Honey is a sweet, syrupy liquid made by honeybees. Many people enjoy it on bread, in tea, or as a sweetener.

With so many varieties of honey on the market, you may wonder whether all forms are safe to eat if you avoid gluten for health or personal reasons.

This article reviews how honey is made, whether it’s gluten-free, and which brands to choose.

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Honey starts as flower nectar collected by honeybees.

The bees then repeatedly consume, digest, and regurgitate the nectar inside the beehive to produce honey.

They then drop the honey into the hexagonal beeswax comb and repeat this process until the comb is full.

Once the comb is full, the bees cap the comb with wax. It’s then collected by beekeepers for honey extraction.

The type of honey varies based on the plant source, extraction method, and how the honey has been processed or preserved.

Although the nutritional content varies based on the type of honey, 1 tablespoon (21 grams) of honey generally provides 64 calories and 17 grams of carbs and offers virtually no protein, fiber, or fat (1).

It contains only trace amounts of various micronutrients but is a concentrated source of beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants (1, 2, 3).

Summary

Honey is produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowering plants. It’s a sweet substance that’s rich in carbs and powerful antioxidants.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in certain cereal grains. These proteins give dough its elastic and stretchy structure (4).

While most people can tolerate gluten without any side effects, people with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity need to eliminate gluten from their diet.

This means eliminating gluten-containing grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye.

Gluten can also be found in oat products that have been cross-contaminated or processed in a plant that also manufactures gluten-containing grains (5).

Honey is naturally gluten-free, as none of these grains are used in its preparation.

However, there may be a risk of cross contamination if honey is processed in a facility that also manufactures gluten-containing foods (6).

Summary

Honey is naturally gluten-free. Still, it may be exposed to gluten through cross contamination if it’s processed in a facility that manufactures gluten-containing foods.

Though honey is naturally gluten-free, certain honey-flavored items may contain this group of proteins.

For example, some specialty honeys may include additional ingredients, such as flavorings or additives that could contain gluten (7).

Additionally, honey-based salad dressings or honey-flavored dipping sauces, such as honey mustard, may contain gluten if the product isn’t labeled gluten-free (8).

Even if a honey product doesn’t contain any ingredients with gluten, it still may not be gluten-free.

This is due to cross contamination. Honey that’s manufactured in a facility that also produces gluten-containing foods may become cross-contaminated during processing (9).

Summary

Some types of honey or honey-flavored products may contain gluten-containing ingredients. These products may also be cross-contaminated with gluten during processing.

The best way to check whether your honey is gluten-free is to carefully read the label.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), any foods labeled gluten-free, no gluten, free of gluten, or without gluten must contain fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten (10, 11).

This is the lowest level reliably detected, and it’s safe for most individuals following a gluten-free diet (10).

However, labeling a product gluten-free is voluntary. As such, some gluten-free honey or honey products may not include this labeling even if the product is gluten-free.

Checking the ingredient list for ingredients that may contain gluten is always a good idea. If it contains wheat, barley, rye, or ingredients made with these grains, the product is not gluten-free.

Additionally, you can check the label for allergen claims. Food companies are legally required to indicate common allergens on the label, including wheat (12).

Here’s a list of brands that produce gluten-free honey:

  • Capilano
  • Nature Nate’s
  • GloryBee
  • Bee Harmony
  • Local Fischer’s
  • Mike’s Hot Honey
  • Sioux Honey
  • L.R. Rice
  • Gunter’s

These are just a few of the gluten-free brands available. If you’re unsure whether your honey is gluten-free, you can always reach out to companies directly to ask about their ingredients and processing practices.

Summary

To ensure your honey is gluten-free, look for gluten-free labeling or check the ingredient list or allergen claims for gluten-containing ingredients.

Honey is naturally gluten-free.

Still, some specialty flavored honeys or honey-based products may include gluten-containing ingredients.

Honey may also become cross-contaminated with gluten if it’s manufactured in a facility that also processes gluten-containing foods.

If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, closely reading the label or buying certified gluten-free products is always a good idea to avoid unknowingly ingesting gluten.