):
Gluten & Rice Free Multigrain Bread
Gluten Free Oatmeal Millet Bread
Gluten Free Country Seed Bread
Gluten Free Hamburger Buns
Gluten Free Dinner Rolls
Gluten, Yeast & Egg Free Flat Bread

Hamburger Buns (Small)Click HERE for the recipe: Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Gluten Free Bread Making 101
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature (including the flour, eggs, yeast, nuts, seeds, etc).
 I let my “cold” ingredients sit out on the counter for 20 – 30 minutes before I start making bread. This ensures the bread will rise properly.

Use the mixers paddle attachment (flat beater) for the best mixing, not the bread hook. Gluten free bread requires no kneading (for the most part – there are a handful of recipes out there that do), so no bread hook is required.

Use the right yeast. I use active dry yeast in all of my bread recipes NOT instant yeast. I’ve tested many recipes using instant yeast (from loaves to rolls to flatbreads, etc), and the instant yeast has not produced the same results as the active dry yeast. I’m convinced that if you want the best gluten free bread, use active dry yeast.

Use only fresh yeast and ensure the proofing water is at the correct temperature (between 105 – 115 degrees F).  The yeast should be nice and foamy when activated with honey or sugar and warm water. If the yeast isn’t foamy once the proofing time is up, either the yeast is bad or the water isn’t the right temperature. Throw it out and start again.

Not all xanthan gums are created equal. Our local store ran out of my normal Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum and the only other brand they had available was EnerG. Suddenly my tried and true recipes were failing miserably. Breads and biscuits that were supposed to be light and fluffy ended up flat, spread out, and crumbly. Pay the extra few dollars for Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum. It’s far superior and definitely worth it.

Use the type of bread pan the recipe calls for. Glass doesn’t always retain heat like a metal loaf pan does so if the recipe specifically calls for a specific type of pan, make sure you use that pan.  

Always line your baking pan with parchment paper and then lightly grease it. This is key – especially if you don’t want your perfect loaf of bread to come out of the pan looking like a hack job. The parchment paper allows you to easily slide the loaf of bread from the pan.

Do not allow the bread dough to over rise. Over rising can cause the loaf to collapse during baking or shortly after removing it from the oven.

The bread loaf will rise a little bit more during the baking process and will appear nice and golden brown when done. To double check that the loaf is finished baking, use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature. A perfectly baked loaf will reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees (F).

Promptly remove the finished loaf from the bread pan and place it on a wire rack to cool. Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing (Okay, this is really just a formality… I don’t wait for my bread to cool. I slice into it right away and eat the end piece before someone else does!). If you have trouble removing the bread loaf from the pan (even with the parchment paper), use a butter knife to carefully loosen up the sides of the bread from the edges of the pan.

The amount of liquid used (water, honey, eggs, oil), rising time, and baking time all depend on room temperature, altitude, and humidity. Make sure you read all directions and recipe notes carefully prior to beginning the bread making process to ensure success. Still getting stuck? Check out my troubleshooting section below.

Storage. I keep my bread stored in a bread bag sitting out on the counter; however, if you live in a warm climate, you may need to store your bread in a cool dark cupboard. Most of my bread recipes stay fresh for at least 3 days. If I know I won’t use my loaf (or rolls, hamburger buns, etc.) up within 3 days, then I slice the remaining portion, wrap it in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag, and store it in the freezer. When I need a slice of bread I simply pull out a slice and place it in the toaster to toast and thaw. As for  rolls or hamburger buns (that you can’t quickly defrost in a toaster), I leave them out on the counter to thaw at room temperature and use them within 24 hours.

Dinner Rolls (Small)Click HERE for the recipe: Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

Troubleshooting
Remember, as stated previously, the amount of liquid used (water, honey, eggs, oil), rising time, and baking time all depend on room temperature, altitude, and humidity. What works perfectly for me here in Alaska year-round may not work for someone living in upstate New York in the middle of summer.

That said, in a large 9″x5” gluten and dairy free loaf of bread, there should be 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 cups of gluten free flour/starch, 2-3 eggs, 1-3 tablespoons of honey (if there’s any honey at all), 2-4 tablespoons of oil, 2  – 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, and 1 – 2 cups of water used. Please keep in mind, these measurements may not be completely accurate for every recipe out there, but it’s a good general estimate.

