Are coconut wafers gluten-free?

Quick Answer

Most coconut wafers are gluten-free as they are made with ingredients that do not contain gluten such as coconut, sugar, and rice flour. However, some coconut wafers may contain wheat flour or barley malt which do contain gluten. It’s important to check the ingredient list and labeling when purchasing coconut wafers to ensure they are safe for a gluten-free diet.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, and malnutrition. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet by avoiding all foods and products containing gluten.

Sources of Gluten

Gluten is primarily found in:

  • Wheat – including wheatberries, durum, farina, semolina, spelt, kamut
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale – a cross between wheat and rye

In addition to these grains, gluten can be found in many processed foods, additives, seasonings, and sauces where these grains are commonly used. Checking ingredient labels carefully is important to identify hidden sources of gluten.

Are Coconut Wafers Typically Gluten-Free?

Coconut wafers are wafer-like cookies made primarily from coconut and coconut milk or cream. Traditional recipes for coconut wafers contain just a few basic ingredients:

  • Shredded coconut
  • Coconut milk
  • Sugar
  • Rice flour
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract

None of these ingredients naturally contain gluten. So plain coconut wafers made with only coconut, sugar, rice flour and other gluten-free ingredients are naturally gluten-free.

Many commercial brands of coconut wafers are labeled gluten-free and do not include any problematic ingredients. However, always check the label carefully as some mass-produced versions may contain wheat flour or barley malt extract.

As long as coconut wafers are made without gluten grains, they can be considered gluten-free. Sticking to brands that are certified or labeled gluten-free is the safest bet.

Gluten-Free Certification

The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program that certifies products as gluten-free. Foods carrying the GFCO logo must contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. This is generally considered a safe level for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

If you see this logo on a package of coconut wafers, it’s a reliable confirmation that the product is gluten-free.

Risk of Cross-Contamination

Even if the coconut wafer ingredients themselves are gluten-free, there is still a risk of cross-contamination occurring during processing and manufacturing. Cross-contamination happens when gluten-containing grains come into contact with the gluten-free product, contaminating it with traces of gluten.

This can occur if the equipment, surfaces or tools used to make the coconut wafers were not thoroughly cleaned after being used to process wheat-based products. Airborne particles of flour in a shared production facility can also lead to cross-contamination.

To reduce this risk, some brands of coconut wafers specifically manufacture their products in dedicated gluten-free facilities. Buying coconut wafers made in a gluten-free facility further minimizes any chance of cross-contamination.

Are All Coconut Wafers Gluten-Free?

While plain coconut wafers without gluten-containing additives are gluten-free, some mass-produced, flavored and filled coconut wafers may contain problematic ingredients.

Here are some examples of coconut wafers that may contain gluten:

  • Coconut wafers made with wheat flour – Some brands use a small amount of wheat flour in combination with rice flour or tapioca starch.
  • Wafers with chocolate, caramel or jam fillings – The fillings could contain barley malt, wheat starch or other gluten sources.
  • Flavored coconut wafers – Added flavorings may introduce gluten, especially artificial flavors which can be derived from barley.
  • Wafers topped with chocolate – Milk chocolate contains barley malt.

Always thoroughly read the full ingredient list and don’t make assumptions about certain flavors or varieties being gluten-free. Contact the manufacturer if you have any concerns or questions.

Reading Ingredient Lists

When checking the ingredient list on a package of coconut wafers, watch out for terms like:

  • Wheat or wheat flour
  • Barley or barley malt
  • Rye
  • Oats – May be contaminated with gluten unless specifically labeled gluten-free oats
  • Malt extract or malt flavoring – Usually derived from barley
  • Modified food starch – May be derived from wheat

Also be cautious of vague statements like “natural flavors” or “spices” as these could potentially hide gluten-containing ingredients. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Are Some Brands of Coconut Wafers Certified Gluten-Free?

