In this gluten-free candy guide, I share what candies are safe — and not safe — for you to eat when following a gluten-free diet. Always do your own due diligence before consuming a product as information in this article may have changed as manufacturing processes and ingredient lists can change from year to year. The most accurate information will always be directly on the candy’s packaging. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Halloween is upon us once again, and this finds many of us gluten-free eaters scrambling – more like Googling – to find out what is and isn’t gluten free.
That said, even if you’re avoiding gluten, you can still indulge in many of your favorite candy treats. You just have to know what to look for.
In this article, I’ll share:
- How to determine if a candy is safe to consume on the gluten-free diet
- A list of candies that are gluten free – check labels carefully to ensure the information in this article hasn’t change
- A list of candies that contain gluten and should be avoided
How to Determine if a Candy is Safe?
Use these four steps to assess if a candy is gluten free and safe for you to eat:
(1) Read the ingredient label carefully.
The ingredients will likely be posted directly on the candy’s label; however, with mini- and fun-size candies, the ingredient listing are often missing or incomplete. If the full ingredient listing is not printed directly on the candy, you must do additional research (see #2). Be sure to read my article, Everything You Need to Know about Gluten-Free Label Laws, if you are not familiar with the current gluten-free labeling laws.
(2) Research the candy.
If a piece of candy does not contain an ingredient list on the label (as is the case with fun-sized candies), research the label online or contact the manufacturer directly. Not all third-party information you see online is accurate. Always check with the manufacturer when in doubt or when information you find is contradictory.
(3) Never assume.
Candy labels and manufacturing facilities can change from year to year. Halloween and seasonal candies are often manufactured in alternative factories to meet seasonal high demand. For example, REESE’S peanut butter cups are gluten free, but its seasonal shaped items are not. Never assume.
(4) Don’t rely solely on allergen disclosure statements.
Manufacturers must disclosure if their products contain any of the top eight allergens (wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts), however, gluten is not considered a top eight allergen, only wheat is, so if a product contains barley, it won’t be listed as an “allergen” on the label.
List of Gluten-Free Candy
The following candies are generally considered gluten free. That said, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this list, as ingredients, manufacturing processes and labels can change without notice. Always do your own research when deciding if a candy is safe for you to consume. The best and most current information will always be on the label.
Editor Note: When you see the words “Nima tested, Nima approved,” it means the candy has been tested for hidden gluten using a portable gluten-detecting device called the Nima Sensor. I discuss the Nima Sensor in detail in this article, and below.
Are Almond Joy candies gluten free? Yes, and they’re Nima tested, Nima approved.
Are Andes Mints gluten free? Yes, Andes Mints is made by Tootsie Roll and all Tootsie Roll products are gluten free at this time according to the manufacturer.
Is Bit-O-Honey gluten free? Bit-O-Honey is made from honey and almond bits. It’s not labeled gluten free but it does not contain any gluten ingredients.
Are Dum-Dums gluten free? According to the Spangler company website, Dum-Dums, Saf-T-Pops, Swirl Saf-T-Pops, and Candy Canes do not contain gluten.
Is Candy Corn gluten free? Brach’s candy corn does not contain any gluten ingredients but it’s not labeled gluten free. It has been Nima tested and Nima approved. Jelly Belly candy corn are gluten free.
Is Brookside Dark Chocolate gluten free? Yes, according to Hershey’s, Brookside dark chocolate is gluten free. The bag is also labeled gluten free and the product has been Nima tested, Nima approved.
Are Butterfingers gluten free? According to the Butterfinger website, “Most Butterfinger products are gluten free. The Butterfinger Crisp is not gluten free.” Butterfingers also have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Dots Gumdrops gluten free? Yes, according to Tootsie Roll, Dots are gluten free as all all Tootsie Roll products.
Are Goobers gluten free? Yes, Goobers are labeled gluten free on the packaging.
