What Cereals are Gluten Free?

If you’re new to a gluten-free lifestyle, or even if you’ve lived with it for some time, finding cereals that are safe to eat is an ongoing adventure. I’m sharing an easy guide to Gluten-Free Cereal that’s full of helpful info and tips to get you off on the right foot, and keep it there! Plus, my favorite gluten-free cereal brands to keep in mind when perusing the shelves.

A woman holding a bowl and looking down at it.

Your Guide to Gluten-Free Cereal

Cereals can be a great, nutritious source of grains that make up a healthy diet. So what’s a girl to do when the big ol’ gluten boogeyman comes knocking? 

Luckily, after many years of living with a non-celiac gluten-intolerance, I’ve gathered a good bit of intel when it comes to which cereals are safe to eat, and which ones I need to avoid. Fun fact: gluten causes inflammation for everyone, not just those with a gluten sensitivity! But as we know, not all bodies process that inflammation equally.

Those with celiac disease, for example, cannot eat gluten at all. Gluten wreaks havoc on the lining of the small intestine, resulting in nutritional deficiencies, leaky gut, and other disorders. 

Going gluten-free can feel a bit like a shot in the dark. Are Corn Flakes gluten-free? What about my kid’s Fruity Pebbles? If you’re wondering what cereal brands are safe to eat, I’m here to help! It’s not always clear or obvious if a cereal contains gluten, so let’s dive in. 

How to Know if a Cereal Contains Gluten 

Whenever you’re browsing the shelves for a new gluten-free cereal, here are some ways to learn whether or not a cereal may contain gluten:

  • Check the Packaging: Many cereal brands that are safe for gluten-free diets often indicate this on their packaging. A word of warning, however: not all brands that claim to be gluten-free are made in gluten-free factories, so those with serious allergies may want to do a little more digging to know whether a cereal is 100% safe to eat.
  • Check the Ingredients: Check the ingredients list. Here you can sometimes find “red flags” that could indicate a cereal is not in fact totally free from gluten. Ingredients to look out for are barley, wheat, oats, rye, and disclaimers such as “May contain…”.
  • Check Online: The internet is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to finding and verifying gluten-free brands! Do some research on a cereal company’s website to learn which products are safe for gluten-free diets.
  • Test with a Nima Sensor: Lastly, a Nima Sensor is a useful tool to see if the cereal in question contains gluten. More on this in the next section!

What is a Nima Sensor?

A Nima Sensor is a handy portable gluten-detector. It’s a small device that can be used to test foods for the presence of gluten, displaying a smiley face if the food in question is, in fact, gluten-free. On the other hand, if the sensor displays a wheat symbol, you’ll know that gluten was found and to steer clear of that particular food!

Nima sensors are especially useful when a brand’s packaging or ingredients are vague, or anytime that packaging does not disclose whether a cereal is certified gluten-free.

Boxes of cereal including Corn Chex, Udi's Gluten Free Granola, and Honey Nut Cheerios piled on top of each other.

What Cereals Can I Eat That Are Gluten-Free?

It’s time to do some myth busting! While more and more cereal brands now offer options that are free from gluten, it may surprise you how many other cereals actually can contain hidden traces! 

Below I’ve gathered a list of popular cereals, where I’ve done some sleuthing into whether or not they’re safe for gluten-free diets. 

As always, it’s important to use your discretion – if you’re celiac or have a particularly serious allergy to gluten, or if you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or a certified professional to make sure which cereals are 100% safe for you to eat!


Cheerios claim to be gluten-free. However, because Cheerios are made with sorted oats and not certified gluten-free oats, many people with celiac disease avoid them. This is due to the chance of the oats mingling with gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye. 

All in all, most varieties of Cheerios are gluten-free, but if you are celiac or have a life-threatening allergy, they may be worth skipping.


All Chex cereal varieties, apart from Multigrain and Wheat Chex, are gluten-free. Their boxes are labeled “gluten free” and include Cinnamon Chex, Honey Nut Chex, Rice Chex, and Vanilla Chex, among others.

Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles

Both Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are labeled gluten-free, which is great news for little ones with gluten sensitivities! Fruity Pebbles cereals are made from rice, oil, sugar, and coloring, with no gluten in sight!

Lucky Charms

The original Lucky Charms cereal (right down to the marshmallows!) is gluten-free. Lucky Charms are made with gluten-free oats, however, like Cheerios, there is the risk of cross-contamination with wheat during the production process. For this reason, anyone with a severe allergy may consider avoiding them.

On the other hand, the Fruity and Chocolate Lucky Charms are not gluten-free and should be avoided in general.


General Mills’ Kix, while not labeled gluten-free, contains no suspicious ingredients (only whole grain corn, corn meal, sugar, salt, brown sugar syrup, and baking soda). As a result, these corn puffs are mostly accepted to be safe for gluten-free diets.

Reese’s Puffs

Another puffed corn cereal, this time sweet and peanut butter-y, Reese’s Puffs also show no signs of gluten based on the ingredients list, with whole grain corn as the main ingredient. However, they are not listed as gluten free, which may mean they are processed on shared equipment. Therefore, while they may be safe for some people, those with celiac disease or severe allergies may want to avoid them.

Cereals to Avoid

Some major name brands that disclose that they may or do contain gluten:

  • Mini Wheats, Frosted Mini Wheats (wheat – obviously!)
  • Rice Krispies* (barley malt)
  • Special K (wheat)
  • Raisin Bran (wheat)
  • Fruit Loops (wheat)
  • Cap’N Crunch (non-gluten-free oat flour)
  • Corn Flakes (barley malt extract)
  • Frosted Flakes (malt flavor)
  • Corn Pops (wheat)
  • Life (wheat)

*There are lots of crisped rice cereals out there that are gluten-free, perfect for breakfast or for making into crispy rice treats! See below for some alternatives.

Gluten-Free Alternatives

Luckily, as the science and awareness behind gluten intolerance grows, so does the list of brands offering gluten-free alternatives! Many low-carb brands are now carrying gluten-free options. Here are some gluten-free cereals for kids and adults that you can pick up in stores: 

  • Kroger Crispy Rice Cereal
  • Magic Spoon
  • One Degree Organics
  • Nature’s Path
  • Three Wishes
  • Love Grown Cereals

You can also buy gluten-free, generic alternatives in most health food shops or grocery stores:

  • Hot Cereal: Cooked cereals can be made from gluten-free rice, buckwheat, quinoa, corn (like grits), and gluten-free oats.
  • Puffed Rice: Hello, easy rice krispies alternative! Gluten-free puffed rice can be sweetened with honey and served with milk.
  • Gluten-Free Granola: There are loads of brands of gluten-free granola out there. Or you can make your own!

Tips for Finding Gluten-Free Options

Many grocery stores have “health food” or “wellness” aisles where you can usually find gluten-free versions of many pantry goods, including cereal. Here are some tips to remember when looking for gluten-free cereals:

  • As a general rule, beware of the words “wheat,” “barley,” and “rye.” For example, wheat protein or wheat flour. 
  • Some cereals can contain modified corn starch and maltodextrin (a processed carbohydrate). You should be able to tell on the label if these ingredients are made from wheat. 
  • Look out for malt syrup or any other ingredients that are malt-based, like malt extract, as these contain gluten.
  • If you have an extreme intolerance, look for products that were manufactured in a gluten-free facility, where there is little risk of cross-contamination.
  • If you’re still unsure, contact the manufacturer. They will be able to confirm whether a product is safe for gluten-free diets, and how it was produced.

