We all scream for ice cream, right? Wrong! If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you must be careful about eating ice cream. In this post, I’ll discuss what ice creams are gluten free. Please always read labels carefully to ensure any product is safe for your dietary restrictions. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
July is hot hot hot. And when the sun is shining high in the sky, there’s no better time for ice cream.
However, as someone with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that causes my immune system to mistakenly attack the healthy tissue surrounding my small intestine everytime I eat gluten, I must follow a strict, medically-necessary gluten-free diet.
Gluten is also hidden in ingredients like malt, natural flavors, brown rice syrup and yeast extract.
In this article, I’ll talk about whether or not ice cream is gluten free, what brands you can trust, and I also tested several popular ice cream brands for hidden gluten with my Nima Sensor.
The Nima Sensor is a portable gluten-detecting device that enables you to test a small portion of your food for hidden gluten. You can learn more about it in my article, 13 Things to Know About the Nima Sensor.
Is Ice Cream Gluten Free?
Store bought ice cream is typically gluten free as it’s primarily made of sugar, milk, cream and sometimes eggs. All these ingredients are naturally gluten free and safe for people with celiac disease to eat.
A plain ice cream flavor, like vanilla or chocolate, is typically fine and free from the gluten protein, but the worry comes when cookies, flavorings, and other questionable ingredients are added to the mix.
This is why you must carefully read ingredient labels to decode if something is safe – or not safe – for you.
Eating ice cream at an ice cream shop can be a dicey experience for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.
You must be careful as ice cream shops are notorious for cross contamination. Even if the shop owner uses a clean scooper to grab a scoop of ice cream for you, it’s possible (more like probable) that a previous scooper touched the gluten-free and gluten containing tubs, putting all the ice cream at risk for gluten contact.
It’s just not safe to eat scooped ice cream from an ice cream shop (soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt is ok – check ingredient labels).
Your best bet for a safe ice cream experience is to buy pre-packaged ice cream at the grocery store.
If all your friends are stopping at Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone for ice cream, you can make a quick run into a grocery store and grab a pint for yourself. It’s safer (and cheaper) and you’ll get to enjoy ice cream right along with everyone else.
What Ice Cream Brands are Gluten Free?
I decided to test five well-known ice cream brands to see if they were free from gluten.
Before I tested any ice cream brand, I first inspected the ingredient label to make sure it appeared to be gluten free (even if not labeled gluten free), and was free of any manufacturer allergen disclosure statements.
I noticed that some brands have a few flavors that are gluten free, while other flavors contain full-on gluten! For example, just because one flavor of Ben & Jerry’s is gluten free, it doesn’t mean all Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors are gluten free. You must read the label of each individual carton every time.
Here’s how each ice cream brand fared when put to the gluten detecting test (listed in alphabetical order):
Is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Gluten Free?
Some of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pints do not contain gluten and can be enjoyed by someone on a gluten-free diet. Ben & Jerry’s says on its website that reading the ingredient label will help you decipher if a specific flavor is safe for you.
Please note, as of October 13, 2020, Ben & Jerry’s worked with the GFCO to certify several of its ice cream flavors as gluten free (and several are available dairy free too). They include:
- Bananas Foster (dairy free – added January 2022)
- Boom Chocolatta (dairy free – added January 2022)
- Cherry Garcia (in pints and mini cups)
- Cherry Garcia FroYo
- Cherry Garcia (dairy free)
- Phish Food
- Phish Food (dairy free)
- Chunky Monkey
- Vanilla Caramel Fudge
- Karamel Sutra Core
- Karamel Sutra Core (dairy free)
- New York Super Fudge Chunk
- Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz
- Pistachio Pistachio
Here is what Ben & Jerry’s says about gluten when it comes to non-certified flavors:
“Ben & Jerry’s has a very proactive approach to addressing the concerns of persons with food sensitivities. We work closely with all of our ingredient suppliers to verify all ingredient components, including those in natural flavors, colors and spices that might be a concern to persons who, either for medical reasons or as a matter of personal preference, wish to avoid certain foods. We insure that this information is then included on the ingredient label of our product.
“Our policies and procedures are such that if peanuts or tree nuts (almonds, cashews, chestnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts/filberts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, pine nuts) as well as eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, seeds, and lupin are not listed in the ingredient declaration or in an Allergy Information statement in boldface on the package, then the product is safe to consume for persons with allergies to those ingredients.
“We have systems and policies in place to help protect our consumers from cross-contamination. While we process nut flavors on shared equipment that also processes non-nut flavors, Ben & Jerry’s employs strict sanitation procedures and processes that ensure complete cleaning of all equipment. Also, while it is virtually impossible to make absolute guarantees, Ben & Jerry’s is confident that not only are our products good to eat, they are also safe to eat. For specific information about our products, we ask that you continuously refer to the labels on our products as they are the most complete and most up-to-date source for specific food allergen information.”
Here’s how Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey (banana-flavored ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts) tested when put to the Nima Sensor test – as you can see, Nima is all smiles (smile = no gluten found).
