Food and Drink For Members

How hard is it to eat gluten-free in Spain?

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
How hard is it to eat gluten-free in Spain?
In big cities and towns it's easy to find gluten-free food at supermarkets and restaurants, although it tends to cost more. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

It can often be a challenge to move to another country or travel abroad when you have a gluten intolerance and it can be made even trickier if you don’t know the language. Here's what coeliacs need to know about living and travelling in Spain.


Studies indicate that around 0.7 percent of the EU population suffers from coeliac disease, but many cases go unreported. Many more people are gluten or wheat-intolerant rather than being classed as coeliac.

Luckily Spain is becoming more and more aware of different dietary needs and many people here suffer from the disease or are intolerant too.

The Federation of Celiac Associations of Spain (FACE) estimates that there are between 600,000 and 900,000 people who suffer from coeliac disease in the country.

Eating out

According to the Spanish tourist office Madrid, Barcelona and Asturias are the regions in Spain with the most restaurants serving gluten-free food. Many establishments in these places will list whether a dish contains gluten or not, with a wheat symbol, the letters gf or sg (sin gluten).

In fact, the Asturian village of Cangas del Narcea has been named as Spain’s first ever gluten-free destination, which also celebrates National Coeliac Day every year on May 27th. You can find out more about it here

Extremadura is also becoming a coeliac-friendly destination thanks to the Gluten-Free Extremadura project, which raises awareness and promotes establishments that have gluten-free menus.

Naked & Sated is a chain of gluten-free restaurants that have establishments in Madrid, Valencia, Bilbao, Málaga and Pozuelo de Alarcón. They serve gluten-free pizzas, burger buns, toast, cakes, and French galettes, among others.

The Association Coeliacs of Catalonia has a list of some of the best gluten-free restaurants in the region and The Association of Coeliacs of Madrid has the same. 

READ ALSO: 'I pay €15 for a few potatoes' - What it's like being a vegetarian in Spain



If you’re cooking for yourself, it’s very easy nowadays to find gluten-free food in the major supermarkets. National chains with good free-from sections include Mercadona, Carrefour, Alcampo and El Corte Inglés.

All these places sell everyday items such as gluten-free pasta, bread, pizza bases, crackers, biscuits, pastry, alternative flours and more.

The bad news is that gluten-free options in supermarkets are a lot more expensive than their wheat-based counterparts. The Federation of Coeliac Associations of Spain (FACE) prepared a 'Price Report’ on specific gluten-free products and estimated that the difference in spending is an extra €1,087.72 per year.

The investigation also noted a significant increase in the price of gluten-free products of €167.57 when compared with 2023.


Spanish gluten-free food

Spaniards eat a lot of bread, that’s true, but when it comes to main dishes you’ll find that lots of Spanish food is naturally gluten-free anyway.

Paellas, meat and seafood stews, grilled fish, pisto (similar to ratatouille), and tortilla (Spanish omelette) are all made without gluten and the good news is that dishes rarely contain pastry – it’s more about the rice and the potatoes here. The main thing you’ll need to make sure is that the sauces aren’t thickened with flour.

A lot of tapas can be gluten-free too, including patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy tomato sauce) or aioli (garlic mayonnaise), pimientos de Padrón (fried green peppers), anchovies, ham and cheeses.

You can even eat a lot of the desserts that are not baked such as flan (like creme caramel), arroz con leche (rice pudding), ice cream and turrón (almond nougat)

Some classic dishes you need to watch out for are gazpacho and salmorejo (cold tomato-based soups) which contain bread, and croquetas which have bechamel sauce and breadcrumbs.

Many beers are also gluten-free in Spain, simply ask for cerveza sin gluten when you order.

READ ALSO: The best vegan and vegetarian Spanish dishes


While some people are intolerant to just wheat, others can’t eat anything containing any form of gluten, so it’s important to be aware of the vocab so you can ensure what you’re eating is safe for you.

The most important words and phrases to learn are sin gluten (gluten-free) Soy celiaco (I’m a ceoliac).

Wheat - Trigo
Barley - Cebada
Oats - Avena 
Rye - Centeno


Help for coeliacs who live in Spain

If you suffer from the disease and you live in Spain, there is actually financial aid that you can apply for in order to help with the extra cost of your shopping.

One option for aid is from the General Mutuality of State Civil Officials (MUFACE), which amounts to up to €400. Beneficiaries must be part of MUFACE and can apply for aid until December 31st, 2024. At the time of application, applicants must prove they suffer from the disease.  

There are also different regions that provide extra help for coeliacs. These include Ceuta, Melilla, Extremadura, the Basque Country, Navarra and the Canaries.

In Ceuta, depending on your family income, aid can go up to €400 per year. In Melilla, the maximum figure amounts to €780 per year per person and €1,500 per year per family unit.

The government of Extremadura and the Provincial Council of Cáceres, together with the Celiac Association of Extremadura (ACEX), provide food packages for low-income families.

The Basque Country, the Provincial Council of Vizcaya has allocated €100,000 annually in aid, which is €80 per applicant.

Navarra has allocated a total of €30,000 in aid, with a maximum of €90 per month.




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