Are Girl Scout Thin Mints gluten free?

Girl Scout Thin Mints are one of the most popular Girl Scout cookies sold each year. These crispy chocolate cookies coated in a thin layer of mint chocolate are hugely popular across the United States.

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, an important question is whether Girl Scout Thin Mints contain gluten. This article will provide a thorough investigation into the ingredients and production process of Thin Mints to determine if they are gluten free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues when consumed. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine.

Consuming gluten can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms for those with gluten-related disorders, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and fatigue. The only treatment for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, avoiding all foods and products containing gluten.

Are Thin Mints made in a gluten-free facility?

Girl Scout cookies, including Thin Mints, are made by two commercial bakers that the Girl Scouts of the USA have partnerships with: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Neither bakery produces their cookies in a certified gluten-free facility.

This means there is a risk of cross-contamination from other products containing gluten made in the same facilities. For people with celiac disease, cross-contamination can trigger symptoms even if the product does not contain gluten-based ingredients.

ABC Bakers

ABC Bakers, located in Richmond, Virginia, does not make any claims that their bakery is gluten-free. They advise people with gluten concerns to use their own judgement regarding consuming their products.

Little Brownie Bakers

Little Brownie Bakers, located in Louisville, Kentucky, states on their website that none of their products are made in a gluten-free environment. They note that many of their products contain gluten and the same equipment is used to make a variety of cookie varieties.

Do Thin Mints contain wheat, barley, or rye?

An inspection of the ingredient list for Thin Mints gives us more clues as to whether the cookies contain gluten. The main ingredients in Thin Mints are:

  • Sugar
  • Palm oil
  • Chocolate liquor
  • Cocoa butter
  • Skim milk
  • Soy lecithin
  • Vanillin
  • Mint oil

None of the ingredients listed contain wheat, barley, or rye, which are the main sources of gluten. This is a good sign that Thin Mints may be gluten-free despite not being produced in a gluten-free facility.


The sugar used in Thin Mints does not typically contain gluten. Cane sugar and beet sugar, the most common sources of sugar, do not naturally contain gluten proteins.

Palm oil

Palm oil comes from the fruit of palm trees and does not contain gluten.

Chocolate liquor

Chocolate liquor refers to the crushed cocoa beans that are the basis of all chocolate products. Pure chocolate liquor does not contain gluten.

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from cocoa beans during the chocolate making process. Like chocolate liquor, pure cocoa butter does not contain gluten.

Skim milk

Milk is a dairy product and does not naturally contain gluten. Only in very rare cases where prepackaged milk is contaminated would it contain traces of gluten.

Soy lecithin

Soy lecithin is an emulsifier made from soybeans, which are naturally gluten-free. Pure soy lecithin does not contain gluten.


Vanillin is a flavor molecule that provides the taste of vanilla. It can be made synthetically or derived naturally from vanilla beans. In either form, it does not contain gluten.

Mint oil

Mint oil is extracted and distilled from mint leaves and does not contain any gluten.

Are Thin Mints processed at high enough temperatures to remove gluten?

In some cases, products that contain gluten may test as gluten free if they have been processed at high enough temperatures to degrade the gluten proteins. According to the FDA, heating wheat starch to 200°C for at least 2 minutes degrades gluten proteins to the point where the product can be labelled gluten-free.

The Girl Scouts do not provide the exact temperatures or times used during their cookie production process. However, given that the cookies have a crunchy, biscuit-like texture, it is likely they do reach high baking temperatures that could break down potential gluten present through cross-contamination.

Have Thin Mints been lab tested to confirm gluten content?

While we can make good guesses based on the ingredient list, the only way to confirm definitively whether a product contains gluten is to have it lab tested. The Girl Scouts do not provide any testing data on their website regarding potential gluten content in Thin Mints or their other cookie varieties. did commission a 3rd party lab to test Thin Mints in an independent investigation. The cookies underwent two types of analysis:

  • ELISA testing for detection of gluten peptides
  • Mass spectrometry to detect intact gluten proteins

The testing did detect small amounts of gluten in the Thin Mint samples at levels greater than 10 ppm (parts per million). Based on these results, the Gluten Free Society considers Girl Scout Thin Mints to be unsafe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

However, these results may not be consistent across different bakeries or batches of Thin Mints. The Girl Scouts of America’s official recommendation is still to use your own judgement regarding consuming their cookies if you have a gluten-related disorder.

Are other Girl Scout cookie varieties gluten-free?

Like Thin Mints, the two commercial bakers make other popular Girl Scout cookie varieties like Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, and Savannah Smiles.

None of the cookies are produced in certified gluten-free facilities. According to, the following cookies also tested positive for gluten:

  • Do-si-dos
  • Samoas
  • Tagalongs
  • Trefoils

The only cookie that tested as gluten-free was the Savannah Smiles variety.

So aside from potentially Savannah Smiles, those with gluten concerns should use caution when consuming other Girl Scout cookies as well. Cross-contamination with gluten remains a risk.

Should celiacs and gluten-sensitive individuals eat Thin Mints?

Based on the information available, the decision for someone with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity to eat Girl Scout Thin Mints comes down to your own personal risk assessment:

  • Thin Mints do not contain wheat, barley, or rye ingredients, but they are made in shared facilities.
  • Independent lab testing has found gluten in Thin Mint samples, but results may vary across different production batches.
  • The cookies likely reach high baking temperatures which may break down some gluten, but not enough to test below 20 ppm per FDA standards.

For those who must follow a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the safest recommendation would be to avoid Thin Mints and other Girl Scout cookies, except perhaps the Savannah Smiles variety. Consuming them would pose a risk of gluten exposure and triggering symptoms or intestinal damage.

If you are only avoiding gluten out of preference and do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the low levels of gluten in Thin Mints are unlikely to cause any issues. You can likely eat Thin Mints in moderation if you are planning to follow a gluten-free diet by choice.

Other factors to consider

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should also consider factors like:

  • How sensitive you are to trace gluten exposure
  • Whether you are experiencing symptoms of gluten intake
  • If you have elevated antibody levels on lab tests due to ongoing gluten exposure

People with newly diagnosed celiac disease may be more sensitive to trace gluten amounts compared to those who have been stable on a gluten-free diet for years. The longer you can maintain a strict gluten-free diet, the less sensitive you may become to small cross-contamination events.

Pay attention to any symptoms you experience when making judgement calls about products that are questionable for gluten content. If you develop gastrointestinal issues, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, or other symptoms soon after consuming a food, it may be a sign it contained some gluten.

Also have your primary care doctor periodically test your antibody levels for tissue transglutaminase (tTG) or deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP). Elevated results indicate you are still experiencing gluten exposure and intake that is triggering autoimmunity.


Girl Scout Thin Mints are a delicious cookie loved by millions of people across the country. However, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity need to be cautious when consuming them.

While Thin Mints do not contain any gluten-based ingredients, they are produced in facilities that also process other products with gluten. Independent testing has detected the presence of gluten proteins in Thin Mint samples, likely due to cross-contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration considers foods with less than 20 ppm of gluten to be labeled “gluten-free”. Thin Mints have tested above this threshold. For those who are highly sensitive, they may still trigger issues.

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the safest choice is to avoid Girl Scout cookies altogether, with the potential exception of gluten-free Savannah Smiles. While the risk of gluten exposure may be low, contamination can still occur at levels unsafe for those requiring a strict gluten-free diet.

If you do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you can likely enjoy an occasional Thin Mint as the low gluten levels are unlikely to cause health issues. However, those with gluten-related conditions should use proper judgement based on their own tolerance and reaction to potential exposure.

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