Most Stouffer’s mac and cheese products do contain gluten. However, Stouffer’s does offer some gluten-free mac and cheese options made without wheat or barley.
Ingredients That Contain Gluten
Many Stouffer’s mac and cheese products contain ingredients derived from gluten sources like wheat and barley. Here are some of the main gluten-containing ingredients found in Stouffer’s mac and cheese:
- Wheat flour
- Barley malt
- Pasta made from wheat or barley
- Bread crumbs
Wheat flour is a common ingredient used to thicken the cheese sauce in mac and cheese. Barley malt extract is sometimes added as a flavoring. Of course, mac and cheese gets its name from the pasta, which is typically made from wheat or barley. Bread crumbs are also sometimes used as a topping.
Gluten-Free Options from Stouffer’s
While many of Stouffer’s mac and cheese contain gluten, they do offer some gluten-free options:
- Stouffer’s Gluten Free Mac & Cheese
- Stouffer’s Gluten Free Mac & Cheese Bites
These products are made without any wheat, barley, rye, or triticale. Stouffer’s states that they are safe for those with celiac disease or following a gluten-free diet.
Testing for Gluten
Stouffer’s tests their gluten-free mac and cheese products to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This is the cutoff for labeling foods as “gluten-free” in the United States.
They test the ingredients going into the products as well as the finished products themselves. Their testing procedures are designed to detect even small amounts of gluten cross-contamination.
Stouffer’s has procedures in place at their manufacturing facilities to prevent gluten cross-contamination in their gluten-free mac and cheese:
- Gluten-free products are made first thing in the morning before any wheat-containing products
- All equipment is thoroughly cleaned before changing over to gluten-free production
- Employees change gloves, aprons, hairnets before working on gluten-free
- Gluten-free items are placed on foil-lined trays to prevent contact with equipment
Following these precautions allows them to make gluten-free mac and cheese on some of the same lines as products with gluten. But they do maintain separate gluten-free storage and handling procedures.
Here is a table comparing the nutrition facts for 1 serving of regular Stouffer’s mac and cheese versus the gluten-free version:
|Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese (1 cup)
|Stouffer’s Gluten Free Mac & Cheese (1 cup)
The gluten-free version contains more calories and carbohydrates, likely due to the use of rice flour instead of wheat flour. Both versions offer a similar amount of fat, sugar, and protein.
On average, the Stouffer’s gluten-free mac and cheese costs $1-$3 more than the regular version. Here are some example prices:
- Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese (12 oz): $3.49
- Stouffer’s Gluten Free Mac & Cheese (9.5 oz): $4.99
The increased cost of specialty gluten-free ingredients accounts for the price difference. The gluten-free version is also sold in smaller package sizes currently.
Reviews of the taste are generally positive for Stouffer’s gluten-free mac and cheese. Many customers say it has a similar creamy, cheesy flavor as the original. Some key positives and negatives:
- Creamy, cheesy flavor
- Tender pasta
- Doesn’t taste gluten-free
- Pasta can be mushy
- Not as thick sauce
- Doesn’t reheat well
While not identical, Stouffer’s gluten-free version provides a convenient option for those with dietary restrictions. Following a gluten-free diet no longer means giving up favorite comfort foods like mac and cheese.
In addition to “gluten-free” on the packaging, Stouffer’s labels their gluten-free products with the following certifications:
- Certified Gluten-Free by GFCO – Gluten-Free Certification Organization
- Certified by 1-2-3 Gluten Free – gluten testing facility
These third-party certifications provide added assurance that products meet strict standards for gluten-free labeling. Certification involves ongoing testing and auditing of facilities and procedures.
While Stouffer’s gluten-free mac and cheese contains under 20 ppm gluten, there still could be trace amounts. People with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity should use caution, especially when first introducing these products.
Always check labels closely and look for any changes in ingredients, manufacturing, or certifications. Nutrition labels may not be automatically updated. Contact the company if you ever see any indication that a product is no longer gluten-free.
Here are some other tips for enjoying Stouffer’s gluten-free mac and cheese safely:
- Verify packaging is sealed properly and not damaged
- Check for best by dates and use by dates
- Wash hands, cooking tools, surfaces before preparing
- Avoid cross-contamination from other gluten sources
- Use a clean spoon each time to scoop servings
Reach out to Stouffer’s customer service with any questions or concerns about their gluten-free products:
- Phone: 1-800-4STOUFFERS (1-800-478-6833)
- Online: www.stouffers.com/contact-us
- Mail: Stouffer’s Consumer Affairs, #58-00-01, 555 Taxter Road, Elmsford, NY 10523
They have nutritionists and food safety experts on staff who can provide detailed information about ingredients, manufacturing processes, testing procedures, and certifications.
Other Gluten-Free Meal Options
In addition to mac and cheese, Stouffer’s offers a few other gluten-free frozen meal choices:
- Gluten Free Lasagna
- Gluten Free Chicken Alfredo
- Gluten Free Meatloaf
Check their website or freezer aisle for the latest gluten-free offerings. There are also many other brands like Amy’s, Lean Cuisine, and SmartMade that offer gluten-free frozen meals.
Making Your Own Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
While Stouffer’s provides a convenient option, you can also make homemade gluten-free mac and cheese. Here are some tips:
- Use gluten-free pasta like rice, quinoa, chickpea or lentil
- Make cheese sauce with lactose-free milk and gluten-free flour
- Top with crispy gluten-free breadcrumbs or fried shallots
- Add cooked veggies like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes
- Season with spices like paprika, mustard powder, cajun seasoning
- Bake in casserole and top with more cheese
Get creative mixing and matching your favorite gluten-free ingredients. Homemade allows you to control all the ingredients and avoid cross-contamination.
In summary, most Stouffer’s mac and cheese products do contain gluten from ingredients like wheat flour and pasta. However, they offer specially formulated gluten-free versions made without wheat, barley, rye or triticale. Stouffer’s adheres to strict manufacturing procedures and testing to confirm their gluten-free items contain less than 20ppm of gluten. While the gluten-free mac and cheese costs more than the regular version, many customers find the taste comparable. Always double check labels and certifications when purchasing products labeled gluten-free. Contact Stouffer’s customer service with any questions or concerns about their gluten-free items. Make sure to follow proper precautions around avoiding cross-contamination. Beyond mac and cheese, there are more gluten-free meal options now available from Stouffer’s and other brands. With some careful label reading and preparation, people following a gluten-free diet can enjoy quick frozen meals along with homemade versions.