If you’re learning to bake with gluten-free ingredients, you might be wondering, “Is molasses gluten-free?” In this article, I’ll tell you how molasses is made as well as share which brands are gluten-free. I also tested the most popular brand of molasses for hidden gluten. This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.
When Christmas arrives, and it’s time to make those gluten-free gingerbread cookies, many of you will be pulling out that sticky jar of molasses buried deep inside your pantry.
While molasses is most commonly used in baking, it’s also a common ingredient found in barbeque sauces and marinades. It can be used as a tasty swap for honey or maple syrup, particularly in savory dishes.
Several gluten-free recipes call for molasses (an ingredient known as “treacle” in the UK), but many wonder if this thick sweetener is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats, and derivatives of these cereal grains.
The bottom line is as long as the only ingredient in molasses is molasses, it’s gluten-free.
In this article, I’ll share more about molasses and gluten-free brands of molasses you can trust when you cannot eat or tolerate gluten.
In the meantime, if you want to try your hand at baking with molasses, try my chewy gluten-free molasses cookies or my gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
What Is Molasses?
Molasses is a syrup sweetener that is deep brown in color and offers a sweet and sometimes bitter taste.
The thick syrup is made by chopping and crushing sugarcane and then boiling down the sugar into a liquid syrup. The sugar crystals are extracted from the syrup, and the remaining thick liquid is known as molasses.
Light vs. Dark Molasses
Light molasses is the lightest in color and sweetest in flavor. It’s the most popular molasses used in the U.S.
Dark molasses is boiled a second time and therefore has a stronger, deeper molasses flavor with hints of bitterness. It’s also darker in color and works well in gingerbread and gingersnap cookie recipes.
Dark and light molasses can be used interchangeably in most baked goods recipes.
Blackstrap molasses is boiled a third time, which makes it a bit more bitter in taste. It works best in savory dishes like stew meats and baked beans. Use blackstrap molasses sparingly due to its strong, bitter taste.
Blackstrap molasses is sometimes known for its health benefits as it contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, manganese, copper, calcium, and potassium.
Another type of molasses is sorghum molasses. It’s found in many specialty grocery stores.
Sorghum molasses is not true molasses since it’s made from sorghum vs. sugarcane or sugar beets.
Sorghum is a gluten-free grass in which sugar can be extracted in the same method as used to extract the liquid from sugarcane. Sorghum syrup is thinner in texture than molasses and offers a similar sweetness but a bit more bitter taste.
Sulfured vs. Unsulfured Molasses
Sulphured molasses is made from sugar cane that has not yet reached maturity. Manufacturers will treat the molasses with sulphur dioxide as a method of preserving the sugar cane until it’s ready to process.
Unsulphured molasses is made from mature sugar cane that is ripe and therefore doesn’t require any sulphur dioxide to preserve it.
Unsulfured simply means the manufacturer hasn’t added this preservative to its final product, and therefore the product is purer. Most commercially sold molasses is unsulphured.
Gluten-Free Brands of Molasses
Molasses can be purchased at most grocery stores nationwide. It’s often sold in small glass bottles and is typically double the cost of corn syrup.
The following brands are gluten-free according to each manufacturer. Check labels to ensure they haven’t changed since this article was published.
Grandma’s Molasses (unsulphered): This is a very popular brand of molasses and is gluten-free according to the FAQs on the Grandma’s Molasses website. I also tested it for hidden gluten using my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device which you can learn more about in my article, What You Need to Know About Nima Sensor Before You Buy.
As you can see, Nima smiled, which means it didn’t find any hidden gluten. This is good news because I just used a bunch of it to make my gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe!
Brer Rabbit Unsulphured Molasses: This is another brand of molasses that is labeled as non-GMO and gluten-free. Find it on Amazon.
Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Molasses Unsulphured: This is a blackstrap molasses that has been organically and sustainably grown. It comes in plastic bottles. According to the Wholesome website, the molasses is non-GMO and gluten-free. Find it on Amazon.
How to Store Molasses
Store unused molasses in a cool, dark pantry. If the rim of the jar is sticky, be sure to wipe it down to ensure the seal is tight so that you’ll be able to open the jar when you need it next (otherwise, the top will stick to the jar).
Opened jars of molasses can last for two years in your pantry or for at least a year after the “best by” date printed on the jar. If it has an odor or looks crystalized, the molasses is no longer good and should be discarded.
The Bottom Line
Yes, molasses is gluten-free and safe to use in all your gluten-free recipes. Grandma’s Molasses, Brer Rabbit, and Wholesome Sweeteners all offer gluten-free labeled molasses.
Always check labels to be certain the only ingredient in your molasses is molasses… not gluten!
The article, Everything You Need to Know about Gluten-Free Labeling Laws and Certifications, is a great primer on label reading for anyone new to the gluten-free diet.
Enjoy my Gluten-Free Molasses Cookies recipe for the holidays or year-round. The molasses makes the cookies extra chewy. You’ll also find hints of holiday spices throughout.
My gluten-free gingerbread cookies are sweetened with molasses, which also helps to give them a chewy and soft texture.
Good For You Gluten Free says
I tell people to check labels several times in the article. Molasses is gluten free as long as the only ingredient in the jar is molasses.
Christopher Hartley says
This is false, not all molasses is gluten free, Food Lion’s store brand, for example contains traces of wheat and gluten as a filler.