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 due diligence before consuming a product. The information in this article may change should manufacturing processes and ingredient lists change. 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 again, and individuals on a gluten-free diet are scrambling – more like Googling – to find out what is and isn’t gluten free.
This time of year can be fraught with scary gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance cannot eat gluten.
The good news is that many Halloween candies – and candies in general – are gluten free. In this article, I’ll help you determine which candies are gluten free, which are not, as well as share how some of these candies fared when independently tested for hidden gluten.
How to Determine if a Candy is Gluten-Free Safe?
Use these four steps to assess if a specific candy is gluten free:
(1) Read the ingredient label carefully.
The manufacturer will post the ingredients directly on the candy’s label; however, with mini- and fun-size candies, the ingredient listing is sometimes missing or incomplete on the packaging. Additional research may be required if the full ingredient listing is not printed directly on the candy label. You can learn more about gluten-free labeling laws in this article.
(2) Research the candy.
If a candy label doesn’t have an ingredient list printed directly on the label (as is the case with fun-sized candies), research the label online or contact the manufacturer directly. Remember, not all third-party information you see online is accurate or up-to-date. 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 high seasonal demand. For example, REESE’S peanut butter cups are generally gluten free, but its seasonal-shaped items may contain gluten. Never assume.
(4) Don’t rely solely on allergen disclosure statements.
Per the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), manufacturers must disclose if their products contain any of the top eight allergens. These allergens include wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. Gluten is not classified as a top eight allergen; only wheat is.
Remember, gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats; however, FALCPA only requires the disclosure of wheat on a food label. Candies such as 100 Grand, Milky Way, and Nestle’s Crunch all contain barley malt and are not gluten free.
Comprehensive List of Gluten-Free Candy
The following candies are generally considered gluten free. That said, ingredients, manufacturing processes, and ingredient labels can change without notice from year to year, making it essential to research each candy. The best and most current information will always be on the label itself.
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.
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, 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 gluten ingredients but is not labeled gluten free. It has been Nima tested, Nima approved. Jelly Belly candy corn is 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. Regular Butterfingers also have been Nima tested, Nima approved. The Butterfinger Crisp is not gluten free.
Are Dots Gumdrops gluten free? Yes, according to Tootsie Roll, Dots are gluten free.
Are Goobers gluten free? Yes, Goobers are labeled gluten free on the packaging.
Are Heath Toffee Bars gluten free? According to Hershey’s, Heath Toffee Bars are made from English toffee and chocolate and are gluten free. It has also been Nima tested, Nima approved.
Are Hershey’s Kisses gluten free? Yes, milk chocolate Hershey Kisses are gluten free, but check the Hershey’s website for information about other varieties.
Are Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars gluten free? According to Hershey’s, the original milk chocolate bar is gluten free. The Hershey’s milk chocolate and almonds bar are also labeled gluten free.
Are Hershey’s Nuggets Candies gluten free? 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 always to read ingredient labels carefully.
Are Jelly Belly candies gluten free? 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 Rancher 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.
Are Laffy Taffy candies gluten free? Laffy Taffy candies (including original, ropes, and chews) do not contain gluten ingredients. The original Laffy Taffys have been Nima tested, Nima approved. 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.”
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, 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? These chocolate-covered caramels are gluten free, according to Hershey’s. They have also been Nima tested, 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, 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, Nima approved.
Are REESE’s Pieces Candy gluten free? Yes, REESE’s Pieces are labeled gluten free. REESE’s Pieces have been Nima tested, Nima approved. Avoid all seasonal items unless labeled gluten free.
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, 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, 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 is 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, Nima approved.
Are Snickers gluten free? Snickers do not contain any gluten ingredients, but they are not labeled gluten free. Snickers have been Nima tested, 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, 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, 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 dusting on our conveyor belts. We 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 Hershey’s website, YORK Peppermint Patties and YORK Sugar Free are gluten free; however, other YORK products including 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 MR. GOODBAR bars are not gluten free. The ingredient list looks okay, but I’ll take Hersey’s word on this.
- Nestle Crunch Bars – contain barley malt.
- Red Vines – contain 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 – contain wheat
- YORK Minis and YORK Shapes – only York Peppermint Patties and YORK Sugar Free are gluten free
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 can test a food item for gluten in about 1-3 minutes. Nima (the company) tested some of the candies mentioned in this article; I independently tested others.
Remember a few things before putting your faith in Nima:
- 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. I’ve tested a 100 Grand Bar in the past, and Nima displayed a smiley face despite the fact that the candy contained fermented barley malt.
- 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, mainly when producing special manufacturing runs for seasonal candy offerings. This is why you must test your 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 high seasonal demand.
Always double-check if the fun- or mini-sized treats or specially packaged Halloween-shaped items are gluten free before consuming. Don’t rely on prior knowledge, or even this list, as things can change from holiday to holiday.
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 sugar and potential gluten in your house anyway!?!
Gluten-Free Boxes of Chocolates (and assorted chocolate brands)
Are See’s Candies Gluten Free?