There are a few foods that are pretty much always off-limits, including traditional pasta, bread and even soy sauce on a gluten-free diet. But there are plenty of foods in the gray area — and ice cream is one of them.
While ice cream isn't always free of gluten, that doesn't mean this sweet treat is a no-go.
Popular brands like Talenti and Breyers make plenty of gluten-free flavors — just be sure to check the packaging before you buy.
Is Ice Cream Gluten-Free?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and these grains' derivatives.
Unlike single-ingredient foods or cut-and-dry recipes, there's no one way to make ice cream. Some ice cream brands and flavors may be free of wheat, rye or barley ingredients (making them gluten-free) but there's no guarantee, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
For the most part, ice cream is made of a few simple ingredients, including eggs, milk, sugar, cream, gelatin and flavoring, according to the University of Guelph. Generally, these ingredients are gluten-free and safe to eat if you're gluten-sensitive or intolerant.
But recipes will vary, depending on the brand or added ingredients. Today, there's no shortage of creative flavors out there, which can include chunks of cheesecake or cookie dough, both of which usually contain gluten-based ingredients.
How to Find Gluten-Free Ice Cream
Even if the ice cream you're buying contains no gluten ingredients, it may still be at risk for cross-contamination, which occurs when gluten foods come in contact with other ingredients either through manufacturing or preparation, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
When your ice cream is cross-contaminated, it can pose a risk for those with gluten intolerance.
You can avoid the risk of cross-contact by choosing your ice cream carefully. Generally, you'll want to avoid buying ice cream at an ice cream shop, unless the location is certified gluten-free. Here's why: Employees will generally re-use scoopers from flavor to flavor, making it hard to avoid cross-contamination.
At the grocery store, read the ingredient list of any flavor you decide to buy. Look out for any gluten-based foods and don't forget to check the allergen listing for wheat or gluten, too.
Then, find a "Gluten-Free" label on the front package of the product. This label is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration and signifies that the food you're eating is less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is generally safe for gluten-sensitive people to eat.
If you want even more security, buy foods that are labeled "Certified Gluten-Free" and are vetted by trusted third parties, like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). The GFCO has especially strict standards, certifying foods that are only 10 ppm of gluten or less, according to the organization's website.
Gluten-Free Ice Cream Brands to Buy
Just because you're steering clear of gluten, doesn't mean you can't enjoy some ice cream on a hot day. Look out for these gluten-free flavors.
1. 365 Everyday Value
Whole Foods brand 365 Everyday Value offers GF ice cream made from almond milk, perfect for those avoiding both gluten and dairy. The brand also makes a standard variety of gluten-free ice cream flavors, including vanilla, chocolate and mint chocolate chip, which all contain dairy.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $4.99
Talenti makes 24 different (and unique) gluten-free ice cream and gelato flavors like Coffee Chocolate Chip and Caribbean Coconut. You can find all the gluten-free Talenti flavors on the company's website, or check the ice cream package at your local store for a gluten-free label.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $6.49
Breyers ice cream is a classic go-to that you can find just about anywhere. The company site even allows you to search for gluten-free flavors specifically, making your selection even easier. Plus, the brand has plenty of low-carb and low-sugar options, too.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $4.89
4. So Delicious
So Delicious is best known for its wide array of dairy-free flavors but the brand also makes plenty of gluten-free options, too. Some are even free of added sugar! Keep an eye out for gluten-free labels and avoid any ice cream sandwich products, as they usually contain gluten.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $5.29
Finding a gluten-free flavor has never been simpler — Haagen-Dazs allows you to filter for gluten-free flavors right on the website. Here's more good news: Many of their crunchy ice cream bars are also GF.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $4.59