There’s nothing like the creamy, sweet taste of ice cream. We can’t get enough! Americans each eat nearly 28 pounds of ice cream a year on average, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. As an $8 billion enterprise, ice cream is serious business.
But if you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, picking a scoop can be a lot more complicated. Many ice creams contain gluten or are processed in a shared facility that makes cross-contamination a concern.
An estimated 18 million people may be sensitive to gluten, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease. In people with celiac disease, gluten alerts the immune system to go after the lining of the small intestine.
What to look for
Sauces and baked goods, like cookie dough in ice cream, are generally a giveaway of gluten. Look for ingredients such as wheat flour and barley malt syrup, which contain gluten. Many brands will also include a note in the ingredients section about allergens like gluten or soy.
While ice cream that doesn’t have any ingredients that contain gluten listed on the label is safe for people with gluten sensitivity or people who are hoping to avoid gluten, there is still a risk of cross-contamination. People with celiac disease should avoid them.
Cross-contamination is a major concern for the 3 million people in the United States with celiac disease. Even microscopic amounts of gluten can cause a reaction, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For people with celiac disease, it’s extremely important that ice cream be labeled as gluten-free, or that it has a gluten-free certification. All foods labeled as “gluten-free,” “free of gluten,” “no gluten,” or “without gluten” must have less than 20 parts per million of gluten, according to FDA rules.
But this doesn’t mean you have to give up America’s favorite treat!
11 gluten-free ice cream brands
Their gluten-free line includes low-fat, lactose-free, and no sugar added options. With more than 30 flavors to choose from, they have a wide range of gluten-free ice creams made with sustainably farmed fruit and vanilla.
Made from organic, raw cashews, these creamy ice creams are free of soy, dairy, refined sugar, trans fat, and gluten. They are sweetened with agave syrup and are full of superfood ingredients like raw cacao powder and prebiotics. Their price point is one of the highest on the market though.
With only 150 calories per 1/2-cup serving and less than 18 grams of sugar, you can indulge in their flavors like Cherry Chocolate Swirl or Pistachio without guilt.
While technically gelato, you can’t miss the mind-melting creaminess of their gluten-free treats. Most of their flavors are marked gluten-free on the nutrition label, and Talenti has a rigorous allergen program that includes FDA testing to ensure that they are safe. From their Belgian Milk Chocolate Gelato to their Coffee Pops to their Blood Orange Sorbetto, you can’t go wrong.
Dream carries multiple gluten-free flavors made from almond, soy, or rice milk. Their products are Non-GMO Project-verified and include decadent choices like Almond Dream Praline Crunch, Soy Dream Vanilla Fudge Swirl, and Rice Dream Cocoa Marble Fudge.
While you are technically safe with these gluten-free treats, there’s a chance you might eat the whole carton in a sitting. All of their creamy coconut products are tested weekly and have never failed to meet the FDA’s gluten-free standard. Their ice creams are stuffed with gluten-free baked goods and fair trade, USDA-certified organic ingredients. Don’t pass up their Ginger Cookie Caramel or Classic Dark Chocolate.
6. So Delicious
Dip your spoon into these nondairy ice creams made from almond, soy, coconut, or cashew milk. All of their gluten-free products are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, so you can eat without worry. Check the ingredient labels on the carton to find allergen-free flavors.
Chocolate Cherry Fudge Brownie, That Snickerdoodle Dough, Vanilla Cha-Cha-Chai, oh my! NadaMoo is a family-owned operation that makes dairy-free ice creams out of coconut milk. Their products are certified gluten-free, USDA organic, non-GMO, kosher, and fair trade.
Made with grass-fed dairy or dairy-free milk, Steve’s Ice Cream includes gluten-free flavors like Cold Brewed Cinnamon Coffee, Mexican Chili Chocolate, and Wildflower Honey Pistachio. Even though they are packed in recyclable, BPA-free plastic pints, it seems unlikely they will be in your freezer for very long.
Having an ice cream emergency? No worries, Wink Frozen Desserts ships directly to you. These certified gluten-free treats are made with pea protein and organic agave. They are free of the top eight food allergens like gluten, soy, and dairy, so you can dig in without worry. Take a bite out of their Iced Latte, Caramel Candy Apple, or Peanut Butter and Jelly flavors and the company will donate to the One Percent for the Planet Organization.
10. DF Mavens
Handmade in New York, these gluten-free certified ice creams are made with soy, almond, or coconut milk. But don’t just stick to their pints — they have tempting ice cream bars. From Alphonso Mango to Key Lime Crème, their flavorful pints have only 15 grams of sugar and 180 calories.
11. Arctic Zero
Say goodbye to the sugar high! Arctic Zero makes low-glycemic, low-fat, lactose-free ice creams with whey protein and fiber for a healthier treat. They use monk fruit to sweeten their products without the sugar rush. All of their flavors are certified gluten-free, except for their Cookie Dough Chip Chunky, Brownie Blast, and Snickerdoodle Dandy Chunky pints.
There are plenty of gluten-free ice cream options available. Be careful to always check the ingredient lists and look for gluten-free certifications.
But remember, just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Look out for ice creams full of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Check for varieties that are low in sugar, have no trans fats, and are low in saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and no more than 9 teaspoons for men. That’s less than 30 grams of sugar for women and less than 45 grams for men. Be mindful, as a single serving of ice cream can easily include your daily allotment of sugar.