Are Costco cream puffs gluten free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to avoid gluten for medical reasons or simply as a lifestyle choice. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, sticking to a strict gluten-free diet is essential. But for many, navigating the dos and don’ts of gluten-free eating can be tricky, especially when dining out or buying pre-packaged foods.

One such packaged food item that often leaves gluten-free consumers wondering is Costco’s fan-favorite cream puffs. The giant, tube-shaped pastries filled with sweet vanilla cream are a staple bakery item at Costco food courts and warehouse aisles. But can you safely eat them on a gluten-free diet? Let’s find out.

What is gluten?

Before determining if a food contains gluten, it’s important to understand what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It acts as a “glue” that helps foods maintain their shape and texture. Two specific gluten proteins are gliadin and glutenin. When people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity consume these proteins, it triggers an immune system response that damages the small intestine. This is what causes the unpleasant digestive symptoms associated with gluten ingestion.

In addition to wheat-based products like bread, pasta and baked goods, gluten can also be found in many types of seasonings, broths, sauces and condiments. It’s added to provide flavor, act as a thickening agent or help with food processing. This means gluten can lurk in unexpected places, even items that don’t contain wheat as a main ingredient.

What ingredients are in Costco cream puffs?

So what exactly goes into making Costco’s giant cream puffs? According to the ingredient labels on Costco’s bakery cream puffs and their pre-packaged Mini Eclairs, the main ingredients are as follows:

  • Unbleached enriched wheat flour (contains gluten)
  • Water
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Palm oil
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract

The cream filling contains:

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Modified corn starch
  • Less than 1%: Titanium dioxide (for color)
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (preservatives)
  • Xanthan gum
  • Guar gum
  • Carrageenan

Do Costco cream puffs contain gluten?

Looking at the ingredient lists, it’s clear that Costco cream puffs are not gluten-free as they contain wheat flour as the primary ingredient. Wheat flour contains the gluten proteins gliadin and glutenin.

While the creamy filling itself may be gluten-free, the outer puff pastry shell definitely contains gluten due to the wheat flour. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross-contact during production could be an issue for those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance.

What about other allergens?

In addition to containing wheat, Costco cream puffs and eclairs also contain milk, eggs and soy:

  • Milk – The puff pastry dough contains nonfat dry milk. The filling contains carrageenan, a thickener derived from seaweed that may contain traces of milk protein.
  • Eggs – Whole eggs are used in the puff pastry dough.
  • Soy – The dough contains palm oil, which may be sourced from soybeans according to Costco’s website.

Those with dairy, egg or soy allergies will also need to avoid Costco’s cream puffs and eclairs. Carefully check the labels each time you purchase as ingredients are subject to change.

Are there any gluten-free cream puff options at Costco?

Unfortunately, Costco’s fresh bakery and packaged cream puff products are not currently offered in a gluten-free version. The only ingredient variation appears to be flavor, such as their occasional flavor rotations of chocolate, pumpkin spice or blueberry.

What about gluten-free dessert options?

While you won’t find gluten-free cream puffs at Costco, there are some other dessert choices those following a gluten-free diet can enjoy. Here are a few sweet treats available at Costco that don’t contain any gluten ingredients:

Kirkland Signature Rice Crunch Bars

These crunchy rice treats dipped in milky chocolate are a gluten-free alternative to traditional crispy rice treats that contain barley malt. Kirkland’s rice crunch bars come in dark chocolate and milk chocolate varieties.

Nature’s Bakery Gluten Free Fig Bars

Real fig and brown rice flour make up these tender gluten-free fig bars. They come in tasty flavors like chocolate, salted caramel and vanilla.

Enjoy Life Gluten Free Mini Cookies

A grab-and-go pack of mini chocolate chip, double chocolate brownie and cinnamon sugar cookies. Enjoy Life foods are made in a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free facility.

Oreo Gluten Free Cookies

Everyone’s favorite sandwich cookie in a gluten-free version. Oreo Thins and Oreo Double Stuf gluten-free cookies can be found at many Costcos.

Nature’s Bakery Gluten Free Cupcakes

Choose from chocolate, vanilla and lemon-raspberry flavored gluten-free cupcakes topped with frosting.

What about gluten-free bakery options near Costco?

If you’re craving a fresh gluten-free cream puff, check to see if there is a dedicated gluten-free bakery located near your local Costco. Many grocery stores like Whole Foods also offer in-store gluten-free bakery items.

You can also find gluten-free doughnuts, muffins, cakes, cookies and more at chains like:

  • Big Blue Muffin
  • bakery on main
  • Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery
  • Gluten Free Gourmet

Search for “gluten free bakery near me” to find options close to your Costco location.

Can you make gluten-free cream puffs at home?

If you’re willing to put in a little work, you can whip up gluten-free cream puffs at home. Here are some recipe options:

Gluten-Free Cream Puffs Recipe

This recipe from uses almond flour, tapioca starch and xanthan gum for the puff pastry along with a quick vanilla pastry cream filling.

Coconut Flour Cream Puffs Recipe

Coconut flour gives these cream puffs from a slightly sweet flavor. Top them off with chocolate ganache or your favorite filling.

Chocolate Eclair Recipe

Enjoy Food Stories’ recipe uses cassava flour for a tender, flaky puff pastry shell. Fill them with dairy-free chocolate whipped cream for gluten and dairy-free eclairs.

The bottom line

Costco’s cream puffs and eclairs are not gluten-free as they are made with wheat flour. Those following a strict gluten-free diet should avoid them.

However, there are gluten-free dessert and bakery options available at some Costco locations. And you may be able to find a dedicated gluten-free bakery near your local Costco.

Making gluten-free cream puffs at home is another alternative using almond flour, coconut flour or other gluten-free flours in place of wheat.

Overall, with some label reading and careful selection, those avoiding gluten can still enjoy something sweet from the Costco bakery or foods aisle.

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