Other Reasons to Avoid Certain Cereals

Breakfast cereals are actually one of the most processed foods there is. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them are bad for you – but there are some things to look out for. Here are other reasons why some cereals should be avoided:

  • Added Sugar: Unfortunately, many cereal brands are high in excess sugars. This is common in kids’ cereals, which tend to cater to little sweet tooths, but it’s also just as prevalent in gluten-free cereals. Just one bowl of cereal with milk can account for half your daily recommended sugar intake! So keep an eye on certain labels, especially ones where sugar ranks high on the ingredients, and aim for alternatives that are low-sugar, or sugar-free.
  • Refined Grains: Refined grains are what’s left of whole grains once the refining process removes certain key parts of the grain (like the bran and germ). As a result, refined grains lack the nutrients and protein found in whole grains. Unfortunately, many grains used in common cereal brands are either refined, or refined and then artificially “enriched” with the nutrients that were stripped away. The better option is to always eat cereals made from whole grains instead!
  • Processed Ingredients: Highly processed foods tend to be higher in calories, lower in nutrients, and just all-around no good. Eating too many refined ingredients can lead to dietary deficiencies and even chronic illnesses like heart disease. A good place to start is to aim for cereals that have whole grains and minimal ingredients (and ones you can pronounce!).

Storing Cereal After It’s Opened

The best way to store cereal after it’s opened is airtight at room temperature. Store cereal in a jar or container in a cool, dry location (like a pantry). 

In really humid climates, you can store cereal in the fridge, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless that’s the case.

Gluten Free Recipes to Make with Cereal

Of course, we all know that cereal is great for breakfast. But it’s also the perfect ingredient to turn into so many more tasty treats. And these cereal recipes are all gluten free!

Combine the flavors of a popular candy bar into a new twist on a classic muddy buddies recipe. Almond Joy Puppy Chow is a sweet no-bake snack mix with Chex cereal and almonds covered in almond butter, chocolate, and coconut. You won’t be able to stop eating them!
Get The Recipe
No-Bake Banana Cream Pie with a luscious layer of dulce de leche on the bottom will be the new dessert recipe nobody can resist. It’s a delicious upgrade on the classic with sliced bananas, homemade vanilla pudding, and fresh whipped cream. However, it is not only easy since there is no oven required, but it’s also gluten free with a chocolate crust made from Cocoa PEBBLES.
Get The Recipe
Need an easy snack recipe the kids will love that’s super yummy and nutritious? Look no further than these Peanut Butter Banana Bites with only three ingredients, including your favorite gluten free granola or cereal.
Get The Recipe
This Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball is covered in Muddy Buddies for the ultimate party treat. Combine a sweet cream cheese spread with the classic Puppy Chow snack mix for one epic dessert dip that will have everyone double-dipping.
Get The Recipe
Easy, wholesome after-school snacks to have ready for hungry kids. Everyone can customize with their favorite gluten free cereal, flavor of yogurt, and other toppings.
Get The Recipe
Adding the warm spices of a Chai tea latte makes the already delicious muddy buddies even harder to resist. Chai White Chocolate Puppy Chow is a fun version of everyone’s favorite sweet cereal snack mix with the comforting flavors you love. But since it is a no-bake treat, it is perfect to enjoy any time of the year!
Get The Recipe
A peanut butter swirl and plenty of muddy buddies (or puppy chow) make this No-Churn Muddy Buddy Ice Cream a decadent dessert you can’t resist. So easy to make, this is the ultimate frozen treat for serious chocolate and peanut butter lovers.
Get The Recipe
Grab a couple of boxes of gluten free cake mix to make this fun and easy cupcake recipe filled with everyone's favorite marshmallow cereal. These colorful treats are flavored with cereal milk and topped with a marshmallow-studded buttercream
Get The Recipe
With only six ingredients, this easy no-bake snack mix recipe is irresistible with its sweet and nutty flavors. Perfect for party munchies, game day snacks, or even holiday gifts.
Get The Recipe

Gluten Free Rice Krispies Treats

PHOTO CREDIT: meaningfuleats.com
The classic treat that's gooey, crispy and buttery. They’re made with brown butter, vanilla and just the right amount of marshmallow.
Get The Recipe

Gluten-Free Cereal Sprinkle Cookies

PHOTO CREDIT: joythebaker.com
You'll love these soft and crunchy cookies that ar made extra-special and colorful with Fruity Pebbles.
Get The Recipe

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

PHOTO CREDIT: thebetteredblondie.com
A delicious and easy treat with your favorite flavor combo but with better-for-you ingredients.
Get The Recipe