Is Pudding Gluten-Free? Why I Love Pudding & You Should Too!

gluten free pudding with blueberries

Who doesn't love a dessert with no chewing involved? I'm certainly a fan (and a lazy eater). In a world filled with traditional gluten-based cakes and cookies, finding a sweet snack or dessert can be challenging. Wondering if pudding is gluten-free? Read on to see what's safe and what to avoid.

The vast majority of pudding, whether you use an instant mix or make it yourself from scratch is gluten-free. Regardless of the flavor you choose, the main ingredients in pudding made from scratch are milk, sugar, eggs, flavorings like cocoa powder or vanilla extract, and cornstarch. All those ingredients are naturally gluten-free, so if you choose to make pudding in your own home, you’re all set as long as you avoid cross-contamination.

However, for many of us, the idea of making pudding from scratch seems like a lot of work – or at least a lot of dishes to clean. Luckily, there’s good news for those of us who would much rather use an instant mix. Most major brands of instant pudding mix in the U.S. are also gluten-free! That said, it’s important to check labels carefully, as product formulations can change and ingredients may differ from one flavor or brand of pudding to another. Additionally, it’s important to be particularly careful of pudding flavors with mix-in ingredients that contain gluten.

For example, a Cookies n' Cream flavored pudding is not safe for people with celiac disease and gluten-intolerance unless it’s made with gluten-free cookies. However, don't despair! If you're craving a big ol' bowl of cookies and cream pudding, you can make a plain, gluten-free vanilla or chocolate pudding and add your own gluten-free cookies to it!

Sometimes even instant pudding is too much darn work, and you just want to buy pre-made pudding packaged in individual cups. It’s quick, it’s convenient, and if you have kids, it’s a great treat to add to their lunch boxes. Like instant pudding, most of this pudding is gluten-free. However, people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity should always read the label. Puddings with components made out of gluten – like that cookies and cream flavor mentioned above – are not a safe part of a gluten-free diet. Remember that ingredient labeling, while required on the outer package, may not be present on the individual serving-size cups themselves. 

REASONS WHY MOST PUDDING IS GLUTEN-FREE

  • Pudding's main ingredients include dairy, eggs, salt, and sugar, which are all naturally gluten-free.
  • Pudding is thickened with cornstarch. Corn is naturally gluten-free and so is cornstarch.
  • Common flavorings like cocoa powder and vanilla extract are naturally gluten-free.
  • Rice and tapioca pearls are both naturally gluten-free.

REMEMBER THAT PUDDING HAS DIFFERENT MEANINGS IN DIFFERENT PLACES

When looking for celiac-safe pudding, you should remember that pudding has different meanings in different places. While the creamy dessert popular in America is gluten-free within the parameters described above, desserts like bread pudding and most English puddings are wheat based. These are not safe for people with celiac disease or other gluten-sensitivities, unless produced with specifically gluten-free ingredients.

Types of pudding that are NOT gluten-free:

  • Bread pudding
  • English puddings with a cake or bread base (both sweet and savory)
  • Pudding with gluten-containing mix-ins such as cookies or cakes

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: IS JELL-O PUDDING GLUTEN-FREE?

At the time of this post, Kraft Foods details the following on allergen labeling:

Please note our products are produced and labeled in compliance with the FDA. When labeling products, we consider - and label for - all possible sources of the 8 major allergens recognized by the FDA. These are eggs, fish, crustacean, shellfish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat. Kraft Heinz also labels for additional allergens or substances of interest including celery, mustard, lupin, mollusks, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppyseeds, cottonseed, all sources of gluten, and sulfites in levels over 10 ppm. If any of these substances are added to the product, they will be listed in the Ingredient Statement. Our Consumer Representatives at 1-877-677-3268 will happy to help you with any questions you have concerning allergens and our products. Via Kraft Foods website

Of course, it’s not just the ingredients in pudding you have to worry about. Cross contamination is always a risk that needs to be considered. Be aware of serving utensils that may have come into contact with gluten-containing foods. We also recommend you carefully label any food in your home that needs to remain gluten-free if gluten-containing ingredients are allowed in your household.

Ready to get your dessert on? Grab a spoon, dig into a batch of gluten-free pudding, and enjoy! What's your fav gluten-free pudding flavor? Share with the Hold the Gluten community in the comments below.

Feeling confused and overwhelmed on "what is gluten"?

You're not alone! I've put together a comprehensive list to decipher the mystery and meaning of gluten just for you.

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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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