I’m starting a new series of posts where I answer some common questions that don’t really fit anywhere else, and I’m starting with the sometimes desperate question (or is it a plea?), “Is ice cream gluten-free?” This is a little tricky to answer because the general, base answer is “yes,” but in most specific situations the answer is “no.”
(Skip down to the second half of this article for several lists of gluten-free ice cream brands.)
The basic ingredients of ice cream are gluten-free: milk, cream, and sugar, with eggs or a gum (like guar gum or tara gum) added in some cases. If it is a simple, natural ice cream, flavorings like natural vanilla bean and chocolate are also gluten-free.
But unfortunately, ice cream ingredients are rarely this simple and natural anymore, and even natural ice creams may contain ingredients with gluten in them, the most obvious that comes to mind is chocolate chip cookie dough.
So the answer is: it varies.
To stay safe, only try ice cream specifically labeled gluten-free. Don’t assume anything as many ice cream brands are loaded with unnecessary ingredients, many of which may contain gluten in a manner not specified on the label.
In addition, try to stay with simple flavors. Fancy combination flavors — like Super Kitty Litter Krunch (joke!) — are more likely to incorporate a hidden source of gluten or to suffer from cross-contamination during its manufacturing and packaging.
Gluten-Free Ice Cream List
After closely examining the ingredient lists and gluten-free labels of 3 major ice cream brands, I’ve compiled the following list of gluten-free ice creams. Please note: check the label again before you buy or consume. I can’t guarantee a manufacturer won’t change their formulation, and if/when they do, I can’t guarantee this list will remain up-to-date.
Breyer’s Gluten-Free Ice Creams:
- Butter Almond
- Butter Pecan
- Extra Creamy Chocolate
- Extra Creamy Vanilla
- French Vanilla
- Homemade Vanilla
- Natural Vanilla
In addition, Breyer’s makes a couple of gluten-free and lactose-free ice creams, which are great for newly diagnosed celiacs who can’t properly digest lactose:
- Lactose Free Chocolate
- Lactose Free Vanilla
Edy’s Gluten-Free Ice Creams:
- Grand Butter Pecan
- Grand Chocolate
- Grand Coffee
- Grand Double Vanilla
- Grand Espresso Chip
- Grand French Vanilla
- Grand Neapolitan
- Grand Real Strawberry
- Grand Vanilla
- Grand Vanilla Bean
- Slow Churned Butter Pecan
- Slow Churned Coffee
- Slow Churned Chocolate
- Slow Churned Chocolate Chip
- Slow Churned French Vanilla
- Slow Churned Strawberry
- Slow Churned Vanilla Bean
Häagen-Dazs Gluten-Free Ice Creams:
- Butter Pecan
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip
- Dark Chocolate
- Green Tea
- Java Chip
- Mint Chip
- Vanilla Bean
- Vanilla Chocolate Chip
Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Ice Cream Alternatives
If you were recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I recommend avoiding dairy for at least the first few weeks, and preferably for the first few months. This is because the damage done to your villi by the autoimmune response triggered by gluten often causes your villi to not produce the enzymes necessary to digest lactose, a sugar in dairy products, or casein, a protein in dairy products.
In this case, you can find some gluten-free and dairy-free ice cream substitutes made with soy, rice or coconut. I’m partial to the brands made with coconut milk. Since many people express concerns with soy products, opting for coconut-based dairy alternatives helps you avoid that controversy. In particular, the So Delicious brand features gluten-free, soy-free ice cream alternatives that are also carrageenan-free. Carrageenan is another controversial additive in many dairy and non-dairy beverages and frozen treats. In addition, these are excellent vegan ice cream alternatives.
I know both soy and carrageenan are controversial topics where perfectly logical and reasonable people in the medical community roll their eyes at the controversy, but if it isn’t at all necessary to consume soy or carrageenan in certain foods, why not just go with the perfectly good alternatives instead?
So Delicious Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts:
- Coconut-based Chocolate
- Coconut-based Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
- Coconut Almond Chip
- Coconut-based Gluten-Free Cookie Dough
- Coconut-based German Chocolate
- Coconut-based Green Tea
- Coconut-based Mocha Almond Fudge
- Coconut-based Passionate Mango
- Coconut-based Pomegranate Chip
- Coconut-based Swiss Almond
- Coconut-based Turtle Trails
- Coconut-based Vanilla Bean
Craving An Ice Cream Cone?
I hope this helps you steer clear of gluten-containing ice creams and helps you to safely enjoy a smooth, creamy treat on a hot summer’s day!