Is Ice Cream Gluten Free?

In its purest form, ice cream made from milk, cream, and sugar is gluten free. However, many brands include gluten-containing ingredients, like cookies or wheat-based fillers and thickeners. But don’t worry! You can easily find gluten free ice cream at most grocery stores or make your own. Let’s delve into how ice cream is made, which flavors are safe on a gluten free diet, and what to watch out for.

In a Nutshell: Is Ice Cream Gluten Free?

Theoretically, plain ice cream is naturally gluten free. You can definitely find gluten free ice cream, although the flavor options may be limited. But that’s not a problem! You can purchase plain vanilla gluten free ice cream and customize it with your favorite mix-ins at home. Think of a luscious salted caramel sauce, rich chocolate chips, or even crumbled gluten free peppermint candy canes. Your gluten free ice cream will be the envy of everyone!

Ice cream itself doesn’t contain gluten as it mainly consists of dairy products like milk, cream, and whey, along with sweeteners and flavorings. The issue arises from the addition of thickening and stabilizing agents, which are often made from wheat or wheat derivatives due to their cost-effectiveness.

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Moreover, some brands incorporate gluten-containing add-ins, such as cake or cookie pieces, and the cones and sandwich elements are typically not gluten free. Always check the label and opt for certified gluten free products.

What is Ice Cream Made From?

At its core, ice cream consists of milk, cream, water, and sugar, containing at least 10% fat. The fat content helps maintain a smooth texture and allows the flavors to distribute evenly.

The ice cream mixture is churned to introduce air and prevent the formation of large ice crystals. This churning process is what gives us the delightful and soft texture we all love.

Other components, like stabilizing agents such as guar gum, provide structure. Sweeteners like sucrose, fructose, or corn syrup add sweetness and prevent the ice cream from freezing solid. Flavorings and add-ins enhance the taste.

What Brands of Ice Cream are Gluten Free?

Thankfully, with the increasing awareness of gluten-free diets, numerous companies now offer ice cream that is likely safe for those avoiding gluten. While most brands don’t offer certified gluten free options, Ben & Jerry’s stands out as an example, providing plenty of flavors that are certified gluten free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

Many mainstream ice cream brands, such as Breyers, Tillamook, Häagen-Dazs, and Dreyer’s (also known as Edy’s), usually state that their ice cream products are gluten free, except for mix-ins like brownies, cookies, or cake.

Although these brands don’t have dedicated gluten free facilities, they comply with the FDA’s requirements for using the “gluten free” label. Additionally, there are dairy-free alternatives, like Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss and Vanilla Island, which contain no added sugars and are certified Gluten Free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).

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Here is a partial list of ice cream brands to consider when searching for gluten free options:

  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Alden’s Organics
  • Straus Family Creamery
  • Talenti
  • Coconut Bliss (dairy-free)
  • So Delicious (dairy-free)
  • Nada Moo (dairy-free)
  • Rebel
  • Bubbies
  • Cado
  • Breyers
  • Arctic Zero (dairy-free)
  • Whole Foods Market Organic Ice Cream
  • Luna & Larry’s (dairy-free)

Remember to read labels carefully and consider the manufacturer’s practices to avoid cross-contamination.

What Flavors of Ice Cream are Gluten Free?

All single flavor ice creams are typically gluten free, with popular options like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. However, be mindful of inclusions like cookies or brownies that may contain gluten, as they can cause cross-contamination.

When a company incorporates ingredients like cookies or brownies into their ice cream, it’s crucial to ensure they follow strict safety protocols to prevent cross-contamination. Look for companies that take extra precautions in their production process to lessen the potential risk of gluten exposure due to shared equipment or ingredients.

Before consuming any ice cream product, read labels carefully and contact the manufacturer if you have any questions about their production process.

Cross Contamination

Although plain ice cream typically doesn’t contain gluten, there is a risk of cross-contamination in certain products. Manufacturers must take necessary precautions during the production process, such as avoiding fillers derived from wheat and ensuring their ice cream is manufactured and handled separately to prevent cross-contamination.

Individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should be mindful of these risks and read labels carefully. Certified gluten-free products from trusted organizations are more likely to be safe from cross-contamination.

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Here are a few of my favorite homemade gluten free ice cream recipes for you to try:


Are any Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors gluten free?

Yes! Ben & Jerry’s now offers several flavors of certified gluten free ice cream, including:

  • Cherry Garcia® (classic, nondairy, and frozen yogurt)
  • Phish Food (classic and nondairy)
  • Chunky Monkey®
  • Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz®
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Split
  • Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
  • New York Super Fudge Chunk®
  • Pistachio Pistachio
  • Salted Caramel Almond
  • Boom Chocolatta® (nondairy)
  • Karamel Sutra® Core (nondairy)

Can I order gluten free ice cream from an ice cream shop?

Sometimes, yes. When you’re out and about and craving ice cream, first check if the ice cream itself contains gluten-containing ingredients. Then, inquire about cross-contamination during processing and serving at the shop.

If the workers are willing to change their gloves and use a clean ice cream scoop to serve your gluten free ice cream, that’s usually safe enough. However, each person has their own comfort level, so it’s essential to communicate your needs and concerns.

Can I have gluten free ice cream in a cone?

Absolutely! But you’ll need to purchase packaged gluten free ice cream cones or make your own gluten free sugar cones. Here are some packaged gluten free ice cream cone brands that I highly recommend:

  • “Let’s Do Gluten Free” and “Let’s Do Organic” gluten free cones (Edward & Sons)
  • Joy gluten free cones

Enjoy your gluten free ice cream adventures!

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