Given the length of this section, feel free to skip ahead to the specific information that you may require.

Living Gluten-Free in Germany Could Be Better But Also Could Be Worse
How to Recognize Gluten in Products Sold In German Supermarkets
Some Exceptions to the Rule That You Should Know About
What about Gluten-free Oats?
Gluten-free Brands to Look Out For
Manufacturers in Germany that make Certified Gluten-free Products and their brand-names
Where to Shop for Special Gluten-free Products in Germany
Supermarkets that carry gluten-free products
Delicacy Sections of Department Stores
Large Organic Supermarkets and the smaller Reformhaus
Drugstores in Germany that carry gluten-free products
Gluten-free Products in Ethnic Supermarkets
Places not to look for special gluten-free products
Purchasing gluten-free foods online
Finding Gluten-free Bakeries

Living Gluten-Free in Germany Could Be Better But Also Could Be Worse

On a scale of one to ten, living gluten-free in Germany is probably as easy as a seven, maybe a five if you don’t speak the language. The average person still doesn’t know what gluten is or which foods contain it.


During past years there’s been a steady increase in awareness about food allergies and gluten. Meanwhile many people will at least make an effort to categorize gluten. It rings a bell and they suspect it is an allergen, but they’re not sure. They may answer “Sure, we have lactose-free products!” So yes, there is still vast room for improvement!


The availability of gluten-free foods in German supermarkets and restaurants also increased manifold since I went gluten-free. We have a huge variety of options in Cologne and other large German cities – particularly in the area of Germany that constitutes the former West. Plus, there is a growing set of resources available through the internet. The number of brands and shelf space for gluten-free products is much higher than ever before. Most larger supermarkets and drug stores carry special dietary foods suited for consumptions by people with celiac disease.

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How to Recognize Gluten in Products Sold In German Supermarkets

How to recognize gluten? The good news: it’s not that hard as you can read in the gluten-free shopping in the EU-section!


You essentially need to pay attention to the above mentioned terms, which on their own or used in combination with other words (e.g. –mehl (flour), –gries (grits), –malz (malt)) indicate the product contains gluten.

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Some Exceptions to the Rule That You Should Know About

FYI: Finding the words –mehl, –gries– and –malz on their own or in combination with another word than on the list below, shouldn’t worry you, since the allergens must always be mentioned by name.


Flour, grits and malt are also made from gluten-free grains, e.g. corn (Mais), rice (Reis). Since these are not considered allergens according to EU food labelling legislation, their origin does not have to be declared. The only form of wheat (Weizen) permitted with celiac disease is buckwheat (Buchweizen).

Please also be careful with other terms such as couscous (which is mostly made from wheat in Germany) or the German term for pearl barley (Graupen).

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What about Gluten-free Oats?

Now, about oats (indicated in the list above as Hafer). As everywhere: please only purchase certified gluten-free oats. They can either bear the gluten-free symbol or have the words glutenfrei written on the packaging. glutenfreeoatsbauckhof

The German Coeliac Society only started certifying gluten-free oats in early 2016. A product that includes glutenfreier Hafer is safe to eat (provided oats agree with you). The same applies to gluten-free wheat starch (glutenfreie Weizenstärke).

Oat Cake made from gluten-free oats
Example of a non-certified gluten-free oat product.

You may also come by products that contain Gerstenmalzextrakt (barley malt extract, which has gluten) but are certified gluten-free. These products are carefully monitored by the German Coeliac Society and safe to eat for people with celiac disease, because their gluten-content is below 20 ppm and regularly tested. Common examples are gluten-free beer or chips distributed by Cologne-based Intersnack, e.g. the Chio-brand. Chio is pretty amazing – they certify their chips and thus make it much easier for people with celiac disease to recognize apt products! Plus, they also label their vegetarian products, which is also a nice touch! 🙂


Not everyone likes to eat these products though, either out of principle or because they find they don’t agree with their stomachs.


