Can sorbet contain gluten?

Sorbet is a popular frozen dessert that is similar to ice cream but contains less fat and fewer calories. Unlike ice cream, sorbet contains no dairy ingredients. It is primarily composed of fruit puree, sugar, and water. Sorbet is appreciated for its light, refreshing qualities and intense fruit flavors. But an important consideration for many dessert lovers is whether or not sorbet contains gluten.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine. This can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. The only treatment for celiac disease is adhering to a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten to prevent adverse reactions.

Gluten Content of Common Sorbet Ingredients

The core ingredients of sorbet – fruit purees, sugar, and water – are naturally gluten-free. Sorbet ingredients that may contain gluten include:

  • Wheat flour – Added to some sorbet bases as a thickener
  • Malt extract – Derived from barley and used to flavor some sorbets
  • Cookies/candies – Used as mix-ins in some novelty sorbets
  • Alcohol distillates – Added to some adult sorbets and may be derived from gluten grains

Many sorbet recipes simply contain fruit, sugar, and water. But some recipes do incorporate thickeners like wheat flour to produce a smoother, creamier texture. Cookies and candy are also sometimes used as mix-in flavorings and textures. And certain alcohols distilled from gluten grains, like malt vinegar, can also find their way into some sorbet recipes.

Risk of Cross-Contact

Even sorbets made without gluten-containing ingredients can pose a risk of cross-contact for people with celiac disease. Trace amounts of gluten can be inadvertently introduced during manufacturing on shared equipment. A facility that also handles wheat-based products may transfer traces of gluten to otherwise gluten-free sorbets through:

  • Shared equipment – Scoops, containers, pipes, fillers
  • Airborne flour particles
  • Shared storage areas

Studies show facilities producing both gluten-free and gluten-containing foods have higher rates of cross-contact. People with celiac disease are advised to look for sorbets produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities to reduce the risk of cross-contact.

Reading Sorbet Ingredient Lists

Carefully reading the ingredient list on a sorbet container is the only way to determine if it contains gluten. Key things to look for include:

  • Wheat – wheat flour is sometimes used as a thickener
  • Barley – barley malt may be used as a flavoring
  • Malt – can be derived from barley
  • Dextrin – may be derived from wheat
  • Cookie/candy mix-ins
  • Alcohol distillates – sometimes derived from gluten grains

Avoid any sorbets listing these ingredients. Instead opt for sorbets where the ingredient list only includes fruit, sugar, water, natural flavors, citric acid, etc. Also look for a “gluten-free” label on the packaging or check the company’s website for confirmation the product is gluten-free.

Sorbet Brands Certified Gluten-Free

Many sorbet brands recognize the need to produce gluten-free options for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Here are some leading national brands of sorbet that are certified gluten-free:


  • Raspberry Sorbet
  • Lemon Sorbet
  • Mango Sorbet

Haagen-Dazs indicates their sorbets are made in a certified gluten-free facility and lab tested to contain less than 20ppm of gluten.


  • Black Cherry Sorbetto
  • Raspberry Sorbetto
  • Mango Sorbetto

Talenti sorbets are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility and independently lab tested.

Ciao Bella

  • Blood Orange Sorbet
  • Raspberry Sorbet
  • Mango Sorbet

Ciao Bella sorbets are made in a gluten-free facility and tested to have less than 5ppm of gluten.

Three Twins

  • Lemon Cookie Sorbet
  • Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet
  • Meyer Lemon Creamery Sorbet

All Three Twins sorbet flavors are certified gluten-free and made with gluten-free ingredients.

Popular Gluten-Free Sorbet Flavors

Beyond the major sorbet brands, there are lots of delicious gluten-free sorbet flavors made by smaller producers. Here are some of the most popular gluten-free sorbet varieties:

Fruit Sorbets

  • Lemon
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Mango
  • Blackberry
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Mixed berry
  • Watermelon
  • Passionfruit

Fruit sorbets provide refreshingly sweet, intense fruit flavors. They are naturally gluten-free when made with just fruit puree, sugar, and water.