If your bread loaf continues to fail even after trying these below troubleshooting tips, I suggest trying another recipe altogether.

If the bread loaf is “sticky” or “wet” in the middle.
This means that either the bread loaf wasn’t completely finished baking and was removed too soon from the oven, or there is too much liquid in the recipe for your location (again, this is where temperature, altitude, and humidity can come into play).  

To double check that the loaf is finished baking, use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature. A perfectly baked loaf will reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees (F).

If your loaf is slightly “sticky,” try one of the following:

  • Eliminate 1 egg
  • Reduce the amount of honey used to 1 tablespoon
  • Reduce the amount of oil used to 2 tablespoons

If your loaf is really “sticky” and “wet” in the middle, try one of the following and also reduce the amount of water used by 1/4 cup.

  • Eliminate 1 egg
  • Reduce the amount of honey used to 1 tablespoon
  • Reduce the amount of oil used to 2 tablespoons

If the bread loaf falls after baking, but is NOT “sticky” or “wet” in the middle.
This generally means there is too much water in the recipe for your location or too much yeast is being used. Try reducing the water used by 1/4 cup. Is it still falling even after reducing the total amount of water used? Try reducing the water by another 1/4 cup or eliminate 1 egg. 

If the bread loaf continues to fall even after reducing the amount of water used, double check your yeast. Make sure it is fresh, and that you’re using only 2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons total (this applies mostly to bread loaves and rolls, but there can be exceptions to this too).

If the outside of your bread loaf burns, but the inside is gooey and not cooked through.
Double check your oven to make sure it’s properly calibrated. If you discover your oven is significantly hotter (or cooler) in temperature than it’s supposed to be, check your instruction manual to see if it gives any instructions. Or if your oven is still under warranty, you could possibly look into having a repair done. If all else fails, there are a multitude of articles online that might help depending on your oven type.

Always bake your bread loaves on the middle rack in your oven!

DSC_0691 (Small)Click HERE for the recipe: Gluten Free Country Seed Bread

Other Concerns/FAQ Re: Making Gluten Free Bread
The cost.
If you are constantly baking bread for a large family, you are better off buying gluten free flours in 25 pound bulk bags (either from your local health food store or online) rather than picking up small 1 pound packages of flour here and there (because those little packages sure can add up quickly).

If you don’t want to invest in several different flours, find a gluten free all-purpose flour mix you like, and use that. Most of the various flours I use in my bread recipes can be exchanged for a GF all-purpose mix.

The negative about GF all-purpose mixes. Some of them are made from mostly starch and are really unhealthy. That’s the main reason why I don’t use a mix. I prefer to mix my own flours and have control of the starch and nutritional content in a given item. Please keep in mind, I’m not trying to discourage you from buying a GF all-purpose flour mix, I’m simply saying be aware. Do your homework, read the ingredients and nutrient labels and choose wisely!

It’s grainy. Bread recipes made with bean flour and/or a high content of rice flour will generally become very grainy within a day. If there’s not enough moisture used in the bread (eggs, honey, oil, water, etc), it will easily crumble and turn icky. I prefer bread made without any bean flour, and with only a slight amount of rice flour (if any at all).

Xanthan gum is made from GMO corn. I really wish it wasn’t, but chances are it probably is. Eventually I plan on making over all of my recipes to make them entirely gum free, but that’s quite a process (I’m working on it). Until that time, I will continue to use xanthan gum begrudgingly, and sparingly.

Many of you will suggest using guar gum instead of xanthan gum. Here’s the thing, I’ve use both, and although many will say xanthan gum and guar gum are interchangeable, I’ve found them to produce different results. Guar gum significantly changes the consistency of baked goods and I don’t care for it.

Chia Seeds/Flax Seeds/Psyllium Husk. Yes, they can be used to bind gluten free baked goods together – specifically bread. However, it produces a very dense bread, which is okay, but I’m still working with it to produce a lighter product. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  😉

Kiss the bread maker goodbye. Okay, maybe not completely goodbye, but using a bread maker to make gluten free bread is really touch and go. I had a brand new Panasonic bread maker and ended up giving it to a friend because it just wouldn’t work with gluten free bread (and believe me, I tried).

