Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people adopting them for medical reasons or by personal choice. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, adhering to a strict gluten-free diet is essential to avoid adverse health effects. But even for those without specific medical needs, many follow a gluten-free diet because they believe it is generally healthier or can aid with weight loss.
With gluten-free lifestyles on the rise, the demand for delicious gluten-free baked goods has increased as well. Cookies are a favorite sweet treat for many, but traditional cookie recipes often contain gluten. Finding truly gluten-free cookie options can be a challenge. This leaves many gluten-free consumers wondering: Are any of Cheryl’s cookies gluten-free?
About Gluten and Gluten-Free Diets
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. It helps baked goods maintain their shape and texture. However, for individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue and more. The only treatment is adopting a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.
Beyond those with gluten-related disorders, roughly 3.1 million Americans keep a gluten-free diet for other reasons. Some believe it will give them more energy, improve gastrointestinal health, promote weight loss or simply that it is a healthier way to eat. The popularity of gluten-free dieting has steadily risen, with an estimated 30% of adults trying to cut down on gluten or eliminate it from their diets altogether.
Adhering completely to a gluten-free diet means excluding any foods that contain wheat, barley, rye or oats (unless certified gluten-free). This means no breads, baked goods, pastas, cereals, beer or other products made with these grains. It also requires vigilance when dining out and careful scrutiny of ingredient labels when grocery shopping. But thanks to growing demand, gluten-free specialty products and food items are now widely available, making gluten-free living more convenient than ever.
The Appeal of Cookies
Cookies are a beloved sweet treat for people of all ages. The global cookie market was estimated at over $44 billion USD in 2021. In the U.S. alone, it is projected that over $17 billion will be spent on cookie sales in 2022.
There are many reasons cookies are so popular:
– They satisfy cravings for something sweet. The sugar and fat content give them an appealing taste and texture.
– They are associated with fond childhood memories of stealing cookies with siblings or the aroma of mother’s baking wafting through the house.
– They are a comfort food that can lift spirits or create a sense of nostalgia.
– Cookies come in an endless variety – whether simple like chocolate chip or more elaborate combinations with fillings and mix-ins. There are cookies to suit every taste.
– They are inexpensive, fun to decorate, and make great gifts or snacks for parties and holidays.
– Homemade cookies show love, hospitality and celebration. Bringing cookies to share is a thoughtful gesture.
– Store-bought cookies are convenient. Keeping cookies stocked in the pantry or freezer makes for an effortless sweet snack or dessert.
For all of these sentimental and practical reasons, cookies are a forever popular treat that spreads joy and enjoyment.
The Challenge of Gluten-Free Cookies
Most traditional cookie recipes rely on wheat flour to achieve the right texture and taste. Wheat flour contains gluten, so typical cookie ingredients are off limits for gluten-free consumers. Replacing regular wheat flour in cookies can be tricky:
Gluten provides structure and binds ingredients together. Without it, cookies may spread too much or fall apart easily. Gluten-free flours like almond meal, coconut flour or tapioca starch don’t perform the same way as wheat flour. Special techniques may be required to get the proper cookie texture.
Wheat flour also influences the complex flavor of baked goods. Alternative gluten-free flours can sometimes impart off tastes or bitterness if not formulated correctly. Achieving a cookie with well-balanced sweetness takes skill.
In addition to avoiding wheat flour, a gluten-free cookie recipe may restrict other ingredients. Barley malt, brewer’s yeast, wheat bran or rye flakes are examples of cookie mix-ins that could add trace gluten. Reading labels carefully and limiting ingredients is key.
Even if a cookie recipe itself is gluten-free, cross-contamination is a hazard. Residual flour in baking equipment or shared work spaces can introduce gluten to otherwise gluten-free cookies. Special preparation and sanitization methods may be necessary.
Gluten-free specialty flours, baking aids and custom ingredients tend to cost more than typical wheat flour and pantry staples. Producing gluten-free cookies on a commercial scale while keeping prices affordable presents difficulties too.
The obstacles don’t end there. Since gluten development affects the way doughs and batters hydrate, getting consistency and moisture levels right is another balancing act. Factoring in added fats or binders to mimic gluten’s effects complicates recipes as well.
Cheryl’s Cookies is a popular commercial cookie company that creates over 40 unique cookie flavors and designs. Their cookies are made with real butter and eggs, using quality ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, seasonal fruit purees and premium extracts.
The company bakes a huge variety of classic and gourmet cookie flavors. Some examples include:
- Chocolate Chip
- Oatmeal Raisin
- Triple Chocolate Chunk
- Lemon Burst
- Birthday Cake
- Toffee Crunch
- Caramel Apple Pie
- Pumpkin Roll
- Peanut Butter Fudge
Cheryl’s features many creative flavors like Carrot Cake, Cotton Candy, Tiramisu and their signature Cookie Dough Dough flavor. They decorate cookies for holidays and special occasions too.
The company started small out of Cheryl Krueger’s home kitchen in 1981. Now based in Columbus, Ohio, Cheryl’s Cookies ships oven-fresh cookies nationwide and operates retail cookie stores in over 40 states. They are a beloved, long-standing brand with a reputation for high quality.
