Are Cheetos cheese puffs gluten-free?

Cheetos are an iconic snack food that have been enjoyed by people of all ages for decades. With their puffy texture and signature orange cheese flavor, Cheetos are hard to resist! But for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, an important question arises: are Cheetos gluten-free?

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, original Cheetos cheese puffs are considered gluten-free. According to Cheetos, their classic cheese puffs contain no wheat, barley, rye, or other gluten-containing ingredients.

Ingredients in Cheetos Cheese Puffs

So what exactly is in Cheetos that makes them gluten-free? Here is a look at the main ingredients:

  • Enriched corn meal – Corn does not contain gluten, so enriched corn meal is safe.
  • Vegetable oil – Oils like canola, sunflower, and/or corn oil are gluten-free.
  • Cheese seasoning – Typically contains spices, salt, yeast extract, and dried cheese made from milk.
  • Artificial color – Cheetos get their bright orange hue from food coloring.

As you can see, the primary ingredients in classic Cheetos cheese puffs are corn and oil. There are no gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, or rye used in the recipe. The cheese seasoning contains natural flavors and cheese made from milk, which does not contain gluten. Any artificial colors used are also gluten-free.

Manufacturing Process

In addition to gluten-free ingredients, the manufacturing process for Cheetos is designed to avoid cross-contamination with gluten:

  • Cheetos cheese puffs are produced on dedicated gluten-free production lines.
  • Frito-Lay (Cheetos manufacturer) follows rigorous allergen control procedures in their facilities.
  • Workers thoroughly clean equipment between production runs of different products.

These controls during manufacturing help ensure no gluten contamination occurs when producing gluten-free snacks like original Cheetos.

Are All Cheetos Gluten-Free?

While original cheese puffs are gluten-free, it’s important to note that not all Cheetos products are gluten-free. Here are some varieties that do contain gluten:

  • Cheetos Puffs Salsa con Queso
  • Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Limón
  • Cheetos Mix-Ups Pretzel
  • Cheetos Mix-Ups Chili Cheese

These flavors contain wheat flour, barley malt, and/or oat fiber as ingredients. So while the classic cheese puffs are gluten-free, some flavored Cheetos puffs and crunchy varieties do contain gluten.

Are Cheetos Safe for Celiacs?

For people with celiac disease, even tiny amounts of gluten can cause issues. So are Cheetos really safe for those who need to follow a strict gluten-free diet? According to Cheetos:

  • Cheetos meet the FDA’s definition of “gluten-free” (less than 20 parts per million gluten).
  • Cheetos cheese puffs test below 5 ppm of gluten from the manufacturing facility through end of shelf life.

This very low gluten content, under 5 ppm, means original Cheetos puffs are considered safe for most people with celiac disease. However, individual sensitivity varies. Those with celiac should try a small serving first to see if it causes any symptoms.

Are Cheetos Dairy-Free?

Along with being gluten-free, many people wonder if original Cheetos are also dairy-free. The answer is no – Cheetos do contain milk ingredients. Specifically, the cheese seasoning contains dried cheddar cheese and/or whey. Whey is a milk protein.

So while Cheetos don’t contain any lactose, they are not considered dairy-free due to the milk-derived ingredients. People with milk allergies need to avoid Cheetos.

Finding Gluten-Free Cheetos

Checking labels is always important when purchasing gluten-free foods. Here are some tips for finding gluten-free Cheetos cheese puffs:

  • Look for the classic Cheetos cheese puffs in the red bag. Avoid any flavors like Flamin’ Hot or Salsa Con Queso.
  • Check the ingredients list for wheat, barley, rye, malt, and oat fiber.
  • Look for a “gluten-free” label on the package.
  • Purchase individually wrapped servings to reduce cross-contamination.
  • Buy Cheetos labeled “Made in a gluten-free facility”.

Sticking to original cheese puffs and verifying gluten-free labeling helps ensure you get the gluten-free Cheetos that are safe to enjoy.

Should I Trust That Cheetos Are Really Gluten-Free?

Some people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may be skeptical about trusting any gluten labeling on a popular product like Cheetos. This concern is understandable given how sensitive celiacs are to gluten.

However, Cheetos cheese puffs have been rigorously tested and meet the FDA gluten-free standards. The manufacturing facilities also follow strict protocols to avoid any cross-contamination.

Here are a few more reasons you can trust Cheetos cheese puffs are gluten-free:

  • They are certified gluten-free by the Celiac Support Association.
  • Cheetos are labeled gluten-free in all countries they are sold (U.S., Canada, Australia, etc).
  • Consumer groups like have also confirmed the gluten-free status.
  • No public gluten contamination events have been reported.

Combined with testing results below 5 ppm of gluten, this information verifies Cheetos have safely maintained gluten-free production over many years. People with celiac disease can be assured that Cheetos cheese puffs remain a gluten-free food option.

Should People with Celiac Disease Eat Cheetos?

While original Cheetos cheese puffs do meet the requirements to be labeled gluten-free, whether they are a smart choice for the gluten-free diet depends on the individual.

Here are some pros and cons for people with celiac disease considering Cheetos:


  • Cheetos are gluten-free to less than 5 ppm and considered celiac-safe.
  • They provide a nostalgic treat that most people can enjoy.
  • Gluten-free labeling makes Cheetos an easily accessible option.
  • They can satisfy cravings for crunchy, salty, cheese-flavored snacks.


  • Cheetos are high in artificial colors and flavors.
  • They are also very high in fat, sodium, and saturated fat.
  • Not a good source of nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Eating too many may cause gastrointestinal upset.

Ultimately, enjoying Cheetos in moderation as an occasional snack should be fine for most people with celiac disease. But making Cheetos a regular part of your diet is not recommended, even if they are gluten-free.

Other Gluten-Free Snack Options

If you choose to avoid Cheetos or want some more healthy gluten-free snacking alternatives, here are some ideas:

Gluten-Free Crackers

  • Mary’s Gone Crackers
  • Blue Diamond Nut Thins
  • Schar Gluten Free Crackers
  • Simple Mills Crackers


  • Pop Secret
  • SkinnyPop
  • Boom Chicka Pop
  • Smartfood Popcorn


  • Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips
  • Terra Vegetable Chips
  • Barnana Organic Plantain Chips
  • Lay’s Gluten-Free Potato Chips

Other Gluten-Free Snacks

  • Kind Bars
  • Nut mixes
  • Fruit and veggies with hummus
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Cheese sticks
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Checking labels is key, but there are lots of tasty gluten-free snack options. Following a gluten-free diet has become much easier with so many products available.

The Bottom Line

Here is a summary of the key points on whether Cheetos are gluten-free:

  • Yes, original Cheetos crunchy cheese puffs are certified gluten-free to below 5 ppm.
  • Some flavored Cheetos contain gluten, so check labels carefully.
  • Cheetos facilities follow strict protocols to avoid gluten cross-contamination.
  • Cheetos do contain milk ingredients, so they are not dairy-free or vegan.
  • People with celiac disease can choose to eat Cheetos, but they are high in fat and sodium.
  • Gluten-free crackers, popcorn, and nut mixes provide healthier alternatives.

Though high in fat and artificial ingredients, classic Cheetos cheese puffs remain a gluten-free comfort food option that most celiacs can safely enjoy in moderation. Following a balanced gluten-free diet focused on naturally nutrient-dense foods is still recommended for optimal health.

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