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Gluten-free Brands to Look Out For

Dr. Schaer, the largest manufacturer of gluten-free products in the world is a very popular brand all over Europe and in the world. Products from the Dr. Schaer brand are easily recognizable due to their bright yellow packaging. Their products are mostly not organic, and you can purchase them almost anywhere. The downside: Schaer has a huge share of the global gluten-free market and is known for its aggressive business tactics in the gluten-free industry, because it regularly eliminates competition by purchasing other manufacturers (sadly this also eliminates product variety).


Regardless of what you may think of them, Schaer has done a superb job at recreating anything glutinous in a gluten-free version, such as flour-mixes, chocolate wafers, crackers, sliced white bread, croissants, snack pretzels, cookies of all kinds, wraps, cereals and pizza bases. Their frozen product line includes bread and buns, thin and thick pizza pies, ice cream in cones, puff pastry, lasagna and cakes. Their frozen pizza pie used to be my favorite gluten-free product ever, until they changed the recipe.

The products by the Schaer brand are a life-saver for more than one person with celiac disease and surely contributed to making us feel less ostracized when it comes to our dietary needs. Whenever I am invited to a glutinous household or a friend or neighbor wants to gift me with something, the chances are quite high the product will be from the Dr. Schaer brand as it’s so widely available.


In Italy they coach doctors and also restaurants, and thus not only sell their products, but also assist in making gluten-free options being available more widely.

While widely available, I’m not the largest fan of Schaer products. They are full of starches and sugar and have a very distinctive Schaer taste. Still, there are products that I do really like and therefore purchase.

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Manufacturers in Germany that make Certified Gluten-free Products and their brand-names

Luckily, we also have a large variety of German manufacturers such as 3Pauly, Alnavit, Bauckhof, Hammermühle, Hanneforth, Poensgen, Schnitzer and Seitz – just to name a few. Drugstore chain Rossmann and supermarket chain Rewe, have put out their own-lines of allergen-friendly foods, called EnerBio (essentially repackaged products from Bauckhof or Schnitzer plus a few other things) and ReWe Frei (repackaged products by Spanish manufacturer ProCeli). alnaturaglutenfreepasta2

I like the quality and taste of the products made by these smaller manufacturers in addition to the fact that they are organic (which is something you will look for if you are interested in eating healthily).glutenfreeshelftegut

My favorite German brand is probably Bauckhof. Their products are of particular high quality and taste, they often specify vegan recipes on the back of their packages. They have a great variety of gluten-free flours, cake and cookie mixes and a lovely range of breakfast cereals and oat-based products. I can’t recommend purchasing from them enough, for they are the most charming and authentic company in the gluten-free market.

Moreover you can be on the look-out for Genius products, such as toast or muffins. They recently have become available on the German market, but are already known in The Netherlands and their original market, the UK. The products in the Netherlands are sold fresh and can be frozen. The products sold in Germany are defrosted in the store and cannot be re-frozen (a huge disadvantage compared to what the Dutch get, especially since so many of us who eat gluten-free tend to purchase foods in bulk as we can’t buy everything everywhere all the time).

If you are looking for a variety in frozen foods, you can look for Wagner’s gluten-free frozen pizza (made with gluten-free wheat starch), available in two kinds (Margherita – which is just tomato sauce and mozzarella – or with salami).


Obviously, go out and purchase whatever you feel looks appealing and make up your own mind after a couple of bites. Tastes vary depending on the person and our upbringing, and whatever I may find best, may not float your boat at all!

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Supermarkets that carry gluten-free products

Common supermarket chains in Germany are Edeka, Globus, Kaiser’s, Kaufland, Handelshof, Real, Rewe, Tegut… or Tengelmann.

They may have a special gluten-free shelf (which you sometimes need to look for behind other shelves). glutenfreehidingplacesedeka

Can you spot the gluten-free flour?

Others (such as Kaufland) opt to distribute their gluten-free products all around the store. You will thus have to search for bread where the bread is, find the pasta with all the glutinous noodles, etc.


Popular German supermarket types are so-called “discounter-supermarkets” such as Aldi Süd, Aldi Nord, Lidl, Netto, Norma or Penny.