Are Heath Toffee Bars gluten free? Yes, Heath Toffee Bars are made from English toffee and chocolate and are gluten free according to Hershey’s. It has also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Hershey’s Kisses gluten free? Yes, milk chocolate Hershey Kisses are gluten free, but please check the Hershey’s website for information on other varieties.
Are Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars gluten free? Yes, according to Hershey’s, the original milk chocolate bar is gluten free. The Hershey’s milk chocolate and almonds bar is also labeled gluten free.
Are Hershey’s Nuggets Candies gluten free? Yes, according to Hershey’s, and as labeled on the packaging, all Hershey’s Nuggets are gluten free.
Are Hot Tamales gluten free? According to Just Born, MIKE AND IKE®, HOT TAMALES®, PEEPS®, GOLDENBERG’S® PEANUT CHEWS®, TEENEE BEANEE® and JUST BORN® brands are all gluten free. The company says it’s working on updating its package labels to include gluten-free statements where appropriate. The modified food starch used in the candies is corn starch. The company says to always read ingredient labels carefully.
Are Jelly Belly candies gluten free? Yes, the company says, “All flavors of Jelly Belly beans are free of gluten. We do not use any wheat, rye, barley, or oats in the basic recipe for Jelly Belly jelly beans. The modified food starch listed on the package is cornstarch.”
Are Jolly Ranchers gluten free? Both Jolly Rancher hard and soft candies do not contain gluten.
Are Junior Mints gluten free? Yes, Junior Mints are gluten free and labeled gluten free as well.
Are Laffy Taffy candies gluten free? Laffy Taffy candies (including original, ropes and chews) do not contain gluten ingredient. However, the company says on its website, “For gluten-free, product-specific information, please contact Ferrara Consumer Relations by completing the Contact Us form. Due to changes that may occur in the manufacturing and packaging environments, Ferrara does not provide allergen or gluten-free lists on this site.” The original Laffy Taffys have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are M&Ms gluten free? M&Ms are not labeled gluten free, but they do not contain any gluten ingredients. The following M&M varieties have been Nima tested and Nima approved: Regular M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Peanut Butter M&Ms, and Caramel M&Ms.
Are Mike and Ikes gluten free? Yes, they are. See Hot Tamales above for an explanation.
Are Milk Duds gluten free? Yes, these chocolate covered caramels are gluten free according to Hershey’s. They have also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Mounds bars gluten free? These soft coconut bars wrapped in dark chocolate are gluten free according to Hershey’s.
Are Nips gluten free? Both regular and sugar-free Nips do not contain gluten ingredients according to Fererra.
Are Oh Henry! bars gluten free? Oh Henry! bars are not labeled gluten free but they do not contain any gluten ingredients.
Are Payday candy bars gluten free? Payday candy bars are salted peanuts covering a nougat-like sweet caramel center. They are gluten free according to the Hershey website.
Are PEEPS gluten free? Yes, Peeps are gluten free and labeled gluten free too. They have also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Raisinets gluten free? Yes, Raisinets are gluten free and labeled as such on the packaging.
Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups gluten free? According to Hershey’s, “All varieties of REESE’S peanut butter cups are gluten free except for seasonally shaped items.” The minis have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are REESE’s Pieces Candy gluten free? Yes, REESE’s Pieces are labeled gluten free. Avoid all seasonal items unless labeled gluten free. REESE’s Pieces have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are ROLO Caramels gluten free? According to Hershey’s, “ROLO® candies are gluten free and do not contain wheat, barley, oats, rye or any added gluten.” They have also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are SKOR Toffee Bars gluten free? This crisp butter toffee bar is gluten free according to Hershey’s. It’s also labeled gluten free on the packaging.
