It seems like oatmilk is everywhere these days, and if you’re following a gluten-free diet, you might be asking yourself, Is oatmilk gluten free? In this article, I discuss how oatmilk may – or may not be – gluten free and whether it’s safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. I also tested Silk Oatmilk for hidden gluten and was shocked by the results. This article contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
The explosion of dairy-free “milk” alternatives is hard to ignore. There’s almondmilk, cashewmilk, flaxmilk, peamilk, soymilk, ricemilk, coconutmilk, and now, of course, oatmilk on the scene.
Oatmilk is made by soaking oats in water, pulverizing the oats it in a blender, and then straining it to create a creamy, milk-like substance.
If you’re following a diet free of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, you might be wondering if oatmilk is something you can safely consume.
To understand whether oatmilk is safe for someone on the gluten-free diet, let’s first discuss the safety oats and why oats are a controversial ingredient that may – or may not – contain gluten.
Are Oats Gluten Free?
Oats, while naturally gluten free, are notoriously cross contaminated with wheat during the growing, harvesting and manufacturing processes. This means oats are commingled with wheat grains and therefore a significant amount of wheat is found in oats.
Canadian researchers confirmed what the gluten-free community has known all along. They found the oat supply in Canada to be “heavily contaminated with gluten”, noting that 88 percent of oat-containing products contained gluten above the legal limit.
This is why any product made with oats, such as oatmilk, would likely contain detectable levels of gluten and therefore would not be gluten free.
That said, if a manufacturer uses gluten-free labeled oats to make a product, then the product would be safe for individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to consume, regardless if the manufacturer used purity protocol or commodity oats.
Purity protocol oats are oats grown on dedicated gluten-free fields with dedicated equipment. Purity oats are harder to find and often result in a more expensive end product.
Commodity oats are plentiful as they are grown in rotation with wheat; however, commodity oats must be either optically or mechanically sorted by the manufacturer, and then scrubbed of any gluten dust contaminants, in order to be considered gluten-free safe.
Regardless if the oats are purity protocol or commodity oats, they must be processed by a reputable manufacturer that is committed to testing the oats before they enter a manufacturing facility and in the final product. Cheerios, for example, uses commodity oats, but General Mills’ testing efforts have come into question by many in the celiac community.
Therefore, it’s important to note that any product containing oats, including oatmilk, would be considered gluten free IF the product was made using gluten-free oats. However, as you’ll see below, one major brand of oatmilk contains detectable amounts of gluten despite including the claim “free from gluten” on its label.
Gluten-Free Oatmilk Brands
There are several brands that make gluten-free oatmilk. All of these brands of oatmilk are labeled “gluten free”, “free from gluten” or “no gluten” and are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet:
- Califia Farms says on its website that its oat milk products are gluten free.
- Chobani says on its website that its oat milk products are made with gluten-free oats.
- Elmhurst says on its website that all of its oat milk products are gluten free; it’s label says that it’s certified gluten free by the GFCO.
- Nut Pods oatmilk is certified gluten free by the GFCO.
- Rise Brewing Co. oatmilk is labeled gluten free on the packaging.
- Sown Oat Creamer is certified gluten free by the GFCO.
- Oatly says on its website that all of its products are all certified gluten free by the GFCO.
- Planet Oat says on its website that its oat milk and creamers are gluten free. Please note that its oatmilk ice creams contain gluten and should be avoided.
- Trader Joe’s displays a gluten-free claim on its website when describing its non-dairy oat beverage.
Several people in the gluten-free community have tested some of these oatmilk products, as well as products containing oatmilk, for hidden gluten with the Nima Sensor, a portable gluten detecting device. They shared their tests publicly. Here’s how the oatmilk products that were tested fared against the Nima Sensor:
- Nut Pods Oat – No gluten found by Nima
- Oatly – No gluten found by Nima (photo below used with permission)
- Planet Oat Oatmilk – No gluten found by Nima
- Sprout Oatmilk Whipped Topping (labeled gluten free) – No gluten found by Nima
- Trader Joe’s Oat Non-Dairy Beverage – No gluten found by Nima
Oatmilk Brands that Contain Gluten
There are several oatmilk brands that contain gluten and should be avoided by those on a gluten-free diet.
- Earth’s Own used to use gluten-free oats, but the company says on its website that it switched to using non-GF oats and therefore took the gluten-free claim off its packaging. This is a good reminder to always check packaging for the latest information about the safety of a product.
- Pacific Foods says on its website that its oats are not gluten free and therefore its oatmilk beverage is not gluten free.
- Thrive Market also makes no gluten free claims on its website about its oatmilk beverage.
- Silk Oat Milk offers contradictory information about the safety of its product and I independently tested it too. See important details below.
- Sprouts Oatmilk is not labeled gluten free.
Silk Oatmilk is Not Gluten-Free Safe
Did you know that Silk Oatmilk, which is labeled “free from gluten,” actually contains detectable levels of gluten and is unsafe to consume on the gluten-free diet?
Regardless of what you read on the website and see labeled on the product, you should avoid Silk Oatmilk beverages. Here’s why:
- On the Silk FAQ web page, the company says all its Silk beverages are gluten free except for its oatmilks (Oat Yeah was rebranded as Silk Oatmilk). Below is a screenshot taken from the Silk website in early March 2021 and which is still in place as of August 2022.
- However, Silk Oatmilk cartons are clearly labeled “free from gluten.”
- I emailed the company about this conflicting information and they replied as follows: “As of October 2020 our new Oat Yeah [now rebranded as Oatmilk] beverage recipe is gluten free. The most up-to-date information on our products will be on the carton themselves.”
This conflicting information led me to take matters into my own hands.
I decided to independently test Silk Oatmilk with my Nima Sensor, a portable gluten-detecting device, to find out if Silk Oatmilk contain hidden gluten.
Unfortunately, as suspected, Nima found gluten. I tested it twice to be sure.
If you’re on a strict gluten-free diet, I recommend you avoid Silk Oatmilk and all Silk Oatmilk products, including Silk Oatmilk creamers.
Is Starbucks Oatmilk Gluten Free?
Starbucks says it exclusively uses Oatly oatmilk inside its coffee shops, which comes as a relief to the gluten-free community who would have otherwise been worried about gluten cross contamination inside their favorite espresso drinks.
Nutritional Benefits of Oatmilk
Oatmilk offers the following nutritional benefits, making it a choice “milk” alternative for many:
Protein: Oatmilk contains about 3 grams of protein per one-cup serving whereas milk contains about 6 grams per serving and soy milk contains about 7-8 grams of protein per serving. Oatmilk does not contain all nine essential amino acids like dairy milk.
Calories: One cup of unsweetened oatmilk is about 80-120 calories compared to about 150 calories in a single cup of whole milk (skim milk contains 83 calories). The unsweetened version of soymilk has roughly 130 calories per cup, flaxmilk has 25, almondmilk has 60, and coconutmilk has 80.
Nutrients: Oatmilk offers a good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and riboflavin, particularly if the brand of oatmilk is fortified (most are). Oatmilk also offers 2-4 grams of fiber while dairy milk offers none.
Bottom Line on Oatmilk
Oatmilk can be gluten free if made with gluten-free oats and labeled gluten free. However, as you can see, Silk Oatmilk clearly contains gluten despite being labeled “free from gluten.”
If you want to enjoy oatmilk, I recommend looking for certified gluten-free brands of oatmilk, such as Oatly, Elmhurst, or Nut Pods oatmilk.