Does sticky date pudding contain gluten?

Sticky date pudding is a classic Australian dessert that is beloved for its sweet, sticky texture and rich flavor. It is made from dates, sugar, eggs, flour, and spices that are combined to create a dense, cake-like pudding. While sticky date pudding is a gluten-free dessert by nature when made with gluten-free ingredients, many traditional recipes call for regular wheat flour, which contains gluten. So does standard sticky date pudding contain gluten? Let’s take a closer look.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form elastic strands that give breads and other baked goods their chewy texture. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and experience digestive issues when they eat it. Gluten-free diets have become popular both for people with gluten issues as well as those simply looking to avoid gluten for other health reasons.

Gluten content of wheat flour

Regular, all-purpose wheat flour contains gluten. Specifically, it contains glutenin and gliadin proteins which together form the gluten complex. The gluten content of wheat flour averages around 10-15%. So any recipe made with all-purpose wheat flour contains gluten.

Traditional sticky date pudding recipes

If you look at traditional sticky date pudding recipes from Australia, they often call for all-purpose wheat flour as one of the main ingredients along with dates, sugar, eggs, butter, and spices like cinnamon and vanilla. For example, a typical recipe includes:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

Since this recipe uses a standard wheat flour, it contains gluten. The flour adds structure and binding to help create the signature soft, sticky texture. So traditional sticky date puddings made with regular wheat flour do contain gluten.

Gluten-free alternatives

However, there are several gluten-free options that can be used to make sticky date pudding without gluten:

Gluten-free all-purpose flour

Replace the regular wheat flour with a cup-for-cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. There are many brands that use ingredients like rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum to replicate the qualities of wheat flour.

Almond flour

Almond flour has a slightly dense, binding texture that makes it a great substitute for regular flour in sticky date pudding. Replace the wheat flour with an equal amount of almond flour.

Coconut flour

Coconut flour soaks up a lot of moisture which can help give sticky date pudding an even richer texture. Substitute 1 cup of coconut flour for every 1 1⁄2 cups wheat flour. Reduce milk by a couple tablespoons since coconut flour absorbs more liquid.

Oat flour

For those who tolerate oats, oat flour can replicate the soft, subtle oat flavor of wheat flour. Use oat flour in a 1:1 ratio to replace wheat flour. Note that oats are naturally gluten-free but can get contaminated with gluten during processing. Be sure to use certified gluten-free oat flour.

Cornstarch and arrowroot starch

A combination of cornstarch and arrowroot starch can help replace the binding and thickening effect of wheat flour. Use a combo of 1⁄2 cup cornstarch and 1⁄4 cup arrowroot starch instead of 1 1⁄2 cups wheat flour.

Gluten-free sticky date pudding recipe

Here is a gluten-free recipe for sticky date pudding:


  • 1 1⁄2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3⁄4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup arrowroot starch


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8×8 baking dish and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a saucepan, combine dates and 1 1⁄2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until dates are soft. Mash dates into a paste. Let cool.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, arrowroot starch, bicarbonate of soda, and a pinch of salt.
  4. In another bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Fold in the date paste.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until set. Let cool before serving.

This recipe uses a blend of gluten-free flour and arrowroot starch to achieve the signature sticky texture, along with the natural binding powers of the blended dates. The end result is a gluten-free sticky date pudding with the same addictive texture as the original.

Are there gluten-free sticky date pudding mixes?

For convenience, there are also some gluten-free sticky date pudding mixes available which contain tailored flour blends to make prep even easier:

  • Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free Sticky Date Pudding Mix
  • Coles – Gluten Free Sticky Date Pudding Mix
  • Orgran – Gluten Free Sticky Date Pudding Mix
  • King Arthur – Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding Mix

Be sure to check the label to confirm these mixes are certified gluten-free and made in dedicated facilities.

What can I serve with gluten-free sticky date pudding?

Gluten-free sticky date pudding is delicious on its own with its rich, molten cake texture. But you can also serve it with traditional accompaniments like:

  • Custard – For a classic pairing, serve with creamy vanilla custard or crème anglaise.
  • Whipped cream – Lightly sweetened whipped cream adds a nice cooling contrast.
  • Ice cream – For an overload of decadence, top with vanilla ice cream.
  • Toffee sauce – Drizzle with thick, buttery toffee or butterscotch sauce.
  • Caramel sauce – Warm salted caramel sauce takes it over the top.

Make sure accompaniments like custard, whipped cream, ice cream and sauces are also gluten-free when required.

Where to find gluten-free sticky date pudding

If you don’t want the hassle of making gluten-free sticky date pudding from scratch, you can also purchase it pre-made from select bakeries and restaurants that offer gluten-free menus:

  • Naturally Gluten Free Bakery
  • Petite Treats
  • Sweet William Gluten Free Bakery
  • Bye Bye Gluten

Some restaurants like pancake houses and Australian-style cafes also offer sticky date pudding on their gluten-free dessert menus. Just be sure to check labels and ask questions to verify the dessert is fully gluten-free.

Nutrition facts of gluten-free sticky date pudding

Here is a nutritional comparison of 1 serving (about 1/2 cup) of traditional sticky date pudding made with wheat flour vs. a gluten-free version made with coconut flour:

Nutrition Facts Regular Gluten-Free
Calories 179 222
Fat 4g 15g
Carbs 33g 25g
Fiber 1g 3g
Sugar 25g 17g
Protein 3g 3g

While the gluten-free version with coconut flour is a bit higher in calories and fat, it provides more fiber and less sugar than the traditional wheat flour recipe. But all versions of sticky date pudding are still considered more of an occasional treat than everyday healthy fare.

Is sticky date pudding naturally gluten-free?

Sticky date pudding is often assumed to be a gluten-free dessert since dates are naturally gluten-free. But traditional recipes do call for wheat flour, making the standard version not gluten-free. Dates, eggs, milk, butter and spices are all naturally gluten-free ingredients. By subbing the wheat flour for a gluten-free flour blend, you can easily make sticky date pudding gluten-free. There are also many dairy-free and vegan sticky date pudding recipes to accommodate multiple dietary needs.

Should people with celiac disease avoid sticky date pudding?

People with celiac disease need to avoid any gluten in their diet as it causes immune damage to the small intestine. So those with celiac disease should not eat sticky date pudding made with regular wheat flour. However, they can safely enjoy a sticky date pudding made with certified gluten-free ingredients and cooked in a gluten-free environment. Following a gluten-free sticky date pudding recipe will allow those with celiac to get their fix of this sweet treat without adverse effects. Just confirm all ingredients from the dates to the flour and baking environment are fully gluten-free.


While traditional sticky date pudding recipes call for wheat flour, the dessert can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the regular flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Using ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour, gluten-free oats, and starches gives the same binding texture without the gluten. Gluten-free sticky date pudding enables people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance to enjoy this classic dessert. Make sure to use certified gluten-free ingredients and cookware for safety. Warm, sweet and nostalgic, gluten-free sticky date pudding is the perfect comfort food any time of year.

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