Is boxed instant pudding gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular, with more people choosing to avoid gluten for medical reasons or simply as a lifestyle choice. For those following a gluten-free diet, checking labels and asking questions about ingredients is an important part of managing their health. One common question is whether boxed instant puddings contain gluten.

Quick Answers

The short answer is: Some instant pudding mixes are gluten-free, while others contain gluten. It depends on the particular brand and flavor.

Major brands like Jell-O and Swiss Miss state that their classic instant pudding mixes are gluten-free. However, flavors like chocolate, pistachio, or foods with mix-ins may contain gluten from wheat-based ingredients.

To know for sure if a pudding mix is gluten-free, check the ingredients list and nutrition facts label for wheat, barley, rye or malt. Reputable brands clearly label gluten-free items. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found naturally in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Some people need to avoid gluten due to medical conditions like celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy. For those with gluten-related disorders, consuming gluten can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, joint pain and other health issues.

In food, gluten helps give elasticity and structure to products like bread, pasta, cereals, baked goods and certain types of instant puddings. It acts as a “glue” that holds food together. Gluten is also sometimes added to foods for thickness and texture.

Medical Conditions Related to Gluten

Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Approx. 1% of people have celiac disease.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: People experience gluten-related symptoms without testing positive for celiac disease. Affects up to 13% of population.

Wheat Allergy: An allergic reaction to wheat proteins, distinct from gluten intolerance. Most common in children.

For those with gluten-related disorders, following a strict gluten-free diet by avoiding foods and products with gluten is important to manage symptoms.

Gluten in Instant Pudding

Traditional instant pudding powders are made up of sugar, milk solids, starch, flavoring and colorings. The source of the starch largely determines whether or not the pudding mix contains gluten.

Cornstarch is commonly used as the starch base in gluten-free pudding mixes. However, some brands use wheat starch that contains gluten proteins. Thickening agents derived from wheat, barley, rye or malt would also introduce gluten into instant puddings.

Many classic instant pudding flavors like vanilla, chocolate, pistachio and butterscotch typically do not contain gluten ingredients. But flavorings or extra mix-ins may add sources of gluten, so check labels carefully.

Types of Gluten-Containing Ingredients

When checking instant pudding labels for gluten, watch out for ingredients like:

  • Wheat (wheat flour, wheat starch, wheat bran)
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Malt (malt extract, malt flavoring, barley malt)
  • Oats (oats are inherently gluten-free but may be contaminated)

Additionally, terms like starch, flavoring or natural flavors could potentially indicate hidden gluten depending on the source. Call the manufacturer if uncertain.

Major Brands of Instant Pudding

Here is an overview of some top brands of instant pudding mixes and whether they contain gluten:

Jell-O Instant Pudding

Jell-O, owned by Kraft Heinz, is one of the most popular brands of instant pudding. According to Jell-O, their classic ready-to-eat cooked pudding and pie filling mixes are gluten-free:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Butterscotch
  • Pistachio
  • Cheesecake flavored
  • Lemon

However, Jell-O instant puddings with mix-in ingredients may contain gluten, including:

  • Chocolate Fudge
  • Banana Cream
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Coconut Cream

Always check the labels to confirm gluten-free status.

Swiss Miss Instant Pudding

According to Swiss Miss, all of their regular instant pudding mixes are gluten-free:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Fudge
  • Banana
  • Pistachio
  • Butterscotch
  • Lemon
  • Coconut

However, the Swiss Miss Chocolate Insta-Bake Complete pancake and waffle mix contains wheat and barley ingredients.

Royal Instant Pudding

Royal is a budget brand of instant puddings and gelatins owned by Jel Sert. According to Royal’s allergen information, the following ready-to-eat cooked pudding mixes do not contain any wheat, rye, barley or oats:

  • Vanilla Pudding & Pie Filling
  • Chocolate Pudding & Pie Filling
  • Butterscotch Pudding
  • Coconut Pudding
  • Banana Pudding
  • Lemon Pudding

However, Royal’s Chocolate Fudge Pudding does contain wheat-based ingredients, so it is not gluten-free.

