Gluten Free Communion Wafers Recipe

Gluten Free Communion Wafers Recipe

In this week after Easter, I thought it would be helpful to share some more information about the sacrament of the Eucharist, or Communion, from a gluten-free point of view.

Tradition has held that the bread used for this holy rite, whether leavened or unleavened, be made from wheat. This tradition was confirmed in mid-2017 from a letter to the Diocesan Bishops, written by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the request of Pope Francis. The letter outlined that gluten must be present in the bread used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic Mass.

The Catholic Church’s Canon Law actually already spelled out this requirement in the 1990s and 2000s. It was further enumerated in 2012 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to this statement: “it is impossible to consecrate a host made of something other than wheat and water.”

Thus, celiacs and the gluten intolerant, have historically been left without a place at the communion table, unless they partook of only the wine (it is recommended that communicants receive both the Body and the Blood, but it not required in the Catholic faith). Early in this millennium, that changed, after The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration developed a “low gluten” host made from wheat starch. (To learn more about the Sisters and the development of their wheat starch host, see this PBS video.)

This host contains .01% gluten, which is approximately 100ppm gluten; however, equating that amount of gluten (37 micrograms of gluten contained in one wafer) to scientifically established tolerable daily exposure levels (6 milligrams of gluten per day), one wafer would be well within the daily amount of gluten (0.04%) considered safe to those with celiac disease. GlutenFreeHosts also offers a low-gluten wafer (<20ppm) made from wheat starch.

Whether this low-gluten wafer is acceptable to you and to your doctor is completely up to you, and is a matter of considerable debate.

There is another option for Protestants, however: make your own. Growing up in the church, I learned that part of being involved as a member of a church community meant volunteering and helping where you could. One way I have been giving of myself to my church is to periodically bake the loaves for Communion of course this means that everyone is partaking of gluten-free bread when I’m the bread baker – lucky them! If you are in need of a great gluten-free bread recipe to bake for Communion at your church (or otherwise), have a look at this beautiful gluten free artisan bread recipe.

Recently though, my church asked me to start baking gluten-free Communion wafers for every service. I knew this would require creating a large enough recipe that would produce lots of wafers at one time and have a good shelf life. When I developed the right combination, I felt I should share it with you, too! Having the Host available to everyone, in every church, should be a mission we can all unite behind.

gluten free communion Wafers - gfJules

 

A metal pyx keeps the wafers segregated and safe from cross-contamination.

Whether purchased or homemade, whether low-gluten or gluten-free, all Communion wafers for those avoiding gluten should be handled separately to prevent cross-contamination. The most common way of doing this is to place the special Hosts apart from the wheat Host, usually inside of a “pyx” — a metal, ceremonial box. These wafers are also blessed or consecrated by the priest or officiant.

Ask your church about providing gluten-free wafers for you and other parishioners, or make your own and offer them to your church for the benefit of all. Every willing person should be welcomed at the table.

Gluten-Free Communion Wafers

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Ingredients:

Method:

Preheat oven to 450° F (static) 425° F (convection).

Use a food processor or mix by hand in a large bowl: gfJules™ All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour and salt. Slowly add in the liquid while pulsing or stirring with a fork. If the dough is too dry, add additional water by the 1/2 teaspoonful in order to get dough wet enough to hold together in a ball but not be sticky.

Form a ball with the dough and pat out onto a pastry mat or clean counter well-dusted with gfJules™ All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. Pat with your fingers to flatten the dough, then roll gently in each direction until the dough is so thin you can almost see through it.

Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut and lift with a bench scraper or spatula, and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick each circle twice with a fork (I prick in both directions to make a cross shape). Roll out remnant dough to make more wafers.

Arrange all wafers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. They will not spread, so they may be placed quite close to each other on the sheets. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and lay another baking sheet on top to prevent the wafers from curling during the bake. Put an oven-safe heavy skillet on top of the second baking sheet to keep weight on top of the wafers as they bake.

Bake for 8-9 minutes then remove the second baking sheet. Continue to bake for 4-5 more minutes, until the wafers will are crisp but not browned.

Remove to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: approximately 150 wafers.