Gluten free bread is so easy to make that a bread maker really isn’t necessary. There is no kneading; there is generally no second rise, etc. Let me break it down for you: you make the dough, put it in a loaf pan, and let it rise for maybe an hour, and then you bake it. It’s super easy.

If you are really adamant that you have to have a bread maker, do some research and look for one that has a gluten free bread setting and that you know has gotten excellent reviews from other gluten free folks.  

I don’t have an electric stand mixer. Do I really need one to make gluten free bread? Yes. You need an electric stand mixer like a KitchenAid or something similar. Gluten free bread dough has to be whipped to get into the air into the dough and to create a perfectly smooth texture. This cannot be achieved by stirring by hand or by using an electric hand mixer. 

Need Egg and/or Yeast Free? No worries, I have you covered. Click here for my Gluten, Egg & Yeast Free Flatbread recipe.

IMG_3818 (Medium)Click HERE for the recipe: Gluten Free Oatmeal Millet Bread

So there you have it. Was this helpful? Did you try some of my troubleshooting tips and did they help you? Do you have any questions or concerns about making gluten free bread? I would love to help you – just leave me a comment below and I will try my best to answer your questions.

All my love-
Megan

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday, Make Your Own Monday, Tasty Traditions, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday and Allergy Free Wednesday.

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Ryan

Thursday 12th of November 2020

Thanks for the review and suggestions!! I ordered mine today.

Michelle Whitney

Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

Hi! I’m so excited about your oatmeal Millett bread! The first time I made it, I followed the directions to a T. My loaf ended iup being enormous! However, it was the best tasting gluten-free bread we have had. I decided to make it again, and put it in two smaller glass pans (approx 8 1/2 x 5) . The bread looked amazing when I was done baking it. However, after I took it out of the pans, it drops to at least half the size. I live in the Seattle, Washington area. I really want this bread to work! What would you recommend?

Mēgan

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

Hi Michelle, I would reduce the amount of yeast by 1/4 teaspoon, and the water used by 2 tablespoons.

Victoria

Monday 3rd of February 2020

Hi Megan! I'm experimenting with gluten free, vegan, and egg free bread right now. Yesterday was my first time making bread and I attempted to make a petite buckwheat round using Jennifer Katzinger's recipe. When I was forming the dough it was very sticky and I used brown rice flour on my station to help with forming. It came out white and hard as a rock on the outside and slightly undercooked on the inside. I pulled the bread out a little early on purpose because my bread looked deformed haha! How do I make the outside not hard as a rock? Or are buckwheat rounds supposed to be hard as a rock on the outside? I wasn't sure if it was a yeast issue, moisture issue, or if I worked the dough too much. Should I put water in the bottom of the oven for more moisture? Any tips that you can give would be great!

Thank you!

Mēgan

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Hi Victoria, It's really hard to say not being familiar with the recipe you are using. Sorry!!

MaryAnn

Wednesday 18th of December 2019

Hi Mēgan thanks so much for sharing your tips. I have tried three different gluten free bread recipes and they have all come out the same dry and dense. I used King Arthur’s all purpose gluten free flour and instant dry yeast and just added the yeast to the recipe as it stated. Also I don’t have an instant read thermometer . I am looking for a recipe that will make the bread come out soft like the kind you buy in the store and also be moist and also be able to toast it . Can you please tell me what I did wrong and could you give a recipe . Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Again for all your help.MaryAnn

Mēgan

Sunday 19th of April 2020

I would try this recipe, MaryAnn! Gluten-Free Oatmeal Millet Bread

Wendy W

Saturday 30th of November 2019

Hello - I wanted to let you know that I was just looking at xanthan gum on the Bob's Red Mill website and in the Q&A tab, a staff member writes (on Oct 30 2019) that their xanthan gum is grown using Non-GMO corn.

I really like that Bob's Red Mill now has made a "non-GMO pledge" (see https://www.bobsredmill.com/blog/healthy-living/update-our-non-gmo-pledge)

Mēgan

Monday 2nd of December 2019

Hi Wendy, thanks for that info!