Is Sushi Gluten Free?

If you are suffering from a condition called celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you need to make sure that every food you eat is gluten-free. If you’re both a sushi lover and have those sensitive diseases simultaneously, you have to ensure that every sushi that you put on your plate is free from gluten. Sushi can be a simple go-to restaurant meal perfectly healthy if you know how to order sushi free of gluten.

Is Sushi Gluten Free

Unfortunately, not all kinds of sushi are gluten-free, especially those containing surimi or fake crab meat, tempura, or anything made with soy sauce or a marinade. It is also possible for some sushi with wasabi and vinegar to make it have gluten in it. Therefore, sushi can be gluten-free or not depending on the ingredients used in making the dish.

You may assume that sushi is healthy since it consists of only fish, rice, and vegetables, all of which are naturally gluten-free. There are, however, plenty of places where gluten can sneak into your sushi. For instance, standard soy sauce contains wheat, and surimi is usually from wheat starch. While working with a sushi restaurant and a chef to avoid gluten-based ingredients is not difficult, you need to know which particular elements to avoid.

Kinds Of Sushi That Contains Gluten

Sushi is a Japanese dish made with rice and fish from vinegar, other seafood products, vegetables, and fruits. Usually, you eat it with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger, which have gluten in it. There are so many variations and ways to cook sushi that various factors depending on the response to it being gluten-free.

 It is often better to reach out ahead of time to the restaurant or chef to clarify which of their sushi rolls or sashimi are gluten-free. It is essential, especially if you have certain conditions that prohibit the consumption of gluten.

California Maki

California rolls almost always contain surimi or fake crab instead of real crab, especially those that come from supermarkets or less expensive “fast food” sushi-type outlets. By grinding white fish, binding it with starch and other ingredients, makers develop this imitation crab and then flavored to resemble real crab meat.


Unfortunately, wheat is almost always present in the’ starch and other ingredients’ used to make surimi. For gluten-free diets, this puts most California rolls (and all other sushi rolls that include surimi) on the “stop” list, unless you know for sure that the chef made it with gluten-free ingredients. Notice that many sushi restaurants do not know that surimi includes wheat, so you may need to double-check all ingredients in a multi-ingredient roll. If you know that the sushi restaurant specializes in serving gluten-free sushi, do not take a chance on surimi.

Tempura Sushi

Beware of sushi rolls that contain tempura-dipped vegetables and meat, in addition to surimi. Tempura batter is almost always from wheat flour. Fortunately, as they have a distinct coated and fried look, tempura-based sushi roll ingredients are very easy to recognize and avoid. To make their tempura, some gluten-free-friendly restaurants use a gluten-free batter, which should be prominently labeled “gluten-free.” Still, you have to confirm this information with the sushi chef.

Sushi With Marinated Ingredients

Marinated fish, most often unagi (freshwater eel), and salmon and tuna, are part of some sushi rolls. Virtually all of these marinades contain soy sauce, which in turn has soy sauce as an ingredient or teriyaki sauce. Most soy sauce requires wheat and is not gluten-free. Therefore, unless you know for sure that the chef prepared it with gluten-free soy sauce, you would need to steer clear of any sushi prepared with a marinade or sauce.

Wasabi, the eye-watering green paste that gives a big kick to your sushi, you’ll also need to look out for it. Many sushi restaurants do not use real wasabi. Instead, they use a mix of horseradish, mustard, and other ingredients (including coloring of green food). These additional ingredients can, sometimes, include wheat starch. It is not universal, but it does occur. It would help if you asked the restaurant to check the ingredients of its chosen wasabi product, or better yet, to bring a small container of your own 100 percent natural wasabi.

How to Order Gluten-Free Sushi?

Sushi restaurants are very healthy from a gluten cross-contamination point of view; you can sit there at the sushi bar and watch the chef cook your meal. Unless the restaurant makes lots of tempura sushi, except for the soy sauce, the sushi preparation area is usually gluten-free. Ask the server to let the sushi chef know you’re highly allergic to soy sauce while dining out at a sushi restaurant.

Suppose you want to avoid contact with any sauces or marinades that may contain soy sauce when making your order. Try ordering sashimi instead of sushi and always inquire if there’s anything on a sashimi platter in a marinade. Better yet, bring your soy sauce and wasabi that is gluten-free. 

1.Soy sauce

Finding a restaurant that recognizes and makes sushi free of gluten is the most critical move. As soon as you sit down, ask for soy sauce without gluten. If there is no gluten-free soy sauce in the restaurant or the server looks at you as if you speak a foreign language, put down your washing towel and cancel your tea order because you will not find anyone in the place who can or will make your gluten-free sushi.


Most Japanese restaurants use vinegar to heal their salmon, though not all kinds of vinegar are alike. Hence, some Japanese vinegar types are usually from the worst nemeses like wheat, barley, and rye. You should know by now that these are some of the ingredients that contain gluten.


Gluten can be hiding in your favorite sauces as well, like in some soy sauce, so be sure to inquire. Don’t think twice in asking if the chef will make it with gluten-free soy sauce, especially if you need to stick with a strict diet. Don’t worry because there are some gluten-free sauces, but they also come at premium prices.


You should never eat tempura or any other fried foods coated in a batter. Almost always, Tempura batter includes wheat flour, making it one of the vital gluten sources used in sushi. 

5.Faux fish

If California rolls are your roll of choice, make sure to avoid adding those imitation crab meats. Typically, these artificial crabs taste like a real crab by grinding white fish with starch and other ingredients, but it contains wheat. Order the real thing, or don’t order it at all, and your body will thank you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sushi is not always gluten-free. It can have gluten, depending on the ingredients used, sauces, and dips that you’ll eat with it. If you require sticking to a gluten-free diet, then make sure that you inquire about the sushi chef whether or not specific sushi is gluten-free. On the other hand, if you try to create your sushi, make sure only to buy premium gluten-free ingredients.

Is rice vinegar gluten-free?

Rice vinegar can have gluten in it, depending on how you prepare it. More often, you have to distill it with rice, and the problem is that not all kinds of rice are gluten-free. Therefore, it is best to ask the chef to make your sushi from plain sushi rice if vinegar and gluten are a problem. 

On the other hand, if you are doing your sushi, make sure to do your research and know the gluten-free ingredients from not. Even though traditional rice does not roll as neatly, it will oblige most sushi chefs.

Is teriyaki chicken sushi gluten-free?

Teriyaki chicken sushi is not gluten-free because it’s like those “tempura” sushi. However, you can always make a gluten-free teriyaki chicken sushi for as long as you pick the right ingredients. It means you need soy sauce, sushi vinegar, and teriyaki sauce with no gluten in its content.

The problem with it is that these ingredients are often expensive. However, if you have to stick to a gluten-free diet and you have the resources to buy these ingredients, do so if it would save your health.

Does mayo have gluten?

Usually, mayonnaise or mayo is from naturally gluten-free ingredients like eggs, oil, vinegar, and ginger. Occasionally, some mayo has mustard or mustard seeds and other spices. For those suffering special conditions like celiac disease, mayo products with a gluten-free mark have passed rigorous testing and are healthy to consume.


While there are various places where gluten can creep into a sushi dinner, having a healthy gluten-free meal at a sushi restaurant is relatively easy. However, at a supermarket sushi bar, it’s harder to get healthy sushi. When eating in a restaurant, it’s best to ask the sushi chef if the ingredients used are gluten-free. On the other hand, if you want to make your sushi, make sure that it matches the essential components essential for your diet.

Recent Content