 

83 thoughts on “Gluten Free Communion Wafers Recipe

  1. Thank you SO much for this recipe!!! We are Lutheran & have a large congregation, but very few celiacs (that’s probably a good thing, right?). By the time my hubby gets his GF wafer (that they purchase), it is stale & terrible tasting. I’m going to make these (let my hubby taste test!)& tell the altar guild they need to be kept in the fridge so they stay fresh!

    • We’re Lutheran as well, Susan. That’s exactly what I do for the altar guild and they keep them in the fridge. They last a couple months that way. Hope it works out for you at your church, too!
      ~jules

  2. Pingback: New Year New Gluten Free - gfJules

    • I used a fork to press in one direction and then the other — this helps to keep the wafers from puffing up during baking, as well.
      ~jules

  3. While not Catholic, I am a Lutheran Pastor who recently was diagnosed with Celiac. I have gained a whole new perspective about communion through this process, I have actually presided over communion and was not able to take it. I am taking communion to someone tomorrow and wanted to be prepared.

    • Hi Kristi, I make these wafers for our Lutheran church and they keep them in the fridge in a sealed container, taking out only what they need for the service or for a home visit. I know so many people like us who are so thrilled to be able to take communion again, safely, since they’re gluten free and vegan. It is such a strange experience to sit out the eucharist without being able to partake; it doesn’t feel like that’s the way Jesus would want it to be, to me.
      I’m so happy to be able to help in any way, by providing information and an easy recipe for others to use. Just so you know, I’ve made my flatbread recipes for the annual synod so that everyone there could partake of the bread, and I’ve also baked the flatbreads and regular loaf bread for the whole church for communion. Every church has different customs and preferences as to what kind of bread is preferred. The wafers are just easy to make a big batch and have them around for a month or two.

  4. Thank you so much! I am one of only a few GF folks in our small congregation and while we would like to offer a GF option, it just isn’t feasible at this time. Guess I’ll have to get busy and bake some! :)

    • we also are a small congregation and I stated making these, now everyone can participate. One batch actually lasts our congregation about 4 months. After communion they place the rest in Ziploc in the freezer, take them out to the fridge on Friday and wa-la ready for Sunday.

      • That is so wonderful, Barbara! What a wonderful service for your congregation, and how inclusive. I’m so happy you ministers are open to you doing this for the church!
        ~jules

  5. Thank you so much for this valuable information. I am converting to catholicism and not sure how the church handles celiacs. Thank you again.

  6. Please ignore my last question about the temp and oil. I figured it out. This why you should not do late night cooking, lol.

  7. We had tried other flours, but they did not work well at all. I got your flour and it worked just as you described above. Absolutely amazing.

    My only issue is that it smokes really bad because the olive oil is reaching its smoke point at the 450 degree temp. Is there an alternative oil that would work better for this recipe or maybe a lower temp?

    • Erik, I’m so glad you’ve been loving using my flour! That’s what I love to hear! Glad you figured out a solution for the smoking oil, as well! :)

    • Hi Erik, I’ve been freezing them for longest shelf life, but my church also refrigerates them in sealed containers and they last for 2-3 months that way. Hope that helps!

  8. I believe every person should be able to partake of the host and wine. I am a
    sensitive Celiac who has had 2 cancers
    and 3 autoimmune diseases, receiving low gluten hosts and wine from a communal chalice is not an option for me or any celiac. Most people with celiac disease do not realize how sick you can become as the
    disease progresses or they would not
    eat low gluten hosts.

    • Thank you for sharing your opinions, Bella. I agree that everyone should be able to be served a host that is safe for them. I think Jesus would agree, don’t you?

    • Hi Breda – you should contact the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, as they are making a low gluten host from wheat starch for Roman Catholics.

    • You could certainly add a bit of sugar, if you think you would prefer the taste that way. Experiment to see where the sweet spot is – I wouldn’t think it would take much.

  9. At my church the low gluten wafers are free for those who need them. I put the wafer in my pyx, put it on the alter before Mass starts so that it can be consecrated with the other hosts. After Mass I go to the alter and take the host myself.

  10. There is also the issue at our church of dipping the bread into the wine. Most of our congregation choses to dip as opposed to sip, thus contaminating the communion wine with their bread. The church does not want to change with way we do everything b/c of cost, so there is a handful of us who sit out communion.

