Does waffle cones have gluten?

Quick Answer

Waffle cones can contain gluten depending on the recipe and ingredients used. Many premade waffle cone brands do contain some gluten, while gluten-free options are also available. To know for sure if a waffle cone contains gluten, check the ingredients list for wheat, barley, rye or derivatives that indicate gluten. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to be especially careful when choosing waffle cones.

Do Most Waffle Cones Contain Gluten?

Yes, many traditional waffle cone recipes do contain some gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Most standard waffle cone recipes include wheat flour as a main ingredient. Wheat flour contains the gluten protein. This means most regular waffle cones are not suitable for those following a gluten-free diet.

However, there are some brands of waffle cones made to be gluten-free. These use ingredients like rice flour, tapioca flour or almond flour instead of wheat. So there are gluten-free options available, though traditional waffle cones likely contain at least some gluten.

Common Sources of Gluten in Waffle Cones

These ingredients commonly found in waffle cone recipes indicate the presence of gluten:

  • Wheat Flour – Wheat flours like all-purpose, bread flour, whole wheat all contain gluten
  • Barley Flour – Barley is a gluten-containing grain
  • Rye Flour – Rye flour also contains gluten protein
  • Malt – Malt is derived from barley and contains gluten
  • Beer – Most beers are made from glutenous grains

So when checking the ingredients for gluten, look for any mention of wheat, barley, rye or related ingredients. Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with gluten, so oat flour is not considered a safe ingredient either.

Why Must Those With Celiac Disease Avoid Gluten?

For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and fatigue. In those with celiac disease, eating gluten also impairs the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.

This means those with celiac disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet with no cheating. Even small amounts of cross-contamination can trigger symptoms and intestinal damage. So for celiacs, it’s critical to know if a food like waffle cones contains any gluten at all.

Effects of Gluten on People With Celiac Disease

When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, these are some of the effects that can occur:

  • Damage to the villi lining the small intestine – Villi are small finger-like projections that absorb nutrients. Gluten flattens these villi and reduces nutrient absorption.
  • Inflammation and irritation of the intestine – The immune system attacks the intestine any time gluten is present.
  • Symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, bloating, abdominal pain and headaches – Gluten exposure triggers these gastrointestinal and flu-like symptoms.
  • Increased risk of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies – Poor nutrient absorption can lead to low iron, calcium, vitamin and other deficiencies.
  • Higher chance of related autoimmune disorders – Celiac disease increases risk of other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and thyroid disorders.
  • Potential complications like osteoporosis and infertility – If celiac disease damages the intestines long-term, serious complications can develop.

For those reasons, it’s extremely important for people with celiac disease to avoid any gluten exposure from ingredients like wheat flour.

What Makes a Waffle Cone Gluten-Free?

For a waffle cone to be truly gluten-free, it must completely avoid ingredients derived from wheat, barley and rye. Here are some ways waffle cone recipes can be made gluten-free:

  • Use gluten-free flours like rice flour, tapioca flour, almond flour or gluten-free oat flour.
  • Check all ingredients thoroughly for hidden sources of gluten.
  • Look for certification by groups like the Celiac Support Association or Celiac Sprue Association.
  • Prepare cones in facilities that avoid cross-contamination.
  • Rely on dedicated gluten-free brands to minimize contamination risk.

Ideally, gluten-free waffle cones will be prepared in facilities that only handle gluten-free ingredients. Otherwise, there is a risk of gluten exposure through shared equipment.

Most Reliable Gluten-Free Waffle Cone Ingredients

These ingredients are considered reliably gluten-free choices for waffle cone recipes:

  • Rice flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Potato starch
  • arrowroot
  • Sweet rice flour
  • Brown rice flour

Sticking to these flour alternatives helps remove the risk of gluten contamination. But it’s still important to check all labels since gluten can sneak in through flavorings, seasonings and even on shared equipment.

What Brands Offer Gluten-Free Waffle Cones?

There are a growing number of brands now offering gluten-free waffle cones for those who need to avoid gluten. Here are some of the top brands with gluten-free options:

Kinnikinnick Foods

Kinnikinnick is a leader in gluten-free baked goods, including waffle cones made with brown rice flour and potato starch. Their cones come in chocolate and sugar varieties. The brand avoids cross-contamination and is certified gluten-free.

Enjoy Life Foods

This brand uses only gluten-free and allergen-friendly ingredients in their waffle cones and other products. Their cones rely on rice flour and tapioca starch. Enjoy Life operates a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free facility.

Katz Gluten Free

Katz offers crunchy sugar cones and chocolate dipped cones, both made with a blend of gluten-free flours. Their products are certified gluten-free to less than 10 ppm.

Pamela’s Products

Pamela’s gluten-free waffle cones are made with non-GMO ingredients like brown rice flour and potato starch. Their chocolate dipped and original cones are certified gluten-free by the GFCO.


Mi-Del has both gluten-free sugar cookie cones and chocolate dipped cones. They are made with corn starch instead of wheat flour. Mi-Del has gluten-free certification from the Celiac Support Association.

Other Brands

Some other gluten-free waffle cone brands to look for include Pillsbury Gluten Free, Honey Stinger, Katz Gluten Free, and Glutino. There are more niche brands offering gluten-free cones popping up as demand increases.

Can You Make Gluten-Free Waffle Cones at Home?