Is Breyer’s Ice Cream Gluten Free?
Many Breyer’s ice creams are labeled gluten free, which means they contain less than 20 ppm of gluten (if any) and meet the FDA’s gluten-free labeling requirements.
Not all Breyer’s products are gluten free, and Breyer’s does not claim to have a dedicated gluten-free manufacturing facility.
On the Breyer’s website, Breyer’s says, “…stringent criteria are used to ensure that the products that claim to be gluten free are handled properly.
“At the BREYERS® facility, there are systems in place to prevent cross-contact of gluten in products that make a gluten-free claim. They include employee allergen training, ingredient segregation, cleaning procedures and production planning. The gluten-free program within the factory includes validation and verification activities which include allergen testing on both the product and the production lines.“
Here is how Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip fared against the Nima Sensor. Yep, Nima is all smiles again!
Is Dreyer’s (or Edy’s) Ice Cream Gluten Free?
Note that Edy’s and Dreyer’s are the same brand, however, the ice cream brand is sold as Dreyer’s west of the Rocky Mountains and in Texas, and it’s sold as Edy’s in the midwest and eastern U.S.
Edy’s/Dreyer’s says on its website, “Typically, the gluten in our frozen dessert products comes from the added bakery products such as cookies, cake or brownies. But some Dreyer’s flavors have gluten from non-bakery products. Each flavor has ingredient listings if you’re interested in finding out more.”
In other words, each product is individually labeled for gluten. Not a huge vote of confidence, but at least we know Edy’s/Dreyer’s is aware that some of its customers do not eat gluten and it labels its products accordingly.
Here is how Dreyer’s chocolate peanut butter flavor fared when put to the Nima Sensor test. Once again, Nima is happy!
Is Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Gluten Free?
Häagen-Dazs says on its website, “As a general rule, the gluten in our frozen dessert products is present only in added bakery products such as cookies, cake, or brownies. All products that are gluten free are clearly marked as such on the packaging and the website.”
There you have it. If the packaging says “gluten free,” it doesn’t contain any gluten.
The Häagen-Dazs coffee flavor is labeled “gluten free,” so I put it to the Nima Sensor test. Nima is smiling again – no gluten found!
Is So Delicious Ice Cream Gluten Free?
I didn’t forget my dairy-free friends, no way! In fact, my dairy-free friends have it the best because So Delicious ice creams are not only dairy free, but also they are certified gluten free and they come in flavors like cookie dough. Oh how I miss cookie dough ice cream!
So Delicious ice creams are made with dairy swaps like cashewmilk and coconutmilk.
So Delicious says it’s serious about food allergies. Just read this page that details its rigorous allergen control process (too much to paste here, but basically it details how serious the company is about feeding people with food allergies).
I put So Delicious to the Nima Sensor test live on Facebook so we could learn together if So Delicious is really gluten free. Yep, this cookie dough ice cream is 100 percent gluten free; Nima is all smiles!
Is Tillamook Ice Cream Gluten Free?
When I first wrote this article, I didn’t include another popular ice cream brand, Tillamook. I have since visited the Tillamook farm in Oregon, and decided to add this brand to my list.
Please note that I have not tested Tillamook for hidden gluten, but I did want to share what Tillamook says about gluten – and other allergens – on its website:
“All Tillamook Ice Cream flavors contain milk, and most contain pasteurized egg yolks as well. Some also contain other major allergens like wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, and soy. In compliance with federal law, any Tillamook product that contains major allergens like these must clearly state so in the ingredients listing on the packaging, so please be sure to check the label!
“Please note that all of our ice cream flavors are produced with the same equipment. Production schedules are carefully prepared by considering allergens and their potential risks. Equipment is thoroughly sanitized and swab-tested (for allergen remnants) after producing ice cream flavors that contain nuts or other major allergens.
“For all Tillamook products, there are strict GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) in place which are designed to prevent any cross-contamination of major allergens on shared equipment lines. This includes swab-testing the equipment between production runs to ensure there are no allergen remnants present.”
The bottom line is that you must read the allergen disclosure statements on individual packaging. Some of you may choose to avoid Tillamook since it uses shared equipment, however, it does appear that the company employs satisfactory measures to avoid cross contamination on its manufacturing lines.
Ice Ice Cream, Baby!
I hope you found this article featuring several gluten-free ice cream brands helpful. If you want information on other brands, please leave a comment or drop me a line.
You might also find these articles interesting:
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- The Scoop on Gluten-Free Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Shops
- Frozen Yogurt Banana Pops (Dairy-Free with Yogurt Alternative)
- 13 Things to Know About the Nima Sensor
- Is the Nima Sensor Accurate?
- Are Marshmallows Gluten Free and Testing Jet-Puffed Marshmallows for Hidden Gluten
- List of Gluten-Free Cereals – Tested for Hidden Gluten
- Is Nutella Gluten Free? Nima Sensor Tested