Picture of a Netto Store


Their system is fairly easily explained: they have a ground stock of products that is always available in all of their supermarkets. Then they have weekly offers (e.g. Spanish or Greek week) and seasonal lines (e.g. for Easter and Christmas candy), which recently also included the occasional gluten-free candy bar or crackers. While they did not carry special gluten-free foods until fairly recently, they have steadily expanded during 2015 and 2016. Lidl now carries gluten-free pizza (sadly only one kind that has Salami) and gluten-free bread mixes. Both Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord carry two types of gluten-free bread and even pasta. It’s definitely worth visiting them for your definitely gluten-free groceries (e.g. vegetables and dairy products) and seeing if they have something else that you may like.

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Delicacy Sections of Department Stores

While you might not shop for your basic gluten-free infrastructure in the gourmet sections located in the basement of the department stores of German pedestrian zones as it’s kind of pricey (even if the quality is excellent). Look for Kaufhof or Karstadt. They sell lots of products that you can also get at ethni food stores, but they sometimes have a wide range of US-made products (such as Swiss Miss cocoa) that aren’t available elsewhere, plus many high-end chocolate brands or wonderful tea, spice and coffee selections.


It can still be fun to shop there though, because they carry all sorts of other fun food that you cannot purchase anywhere else –also products from abroad which you can’t get anywhere else, except maybe the internet – and their produce section is usually very exciting (albeit a bit pricey).

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Large Organic Supermarkets and the smaller Reformhaus

For a larger selection of gluten-free bread, gluten-free cereal and gluten-free oats, it’s also worth paying a visit to organic supermarkets, such as Alnatura, BASIC, Denn’s, TEMMA or Veganz.


These larger organic supermarkets are often the only physical source of certain brands that you can only come by over the internet.


Such as this wonderful Swiss brand called Ppura.


Also be aware of the original organic supermarket called Reformhaus, which is a generic (certified) term for an independently–owned, smaller organic store, where you will find a great range of organic, predominately whole-grain gluten-free flours and a large selection of gluten-free products from different brands that are not available in conventional supermarkets.


Reformhäuser can be found near pedestrian zones or residential areas of larger cities and are also part of the standard infrastructure in large shopping malls out in the periphery of the cities or rural areas.reformhausshelfgourmari

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Drugstores in Germany that carry gluten-free products

Most drugstores (Drogerie) such as Budni, DM or Rossmann carry gluten-free products.


Every DM store in Germany carries products from Schaer, albeit the number of items greatly varies depending on the store-size and location.


They always have flour, cookies, bread and pretzels though, so you are guaranteed to find something.

Rossman has developed the EnerBio brand, which features everything from gluten-free baguette to nut-based gluten-free candy bars and falafel mixes.


You won’t find all of their gluten-free products in all of their stores, so it’s a bit about getting lucky, too.

Anyway, they indicate on the product whether it is gluten-free, and even have a small labelling system for shelf compartments (although I would still check the product, there is probably much more you can buy that is gluten-free, but that does not carry the gluten-free certified label).


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Gluten-free Products in Ethnic Supermarkets

I recommend checking out the local Italian supermarkets, if there are any in your area, as chances are quite high that they will carry gluten-free products of high quality that you can’t find anywhere else.

For example, there are Italian Supermarkets. They predominantely cater to Italian restaurants, but anyone can shop there.

andronacoglutenfreecrackersIn Cologne and Hamburg, it’s absolutely worth visiting Andronaco.


They have frozen pizza and focaccia from a brand called Glutens.


They offer gluten-free pasta from the Barilla, Garofalo and other brands, plus cookies and crackers from the Galbusera Zero Grano-range and fresh pasta (ravioli, thicker spaghetti and tortigilioni) from the Lo Scoiattolo-brand in their refrigerated section.glutenfreepastaandronaco

Aside from the special gluten-free products, they also carry a huge selection of tomato sauces, Italian cheeses, coffee and candy that are usually hard to come by.

Asian Supermarkets are a also great address for gluten-free shopping.asiansupermarket

You will definitely find gluten-free products that you cannot purchase anywhere else.


They update and change the products on their shelves often (which can also mean that you may not find what you came there for), so it’s always exciting and fun to shop there.