Citrus Sorbets

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Blood orange
  • Tangerine

Citrus sorbets like lemon, lime, and grapefruit capture the bright, tart flavors of citrus fruits. Blood orange and tangerine sorbets offer a sweeter, more floral citrus taste.

Chocolate and Vanilla

  • Chocolate sorbet
  • Chocolate-chip sorbet
  • Vanilla bean sorbet

These richly flavored sorbets are sweet treats without any cream or milk. Chocolate sorbets are seasoned with cocoa while vanilla bean sorbets highlight the aromatic flavor of vanilla.

Homemade Gluten-Free Sorbet

Making sorbet at home is an easy way to control the ingredients. Simple fruit and herb sorbets can be whipped up in an ice cream maker using just a few gluten-free ingredients:

  • Fruit puree – strawberries, mangos, lemons, etc.
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vanilla

Here is a basic recipe and technique for making gluten-free sorbet at home:

Gluten-Free Sorbet Recipe


  • 2 cups fruit puree
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a saucepan, combine fruit puree, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Heat over medium heat while stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove mixture from heat and transfer to a container. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until well chilled.
  3. Pour chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Transfer sorbet to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.

Making sorbet at home lets you control the ingredients to ensure it’s gluten-free. You can use fresh fruit purees and substitute coconut sugar or maple syrup to make a dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan sorbet.

Tips for Identifying Gluten in Sorbet

Finding truly gluten-free sorbet requires close inspection of ingredient lists and awareness of potential cross-contamination risks. Here are some tips for identifying sorbet that contains gluten:

  • Watch for wheat-derived thickeners like flour, dextrin, and starch.
  • Avoid malt flavorings which can be derived from barley.
  • Check cookie and candy mix-ins – many contain gluten.
  • Alcohol additions may contain gluten if distilled from wheat, rye, or barley.
  • Opt for sorbets made in dedicated gluten-free facilities.
  • Look for independent 3rd party certification for gluten-free status.
  • When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to inquire about gluten-free status.

Checking for these potential gluten sources can help you make informed, safe sorbet selections as a gluten-free consumer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sorbet gluten-free?

Sorbet is typically gluten-free, as the main ingredients are fruit, sugar, and water. However, some sorbets may contain thickeners with gluten or use equipment contaminated by gluten, so checking labels is important.

What ingredients make sorbet not gluten-free?

Potential gluten-containing ingredients in some sorbets include wheat flour, malt extract, cookies/candies with gluten, and alcohol distilled from gluten grains. Cross-contamination from shared equipment is also a risk in non-certified facilities.

Can you add flour to sorbet?

Wheat flour may be added to some sorbet bases as a thickener. But this adds gluten and makes the sorbet unsuitable for a gluten-free diet. Thickeners like cornstarch or xanthan gum can be used instead.

Why is gluten-free certification important for sorbet?

Independent certification provides assurance that sorbet is made without gluten-containing ingredients and measures are taken to avoid cross-contamination. It provides verification for gluten-free consumers.

What fruits make good sorbet?

All fruits can be used to make sorbet. Popular gluten-free varieties include lemon, raspberry, mango, strawberry, blackberry, pineapple, peach, and mixed berries. Citrus fruits like lemon and lime also make refreshing sorbets.

The Bottom Line

Sorbet is typically gluten-free, as it is traditionally made from just fruit, sugar, and water. However, some sorbets may contain thickening agents with gluten or be cross-contaminated during manufacturing. Reading labels carefully and looking for certified gluten-free brands is the best way to identify sorbet safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. When in doubt, prepare homemade sorbet yourself using simple fruit purees and a gluten-free thickener like cornstarch if needed. With precautions, people avoiding gluten can still enjoy the light and fruity pleasures of sorbet.

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