Most instant vanilla pudding mixes do not contain gluten. However, some brands may have trace amounts due to cross-contamination during manufacturing. It’s important to check the ingredients list and labeling when purchasing instant pudding mixes if you need to avoid gluten.
Ingredients in Instant Vanilla Pudding
The main ingredients in instant vanilla pudding mix are:
- Flavorings (usually artificial vanilla flavor)
- Stabilizers like disodium phosphate
- Dried milk or milk proteins
None of these core ingredients contain gluten. However, there are a few potential sources of gluten to be aware of:
Some instant pudding mixes contain wheat flour or other gluten-containing flours. This is more common in homemade pudding recipes, but some commercial brands do add small amounts of flour as a thickener. Always check the ingredients list for words like “flour”, “wheat flour”, “enriched flour”, etc.
Many instant puddings contain stabilizers to help maintain the smooth, thick texture. Some common stabilizers derived from gluten-containing grains include:
- Wheat starch
Again, carefully read the ingredients list and avoid any questionable additives.
Even if a pudding mix looks gluten-free based on the ingredients list, cross-contamination during manufacturing can lead to trace amounts of gluten. Many factories produce a variety of products, including some with wheat and gluten.
For people with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity, these tiny amounts can still cause issues. That’s why it’s safest to look for pudding labeled “gluten-free” if avoiding all gluten exposure.
Are Popular Brands of Instant Pudding Gluten-Free?
Here is the gluten status for some top instant pudding brands:
Jell-O Instant Pudding
Most Jell-O instant pudding mixes do not contain gluten ingredients. However, the company notes that trace amounts may be present due to cross-contamination. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should exercise caution.
Kraft Instant Pudding
Kraft pudding mixes do not contain gluten ingredients. But as a mainstream product produced in shared facilities, cross-contamination is possible. Kraft states their puddings are not recommended for gluten intolerant individuals.
Simply Delish Instant Pudding
Simply Delish is a specialty brand that makes dairy, gluten and nut-free puddings. Their instant pudding mixes are processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility and tested to less than 5 ppm gluten. Simply Delish puddings are considered gluten-free.
Kozy Shack Instant Pudding
Kozy Shack clearly labels their instant pudding cups and cook & serve boxes as gluten-free. The products do not contain wheat or gluten. Kozy Shack puddings are processed in a gluten-free facility.
What About Homemade and Cook & Serve Puddings?
When making instant pudding from scratch, look for a gluten-free cornstarch to use as the thickener. Basic recipes combine milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Avoid adding any flour or malt-based ingredients. Check that your milk, extract and other ingredients are also gluten-free. Make sure utensils and cookware have been thoroughly cleaned before use.
Pre-Made Cook & Serve Pudding
Many brands offer ready-to-eat pudding that just needs to be cooked on the stovetop before serving. These often contain added thickeners like wheat flour or maltodextrin. Check the ingredients carefully and look for gluten-free labeling. Some gluten-free options include Kozy Shack and Simply Delish cook and serve pudding.
What About Added Toppings?
When enjoying instant pudding, the toppings you add can also introduce gluten. Here are some tips:
- Whipped cream, dairy whipped topping or frozen yogurt are safe gluten-free options.
- Avoid pudding toppings that contain cookies, graham crackers or stable bases with glutenous grains.
- Check labels on chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, sprinkles and other mix-ins.
- Look for gluten-free versions or make your own from gluten-free ingredients.
Is There Gluten in Specific Flavors of Instant Pudding?
Most major brands make the same basic vanilla and chocolate pudding mixes, so the gluten status applies across flavors. However, some unique flavors may have added ingredients to note:
Instant pistachio pudding
Pistachio pudding gets its green color and nutty flavor from pistachio nuts or pistachio extract. Some brands add almond extract too. These are all gluten-free ingredients.
Instant butterscotch pudding
Butterscotch pudding contains brown sugar and butterscotch or vanilla flavoring. These standard ingredients are gluten-free.
Instant cheesecake or banana cream pudding
These creamy dessert-inspired flavors often have added cream cheese or banana puree, which are gluten-free. As always, check the labels closely for any thickening additives.
