Can celiacs have Skittles?

Quick answer

The answer is yes, celiacs can generally have Skittles as long as they are gluten-free varieties. Traditional Skittles contain gluten, so celiacs need to choose gluten-free Skittles instead.

What are Skittles?

Skittles are a popular candy made by Mars Wrigley. They have a hard sugar shell and a chewy fruit-flavored interior. Some of the classic Skittles flavors include strawberry, grape, orange, lemon and lime.

Skittles are brightly colored and often marketed with the tagline “Taste the rainbow.” They are a fun, nostalgic candy for many people and popular especially around Halloween.

Do traditional Skittles contain gluten?

Yes, original Skittles candies contain gluten. The gluten sources in traditional Skittles include:

  • Wheat starch
  • Barley malt

So people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity need to avoid conventional Skittles and choose gluten-free alternatives instead.

Why do Skittles contain gluten?

There are a couple reasons why regular Skittles contain gluten:

  • Wheat starch is used as a thickener. It helps provide the chewy texture.
  • Barley malt extract is used for flavoring. It provides a malty, caramel-like taste.

For people without gluten concerns, the wheat starch and barley malt don’t cause problems. But for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, these ingredients can trigger adverse reactions.

What gluten-free Skittles options are available?

Fortunately, Mars Wrigley has developed some gluten-free Skittles products so that people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities can also enjoy these colorful candies.

Here are some of the gluten-free Skittles options currently available:

  • Skittles Original Gluten Free
  • Skittles Wild Berry Gluten Free
  • Skittles Sour Gluten Free
  • Skittles Tropical Gluten Free

The gluten-free Skittles are made without wheat, barley, rye, and oats. They have similar flavors and colors to regular Skittles, so you still get the same tasty rainbow experience. But they are produced in facilities and on equipment that does not process gluten.

Where to find gluten-free Skittles

You can find gluten-free Skittles at many major grocery stores, candy shops, and online retailers such as Amazon. They are often stocked alongside regular Skittles in the candy aisle.

Some stores that are likely to carry gluten-free Skittles include:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Rite Aid

Make sure to read the ingredient lists carefully to confirm the Skittles you are purchasing are gluten-free. The front of the package should clearly state “gluten-free.”

Are all Skittles gluten-free?

No, not all Skittles varieties are gluten-free. As mentioned, the original recipes for Skittles contain gluten. So it’s important to look for Skittles that specifically say “gluten-free” on the packaging.

Some varieties that are NOT gluten-free include:

  • Original Skittles
  • Skittles Darkside
  • Skittles Brightside
  • Skittles Chewies
  • Skittles Chocolate

Again, you need to find the products that explicitly state they are gluten-free to know they will be safe for a gluten-free diet.

What about other Mars Wrigley candies?

In addition to gluten-free Skittles, Mars Wrigley has formulated some other candies to be gluten-free. However, not all their products are gluten-free, so it’s still essential to check labels.

Here are some other Mars gluten-free treats:

  • M&M’s Gluten Free
  • Starburst Fruit Chews Gluten Free
  • Skittles & Starburst Halloween Treat Size Gluten Free

Mars candies that contain gluten include:

  • Regular M&M’s (milk chocolate and peanut varieties)
  • Snickers
  • Milky Way
  • Twix

As with any product, diligently read ingredient lists and labels to determine gluten status before consuming.

Are Skittles safe for other food allergies and sensitivities?

For the most part, Skittles are free of major allergens except gluten. However, those with certain food restrictions should still exercise some caution:

  • Dairy: Most Skittles are dairy-free, but some specialty flavors may contain milk ingredients. Check labels if dairy is a concern.
  • Eggs: Skittles are egg-free.
  • Tree nuts: Skittles are safe for tree nut allergies.
  • Peanuts: Skittles do not contain peanuts, but some may be processed on shared equipment.
  • Soy: Skittles do not contain soy ingredients.
  • Corn: Some colors may be derived from corn. Avoid if corn allergy.
  • Dyes: Skittles contain artificial dyes, so avoid if dye sensitive.
  • Gelatin: Most Skittles do not contain gelatin with the exception of Skittles Chewies. Vegans need to check labels.

If you have food restrictions outside of gluten, inspect the specific Skittles product carefully and contact the manufacturer with any questions. Certain specialty flavors may contain additional allergens.

Are Skittles vegan?

Most standard Skittles are vegan, meaning they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients like dairy or gelatin. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Skittles Chewies contain gelatin and are not vegan.
  • Some limited edition flavors may contain small amounts of dairy. Check labels.

As long as you avoid those non-vegan varieties, most Skittles are fine for vegans. The original fruity flavors do not contain any animal products.

Nutrition facts for Skittles

Here are some key nutrition facts for a 1 ounce (61 piece) serving of original Skittles:

Calories 250
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 25mg
Total Carbs 62g
Sugar 54g

As you can see, Skittles are high in sugar. There are around 9 grams of added sugar per 10 pieces. So while gluten-free Skittles can be an occasional treat for celiacs, portion control is advised.

What about generic Skittles?

Be cautious when it comes to generic, store-brand versions of Skittles. While name brand Skittles offer certified gluten-free varieties, generic Skittle imitations may contain gluten.

For example, brands like Shasta Sour Skittles likely contain gluten. It’s best to stick to reputable brands that can validate the gluten-free status of their candies.

Should celiacs have other gluten-free candies?

In addition to gluten-free Skittles, there are many other great gluten-free candy options for celiacs to enjoy. Here are some delicious gluten-free treats:

  • Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Snickers gluten-free bars
  • Nerds
  • Swedish Fish
  • Lindt chocolate bars
  • Twizzlers
  • Jelly Belly jelly beans

Just be sure to double check the labels since candy formulas can change over time. Many major brands now offer gluten-free candies, gummies, chocolates and licorice.

Should celiacs follow a no gluten cross-contact diet?

People with celiac disease need to avoid even small traces of gluten. So in addition to checking ingredient lists, it’s also important to consider cross-contact with gluten.

This means being cautious about foods processed on shared equipment with wheat. Even tiny amounts can be an issue. Some celiacs choose to follow a no gluten cross-contact diet to be extra safe.

When it comes to Skittles, the gluten-free labeled varieties are produced without gluten. However, some people prefer avoiding any products made by companies that also handle gluten. This is a personal choice that depends on individual sensitivity levels.

What symptoms do celiacs get from gluten?

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, it can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Tingling in hands and feet

Symptoms typically begin anywhere from a few hours to a few days after gluten exposure. Some celiacs also experience long term complications like osteoporosis, infertility and seizures if gluten intake is not well controlled.

What happens if a celiac accidentally eats gluten?

If a celiac accidentally consumes gluten, they may experience some or all of the symptoms listed above. Length and severity depends on the person and amount ingested.

In most cases, a one-time gluten exposure will subside within a few days to a week once the offending food is eliminated. Make sure to drink plenty of water and get enough rest.

That said, it’s crucial for celiacs to avoid inadvertent exposure as much as possible. Occasionally cheating increases the risk of intestinal damage and associated health problems over time.


In summary, most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can enjoy Skittles as long as they choose gluten-free varieties. While traditional Skittles contain gluten, the specially formulated gluten-free versions offer the same classic candy experience.

Just be sure to read labels carefully, as not all Skittles products are gluten-free. With so many candies available in delicious gluten-free options today, celiacs definitely don’t have to miss out on these colorful little rainbow treats.

Leave a Comment