Gluten-Free Ice Cream – We All Scream For It!

pink ice cream truck with gluten-free ice cream

Get the scoop on choosing a gluten-free ice cream that’s safe for our dietary needs & free from the dreaded cross-contamination that will make us sick. PS - Read on for a list of my favorite gluten-free cones!

For many of us ice cream is one of our favorite year-round treats. It comes in hundreds of varieties and is great for cooling off in warm weather or embracing the cold in the winter season. But for those of us with celiac disease or other gluten intolerances, choosing a gluten-free ice cream that’s safe for our dietary needs can be a challenge.

Ice cream, in its simplest form, is made from milk and sugar, both of which are naturally gluten-free. Flavorings such as strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla are almost always added, and mix-ins like cookie dough, chocolate chips, and pretzels are increasingly common. Additionally, commercially produced ice creams often add ingredients like eggs, pectin, xanthan gum, or even our nemesis wheat to influence the ice cream’s texture. It’s these additional flavorings, mix-ins, and texturizers that can create concern for people with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities.

So how can you be sure your ice cream is gluten-free?

First, as you would with any product, check the packaging and ingredients list. It’s important to do this even when purchasing a product you’re already familiar with. Sometimes companies will change the formulation of a product and what used to be safe for a gluten-free diet no longer is.

Be sure not to buy any ice cream that features gluten-containing grains. This is far more likely to happen in a flavor that has mix-ins (such as cookie dough, cookies ‘n’ cream, pretzels, etc.) than simpler flavors that don’t involve solid mix-ins (such as vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, pistachio, etc.).

At home, cross contamination can also be an issue for ice cream if other members of your household still consume gluten. Make sure ice creams that must remain gluten-free are labelled and that scoops and spoons are not shared between containers.

If you purchase your ice cream from a scoop shop, you’ll also want to be careful of cross contamination. Make sure the shop uses a clean scoop for each customer and beware of the scoop migrating between gluten-free ice cream and ice cream with gluten in it. Some shops will rinse a scoop off in a container of water before reusing it, but since this standing water can contain gluten from other flavors, this presents a cross-contamination risk.

hand-holding-gluten-free-ice-cream-and-gluten-free-ice-cream-cone

Also look to see if the scoop touches gluten-containing cones while serving. Remember that even if you ask for your ice cream in a cup and for a fresh scoop to be used, previous reused scooping utensils may have introduced cross-contamination into the ice cream.

Similarly, you’ll also want to be careful of toppings which may contain gluten or be cross-contaminated with other toppings that do. Many ice cream shops also dip filled cones directly into toppings. This can also create a cross contamination risk. In addition, when ordering ice cream in a restaurant, it’s important to note your need to eat gluten-free, lest they put a decorative, but gluten-containing cookie in your serving.

HOW TO MAKE CERTAIN YOUR ICE CREAM IS GLUTEN-FREE

  • Check the ingredients list
  • Avoid gluten-containing mix-ins like cookie dough or cookies ‘n’ cream
  • Avoid cookies or cones containing gluten touching the ice cream
  • Avoid cross contamination

RISK FACTORS FOR GLUTEN IN CROSS CONTAMINATED ICE CREAM

  • Spoons or scoops shared between flavors
  • Spoons or scoops washed in a pot of standing water
  • Poor storage of toppings that allow gluten-free and gluten-containing toppings to mix

Ice cream is a delicious treat you can continue to enjoy now that you’re living a gluten-free life; it just requires a little bit of caution and preparation!

PS - Go for three scoops. You totally deserve it 🙂

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Maureen

Maureen

Maureen Stanley was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2005. Way back before gluten-free was “mainstream“. Maureen created Hold The Gluten blog and podcast in 2008 as a way to connect members of the gluten-free community across the world.

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