For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, checking labels for gluten content is a necessary part of shopping and meal planning. With so many gluten-free options available today, it can be confusing to know which brands and products are safe to eat.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It acts as a “glue” that helps foods maintain their shape and texture. For most people, gluten is harmless. But for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine.
This damage can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Skin rashes
- Joint pain
Over time, the chronic inflammation caused by gluten can lead to serious complications like nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis, anemia, and infertility. That’s why it’s so important for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to maintain a strictly gluten-free diet.
What Makes a Food Gluten Free?
For a food to be considered gluten free, it must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This trace amount is generally recognized as safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Anything containing over 20 ppm of gluten is not safe for those following gluten-free diets.
There are many naturally gluten-free foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. But for processed or packaged foods, it’s important to read the label to look for a “gluten-free” certification.
Is Ghirardelli Brownie Mix Gluten Free?
The short answer is no – standard Ghirardelli brownie mix contains gluten and is not safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Ghirardelli is owned by Lindt & Sprungli, which does not claim its regular brownie mixes are gluten-free.
Ingredients in Ghirardelli Brownie Mix
A look at the ingredients list of a standard Ghirardelli brownie mix reveals several sources of gluten:
- Wheat flour – Wheat flour contains gluten and is off-limits on a gluten-free diet.
- Cocoa processed with alkali – The alkali may contain trace amounts of gluten.
- Soy lecithin – May contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross-contamination.
In addition, the brownie mix is made in facilities that also process gluten-containing ingredients. This means there is a high risk of cross-contamination with gluten.
No “Gluten-Free” Label
Ghirardelli does not label or market its regular brownie mix as gluten-free. Brands that produce gluten-free items will clearly advertise this on the packaging. If you don’t see a “gluten-free” label, it’s best to assume the product contains gluten.
Not Listed as GFCO Certified Gluten-Free
The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program that certifies products as gluten-free. Manufacturers must meet strict standards to receive GFCO certification. Ghirardelli’s standard brownie mix is not GFCO certified.
Is There a Gluten-Free Ghirardelli Brownie Mix?
While the regular Ghirardelli brownie mix contains gluten, Ghirardelli does offer a gluten-free brownie mix option. This allows those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to still enjoy Ghirardelli’s chocolatey brownies.
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie Mix
Ghirardelli’s gluten-free brownie mix contains:
- Rice flour instead of wheat flour
- Gluten-free certified chocolate chips
- Gluten-free certified cocoa powder
- Gluten-free ingredients only
- Produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility
Importantly, the gluten-free mix is GFCO certified, meaning it contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. This makes it a safe option for gluten-free diets.
Taste and Texture
According to reviews, Ghirardelli’s gluten-free brownie mix bakes up fudgy, gooey, and rich just like their traditional brownie mix. The use of rice flour helps mimic the texture of wheat flour.
However, some note the gluten-free version has a slightly more crumbly texture. Adding an extra egg can help bind the batter and result in a more cohesive, fudgier brownie.
Where to Buy
You can find Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie Mix in the gluten-free baking section at many major grocery stores. It’s also available online from retailers like Amazon.
Be sure to carefully check the label for the “GFCO Certified Gluten-Free” logo.
Other Gluten-Free Brownie Mix Options
In addition to Ghirardelli, there are several other brands of gluten-free brownie mix available:
Pillsbury Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Mix
- GFCO certified
- Rich chocolate flavor
- Widely available in stores
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix
- Made with Hershey’s chocolate
- Moist, fudgy texture
- Contains dried egg whites
King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix
- Beloved baking brand
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- Delicious taste and texture
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix
- Whole grain sorghum flour
- Sweetened with fruit juice
- Dense, fudgy brownies
Be sure to check any gluten-free brownie mixes you buy for a third-party “gluten-free” certification label.
Making Brownies from Scratch
For the most control over ingredients, many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity prefer to make brownies completely from scratch. This avoids any risk of cross-contamination.
There are many gluten-free brownie recipes that replace wheat flour with gluten-free flours like:
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Oat flour
- Rice flour
- Sorghum flour
When baking from scratch, be sure to use brands that are certified gluten-free when buying chocolate chips, cocoa powder, extracts, and any other packaged ingredients.
Example Gluten-Free Brownie Recipe
Here is an example of a simple gluten-free brownie recipe:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup melted butter or oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup gluten-free chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.
- In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the melted butter or oil with the sugar. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.
This recipe results in fudgy, gluten-free brownies that don’t compromise on taste or texture. Feel free to customize with different gluten-free flours or mix-ins.
Precautions When Baking Gluten-Free
When baking gluten-free, take precautions to avoid cross-contamination:
- Use all new ingredients without risk of gluten contact.
- Thoroughly wash utensils, bowls, pans, etc. to remove all traces of gluten.
- Use a clean mixer and prevent cross-contact with flour in the air.
- Store finished gluten-free baked goods away from regular items.
- Label gluten-free treats clearly so others don’t accidentally consume.
Other Gluten-Free Dessert Options
In addition to brownies, there are many other delicious gluten-free desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth:
Gluten-free cookies like chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and sugar cookies are readily available from mainstream brands.
Birthday cake is a classic treat. Round cake layers can be made gluten-free and layered with dairy-free frosting.
From apple to pumpkin to pecan, pies with a gluten-free crust are a fall and holiday favorite.
Yeast-raised and cake style donuts can be made gluten-free and covered with sugar or icing.
Many premium ice cream brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, and Talenti offer gluten-free flavors.
Top sliced fruit with a crunchy oat and brown sugar gluten-free crisp for a naturally gluten-free dessert.
The Bottom Line
Standard Ghirardelli brownie mix contains gluten and is not safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, Ghirardelli does make a gluten-free brownie mix that is certified gluten-free to less than 20ppm.
When enjoying gluten-free brownies, check labels closely and look for reputable third-party certifications like GFCO. Making brownies from scratch using gluten-free ingredients is also an option. With so many gluten-free baking options today, living a gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t mean missing out on sweet treats.