Yes, it’s definitely possible to make your own gluten-free waffle cones at home. This helps control exactly what ingredients go into the cones. Here is a simple recipe to try:

Gluten-Free Waffle Cone Recipe


  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons milk


  1. In a bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, sugar and salt.
  2. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs together with the vanilla, melted butter and 4 tablespoons of milk.
  3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir to combine.
  4. Add more milk as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a thick batter forms. Batter should coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Heat a waffle cone maker according to manufacturer instructions. Brush or spray lightly with oil if needed.
  6. Scoop batter into the preheated waffle cone maker. Spread into a thin, even layer.
  7. Cook until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Remove carefully and shape into a cone while still warm.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter. Enjoy cones filled with ice cream or other gluten-free treats.

The key is finding a gluten-free waffle cone maker to avoid any cross-contamination. There are several brands that make electric mini makers just for cones. This allows you to customize the ingredients to be safe for your own gluten-free needs.

Are Waffle Bowls and Cups Gluten-Free?

Waffle bowls and cups are thicker and more bowl-shaped than traditional flat waffle cones. Unfortunately, most standard waffle bowl recipes also contain wheat flour. So they are generally not gluten-free.

However, there are some gluten-free waffle bowl options made from alternate flours. Brands like Katz Gluten Free and Mi-Del noted above make gluten-free waffle bowls in addition to cones. Looking for certified gluten-free brands is the safest approach to find gluten-free waffle bowls. Making your own with gluten-free flours can also work.

Overall, it takes a little more hunting to find gluten-free waffle bowls than regular cones. But there are definitely options out there for those in need. Checking grocery store freezer sections for gluten-free brands can help uncover some choices.

Should You Worry About Cross-Contamination?

For people with celiac disease, cross-contamination is always a concern even when a waffle cone is labeled gluten-free. Depending on how and where gluten-free cones are made, there may be a risk of gluten exposure.

Here are some potential sources of waffle cone cross-contamination:

  • Shared equipment with gluten-containing foods
  • Airborne gluten particles in facilities that also handle gluten
  • Errors in separating gluten-free ingredients
  • Derived ingredients like flavorings that may have hidden gluten

Looking for dedicated or certified gluten-free brands can help minimize this risk. But some degree of risk may remain depending on individual sensitivity. For that reason, some people with celiac disease choose to avoid premade waffle cones altogether. Opting for homemade cones instead allows full control over the environment and ingredients.

Approximate Gluten Thresholds in Waffle Cones

Here is the approximate amount of gluten considered “gluten-free” according to different health organizations:

Organization Gluten Threshold
FDA Less than 20 ppm
Codex Alimentarius Commission Less than 20 ppm
Celiac Sprue Association Less than 5 ppm
Gluten Intolerance Group Less than 10 ppm

So for most organizations, less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten is required to labeled a product gluten-free. But for those who are highly sensitive, even these small amounts may be problematic. Checking for additional certifications like GIG’s “Certified Gluten-Free” can help find products meeting a stricter 10 ppm threshold.

Should You Rely on Restaurant or Ice Cream Shop Waffle Cones?

Eating waffle cones from restaurants, ice cream shops or other food vendors poses significantly higher cross-contamination risks. These types of facilities often handle multiple gluten-containing menu items on shared equipment and preparation areas.

Even if a restaurant offers gluten-free waffle cones, the risk of gluten exposure from air, surfaces or tools may be too high for those with celiac disease. Unless an establishment has excellent protocols to avoid cross-contamination, it’s generally safest to avoid their waffle cones altogether.

The highest risk situations for gluten exposure include:

  • Self-serve waffle cone stations
  • Waffle makers that also handle wheat-based batter
  • Scoops used for multiple ice cream tubs
  • Toppings with gluten-containing ingredients
  • Poor employee training on gluten and cross-contamination

Your safest bet is bringing your own certified gluten-free cones from home or not eating cones when out. Be especially cautious at more casual eateries like fairs, amusement parks and self-serve yogurt shops where cross-contamination risks are high.

Questions to Ask About Waffle Cones When Eating Out

If you want to eat waffle cones from a restaurant or shop, be sure to ask plenty of questions to assess the risk. Things to ask include:

  • Are the waffle cones certified gluten-free, and by what organization?
  • What brand are the gluten-free cones, and what ingredients are used?
  • Are the cones prepared on shared equipment or separate?
  • Is there a risk of cross-contamination from other gluten-containing foods?
  • How knowledgeable are employees about gluten-free needs?

Don’t be afraid to dig into the details and even ask to see ingredient labels. The more you understand their protocols, the better you can gauge the safety of consuming their waffle cones. When in doubt, it’s not worth the health risk.


While regular waffle cones typically contain gluten, fortunately there are more and more gluten-free options appearing today. Dedicated gluten-free brands use safe alternatives like rice flour instead of wheat. Just be sure to thoroughly check labels for any sign of gluten-containing ingredients. Those highly sensitive should look for extra certifications that enforce stringent standards and avoid cross-contamination. Making your own cones at home also lets you control exactly what goes into them.
With some care reading labels and seeking truly gluten-free brands, people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can still enjoy the fun crunch of waffle cones without worry. Just be extra cautious when eating out and assess the risk of cross-contamination. By finding reliably gluten-free cones, you can savor one of summer’s special treats.

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