Asian supermarkets sell anything from rare to come by vegetables (such as plantains and cassava root or special types of mushrooms) to sorghum grains, a huge selection in rice and rice-based noodles, gluten-free wraps for making spring rolls, gluten-free soy, tamari and other sauces as well as lots of frozen and fresh  delicacies. Some even carry ethnic foods from other cultures, such as Harina P.A.N. or fufu.

asiansupermarketshelfIn Cologne, I often visit the two Asian supermarkets at Eigelstein (Glücks Supermarkt and Ho’s Supermarkt near Cologne Central Station) or at Seng Heng supermarket on Mauritiussteinweg (near Neumarkt) or Heng Long on Aachener Strasse.glutenfreeasiansupermarketfinds

Latin American food is also quite free from gluten, so I also often visit Hola Mundo, a small store owned by a Peruvian woman with a huge range of Latin American ingredients and products. (She also sells her stuff over the internet, just in case you are interested.) Many large German cities, such as Munich or Berlin, have Latin American Supermarkets or online shops. They’re a great resource for anyone on a gluten-free diet.


They even have a freezer with white corn for humintas al horno or humintas en chala al horno, arepas and other wonderful foods that you cannot purchase anywhere else. Hola Mundo recently opened a store in Düsseldorf.


I wish I could recommend the English Shop in Cologne for special gluten-free products, but unfortunately they don’t (yet) see enough demand for this. They are a lovely place to get good British tea, Cadbury chocolate and cheddar though and cider.

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Places not to look for special gluten-free products

If you are ever on the road, say by bus or car, it’s recommended that you shop for your gluten-free meal prior to leaving. There are supermarkets in central stations of large cities (even open on Sundays when all other stores are closed). They will have a smaller or larger selection of regular supermarket products (so don’t worry, you’re not going to starve!) targeted at people who want to cook themselves a small meal or just eat something on the road (think cheese and glasses of pasta sauce), some even carry a small selection of fruits and vegetables, but they are highly unlikely to offer any gluten-free bread or pasta.

Rewe ToGo at Cologne Central Station

While you will always be able to purchase something (albeit at a horrendous price, and probably not particularly healthy) at the so-called Rasthof or Autobahnraststätte along the Autobahn, it will not be gluten-free crackers or bread or even yoghurt.


Plus, their prices compare to that of stores at airports and you will be getting a much less nutritious meal thrown together from ice-cream, chips, candy bars and – if you are lucky – nuts.  Finding a contamination-free gluten-free meal at one of the Rasthof restaurants is unlikely unless you are willing to have a longer conversation with the staff. So, if you are planning to be on the road for a longer drive, you may want to plan ahead accordingly and make a sandwich at home.

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Purchasing gluten-free foods online

There is a huge online market for gluten-free foods, and most of these online shops have a very similar stock of goods. There is FoodOase, GlutenfreiGeniessen, Glutyfreeshop (they are a cute family-run business located in Cologne, but not a physical store. You can call to make an appointment to shop with them on-site though, thus eliminating shipping costs) and Querfood,  just to name a few. I do purchase some items online and place an order a few times a year. I mostly order special flour mixes or products from British, Italian or Spanish manufacturers that I cannot come by in regular stores in Cologne. Some of these stores will even sell freshly manufactured baked goods.

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Finding Gluten-free Bakeries

After the first six months of living gluten-free, I got kind of sick of eating purchased bread. I began baking on my own. This is not only much cheaper but also much tastier and a whole lot less calories for a higher amount of satiation and lower blood sugar. I don’t even bother to purchase a new line of gluten-free bread when it hits the shelves, because there is no doubt in my mind that I have no need for it. Many people don’t want to go through this effort, for a variety of reasons, and they can by ordering fresh gluten-free bread and other baked products online or visiting a shop near where they live. We often travel quite a bit in order to stand in a room full of freshly gluten-free baked goods though. When we do, we have been known to get very emotional, or to even cry. Germany is, after all, the land of bread, and I’m happy to declare that we have some truly skilled gluten-free bread bakers among us. This list of gluten-free bakeries is not all-encompassing and will sure expand with time (albeit changes may not show up on the list right away).

