Oats are naturally gluten-free, however, is all oat milk safe for gluten-free diets? Can celiacs drink oat milk? We’re answering the question “Is Oat Milk Gluten Free?” with this helpful resource that covers everything from cross-contamination to how to make your own oat milk at home.
Many plant-based milk alternatives, like nut, soy, and coconut milk are gluten-free, and oats are naturally gluten-free. So, it’s easy to assume that certain products, like oat milk, are fair game for gluten-free diets. But this isn’t always the case.
The short answer is that some, not all, oat milk is gluten-free.
While oats are a gluten-free grain, not all oats are free from cross-contamination with gluten (see Are Oats Gluten Free?). Oat milk caters to non-dairy diets, not gluten-free ones. As a result, sourcing certified gluten-free oats isn’t always at the top of a manufacturer’s priority list.
As a result, a lot of the oat drinks you’ll find in stores don’t contain certified gluten-free oats. This can make it tricky to know what to buy if you have a gluten intolerance.
Today we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of whether oat milk is safe for gluten sensitivities. Plus, what to look out for, and even how to make your own gluten-free oat milk from certified gluten-free oats. Let’s dive in below.
Oat milk is a dairy-free, vegan alternative to cow’s milk, made from – you guessed it – oats. It’s a popular plant-based substitute, used in everything from lattes to baking.
Oat milk involves soaking whole oats in water, milling the softened mixture, and finally straining the liquid. Oat milk gets its creamy consistency from beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber found in oats. Sometimes commercial oat milk will have vitamins, preservatives, and sweeteners added.
Some oat milk manufacturers use third-party certification to ensure that their products fall under the gluten threshold. These products have a seal or logo on their packaging to indicate that they are made with gluten-free ingredients, on gluten-free production lines.
There is a difference between products labeled gluten-free (claimed by the manufacturer) and certified gluten-free (tested and approved by a trusted organization, like The Gluten Intolerance Group).
Gluten proteins are found in other types of grains like wheat, rye, and barley. While oats are naturally free from gluten, they’re often processed in the same facilities as many wheat products.
This is where cross-contamination becomes an issue in the manufacturing of products like oat milk. It can happen during harvesting, during processing, or on the production line. Unless a brand is certified gluten-free, it’s best to avoid it whether you’re celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitive.
For the reasons mentioned above, if you have celiac disease, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor and make sure you’re buying oat milk that’s safe to consume.
Many manufacturers will claim or state that they are gluten-free, but most brands are not actually certified (see below). It’s worth saying it again: If you are celiac, only buy oat milk that’s certified gluten-free.
Also, while it’s pretty rare, a small percentage of those with celiac have a sensitivity to avenin, another protein found in oats. It’s best to have oat allergies checked out by a healthcare professional. If you are allergic to oats, you’ll (obviously) want to avoid oat milk entirely.
There are lots of plant-based milk brands on the market. And if you’re not avoiding gluten, any brand of oat milk is safe to drink.
If you’re gluten-free for health reasons, it’s important to always check labels. You’ll start to recognize brands that carry oat products that are safe to drink. Let’s have a look at some options below.
Oatly is currently the only brand in the US whose oat milk product range is certified gluten-free. This makes it the best choice for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Other popular brands like Planet Oat, Califia Farms, and Elmhurst are widely considered to be gluten-free. However, they aren’t certified.
Pacific Foods, Chobani, and Thrive Market oat milk are not gluten-free. While many of these brands are free from allergens, gluten isn’t one of them, and therefore they should be avoided.
When all else fails, another option is to go the homemade route! You can make your own oat milk from certified gluten-free oats, see the next section for details.
If you’ve struggled to find gluten-free oat milk, the good news is, it’s surprisingly easy to make from scratch. You only need two ingredients: oats (in this case, certified gluten-free) and water. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade oat milk to try:
To sum it all up: When it comes to whether oat milk is safe to drink, always check those labels! If you have gluten sensitivity, aim to only buy certified gluten-free oat milk – or make your own.
Curious as to what other foods are and aren’t safe for gluten-free diets? Check out my Ultimate Gluten-Free Food List!
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