Which Bisto is best for coeliacs? (and other gravies)

I spent months dithering over how to make a good gluten free gravy. To thicken I tend to use cornflour, but I’ve also heard that you can use arrowroot (something I’m yet to try).

And stock cubes… some are good, some are bad… most I’ve tried tend to result in slightly flavoured water, but this could be more my cooking skills than the quality of the product!

Personally I’m not a fan of Antony Worrall Thompson’s gluten free instant gravy granules, neither the beef or chicken variety.  I always find I have to add something extra to compensate for the lack of flavour and thickness it produces.  I can’t comment much on his range of stock cubes as I’ve only used them a couple of times.

Kallo offer a great variety of stock cubes which are gluten and lactose free, but I’m yet to really experiment much with these.

Knorr offers an extensive gluten free range, simply stock, stock cubes, stock pots and touch of taste.

Oxo = no no.

Bovril Beef  125g, 250g, 500g, Bovril Chicken 125g and Bovril Stock Cubes 12’s were gluten free, the cubes currently carry the warning ‘may contain gluten’, awaiting clarification on the other products.

And then there’s Bisto.

Where to begin.

Firstly, don’t bother yourself with the regular granules, these contain gluten, but the Bisto Best, this one always seems to come across fairly ambiguous.

Although they don’t contain gluten, the glass jars DO carry the warning ‘produced on a line that also handles wheat flour’.

This warning put me off for months.  Personally I had been avoiding anything which carried a warning like this so I emailed Bisto, spoke to Coeliac UK and fellow coeliacs on Twitter, and the result (minus a couple of personal opinions) seems pretty positive. Coeliacs CAN use Bisto Best and not worry about being glutened.

From Bisto I got the following list of products suitable for people with coeliac disease, which are also featured in the Coeliac UK food directory on page 178:

Bisto Best – Glass Jars Only
Caramelised Onion 200g
Rich & Roasted Beef 200g & 350g
Rich & Roasted Chicken 200g &250g
Rich & Roasted Pork 200g
Roasted Winter Vegetable 200g
Roast Lamb 200g

In the last couple of weeks I have used Bisto Best a couple of times and not had any bad reactions, so I’m going to keep using it.  I feel confident with the product because Coeliac UK list it in their directory and other coeliacs have used it and been fine, but I’m aware it’s very much down to the personal opinion/experience of the individual.

I guess, as with a lot of products, they have to carry certain warnings but on occasion I find this does confuse the matter and overall prevent us from eating/drinking something that is perfectly safe, because these warnings, no matter how innocent the motivation is to include them on packaging, still instils a level of fear amongst people who have to follow a strict diet due to an autoimmune disease,  food intolerance or allergy.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

NOTE: I haven’t checked the labels on every product in the brands listed above so PLEASE make sure you check the label (or your food directory) before purchasing

45 thoughts on “Which Bisto is best for coeliacs? (and other gravies)

  1. A really useful post, Laura. I have AWT’s instant gravies but I always add flavour to them, either with Knorr stockpots or the meat juices. On their own, they’re really insipid and don’t taste like the meat they’re supposed to.
    Claire x

    • Paul Finn says:

      I’ve noticed the Bisto Best vegetable gravy now says that the flavouring contains wheat! Still no the wiser as to whether it’s gluten free or not.

      • little missed gluten says:

        I’ve not seen that warning but I do know the newer jars of Bisto Best say ‘may contain wheat’ but I have been assured they’re still safe for coeliacs.

      • I too have just come back from morrisons, every jar of Bisto best has gluten in. I’m disappointed as the last jar I bought was gluten free. Time they got there act together.

    • Dell Platt says:

      I cook for my Grandson who is a coeliac and for making gravy i use Knor or Bovril cubes also the knor stock pots. i also use the bisto granules which is gluten free

  2. Thank you for your clear post and info. My son is newly diagnosed Coeliac and I’m making a beef casserole today,…opened the cupboard to find I have to bin most of the stocks I usually use. Goodness knows how todays dinner will turn out…I’ve thrown a whole load of things in there. I’ll shop or the GF options you’ve noted. Many thanks, Myra x

    • little missed gluten says:

      Hi Myra,
      You’re so welcome and I’m really glad I could help. Gravy/stock was one thing I really struggled with when I was diagnosed so I know how frustrating it can be! I hope your casserole turns out okay! x

  3. Kate Reed says:

    Thankyou! Brilliant post, I have just started to use Bisto Best too & you have answered every question I was looking for in one blog 😃

  4. Jenny says:

    Hia. I love the Kallo instant gravy granules – best tasting gravy ever (gluten free or not). Bisto Best is the next favourite as Kallo is hard to get hold of. I haven’t tried the Anthony Worrall Thompson one but I don’t think I will bother after the reviews. If you loved a gravy made with Oxo then you will love the Kallo gravy granules.

