Living Gluten Free in China

by Tara
(Beijing, China)

Searching for
Gluten Free Chinese Food:

"Which of the buns or dumplings are gluten free?"

I was actually wondering why no one had published a gluten free travel book. You're a genius!!!

I was diagnosed with celiac 18 months ago and I was determined not to stop living abroad even though its a lot easier in the UK to deal with.

I've been living in Asia since and have recently moved to Beijing, China. I have to say I lived in Korea for a year and traveled in India and Southeast Asia, and Beijing is proving to be difficult. Mostly because of the hidden soya sauce in foods–I'm very good at avoiding the obvious. In fact I thought I could take a little gluten but now some symptoms have re-appeared and it’s a no go. Basically I have to be more strict with myself. Cooking at home seems to be the easiest option for the most part.

Anyhow, I love this blog. Perfect for a traveling celiac and any tips you have about china would be great.

I was wondering which of the buns or dumplings are gluten free? They all look deadly wheat-ly to me.

Thanks for the tips and if I find any interesting gluten free Chinese food while I'm in China I will be sure to keep you updated.


Tara's Question

I was wondering which of the buns or dumplings are gluten free? They all look deadly wheat-ly to me.


    Hi Tara,

    Thanks so much for your enthusiastic compliments. I don't know about the genius part, but I'm having fun and making new friends. I'm really glad you like the site.

    In my search for gluten free Chinese food, I've found some great stuff.

    I wouldn't be able to tell you for sure which buns you see in markets and restaurants are gluten free, but what I can do is tell you about some things to look for that are made with rice flour rather than wheat flour, at least sometimes, and some other options.

    And I couldn't say if they have soy sauce in them, but often there is seasoning in the form of a dipping sauce, so there might not be soy in the food itself.

    As far as things that really look suspiciously "wheat-ly", I'll divide these into 2 categories: buns (includes "cakes" and "cookies") and wraps. I've listed some of the main ingredients they may have...

    Buns, Cakes, Cookies: some of these could have fillings so you have to ask about soy sauce. 

    • Rice flour dumplings: glutinous rice flour, salt and water are the dough ingredients, filling may be sweet or savory
    • Chinese New Year Dumplings: glutinous rice flour, bean paste, cassia, sesame, sugar
    • Steamed date cookies: glutinous rice flour, dates, walnuts, sesame seeds, sugar
    • Jien Duy: Chinese New Year's cookies: sesame seed filling, sugar
    • Green pea "cake" cookies: split peas, corn starch, sugar
    • Chinese almond cookies: rice flour, almonds, sugar
    • Chinese tea cookies: glutinous rice flour, tapioca starch, a filling of some sort
    • Gum Lu cakes: rice flour, honey, nuts, eggs, goose fat
    • Lai Yut— flaky dessert dumpling: rice flour, lycheenut or date/walnut filling
    • Nián gāo: another Chinese New Year cake made with rice flour

    Wraps: you'll need to make sure the filling doesn't have soy sauce.

    • Potato crescent wraps: glutinous rice, potatoes
    • Cheong fun rice noodle wraps: rice flour
    • 芋角 wu gok—Taro dumpling: mashed taro stuffed with things like shiitake mushrooms, shrimp or pork, then deep-fried
    • 蛋餃 pinyin dànjiǎo— egg dumplings: filling is wrapped with egg

I don't have any recipes posted yet but when I do I will link from here, and from the China section of the Gluten Free list of Asian Foods. If you're curious about any of these in particular, let me know in the comments below, and I'll post a recipe for you.

If you want to get notified when I post recipes, be sure to follow me by RSS, Twitter, or Facebook.

Best wishes, and kudos for tackling the gluten challenge in China!


Please let us know if you've been to China and how you coped with the gluten in the food there, especially soy sauce. What foods did you find that were safe? Or did you have to cook your own?– just scroll down and write your comments below...


        Gluten Free list of Asian Foods

Don’t forget to check out these popular pages:

Gluten Free Around The World Pages To Check Out

Easy Gluten Free Recipes

Gluten Free Living Forum

Gluten Free Recipes

Blanched Almond Flour Review

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