    • Donna – I’ve been to churches where intinction (dipping the bread into the common chalice) is the norm as well, and those churches typically offer a separate cup for those who partake of the gluten-free host. Perhaps you could introduce this idea to your church? There is no change of routine or any additional cost. Hope it works for you, too!

      • When I first started attending the church I am at now, they did not have a gf option. We also use intinction (dipping). I actually purchased gf elements myself and brought them to our Communion steward. They were more than happy to accomodate me. I am sure they would have purchased the gf elements for me, but I did not want to cause the church additional expense. It doesn’t really cost me much, because one container of wafers lasts a long time, and all the juice that is needed is a small snack-sized bottle. The only thing that could be expensive is if you have to purchase a dedicated chalice, but that would be a one-time expense. Have you talked with them about you absorbing the cost?

        • Sounds like you did all the right things, Patricia! I’m sure you paved the way for others at your church to have safe communion options, too!
          ~jules

  11. My question is that is this recipe than acceptable by the Catholic church. Our church at the time thought about just having gluten free hosts for everyone. I wasn’t sure that I could even have the low gluten hosts. I wanted to be sure so I bought my own and the priests have consecrated them.

    • It sounds like you have some very accommodating priests, Cindy! Lucky you, as I’ve heard from many others about their priests being sticklers for the low gluten host.

  12. I am Catholic and have only used Ener-G hosts. Our priests has never asked where I get them. I have my own Pyx which I place on the alter with my host and it is consecrated at the same time as the rest of the host plus we use 3 chalices so as the wine is not contaminated either. The piece of host that father puts in the wine at the consecration is only in the chalice he drinks from. He hands me the pyx and I am the only one that touches the host.

    • It doesn’t matter if the priests knows where your host comes from. If it is not of proper substance, then it will merely be a “blessed” host and not the Body of Christ.

  13. I am the wife of a Catholic deacon and am the one with gluten issues. For those who can use the ones made by the sisters, I would have you purchase a pyx to place it in and have it placed on the altar before mass, with the priest permission of course. That way it will not be contaminated and you can arrange when to come up to receive it or have it brought to you after the consecration the way it is brought to those who are unable to stand.

    • Hi Pat – great question! To keep them nice and crispy, I’d recommend freezing them and only taking out the ones you need each week. They should last for several months that way.

  14. I just found this and made the wafers, which by the way are easy. I asked our Pastor if the church would supply gluten free wafers for the 3 of us in our small church and they said they would not. He had no problem with us bringing in our own though. I am so happy to have found this and will keep a supply at our church. This is so important that I will be able to receive communion again. Thank you.

  15. I bake for communion at my seminary and I have a GF all purpose flour already. It does not contain xantham gum, so I add it. I see that the all-purpose blend you recommend has xantham gum. Should I add it for this recipe? I will be looking into changing our GF flour, but I need to use what I have!

  16. Another huge THANK YOU for this! Communion is such a meaningful celebration for me, and I have literally wept at being unable to participate since my diagnosis.

    (And to Matt, although she only addresses wafers in the post (which is, after all, a wafer recipe), there is plenty of good discussion about the wine in the comments)

    • So glad this recipe is helpful to you, Tiffany! I’m so thankful each week to have a gluten-free host. It means so much to be able to participate again!

  17. Receiving wine from a common chalice is not the correct answer. In all of this discussion, the major issue of cross contamination from wheat in the common chalice of wine is not addressed. Each person who receives the host made from wheat leaves traces of wheat in the chalice. This could trigger an allergic reaction in the gluten sensitive person. Therefore, an individual uncontaminated container of wine should be provided if the low gluten host cannot be tolerated.

    • A friend of mine speaks with the priest, sits in the front, and receives the consecrated wine before the rest of the congregation, solving this problem.

  18. Really nice post. My Catholic church actually gives me the Gluten Free Hosts! LOL. I was actually unaware that this was not really allowed. I have a new found respect for our pastor now.

    • Often times, they are called “Gluten free”, but they’re really low gluten as Jules described. I would look into it (unless you can have a little gluten in your diet, then I wouldn’t worry much.) The only completely gluten free option for Catholics is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist in one substance only, and if that’s what you need to do, I encourage you to. God bless!

