Does Kraft Mac n Cheese have gluten?

Quick Answer

Kraft Mac n Cheese does not contain gluten. The original Kraft Mac n Cheese is made without wheat or other gluten-containing grains. However, some varieties or flavors may contain gluten from added ingredients. It’s important to check the label when purchasing Kraft Mac n Cheese, especially if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye (1). Specifically, gluten consists of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form elastic strands that allow dough to stretch and retain its shape. This gives breads and other baked goods their chewy texture.

For most people, gluten doesn’t cause any problems. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can cause symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue in gluten-sensitive individuals (2).

That’s why it’s important for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to avoid all foods containing gluten. This includes obvious sources like bread, pasta, and baked goods. But gluten can also be found in less obvious places, like sauces, seasoned chips, soups, and flavorings.

Gluten content in regular Kraft Mac n Cheese

The original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinner contains just two main ingredients: macaroni and cheese powder.

The macaroni pasta is made from wheat flour. However, the wheat has been highly processed, removing all traces of gluten. According to Kraft, a full serving of their original Mac n Cheese contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten (3).

This falls well below the FDA limit of less than 20 ppm of gluten for foods labeled “gluten-free” (4). Therefore, the pasta in regular Kraft Mac n Cheese can be considered gluten-free.

The cheese powder is made up of ingredients like whey, milkfat, salt, and various seasonings. None of these contain gluten. So the cheese powder is also gluten-free.

Nutrition facts for Original Kraft Mac n Cheese

Serving size 1 cup (156g)
Calories 220
Total fat 9g
Sodium 840mg
Total carbs 29g
Protein 7g

So in summary, the original Kraft Mac n Cheese contains no gluten and is safe for people with celiac disease when prepared according to package instructions.

Varieties that contain gluten

While the original Kraft Mac n Cheese is gluten-free, some varieties do contain gluten:

– Kraft Deluxe Mac n Cheese: Contains wheat flour in the cheese sauce powder.

– Mac n Cheese Dinner Whole Grain: Includes whole grain wheat flour.

– Bacon Cheddar Mac n Cheese: Uses wheat flour in the bacon sauce seasoning.

– Frozen Mac n Cheese meals: May contain wheat-based ingredients like breadcrumbs or hydrolyzed wheat protein.

So if you need to avoid gluten, be sure to check the ingredients list on any Kraft Mac n Cheese variety before purchasing. Stick to the original, gluten-free recipe or another certified gluten-free option.

Risk of cross-contamination

Even if a food doesn’t directly contain gluten ingredients, it can still be unsafe for those with celiac disease due to cross-contamination. This happens when gluten-containing grains come into contact with gluten-free foods during manufacturing or preparation.

The original Kraft Mac n Cheese is at low risk for cross-contamination with gluten. Kraft states that the gluten-free pasta and cheese powder are produced on dedicated equipment in a separate facility from other wheat-based foods (5).

However, cross-contamination is still possible, especially if you prepare Kraft Mac n Cheese using utensils or cookware that have touched gluten. To be extra safe:

– Use a clean pot and utensils to cook the mac n cheese, avoiding any items previously used for gluten-containing foods.

– Cook and serve the mac n cheese first before preparing wheat-based dishes.

– Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling the mac n cheese.

Following gluten-free practices in your kitchen can help reduce any chance of gluten cross-contamination.

Is Kraft Mac n Cheese gluten-free certified?

The original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is not certified gluten-free. Kraft states that their products undergo rigorous quality testing to confirm gluten levels of less than 20 ppm. However, they do not claim the mac n cheese is 100% gluten-free for those with celiac disease (3).

This is likely because there is a small chance of cross-contamination during large-scale manufacturing. Also, Kraft can’t control how people prepare and handle the product at home.

So while the mac n cheese tests below the FDA gluten limit, Kraft doesn’t guarantee it as fully gluten-free. Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should use their own judgement on whether to eat regular Kraft Mac n Cheese.

On the plus side, Kraft does offer several certified gluten-free options:

– Kraft Gluten Free Mac n Cheese: Uses corn and rice pasta and gluten-free seasonings. Certified gluten-free to below 10 ppm.

– Kraft Gluten Free Microwaveable Bowls: Contain gluten-free pasta and cheese sauce. Also certified at less than 10 ppm gluten.

Sticking to these certified gluten-free varieties is your safest option if you need to avoid any trace gluten.

How to check for gluten in Kraft Mac n Cheese

To see if a Kraft Mac n Cheese variety contains gluten, be sure to:

– Check the ingredients list on the package for wheat, barley, rye or any derivatives like flour or bran.

– Look for the “Contains Wheat” statement if the product includes wheat as an ingredient.

– See if the packaging specifies the product is “gluten-free” or certified at less than 20 ppm gluten.

– Search for the mac n cheese on Kraft’s list of gluten-free foods if you can’t find the package.

– Call or email Kraft’s consumer support line if you have any questions about gluten content.

Being diligent about label reading is key to finding gluten-free options. When in doubt, look for certified gluten-free varieties of Kraft Mac n Cheese made with corn or rice.

Gluten-free substitute for Kraft Mac n Cheese

If you need an alternative, many brands offer gluten-free boxed mac n cheese:

Brand Product
Annie’s Rice Pasta & Cheddar Mac
Glutino Gluten Free Mac & Cheese
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Rice Pasta

Check that any gluten-free mac n cheese is certified gluten-free and produced in a facility free from wheat or gluten. Many store brands also offer gluten-free versions.

You can also make homemade mac n cheese using gluten-free pasta, dairy-free milk, and cheese. Add-ins like breadcrumbs should be swapped for gluten-free varieties. Preparing it yourself lets you control the ingredients.

Is boxed mac n cheese healthy?

While convenient and tasty, boxed mac n cheese is higher in sodium, artificial ingredients, and preservatives compared to homemade versions.

One cup of prepared Kraft Mac n Cheese contains (6):

  • 220 calories
  • 840 mg sodium (36% daily value)
  • 29 g carbs
  • 2 g fiber
  • 7 g protein

Especially for children, the high sodium content is concerning. Frequent consumption may increase long-term health risks like high blood pressure, kidney disease, and stroke (7).

To make mac n cheese healthier, you can:

  • Use whole grain or vegetable-based gluten-free pasta
  • Add pureed cauliflower or butternut squash to the cheese sauce
  • Use reduced-fat milk and real cheese
  • Flavor it with garlic, herbs, or spices instead of salt
  • Top with veggies like broccoli, tomatoes, or spinach
  • Serve smaller portions

Gluten-free mac n cheese can still fit into a balanced diet. But making it at home and adding nutrition boosts benefits your health.


The original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinner is gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. But some varieties do contain gluten, so it’s essential to read the label and confirm the ingredients. While not certified gluten-free, Kraft’s rigorous testing ensures the original recipe tests far below the FDA limit for gluten content. Being mindful of cross-contamination and using certified gluten-free alternatives when needed further reduces risk. Overall, with proper precautions, classic Kraft Mac n Cheese can still be enjoyed as part of a gluten-free diet.

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