Instant cookies and cream pudding
This flavor may contain pieces of chocolate sandwich cookies, which likely contain gluten. However, some brands use gluten-free chocolate wafer cookies or cookie pieces.
Instant coconut cream pudding
Coconut milk or cream, coconut flavoring and shredded coconut are typical ingredients, none of which contain gluten.
Instant lemon pudding
Tart lemon pudding gets its flavor from lemon juice concentrate or citric acid. These are gluten-free.
What About Pre-Made Gluten-Free Pudding Cups?
Many brands market individual gluten-free pudding cups for convenience:
|Certified gluten-free. Free of wheat, barley, rye.
|Gluten-free. No wheat, barley, rye, triticale.
|Tested gluten-free to less than 10 ppm.
These single-serve puddings are handy for school, work or travel. Always double check the flavor, since some companies make gluten-free and regular varieties.
Are There Any Gluten-Free Instant Pudding Mix Brands?
Here are a few brands that specialize in gluten-free instant pudding mixes:
- Simply Delish – All their pudding mixes are certified gluten-free, nut-free and Kosher. They come in single serve cups or regular cook & serve boxes.
- Gillians Foods – Offers gluten-free instant chocolate, vanilla and pistachio pudding mixes. Processed in a dedicated facility.
- Orgran – This Australian brand makes gluten-free vegan instant pudding mixes sweetened with rice syrup.
- Rise & Shine – Gluten-free, dairy-free pudding mixes in flavors like chocolate, lemon curd and banana cream.
- Miss Roben’s – Line of gluten-free baking mixes including instant pudding. Available on Amazon.
Checking stores that specialize in gluten-free foods can help you discover even more variety.
What About Dairy-Free Instant Pudding?
Many leading brands of instant pudding rely on milk ingredients like nonfat dry milk powder or whey protein concentrate. However, there are some dairy-free options:
- Zenith Desserts – Makes dairy-free rice pudding cups alongside their regular puddings.
- Rise & Shine – Offers vegan and dairy-free instant pudding mixes.
- Orgran – Their vegan pudding mixes use a soy milk powder base.
- Coconut milk – Can be used to make homemade dairy-free instant pudding.
- Ripple milk – Pea-protein milk creates a rich base for homemade pudding.
Always check labels for “dairy-free” certification and avoid milk-derived ingredients.
Tips for Finding Gluten-Free Instant Pudding
Here are some helpful tips for locating gluten-free instant pudding:
- Check mainstream brands for gluten-free labels or disclaimers about wheat/gluten.
- Look for dedicated gluten-free brands like Simply Delish, Gillians, Orgran etc.
- Search online stores that specialize in gluten-free groceries.
- Stick to simple flavors like chocolate and vanilla that have fewer add-ins.
- Call or email companies to ask about gluten testing policies if uncertain.
- Look for pudding made in a dedicated gluten-free facility for less risk of cross-contamination.
- Compare ingredients lists and nutrition labels closely.
- Look for certification symbols from GFCO, NSF, etc. that validate gluten-free claims.
Being a well-informed grocery shopper helps ensure you get truly gluten-free instant pudding. Reach out to manufacturers directly if you have any concerns or questions.
Can You Make Instant Pudding with Almond Milk?
Almond milk and other nut milks can generally be swapped for cow’s milk when making instant pudding. However, the consistency may be slightly different. Here are some tips:
- Use plain unsweetened almond milk. Vanilla or flavored varieties won’t work as well.
- Opt for almond milk with added protein, calcium and other nutrients to better mimic dairy milk.
- You may need to use less almond milk. Begin by following the amount listed in the recipe and add more as needed.
- Add the pudding mix slowly while whisking to prevent clumping.
- Chill pudding made with almond milk well before serving. This helps improve thickness.
- Stir pudding occasionally as it chills to prevent separation.
With a bit of trial and error, you can learn to make great instant pudding with almond milk or other dairy-free alternatives.
In most cases, instant pudding mixes are gluten-free by ingredient design. However, due to shared manufacturing equipment, trace gluten is possible. Celiacs and anyone highly sensitive should take care in selecting certified gluten-free brands produced in dedicated facilities. Carefully reading labels and comparing products is key to finding instant puddings that fit your dietary needs and preferences.