Does chocolate pudding have 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 can cause harmful reactions in the body. That’s why it’s important for those with gluten-related disorders to avoid foods containing gluten.

Gluten gives dough its stretchy and elastic texture. It acts as a “glue” that holds food together and gives it a chewy texture. That’s why gluten-containing grains like wheat are common ingredients in many baked goods and other foods.

What foods contain gluten?

Here are some common foods that contain gluten:

  • Bread, crackers, baked goods made with wheat, barley or rye
  • Pasta, cereals, baked goods made with regular (not gluten-free) oats
  • Beer and other grain-based alcoholic beverages
  • Soy sauce, seasonings, broths and soups made with gluten-containing ingredients
  • Breaded and fried foods with wheat-based coatings
  • Seitan and other meat substitutes made from wheat gluten

It’s important to read ingredient labels carefully, as gluten can be found in many processed foods even when you might not expect it.

Is chocolate pudding gluten-free?

The good news is that plain chocolate pudding is naturally gluten-free. Traditional chocolate pudding contains just a few basic ingredients:

  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch or other starch
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla

None of these ingredients contain gluten. So plain chocolate pudding made with these basic ingredients should be safe for gluten-free diets.

Watch out for added ingredients

However, some pre-packaged or instant chocolate pudding mixes may contain added ingredients that do contain gluten.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Wheat flour – Some pudding mixes use wheat flour to help thicken the pudding. Always check the ingredient list.
  • Maltodextrin – This additive is sometimes derived from wheat and contains gluten. Confirm the source if maltodextrin is listed.
  • Artificial flavorings – Flavorings can sometimes contain gluten. Opt for puddings with natural flavorings.
  • Cookies/graham crackers – Some chocolate puddings have cookies or graham cracker toppings, which will contain gluten.

So be sure to read labels carefully and look for a gluten-free certification on any pre-made chocolate pudding. Homemade chocolate pudding is the safest bet for avoiding gluten.

Chocolate pudding ingredients

Let’s take a detailed look at the main ingredients that go into chocolate pudding and whether they typically contain gluten:


Milk is a dairy product and does not contain gluten, regardless of the source. Any type of milk – including regular dairy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. – will be gluten-free.


Table sugar and other granulated sugars do not contain gluten. However, some less common sweeteners like malt syrup are made from barley and do contain gluten. Always double check the source if using an alternative sweetener.


Cornstarch is made from corn and does not contain gluten. It’s a safe thickening agent for gluten-free recipes. Other starches like tapioca starch, potato starch, and arrowroot starch are also naturally gluten-free.

Cocoa powder

Pure cocoa powder is made by pressing cocoa solids to remove the cocoa butter. Authentic cocoa powder does not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. However, some cocoa mixes with added sugars or flavorings might contain gluten, so check the label.


Pure chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa solids do not contain gluten. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate and chocolate chips should all be gluten-free. However, some flavorings added to chocolate like barley malt may contain gluten.


Eggs are a naturally gluten-free ingredient. However, some processed egg products may have added stabilizers that contain gluten. Plain whole eggs, egg yolks and egg whites don’t contain gluten.


Pure vanilla extract does not contain gluten. But imitation vanilla made with vanillin may be derived from corn or wheat sources, so check the label.

Is boxed chocolate pudding gluten-free?

Most pre-packaged instant chocolate pudding mixes that you just add milk to are gluten-free. Popular brands like Jell-O, Cook & Serve and Swiss Miss generally make their chocolate pudding products without any gluten-containing ingredients.

However, always carefully read the label and ingredient list to confirm that no wheat, barley, malt or ambiguous ingredients are included.

Some pudding varieties like cookies and cream or chocolate flavored with malt may contain gluten. Flavored puddings have a higher chance of including gluten.

Again, your safest bet is to choose plain chocolate pudding, which has less potential for added ingredients. Call the manufacturer if you have any concerns about cross-contamination risk.

What about homemade chocolate pudding?

Homemade chocolate pudding made with gluten-free ingredients will always be the safest choice for avoiding gluten. You have complete control over the ingredients.

This simple 4-ingredient recipe for old-fashioned chocolate pudding is naturally gluten-free:

Gluten-Free Homemade Chocolate Pudding

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch in a saucepan. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking continuously. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Pour into a serving bowl and chill until set.

Using naturally gluten-free ingredients ensures your homemade chocolate pudding is gluten-free and safe to enjoy!

Is chocolate pudding dairy-free or vegan?

Traditional chocolate pudding recipes rely on dairy ingredients like milk and sometimes eggs or butter to achieve the right creamy, rich texture. However, there are ways to make chocolate pudding dairy-free for vegans or those with milk allergies.

Dairy-free milk – Substitute the regular milk called for in chocolate pudding with a plant-based milk like almond, soy, coconut, oat, rice or hemp milk.

Tofu – Silken tofu can replicate the creamy texture of dairy. Blend together chocolate, cocoa and soft silken tofu.

Avocado – Believe it or not, avocado can make a great base for thick, creamy chocolate pudding! Blend together avocado, cocoa powder, sweetener and non-dairy milk.

Vegetable oil – Some vegan chocolate pudding recipes use a combination of vegetable oils like coconut and canola oil along with non-dairy milk and cornstarch to form the foundation.

Cashews – Soaked raw cashews can be turned into “cream” when blended up. Combine with chocolate for a nutty vegan pudding.

With the right blend of ingredients, you can definitely enjoy dairy-free and vegan chocolate pudding alternatives! Just note the texture may differ slightly from traditional pudding.

Chocolate pudding nutrition facts

Here is the nutrition information for a typical 1/2 cup serving of homemade chocolate pudding made with 2% milk:

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving

Calories 159
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 72mg
Sodium 114mg
Total Carbohydrate 27g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 4g

As you can see, chocolate pudding is high in carbs, with almost 25g total carbs and 24g sugars per serving. The protein and fiber content are low at just 4g protein and 1g fiber.

There are about 160 calories in a 1/2 cup serving of chocolate pudding. It also provides some calcium (10% DV) from the milk, along with 4% DV iron.

So while chocolate pudding can be a tasty treat, it’s best enjoyed in moderation due to the high amount of sugar and calories. Those looking to limit carbs or sugar may want smaller portions.

Ways to make chocolate pudding healthier

Here are some tips for lightening up chocolate pudding:

– Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk

– Replace some of the sugar with zero-calorie sweetener

– Add a serving of fruit like banana or strawberries

– Layer with plain Greek yogurt for extra protein

– Mix in peanut butter or cocoa nibs for healthy fats

– Garnish with chia seeds, nuts or dark chocolate shavings


Plain chocolate pudding made with basic ingredients like milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and eggs is naturally gluten-free. However, some pre-packaged chocolate pudding mixes or flavored varieties may contain added ingredients with gluten.

Your best bet is to choose plain chocolate pudding and read labels carefully, or make it at home so you can control all the ingredients. While chocolate pudding is high in sugar and carbs, there are things you can do like using low-fat milk or adding fruit to help lighten it up.

Overall, chocolate pudding can be enjoyed in moderation on a gluten-free diet as long as you pay attention to the ingredients! Making it at home ensures it’s safe from any cross-contamination.

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