  5. Julie Dyson says:

    I’m finding beef bovril cubes hard to find now, but got some the other day, but they’re flat like knorr and really hard to break, also warns on pack they may contain gluten! So avoid the flat ones!

  6. Carol Andrew says:

    I need wheat free gravy and find I have a reaction from Bisto best and Kallo as they are gluten free but not wheat free. I am disappointed I cannot find a wheat free gravy . Has anybody found one for me to try.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for your article it was really good to read…I was using the Bisto Best for my son who has coeliac disease and is also Downs Syndrome so I never know if anything makes him feel unwell because he doesn’t say. It’s so hard to get any type of decent gravy and now he has been diagnosed with swallowing difficulties and has to have everything soft to swallow I’m desperate to find a decent tasting one. I am tempted to go back to the Bisto now as when I did use it I didn’t notice any change in his health. Many thanks again for your time to research this and to post it. Perhaps we all should get together and bombard the companies to get them to make one that we know is safe to use. There is definately a market for something.

    • little missed gluten says:

      Hi Suzanne, sorry for taking so long to reply, everyday life is getting in the way of all things blog related at the moment! I would say keep on using Bisto if you’ve seen no ill effects with it, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to say the new labels are simply a way Bisto are covering themselves with regards to new labelling laws and so far it’s an overwhelmingly positive conclusion that Bisto best is totally safe. I have come across some alternatives in supermarkets, Kallo do a sachet sauce and Sainsbury’s own ready made in a pot is gluten free so there are other options, you just have to get hunting! Good luck with everything!

  8. Jean Hunt says:

    Hi thanks for your helpful comments – just read a new warning on the bisto gravy jars that they many contain flour so I have stopped using this product. Any further news as it’s the best on the market and if it really is safe I would like to continue with it.

    • little missed gluten says:

      Hello – I’ve seen the new warning too, what I’ve seen says ‘may contain gluten’ – from speaking to other coeliacs and asking online most people are saying its totally fine to keep using. So guess it’s a judgement call!

  9. flannel says:

    I slow cook beef which results in a pond of brown liquid. I then just add salt and corn flour to thicken.
    I do the same with other meats but add a Kallo beef cube to get the brown colouring.

  10. Julie Manser says:

    Thank you, Super news. Have just become gluten free and shopping is a mine field. Notice the may contain gluten on the Bisto Best but will now try.

    • little missed gluten says:

      Apparently it’s still okay though, so say other coeliacs, I’ve not experienced any problems with it yet.

  11. Gerard Hart says:

    tonight my wife has had a serious reaction, we had gluten free sausages from asda, mashed potato, peas and gravy. The gravy was bisto best beef which we have used for several months. However when checking the label it now says,”may contain wheat(gluten) which has changed since we last checked. The labelling is now different! My wife is very sensitive and its very dissappointing to find this change!! We can now not use this product

    • little missed gluten says:

      I’m so sorry to read this, from others who had contacted Bisto we were told it was still okay, I’ve not had any reactions yet but not sure if I’ve used it since the change.

  12. Teresa cresswell says:

    Using bisto beef best on Sunday’s and Wednesday for quite some time. Last few weeks had problems on mondays and Thursday’s. Checked all I was eating. Only thing changed was labelling on bisto !! No gravy last week everything fine. Afraid to use it again Searching now Has anybody found one ??

    • little missed gluten says:

      Kallo do a packet one which is gluten free and also the ready made ones in Sainsbury’s are (off the top of my head) – I’ve not had any problems wiht Bisto Best myself and have heard from others it’s still okay to use, with the exception of the Vegetable one which now contains wheat.

  13. Mrs Andrina Hilton says:

    My husband is coeliac and I find the only sure fire way to make gravy is to do it yourself.
    Prepare your own stock from chicken carcass or other,carrot, onion, celery , black peppercorns and a bouquet garni. You can freeze to use when needed.
    I then cook my meat, skin of the excess fat then stir in GF flour or cornflour add in the saved stock. Also a touch of GF soy sauce adds a bit of colour and flavour.
    The bistro Best was always my stand by , but after several occasions use ,
    my husband started having a coeliac reaction. It’s such a shame as it was okay.