Other Brands

Several store brands also offer gluten-free instant pudding mixes. Always check labels and contact manufacturers to confirm gluten-free status:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • Walmart’s Great Value brand
  • Kroger
  • Publix

How to Make Gluten-Free Instant Pudding

Making instant pudding that is gluten-free is simple if you select an appropriate brand and flavor. Here are some tips:

  1. Choose a gluten-free instant pudding variety and check that the ingredients do not list any sources of gluten.
  2. Thoroughly read the entire label to ensure there are no allergen statements about the product containing wheat or gluten.
  3. Make sure you are using clean cookware and utensils that have not come into contact with gluten-containing foods.
  4. To prepare the pudding, combine the dry mix with cold milk in a bowl or pot.
  5. Whisk together vigorously for 1-2 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.
  6. For stove-top pudding, turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes until fully thickened.
  7. For no-cook pudding, simply refrigerate after mixing to allow it to fully set.
  8. Avoid adding any gluten-containing toppings or garnishes like wheat-based cookies, flours or bread crumbs.

Making your own gluten-free instant pudding from scratch is also an option using cornstarch, sugar and milk or cream. Add in any desired flavors.

Gluten-Free Pudding Brand Recommendations

Here are some recommended brands of gluten-free instant puddings:

Jell-O Instant Pudding Gluten Free Flavors

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Butterscotch
  • Pistachio

Swiss Miss Gluten Free Varieties

  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Banana Pudding
  • Pistachio Pudding

Royal Desserts Gluten Free Puddings

  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Butterscotch Pudding
  • Coconut Pudding

Carnation Instant Breakfast Gluten Free

  • Vanilla Pudding
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Strawberry Pudding

Convenience of Instant Puddings

Instant pudding mixes offer convenience and ease compared to making pudding completely from scratch. With just a few simple ingredients like milk, and a couple minutes of stirring or cooking, you can have delicious pudding on the table in no time.

Gluten-free consumers can still enjoy this convenience by being mindful of brands and flavors that fit their dietary needs. Thankfully, most classic flavors of major instant pudding brands are gluten-free.

Tips for Following a Gluten-Free Diet

Here are some helpful tips for living gluten-free if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity:

  • Check labels – Read the ingredient lists and allergen statements for any indication of wheat, rye, barley or malt.
  • Look for certification – Labels like “gluten-free” and GF certification programs help identify safe options.
  • Call manufacturers – If any doubt, contact the company to understand how the product is made and sourced.
  • Avoid cross-contamination – Prevent contact with gluten-containing foods during shopping, meal prep and cooking.
  • Cook at home – Be wary of restaurants, whose kitchens may cross-contaminate.
  • Know your intolerances – People have varying sensitivity levels, so identify your personal thresholds.

Following a well-balanced gluten-free diet with nourishing alternatives like instant puddings ensures people with gluten disorders don’t have to feel deprived.

Nutritional Profile of Gluten-Free Instant Pudding

Instant pudding is a tasty dessert option that can also provide some key nutrients. Here is the nutrition profile of a typical gluten-free instant pudding serving (1/2 cup prepared):

Calories 100
Fat 2g
Carbs 20g
Protein 2g
Calcium 15% DV
Iron 2% DV

As you can see, instant pudding provides calcium for strong bones and iron for healthy blood. The carbohydrates also give you an energy boost.

Ways to Make Pudding Healthier

Try these easy tips for lightening up instant pudding:

  • Use reduced-fat or skim milk
  • Mix in Greek yogurt for extra protein
  • Top with fresh fruit like berries or banana
  • Swap whipped cream for whipped coconut cream
  • Use stevia or monk fruit to reduce added sugars

Gluten-free instant pudding can be a nutritious treat. Just be mindful of the ingredients and enjoy in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


Checking for gluten in boxed pudding mixes is important for managing health conditions like celiac disease. Thankfully, most classic instant pudding varieties from leading brands are gluten-free. Vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch and pistachio puddings are typically safe, while flavors with mix-ins may contain gluten.

Carefully read the ingredients label and contact the manufacturer if unsure about gluten content. Making your own pudding from scratch is another option. With the right brand and preparation, gluten-free eaters don’t have to miss out on the convenience and great taste of instant pudding.

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