  19. I got the go-ahead from my church that I can make these for the congregants who are gf (I am one of them). Can these safely be frozen? If so for how long? I am thinking of baking a few large batches 3-4 times a year instead of just before every Sunday communion is served. Thoughts? Thank you for sharing this!!! :)

    • Fantastic, Jennifer! I bake them for my church and keep them in a labeled, sealed tupperware container in the refrigerator or freezer there. They last for a long time because there is no dairy or egg. Congrats!

        • Hi Kris, so glad you’ll be able to use the recipe! I prefer to keep these sealed in the freezer, but my church keeps them in a refrigerator, sometimes for months. They are fine, but they tend to get very hard after a long time in the fridge. Hope that helps!

  20. My husband is Celiac and our Anglican church purchased rice wafers especially for him. They are placed on a small server and deposited directly into his hands without the priest touching it.

  21. Could I substitute corn oil for the light olive oil? My granddaughter who has severe food allergies can only have corn oil.

  22. I can’t believe how timely this is! I was just trying to find some options last week. My pastor has allowed me to bring my own bread and keep it with me as communion is served. It would be great to actually have a communion wafer again. And I do love everything that I make with your flour! I have now doubt that these will be perfect.

  23. I had no Idea that they were so expensive… My church just provides them. We only have a few people that need them. Unfortunately I do not have an option to make them, we are Catholic. That is awesome that you are able to and are sharing the recipe! :D

      • Hi Brenda and Jules,
        Gluten free Communion wafers are really not as expensive as you may think and far from being $1.00 each. We offer a sealed canister of 110 gluten free wafers for only $19.95. This breaks down to about $0.18 per wafer. We’ve actually seen entire churches switch over to these wafers for two main reasons: 1. They taste better than the traditional unleavened hosts and 2. They can provide the same wafer to everyone.

        • Thank you Dana for sharing this. Though I have no problem with Jules flour and use myself, one gluten free young girl at church has allergies to corn and xantham gum so even this is not an option, but these wafers are free of almost all allergens. I will look into buying these.

  24. Jules, we currently use the Benedictine Sisters’ communion wafers for those who are gluten intolerant, but am looking at other options. What grains are in your flour? I’m having a hard time finding a list of the ingredients.

  25. This is such a need!!!! When I go up for communion at church I just take the wafer back to my seat and give to my daughter. It would be nice to know they were allergy free.

  26. Just to make sure – may I use print your recipe for GF wafers in a newsletter that I write for the Fox Valley Celiacs Support group? I will credit your blog along with a note that the recipe cannot be used for commercial use.

    Thank you.

    Helen

  27. Thanks for the recipe! My husband was just commenting that gluten free wafers are very expensive for communion and that our church was looking for cheaper alternative for the GF parishioners, as there are only a few of us at this time. I’ll let you know once I try to make them!

  28. Can this dough be rolled out to make one big wafer. My belief is that all the saints should break form the same piece. Can you e-mail me the answer, please?

    • Joyce – yes, you can roll this out into one large wafer to be broken into pieces. I’d suggest rolling the dough onto a silpat or parchment that can be lifted and placed directly onto the baking sheet so that the large wafer won’t break when you try to lift it before baking.

  29. How are the gluten-free wafers served in your church? Are you concerned about contamination via the hands of the communion servers? Some people are so sensitive that they could not receive a wafer by the hand that has also served a wheat wafer. We are trying to figure out how to handle this issue in our congregation, where more and more people are being diagnosed as gluten intolerant or celiac.

    • Mari that is a definite concern. The best situation is to have a separate station for those who wish to receive a gluten-free host. The next best is to have the servers use the right hand for one kind of host and the left for the other. Please always also make sure that no one dips wafers into a common cup (intinction) or that those who need the GF wafers are drinking from a common cup. In our church, for example, everyone gets their own little cup, into which the wine is poured.

  30. Thank you thank you thank you. I cannot wait to make these and receive communion again. Thank you so much for making me feel “whole” again<3

    • Kristi – I’m so happy that this recipe will help you feel not to feel left out anymore. Having felt that so many times myself, I totally understand! Welcome back to the table! :)

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