  14. Dave says:

    Morning, I’ve recently been diagnosed with coeliacs disease and thought Bisto Best was fine due to online posts. I have had mild reactions after using Bisto Best, but nothing too bad to stop me from using it in future. I made a Sunday dinner yesterday, just meat and veg and Bisto Best. This morning I felt the pain mildly in my stomach and loose-ish stools, but thankfully no serious cramping.

  15. Brian says:

    I am so confused! Recently been diagnosed – ploughing through the minefield of labels and opinions.

    In between times I have a constant tummy cramp and can’t seem to get rid of the loose bowel movements.

    Following gluten free to the letter but guess something is causing my reaction.

    Articles like this are a great help but also serve to confuse when a label clearly states may contain and the manufacturer says no it doesn’t.

    • Mrs Andrina Hilton says:

      I am the wife of a coeliac and I understand your dilemma . I used to use Bisto best but after a few episodes of coeliac symptoms I have regrettably ditched it.
      Knorr stock pots chicken, rich beef and vegetable are GF but the beef and fish don’t say GF, so I avoid those. The others are tasty.
      I use cornflour or Doves Farm GF flour to thicken meat juices then add the stock. A splash of GF soy sauce or GF Worcester sauce can aid flavour to meat dishes.
      I buy all these from Sainsburies.
      I used to buy a Free From beef gravy pouch from Sainsbury also, but haven’t seen it for a while.
      My husband has been coeliac for 8 years and I’m still learning.!

      • little missed gluten says:

        I think I need to start making my own, I’m currently on the FODMAP diet so it won’t be for a while, but I like to use the potato water also as a base, good idea with the GF soy/Worcester sauce!

    • little missed gluten says:

      Persevere! It took me about 2 years for my gut to heal and then it got worse again so currently going through the FODMAP exclusion/re-inclusion diet with the assistance of a dietitian to see what other foods aren’t agreeing with me. It is massively confusing, I will always go by the label, if it might contain it, I won’t eat it, and if it was safe surely it wouldn’t say that…

  16. Clare says:

    I have just used bisto best chicken and had a really severe reaction. Everything else was just plain roast chicken and steamed veg and have eaten at home safe all day so it must be that. Been very bad

    • little missed gluten says:

      I haven’t used it since the label change, from what I’ve heard they’re saying it’s still safe but I’ve heard of a few people who have had a reaction so I’m avoiding which is a shame as it was my go to gravy product. I hope you’re feeling better now.

      • Clare says:

        Well a few hours later my husband who is not coeliac got poorly too so I think we may have had a bug- but it was so similar feeling to glutened that I presumed that at first! So, sorry bisto! I take it back. Which I’m pleased about!

  17. Patricia Ellis says:

    Hi just been diagnosed as gluten intolerant feeling miserable especially as I love gravy hopefully more companies will realise there are a lot of us out there and improve their ranges.

    • Andrina says:

      There are more now.
      Morrissons have a gluten free gravy granules for meat by Isabel’s, in a tub similar to Bisto. Not bad
      Ocado do a Free and easy gf free vegetable gravy sauce mix
      And a packet of Orgran gf veg gravy mix that you use on its own or add to thicken or add flavour.
      With regard to stock cubes Knorr have a newish range all gf
      Their stock pots are great but the beef and fish one are not stipulated gf, the rich beef one says gf.
      I always add a dash of gf soya sauce or Worcestershire gf sauce to mince /stews to add flavour but cut down on salt seasoning.
      Making a jus by adding wine and reducing the liquid also gives a rich flavour.
      Hope these hints are helpful?

  18. Lauren Hersey says:

    Hi, I’ve just moved to spain for my year abroad and am going to make my new housemate a british roast dinner, but I know nothing about being coeliac – my mum is coming to visit on tuesday so i have asked her to bring gravy granules with her or something i can use – does anyone have a good suggestion as to what she can bring?
    Ive never made gravy from scratch but i could try that? Or is there an easy option as with normal bisto – read the above so am weary of using bisto best even though as a non celiac that is what i normally use…
    Thanks in advance! Lauren

    • little missed gluten says:

      Kallo do a sachet granule that I swear by and is 100% gluten free, lots of the stock pots are fine too but off the top of my head I forget which ones. Personally I don’t use Bisto Best anymore but the Kallo granules are nicer anyway!

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