Die Maisterei

Picture of the Maisterei bakery

Die Maisterei was opened by Robert Matheis and his father, who used to run an organic bakery in central Germany, near Frankfurt am Main in the center of Germany. They opened their first store and their online shop in 2013, and have been actively influencing the gluten-free bread market and expanding and improving their catalogue of breads, buns and flour mixes since then. They have also added to the number of stores operated by them (open two days a week) to three in the area around Giessen and Frankfurt, and have acquired partner distributors in other German cities (sadly Cologne isn’t one of them yet). They are regularly featured in German media and have won several business-related prizes. As of 2015 you can also purchase fancy cakes through their Maisterei Torten shop (e.g. for birthdays or weddings) based on your individualized ideas.

Jute Bäckerei


This organic bakery in the heart of Berlin opened in late 2014. While Jute Bäckerei doesn’t have an online shop, their business has been thriving. All sweet baked goods are named after women, bread and buns carry male names.

If you’re in the city, you must pop by for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. If you are set on eating something in particular, I suggest calling ahead and asking them to hold the item(s) back for you as they usually sell out fast. No worries, they speak English!

Bäckerei Onder de Linden

Eric Onder de Linden opened a gluten-free online shop called Bäckerei Onder de Linden in Cologne-Dünnwald in late 2015. He sells vegan bread, made from sprouted gluten-free grains and his bakery is opened one afternoon a week for those who want to pick up their order in person on Thursdays.

Konditorei Schenkel


Karl Schenkel used to run the Café Spring in Augsburg, a Bavarian city about an hour north of Munich. I’m not one to get emotional when I eat, but as I bit into my first cake made by Karl Schenkel I almost weeped. It tasted just like the cake my late grandmother used to make – sweet, but not too sweet, the combination of butter and eggs just right. Every other piece of cake I ate at Café Spring tasted of my late grandmother, the shortcrust cookies filled with jam in particular made my heart jolt. The buns I purchased that day were also a revelation in terms of softness and taste. That day, I briefly chatted with the grand master, and told him how much I had loved visiting. Turns out he’s not just an amazing baker, but a charming human being, too! I love his zest for a delicious piece of pastry and will for experimenting. All it took for him was a former regular client explaining she could no longer eat his products – and he made his entire store gluten-free! (Must have been some client!) In late 2015 Karl Schenkel gave up the lease at Café Spring and opened his own Konditorei Schenkel in Aichach, about thirty kilometers out of Augsburg. I’ve not been there, but have been told it’s still really excellent!

Isabella Glutenfreie Patisserie

One of my favourite places in the world is Isabella’s Gluten-free Patisserie in Düsseldorf. glutenfreeisabelladuesseldorfI’m lucky enough to live just a short drive away so that I can regularly indulge in the delicacies that await at this magical place. 09-isabella-kl The patisserie is run by Isabella Krätz and her family, who all abandoned their jobs in order to fulfill this particular dream. You can tell Isabella used to work in the fashion industry, everything about the patisserie is perfect – the atmosphere, the staff and everything you can purchase there. Their products are made with a high standard to raw materials, texture and taste and it’s pretty amazing what they do there day in and day out. Isabella sells not only their signature tartelettes, but also bread loaves, buns, brioche, small quiches, sandwiches and focaccia. Obviously, if you are ever in need of a cake, they will also custom-bake your order.08-isabella-neu-kl

They opened their patisserie in Oberkassel (a posh district of the already very posh Düsseldorf) in summer of 2015, and have since expanded to a second (take-away) store at the (also very posh) Kö-Galerie. I recommend going to the café in Oberkassel for breakfast and then buying everything that entices your palate to go. 07-isabella-neu-kl

The number of bread types on offer on weekends are a little limited, so if you have your heart set on a particular bread type, make sure to call ahead to ask them if they can save you a loaf. If you go there for breakfast, I also suggest making a reservation ahead of time (they are busy!) and getting there early.

Other options

Products by Böcker and Hanneforth are also available in regular German bakeries. You usually order them by a deadline and can then pick up your bread or buns on delivery day, usually a couple of days later. For Cologne, this website can be of interest.

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I hope you found this section useful. If you have any recommendation for additional gluten-free shopping options within Germany, let me know in the comments below! 🙂