Are the stuffed peppers from Costco gluten free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and those simply looking to avoid gluten for other health reasons. For those adhering to a strict gluten-free diet, it’s important to carefully check labels of packaged foods to ensure they do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients.

One popular prepared food item that can be found at many major grocery chains like Costco are stuffed peppers. Pre-stuffed peppers can make for a quick and easy meal, but are Costco’s stuffed pepper options safe for those avoiding gluten?

What is Gluten?

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, acting as a structural component in many types of baked goods. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even those that you may not suspect like soy sauce and salad dressings.

Those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity experience a range of unpleasant gastrointestinal and other symptoms when they consume gluten. That’s why following a strictly gluten-free diet, avoiding any products containing gluten, is important for managing these conditions.

Are Peppers Naturally Gluten Free?

Fresh peppers themselves are naturally gluten-free. Bell peppers, chili peppers, jalapeño peppers and other varieties all come from plants in the nightshade family and do not naturally contain any gluten proteins.

However, the stuffing and other add-ins used in pre-stuffed pepper products may contain gluten. So you can’t assume that just because the main component is a gluten-free vegetable that the final product will be safe for a gluten-free diet.

What Ingredients are Commonly Used in Stuffed Peppers?

There are many variations when it comes to stuffed pepper recipes, but some commonly used ingredients include:

  • Cooked rice or grains like rice, quinoa or bulgur
  • Ground meat like beef, turkey or sausage
  • Onion and garlic
  • Tomato products like tomato sauce or paste
  • Cheese
  • Herbs and seasonings

Some of these ingredients are naturally gluten-free, while others potentially contain gluten.

Gluten-Free Stuffed Pepper Ingredients

  • Peppers
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Cheese made from gluten-free ingredients like cheddar or mozzarella
  • Most herbs and spices

Potential Sources of Gluten

  • Grains like wheat berries, farro, barley or breadcrumbs
  • Breadcrumbs or panko
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Wheat or semolina pasta
  • Soy sauce
  • Malt vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Bouillon or broth containing gluten
  • Sausage or ground meat containing gluten-based fillers
  • Cheese sauces thickened with roux
  • Pre-made tomato sauce flavored with gluten-containing ingredients
  • Spices containing anti-caking agents that have gluten

Evaluating Costco’s Stuffed Peppers

To evaluate whether Costco’s pre-made stuffed peppers are gluten-free, we need to look at the ingredients list and any allergy information provided.

Costco indicates that their Kirkland Signature Stuffed Peppers contain wheat as an ingredient. So these would not be safe for a gluten-free diet.

On the other hand, their Wellsley Farms Stuffed Peppers contain rice, vegetable stock, tomatoes, onions, green chilies, garlic and spices. None of the ingredients listed contain gluten, and they are produced in a facility that does not handle wheat or other gluten sources. So the Wellsley Farms variety would likely be a good gluten-free option.

Best Practices for Avoiding Gluten from Prepared Foods

When buying any pre-made layered or stuffed foods like stuffed peppers, egg rolls, potstickers, etc. it’s important to always check the ingredients list and look for any allergy information even if the main components are naturally gluten-free. Cross-contamination is also a concern in facilities that produce a variety of products.

Some best practices include:

  • Check for statements like “gluten-free” or “made in a wheat/gluten-free facility”.
  • Look for the certified gluten-free seals from organizations like GFCO, the Celiac Support Association or the Gluten Intolerance Group.
  • Scan all ingredients lists and watch out for common ones like soy sauce, malt vinegar, bouillon, wheat-based spices, etc.
  • Contact the manufacturer if you have any questions or concerns.
  • When in doubt, avoid it or choose a product with a clearer gluten-free confirmation.

Following these practices can help you safely navigate package foods like stuffed peppers from Costco and other stores.

Other Gluten-Free Costco Finds

In addition to their Wellsley Farms Stuffed Peppers, Costco offers a variety of other gluten-free products both under their Kirkland brand and from third-parties.

Kirkland Gluten-Free Items

  • Almond flour
  • Caesar salad kit
  • Cauliflower pizza crust
  • Mixed nuts
  • Rotisserie chicken (without added seasonings)
  • Salmon burgers
  • Tea bags
  • Trail mix

Other Gluten-Free Brands at Costco

  • Alter Eco chocolates
  • Annie’s Homegrown dressings and condiments
  • Canyons Bakehouse bread
  • Good Cookies snack bars
  • MadeGood granola bars
  • Nuttzo nut butters
  • Simple Mills baking mixes
  • Simply Balanced broths
  • Sir Kensington’s condiments
  • Thai Kitchen coconut milk and sauces

Costco also carries gluten-free household items like Reynolds parchment paper, dishwasher detergent, cleaning products, and more. Be sure to check labels for gluten-free verification.

Gluten-Free Stuffed Pepper Recipes to Make at Home

While Costco’s Wellsley Farms Stuffed Peppers seem to meet gluten-free requirements based on the ingredient list, those adhering to a strict gluten-free diet may feel more comfortable making stuffed peppers at home.

This allows you to control all the ingredients and avoid any risk of cross-contamination. Here are some tasty gluten-free stuffed pepper options to try:

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

This recipe combines protein-rich quinoa with classic Mexican spices and salsa flavor. Poblano or Anaheim peppers work well but you can use any large pepper variety.


  • 3 large peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Mix together cooked quinoa, beans, corn, salsa and spices.
  3. Divide mixture between pepper halves.
  4. Top with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes until heated through.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Savory Italian sausage and tomatoes make a hearty filling for these baked peppers.


  • 3 large peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook through, breaking up large pieces.
  3. Add onion and cook 5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, rice and basil until combined.
  6. Divide mixture between pepper halves. Top with mozzarella if desired.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

Lentil and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers

Hearty lentils and earthy mushrooms make a satisfying veggie stuffed pepper filling.


  • 3 large peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice


  1. Cook lentils according to package directions.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook mushrooms, onion and garlic until soft.
  3. Add cooked lentils, tomatoes and spices. Stir to combine.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in brown rice.
  5. Divide mixture between pepper halves.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.


When shopping at Costco, those following a gluten-free diet need to carefully inspect labels of prepared stuffed pepper products. The Kirkland brand stuffed peppers contain gluten, while the Wellsley Farms variety seem to meet gluten-free requirements.

For a trusted gluten-free option, your safest bet is to make stuffed peppers at home. The recipes above for Mexican quinoa, Italian sausage and lentil-mushroom stuffed peppers offer flavorful gluten-free alternatives to enjoy this delicious meal.

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