Are Flamin Hot Cheetos celiac safe?

Quick Answer

No, Flamin Hot Cheetos are not considered safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Flamin Hot Cheetos contain wheat ingredients, which contain gluten. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid products made with wheat, rye, barley, and oats unless they are labeled as certified gluten-free.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.[1] Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. This causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine’s lining and prevents proper absorption of nutrients from food.[2]

Some of the common symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Failure to thrive (in children)

Celiac disease is estimated to affect around 1% of the population worldwide. It can develop at any age after gluten is introduced into the diet. The only treatment for celiac disease is strictly following a lifelong gluten-free diet.[3]

What Foods Contain Gluten?

Gluten is found mainly in grains like:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley

In addition, many oat-products contain gluten due to cross-contamination.

Foods that commonly contain gluten include:

  • Bread, muffins, bagels
  • Pasta
  • Crackers, pretzels
  • Baked goods like cake, cookies, pie
  • Cereal
  • Beer

Gluten can also be found in many processed and packaged foods, sauces, salad dressings, soups, candies, etc. Reading the ingredient labels is important to watch out for hidden sources of gluten.

Gluten Grains

Grain Contains Gluten?
Wheat Yes
Rye Yes
Barley Yes
Oats* Sometimes

*Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten during growing and processing. Look for labels that say “certified gluten-free oats”.

Are Flamin Hot Cheetos Gluten Free?

Flamin Hot Cheetos are not gluten-free. They contain wheat-based ingredients, which means they contain gluten.

Specifically, Flamin Hot Cheetos contain wheat flour and wheat starch.[4] Wheat flour and wheat starch both contain gluten proteins. This means Flamin Hot Cheetos are not safe for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Even tiny amounts of gluten from cross-contamination can trigger symptoms in people with celiac disease. This is why it’s recommended to avoid food products that contain wheat, rye, barley or oats (unless certified gluten-free).

Flamin Hot Cheetos Ingredients[4]

Ingredient Contains Gluten?
Corn meal No
Wheat flour Yes
Vegetable oil (corn, soybean, and/or sunflower oil) No
Wheat starch Yes
Salt No
Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes) No
Maltodextrin (made from corn) No
Citric acid No
Sugar No
Dextrose No
Sodium diacetate No
Extractives of paprika No
Spices No
Disodium inosinate No
Disodium guanylate No
Natural flavor No
Lactic acid No
Yeast extract No
Artificial color (including Yellow 6, Red 40) No

As shown in the table, wheat flour and wheat starch contain gluten. For someone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, consuming even a tiny amount of these ingredients could cause issues. So Flamin Hot Cheetos are not considered gluten-free.

Are There Gluten-Free Alternatives to Flamin Hot Cheetos?

There are some gluten-free snacks that can provide a similar spicy, crunchy taste and texture as Flamin Hot Cheetos:

  • Popped corn chips or corn tortilla chips seasoned with chili powder and spices
  • Popcorn puffs or rice puffs flavored with cheese and chili pepper
  • Flamin’ Hot Limón Cheetos (contain no wheat ingredients)
  • Chili Cheese Puffs made by Enjoy Life (gluten-free brand)
  • Smart Puffs Hot Chili Puffs (made with corn)
  • Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips
  • Beanfields Bean and Rice Chips in Spicy Nacho flavor

When buying any packaged food product, it’s still important to check the label and look for a “gluten-free” certification symbol. Manufacturing processes vary and cross-contamination is possible in facilities that also handle wheat-based foods.

Tips for Following a Gluten-Free Diet Safely

Here are some tips to help identify gluten-free foods and avoid cross-contamination:

  • Read ingredient labels carefully and avoid any products containing wheat, rye, barley, malt or oats.
  • Look for labels that say “gluten-free” or have an official gluten-free certification symbol.
  • Check labels for statements about shared equipment and manufacturing processes.
  • Buy naturally gluten-free whole foods like produce, meats, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Avoid bulk bins, fried foods, sauces, salad dressings, and other products prone to cross-contamination.
  • Choose certified gluten-free oats if including oats in your diet.
  • Cook at home as much as possible and avoid eating out frequently.
  • Inform servers at restaurants about your gluten intolerance.

Being vigilant about label reading and aware of cross-contamination risks is key to succeeding with the gluten-free diet long-term. Over time it will become second nature. Support from others who understand the gluten-free diet also helps.

The Takeaway on Flamin Hot Cheetos and Gluten

Flamin Hot Cheetos contain wheat ingredients like wheat flour and wheat starch. This means they are not gluten-free and should be avoided by those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Consuming them could cause intestinal damage and symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and malnutrition.

Luckily there are a variety of spicy, gluten-free snacks available for purchase or homemade. With proper label reading and awareness of cross-contamination, it’s possible to find safer chip alternatives. Being diligent avoids the significant health risks of gluten exposure for those with celiac disease.


  1. Lebwohl B, et al. Celiac disease. Lancet. 2018;391(10115):70-81. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31796-8
  2. Rubio-Tapia A, Hill ID, Kelly CP, Calderwood AH, Murray JA. ACG clinical guidelines: diagnosis and management of celiac disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(5):656-676. doi:10.1038/ajg.2013.79
  3. National Institutes of Health. Celiac disease. NIH. Updated September 11, 2020. Accessed November 3, 2023.
  4. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Ingredients. PepsiCo Website. Accessed November 3, 2023.

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