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13 Creative Alternatives to Bread for Gluten-Free Sandwich Lovers

Thomas Keller's BLT

By now, everyone knows that living a gluten-free lifestyle isn’t just another trend that’s going to go away. Whether you have diagnosed celiac disease, are gluten intolerant, or are one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who just feels better when your overall gluten intake is reduced, choosing to live gluten-free is a decision that more and more people are reaching each day.

It’s not always easy, though, and there’s one group of people eager to explore a gluten-free lifestyle that are hit harder than anyone else: Sandwich lovers, like Elisabeth Hasselbeck or Zooey Deschanel (both diagnosed celiacs!). Because after all, what’s a good sandwich without two great slices of fresh-baked bread to serve it on? Luckily, we’ve pulled together our picks for the best sandwich substitutes, that’ll have you wondering: Hey, why was I even eating all that bread, anyway?

1. Gluten-Free Bread or Wraps
If you haven’t tried gluten-free bread in a while, you don’t know what you’ve been missing! This ain’t your grandmother’s gluten-free bread, that crumbled and fell apart when you tried to use it to make a sandwich. Thanks to advanced engineering in the world of alternative flours, gluten-free breads are fluffy, light, and so close to regular breads, you might not even notice the difference!
Try: An old-school egg salad sandwich (with romaine lettuce and bean sprouts for extra protein) on Udi’s Whole Grain Bread.

 

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2. Corn Tortillas
Hey there, amigo…did you know that most corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free? That means that almost any sandwich topper you can imagine can be folded into a perfectly respectable taco or quesadilla. Bonus points for using Mexican-style ingredients for a que autentico twist on your favorite combinations.
Try: Poached chicken with pepperjack cheese, lettuce, and tomato, folded in warm corn tortillas and eaten like a taco. Ole!

3. Corn Muffins or Cornbread
This one can be a bit tricky, since wheat flour can sometimes find its way into a traditional cornbread or corn muffin mixture. Read the ingredients carefully, or make your own, but beware…some crumbles may be a factor. Rather than fight cornbread’s tendency to crumble, just go with it; open-faced sandwiches are the way to go, here.
Try: Pulled pork with a scoop of coleslaw and a drizzle of spicy honey.

 

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4. Fritos Corn Chips
Okay, so this one may not be a safe option for anyone too preoccupied with their diets. But once in a while, as a treat, we’ve been known to scoop nacho ingredients onto beds of Fritos brand corn chips, which makes for a quick and satisfying gluten-free snack.
Try: A scoop of homemade chili and shredded cheddar cheese on a few handfuls of Fritos. “Frito Pie,” anyone?

5. Rice Crackers
We feed our own kids rice crackers all the time not just for their gluten-free qualities, but for their wonderfully satisfying crunch. But did you know that these tiny crackers make perfect vehicles for miniature snacking, in a guilt-free, bite-sized portion that will please both parents AND kids?
Try: Sliced turkey and pear, cut into bite-sized pieces, of course.

 

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6. Hostess Cherry Fruit Pies
It’s a little-known fact that in addition to being incredibly tasty and shelf-stable at all except the most extreme temperatures, Hostess brand fruit pies are also naturally gluten free. One of our favorite late-night snacks is a Hostess Cherry Pie, with all of the cherry filling carefully scooped out, and replaced with grilled boneless skinless chicken breast, spiced with fragrant cumin and coriander.
Try: Remove the fruit filling, and replace with ground beef, for a sweet-and-savory twist on a Jamaican Beef Patty.

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7. Petroleum Jelly
You already know how great petroleum jelly is at relieving chapped lips, or helping out with diaper rash from time to time. But did you ever consider how great it can be as the base to an open-faced gluten-free sandwich? It’s true!
Try: Spread petroleum jelly on a paper plate, and top with fresh roasted turkey, homemade gravy, and serve with cranberry sauce, to make the ultimate Thanksgiving leftover snack!

 

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8. “Pink Panther” Brand Attic Insulation
This one’s for our readers with appetites that are larger than life, because these suckers are HUGE! The fluffy texture of the insulation is unmistakable, and your guests will love the vibrant pink color of this classic brand.
Try: For a perfect party platter, roll out 3-4 feet of insulation, and top with assorted cold cuts, sliced cheeses, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes. Game on!

 

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9. Driftwood
Calling all beachcombers! Don’t let your next day at the shoreline result strictly in tears, jellyfish stings, and painful sunburns…use it as an opportunity to gather ingredients for your next sandwich, as well! Seasoned driftwood adds a delightfully salty brine to any sandwich, and is perfectly paired with fried fish or dried meats, like genoa salami or spicy capicola.
Try: Tinned sardines with Swiss cheese paired with a refreshing summery wine, like a Cava or even a chilled, inexpensive Rose.

 

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10. Recycled Computer Motherboards
Don’t let that hulking desktop computer that you bought in the 90s sit gathering dust in the family room, when you can crack the case and salvage many of the internal components to make satisfying sandwiches. In our family, we like to make a large sandwich that can be easily divided, like a muffeleta, and then see which one of us is lucky enough to bite through one of the capacitors, discharging stored electricity and shutting down one lucky diner’s entire central nervous system.
Try: Dry ingredients are better for this one; get creative with shredded lettuce, onions, or cabbage, or even leftover (gluten free!) pasta.

11. Copper Roofing Nails
These can be tough to work with, due to their tendency to absorb spreads and jams, turning into a giant mass not unlike a dirty snowball that’s been rolled around an automotive junkyard. But show some patience, and you’ll be rewarded with a gluten-free sandwich that your neighbors will be jealous of.
Try: Spread cream cheese and minced gherkins on a thin layer of copper roofing nails for a crunchy sandwich that’s full of surprises!

Photo: Flickr/Wbaiv

12. Balsa Airplane Parts (Wings and Fuselages)
Attention hobbyists! Have you ever noticed that after you build a balsa wood glider (or even one of those fancy balsa wood airplanes, with the red plastic propeller and the twisted rubber band that powers it), it only take a few flights before you’re left with a pile of balsa wood splinters, suitable only for the kindling needed to build a tiny dollhouse fire? Don’t throw those smashed model airplanes away; crushed up wings and fuselages make the ideal base for classic sandwiches.
Try: A BBLT (Balsa, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) with lots of creamy mayonnaise.

13. Hot Molten Aluminum
For anyone that’s trying to reduce their gluten intake AND count calories, using hot molten aluminum in your sandwich creations can be a godsend. The next time you are tempted to the breaking point by a piece of traditional toast, try pouring hot molten aircraft-grade aluminum directly into your toaster. You’ll find that not only is the toast ruined, but your toaster won’t be tempted any time soon, either.

Written by Malcolm Bedell

Malcolm is the author of “Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road,” as well as a frequent contributor to Serious Eats, Down East Magazine, The L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and more. When not poisoning his body with garbage and then posting sardonic commentary about it on the Internet, he also owns and operates the ‘Wich, Please food truck, named Eater.com’s “Hottest Restaurant in Maine” for 2015.

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