Are Skittles gluten free? Yes, Skittles are gluten free and labeled as such. They have also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Smarties gluten free? Yes, Smarties are gluten free according to the manufacturer. Smarties goes on to say that its entire line of products are gluten free, and if the UPC number on the packaging begins with “0 11206”, it’s been manufactured in a facility that is gluten free and is safe for those with celiac disease. The product has also been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Snickers gluten free? Snickers do not contain any gluten ingredients, but they are not labeled gluten free. You can learn about Snickers take on gluten in this article (and learn how to make a healthy “snickers” at home. Snickers have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Sno-Caps gluten free? Sno-Caps do not contain any gluten ingredients but they are not labeled gluten free.
Are SweetTARTS gluten free? SweetTART Original and SweetTART Mini Chewy candies do not contain gluten but are not labeled gluten free. The original has been Nima tested and Nima approved. Please note that SweetTARTS Ropes and Ropes Bites contain wheat and are NOT gluten free.
Are Three Musketeers gluten free? Three Musketeer bars do not contain gluten but they are not labeled gluten free. They have been Nima tested and Nima approved.
Are Tootsie Rolls gluten free? Yes, Tootsie Rolls says, “At this time, all of our confections are gluten free. We do not use wheat, barley, rye, oats, triticale, spelt or any of their components and that includes our dusting on our conveyor belts. We do use corn and soy products in the manufacturing of our products.” This means Sugar Daddys, Charleston Chews and other candies from Tootsie are gluten free too.
Are YORK Peppermint Patties gluten free? According to the Hershey’s website, “YORK Peppermint Patties and YORK Sugar Free are gluten free, however, other YORK products such as YORK Minis and YORK Shapes are not gluten free.”
Candies to Avoid
The following candies are NOT safe to eat if you’re following a gluten-free diet and should be avoided:
- 100 Grand Bars – contains barley malt
- Baby Ruth – Baby Ruth does not contain any gluten ingredients, however, the company’s FAQ strangely says they are not gluten free. Confusing!
- Butterfinger Crisp – while Butterfingers are gluten free, the Crisps are not
- Kit Kats – contains wheat
- Milky Way – contains barley malt (Dark and Midnight varieties are made with vanilla vs. malt and therefore do not contain any gluten ingredients).
- Mr. Goodbar – Hershey’s says, “No, MR. GOODBAR bars are not gluten free.” The ingredient list looks okay, but I’ll take Hersey’s word on this one.
- Nestle Crunch Bars – contains barley malt
- Red Vines – contains wheat
- REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups – seasonal shapes contain gluten (original is gluten free)
- SweetTARTS Ropes and Ropes Bites – contain wheat
- Twix – contains wheat
- Twizzlers – contains wheat
What Does Nima Tested, Nima Approved Mean?
You may have noticed that my list of gluten-free Halloween candies included some candies tagged as “Nima tested, Nima approved.”
The Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that enables you to test your food for gluten before you eat it. Some of the tested items mentioned have been tested by Nima, others have been independently tested by me.
Remember, a few things before trusting the Nima Sensor:
- Make sure the ingredients are gluten free before testing. For example, the 100 Grand Bar contains barley malt, which is considered a fermented food. Nima cannot detect fermented foods such as barley malt, soy sauce and beer. This is a known and widely published limitation of the Nima Sensor.
- Just because I tested a candy and Nima approved it doesn’t mean every similar candy tested will come back okay too. Remember, manufacturing facilities can vary, especially when it comes to producing special manufacturing runs for seasonal candy offerings. This is why you must test your own candy for gluten before eating it.
A Word about Halloween Candy
Remember to always be extra cautious before eating Halloween candy. Much of it is manufactured in alternative factories to meet seasonal high demand.
This means you must double check if the fun- or mini-sized treats or specially packaged Halloween items are gluten free before consuming. Don’t rely on prior knowledge, or even this list, as things can change for holiday manufacturing runs.
Even better, purchase organic, better for you gluten-free Halloween candy that is certified gluten free or donate your Halloween candy to our troops — who needs all that yucky sugar and potential gluten in your house anyway!?!