Many popular brands of coconut wafers are certified gluten-free:

  • Anna’s – Their original coconut thins are certified gluten-free and made in a dedicated facility.
  • Tropicana – Their original coconut cookies are certified gluten-free.
  • Lucy’s – Lucy’s gluten-free coconut cookies are certified gluten-free and made with cassava flour instead of rice flour.
  • Garden Lites – Their coconut cookies are certified gluten-free. They also make chocolate and lemon coconut wafer varieties.

Sticking to bigger brands that are certified gluten-free helps remove the guesswork of checking ingredients and reduces the risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing.

Other Tips for Gluten-Free Coconut Wafers

– Opt for plain, unflavored coconut wafers without additional toppings or fillings which may contain hidden gluten.

– Check that any chocolate used is gluten-free.

– Look for coconut wafers specifically made in dedicated gluten-free facilities.

– Don’t just rely on “gluten-free” claims on the package – still check the ingredients for any potential sources of gluten.

– If buying online, read through the questions and answers section to see if others have inquired about gluten or celiac safety.

– Contact the manufacturer if you have any uncertainty or concerns about ingredients or processing.

Making Your Own Gluten-Free Coconut Wafers

For ultimate gluten-free assurance, making your own coconut wafers at home is an option. This prevents any risk of cross-contamination and allows complete control over the ingredients.

Here is a simple gluten-free coconut wafer recipe:

Gluten-Free Coconut Wafers


– 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
– 1 cup coconut milk
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup brown rice flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the shredded coconut, coconut milk, sugar, rice flour and salt until well combined.

3. Drop tablespoon sized mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.

4. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly golden brown on the bottom edges.

5. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

This easy homemade version uses just a few gluten-free ingredients for coconut wafers you can feel confident are 100% gluten-free. Rice flour adds structure while the coconut provides its signature flavor and chewy texture.

Are Coconut Wafers Dairy-Free?

Coconut wafers made only with coconut, sugar and rice flour are also naturally dairy-free in addition to being gluten-free. However, some contain milk or milk derivatives:

  • Coconut wafers made with regular milk instead of coconut milk
  • Wafers with milk chocolate coatings or inclusions
  • Flavored wafers containing lactose or milk powder
  • Fillings made with butter, milk or cream

Sticking to plain coconut wafers made with coconut milk and no dairy ingredients is the best bet for both gluten and dairy intolerance. Check ingredient lists carefully if you need to avoid milk as well for health reasons.

Are Coconut Wafers Keto?

Basic coconut wafers made only with coconut, coconut milk and minimal added sugars are generally considered keto-friendly.

However, coconut wafers with higher amounts of cane sugar or other sweeteners may not fit into a ketogenic diet plan aimed at very low carb intake. Added chocolate or jam fillings also increase the carb content.

When choosing coconut wafers for a low carb or keto diet, look for:

  • Minimal added sugars
  • No starchy binders like wheat or corn flour
  • No fillings or toppings

Compare nutrition labels and choose a brand of plain coconut wafers with only 1-2g net carbs per wafer to stay within keto macros. Making your own is another way to control the carb content.

Keto Coconut Wafer Recipe

To make keto-friendly coconut wafers:

– Use a low carb alternative like almond flour instead of rice flour

– Replace some of the regular sugar with a keto-approved sweetener like monk fruit or erythritol

– Add unsweetened coconut flakes to reduce the proportion of sweetened shredded coconut

– Use coconut cream instead of full fat coconut milk

Adjusting traditional coconut wafer recipes with lower carb ingredients results in a tasty keto treat under 5g net carbs per cookie.

In Conclusion

Plain coconut wafers made only with coconut, rice flour and other gluten-free ingredients are generally considered safe for gluten-free diets. However, flavored varieties or brands using wheat flour do contain gluten and must be avoided. Carefully checking ingredient labels, contacting manufacturers and choosing certified gluten-free products gives the highest level of assurance. Making homemade coconut wafers is an easy way to control all the ingredients for a gluten and dairy-free treat that can also fit into a low carb or keto eating plan.

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