Are Cheryl’s Cookies Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Cheryl’s Cookies are not gluten-free. According to their website and customer service department:
– None of their products are certified gluten-free.
– They cannot guarantee that any of their cookies are free from gluten cross-contamination.
– All their cookie products are made on shared equipment alongside wheat-based cookies.
So for consumers with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, Cheryl’s Cookies are generally not considered safe to eat. Those with serious gluten medical issues need to avoid Cheryl’s Cookies altogether due to the gluten cross-contamination risks. Their kitchen facilities and practices are not gluten-free compliant.
For less sensitive gluten-free consumers, Cheryl’s does report that a handful of their cookie flavors may be made with recipes and ingredients that are naturally gluten-free:
|Cheryl’s Cookie Flavor||Likelihood of Being Gluten-Free|
|Double Chocolate Pecan||Possible|
|Chippeaky Chocolate Chip||Unlikely|
However, because of the shared equipment and processes, trace gluten amounts may end up in the final products. Those with gluten intolerances (but not celiac disease) may potentially be able to tolerate small gluten cross-contamination. But it is a risky option not recommended for consumers very sensitive to gluten. Contamination levels could fluctuate batch to batch.
Cheryl’s Cookies does warn that individuals with celiac disease or wheat allergies should avoid all their cookie products entirely due to the gluten risk. They do not recommend relying on their cookies for a strict gluten-free diet.
Gluten-Free Cookie Alternatives
For those hoping Cheryl’s Cookies would be a delicious gluten-free treat, there are plenty of other cookie brands that do offer certified gluten-free options:
Glutino is one of the most popular gluten-free snack and baked goods brands. They offer a wide assortment of gluten-free cookie flavors, from Double Chocolate and Vanilla Cream to Lemon Wafer and English Toffee. Glutino cookies are made in a dedicated gluten-free and allergen-free facility.
Katz Gluten Free
Katz features gluten-free and vegan cookies made with clean, non-GMO ingredients. Favorites include Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Lemon Blueberry and Salted Caramel. Their manufacturing process adheres to strict gluten-free protocols.
Anna’s Gluten Free Cookie Thins
These crunchy, deliciously thin cookies come in tastes like vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and more. Anna’s Cookie Thins are certified gluten-free to under 5 ppm.
Immaculate Baking Company
This dedicated bakery offers certified gluten-free cookies, brownies and baking mixes ideal for the gluten intolerant household. Flavors include Chocolate Chip, Classic Oatmeal and signature Blueberry Bliss.
Lucy’s has won awards for their soft-baked gluten-free cookies which come in creative options like Mint Thin, Pumpkin White Chip and Triple Lemon. They ship fresh-baked cookie packs nationwide.
Many independent bakeries now offer specialty gluten-free cookie flavors. Searching local shops for quality gluten-free sweets can yield delicious results.
Homemade Gluten-Free Cookies
For ultimate control over ingredients and processes, making gluten-free cookies at home is a great option. Here are some tips for homemade success:
Find Recipes Formulated for Gluten-Free
Look for recipes using flours like almond flour, coconut flour, gluten-free oats or commercial gluten-free flour blends. Substituting wheat flour 1:1 typically won’t work.
Use Binding Agents
Ingredients like xanthan gum, flax seeds, starches and eggs can help mimic gluten’s binding effects.
Adjust Dough Consistency
Gluten-free doughs hydrate differently. Add small amounts of liquid gradually until the ideal cookie dough texture forms.
Gently combine wet and dry ingredients without over-mixing to avoid dense or gummy results. The dough will be thick but should hold together when shaped.
Refrigerate Before Baking
Chilling cookie dough allows ingredients to set up and helps prevent excessive spreading. Let dough rest 30-90 minutes.
Use Parchment Paper
Lining pans avoids sticking issues since gluten-free cookies are tender.
Gluten-free cookies set and brown faster. Adjust oven temperature down 25 degrees F if needed and check cookies 1-2 minutes before minimum bake time.
Allow Proper Cooling
Let cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack. This helps them firm up for better structural integrity.
Store in Airtight Container
Keep leftover gluten-free cookies sealed to prevent drying out. Freeze extras in resealable plastic bags for longer shelf life.
Cheryl’s Cookies are a go-to brand for indulgent, fresh-baked cookie cravings. Unfortunately their products are ultimately not suitable for a strict gluten-free diet, even if a few flavors may not contain obvious gluten ingredients. The risk of cross-contamination from shared equipment and facilities makes Cheryl’s Cookies unsafe for those with celiac disease or wheat allergies. Individuals with gluten sensitivity should also use caution.
Thankfully, there are plenty of delicious gluten-free cookie options for those looking to satisfy their cookie fix. Dedicated gluten-free companies, specialty bakeries and homemade recipes offer tasty choices that are sincerely gluten-free. With a few easy substitutions and baking adjustments, gluten-free cookies can be just as satisfying.
So while Cheryl’s Cookies themselves may be off limits, there are still plenty of ways those on a gluten-free diet can enjoy cookies safely. They don’t have to miss out on this cherished sweet treat.