Is Ice Cream Gluten Free? Not always. The good news is, gluten-free ice cream does exist, or you can make it yourself! Below, we cover how ice cream is made, which brands are safe to eat, and what ingredients to avoid. Plus, 14 no-churn gluten-free ice cream recipes that you can make at home!
In its purest form, ice cream is made from ingredients that are naturally free from gluten: milk, water, and sugar. For this reason, single-flavor varieties like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are more likely to be gluten-free. However, many commercial ice cream brands also add wheat-based additives like fillers, thickeners, and stabilizers. Gluten can lurk where you least expect it!
Of course, then there are add-ins like cookies, fudgy brownies, cake chunks, and more. As a result, not all ice cream flavors are safe for people who are avoiding gluten. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, choosing the right ice cream can seem like a challenge. Ice cream is one of those foods with gluten that can take you by surprise.
So, if you’ve recently gone gluten-free and find yourself staring, perplexed, into the frosty glass of your local freezer aisle, don’t worry. Most major grocery stores carry gluten-free ice cream, or you can make it yourself! But first, let’s dive into the details.
Related: Is Peanut Butter Gluten Free?
So, let’s start with how it’s made. Ice cream relies on the creaminess of cow’s milk or a non-dairy milk alternative (like coconut milk) as its base. The fat in the cream helps keep ice cream from freezing solid.
When it comes to making store-bought ice cream, the cream is combined with sugar, pasteurized, homogenized, cooled, and finally churned, aerating the cream to create a soft, smooth texture.
I touched on it earlier, but most popular single flavors, such as chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, are typically gluten-free. Meanwhile, add-ins like cookie dough, brownies, or baked goods often contain wheat flour, and as a result, are not gluten-free. Always refer to a product’s labels to be sure, and keep an eye out for sneaky gluten-containing ingredients (see the next section).
Gluten-containing ice creams can be obvious flavors, such as birthday cake or cookie dough ice cream. They can also hide in plain sight due to additives like thickeners and stabilizers that are sometimes derived from wheat. Unless a brand specifically states that a product is gluten-free, it’s safest to assume that it may contain gluten.
When checking labels, look out for mentions of wheat flour and barley malt syrup, as well as starches, and flavorings that contain gluten or derivatives of gluten.
Some manufacturers may use gluten-free flour so that add-ins like cookie dough are safe for those with gluten intolerances. These products are almost always labeled, so keep an eye out, and see the section below for some popular gluten-free ice cream brands.
So, which ice cream brands are safe for celiacs and gluten-free diets? When it comes to dairy-based ice creams, Ben & Jerry’s now makes many flavors of ice cream that are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). You’ll find other brands like Turkey Hill, Breyer’s, and even the store brand from Wegman’s are starting to label their products. But since they are not always certified, do always check with the manufacturer.
Meanwhile, plant-based ice cream by brands like Coconut Bliss and So Delicious also offer gluten-free options, too. Here are some more brands to consider when shopping for ice cream:
Sometimes, even though a product is free from gluten-containing ingredients, it’s produced in a facility that handles other gluten-containing products. This is where cross-contamination becomes a risk.
If you’re particularly sensitive to gluten, or if you’re celiac, it’s best to look for certified gluten-free labels. Ice cream that is certified is made on production lines that are free from cross-contamination.
Of course, always read the labels to make sure that the ice cream you’re buying is, in fact, safe to eat. If you’re still unsure, your next best bet is to make it yourself! Homemade ice cream is way easier than you might think, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. I’ve included my best no-churn gluten-free ice cream recipes below!
There’s nothing quite like rich and creamy, homemade ice cream. Below, I’ve rounded up my favorite no-churn ice cream recipes for you to try:
Check out my recipe finder for even more homemade gluten-free desserts and treats!
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