This post about what ice creams are gluten-free is sponsored by Nima Sensor and contains affiliate links. Please read labels carefully to ensure product is safe for your dietary restrictions. 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. Am I right?
However, as someone with celiac disease following a strict gluten-free diet, we must first take pause before grabbing any old ice cream.
Is Ice Cream Gluten-Free?
Ice cream is gluten-free as it is typically made from sugar, milk, cream and sometimes eggs. All these ingredients are naturally gluten-free.
However, where things get tricky is when flavors are added to the ice cream mix.
A plain ice cream flavor is typically fine and free from the gluten protein, but the worry comes when cookies and other ingredients are added to the mix. This is why you MUST read ingredient labels to decode if something is safe – or not safe – for you.
Eating ice cream at an ice cream shop also can be a dicey experience. 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 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 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 Creams are Gluten-Free?
To make sure six well-known ice cream brands are truly gluten-free, I put them to the Nima Sensor.
The Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that allows you to test a pea-sized portion of your food for gluten. In other words, you cannot test the entire carton of ice cream for gluten, but you can test a small piece of it. Even a small piece gives you insight into whether or not the ice cream is safe.
When you see a smiley face displayed on your Nima Sensor, Nima did not find gluten. When it displays a wheat symbol and the message, “Gluten Found,” Nima detected gluten.
I’ve been using the Nima Sensor to test dozens of dishes at dozens of restaurants (you can see many things I’ve tested here). If you’re strict about being gluten-free, I recommend getting a Nima Sensor of your own exclusively on Amazon.
BEFORE testing anything, always check ingredient labels and manufacturer allergen disclosure statements. Just because one flavor of Ben and Jerry’s is gluten-free, for example, doesn’t mean all Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors are gluten-free. You must read the label of each individual carton.
I only wanted to test brands that appeared to be safe for those of us who cannot eat gluten. I read all ingredient labels to decide which ice cream brands and flavors to test.
I found, as a general rule of thumb, that ice cream is gluten-free. It’s the goodies inside – like the cookie dough and brownies – that are not gluten-free.
Here is how each ice cream brand fared when put to the gluten detecting test (listed in alphabetical order):
Ben and Jerry’s: Some of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream pints do not contain gluten and can be enjoyed by someone on a gluten-free diet. Ben and Jerry’s says reading the ingredient label will help you decipher is a specific flavor is safe for you.
Specifically, Ben and Jerry’s writes on its website:
“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 and 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!
Breyer’s: 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!
Dreyer’s (or Edy’s): 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 that they label their products accordingly.
Here is how Dreyer’s chocolate peanut butter flavor fared when put to the Nima Sensor test. Once again, Nima is happy!
Häagen-Dazs: 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!
So Delicious: 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!
There you have it, several ice cream brands that are gluten-free. Now you can feel confident eating ice cream without worry of getting glutened!
Watch Nima in Action!
You can watch my Facebook Live video to see the Nima Sensor in action. This is such a terrific device that truly enhances the lives of so many of us who cannot eat gluten. Thank you Nima!