Is Lucky Charm gluten-free?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to avoid gluten for medical reasons or as a lifestyle choice. One of the most frequently asked questions by those adhering to a gluten-free diet is whether popular breakfast cereals like Lucky Charms are gluten-free. The quick answer is no, original Lucky Charms cereal contains gluten. However, General Mills has released gluten-free versions of the classic marshmallow cereal to cater to gluten-sensitive consumers. This article will provide an in-depth look at the gluten content of regular and gluten-free Lucky Charms, manufacturing processes to avoid cross-contamination, and how to enjoy Lucky Charms on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten Content of Original Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms cereal contains gluten, specifically barley malt. Barley is one of the grains prohibited on a gluten-free diet, along with wheat, rye, and triticale. The ingredient list for original Lucky Charms cereal is as follows:

  • Oats
  • Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellow 5&6, red 40, blue 1, BHT)
  • Barley malt flavor
  • Salt
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Color added

The barley malt flavor, which provides that signature Lucky Charms taste, contains gluten. Those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate even small amounts of gluten without experiencing adverse reactions. Consuming original Lucky Charms would cause issues for those strictly avoiding gluten.

Amount of Gluten in Original Lucky Charms

General Mills does not provide an exact measurement of the parts per million (ppm) of gluten contained in a serving of original Lucky Charms. However, they do label the cereal as containing wheat and barley ingredients, both of which contain gluten. Per the FDA’s gluten-free labeling regulations, foods labeled as containing wheat or barley cannot be labeled as gluten-free. The exact amount of gluten may vary between batches, but original Lucky Charms clearly contains a measurable amount of gluten from the barley malt ingredient.

Gluten-Free Lucky Charms

In recent years, General Mills reformulated two versions of Lucky Charms to be gluten-free in order to open up the market of gluten-sensitive consumers. Lucky Charms Gluten Free was released in 2019 and Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only was released in 2022. Both products have been certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

Lucky Charms Gluten Free

The ingredient list for Lucky Charms Gluten Free is:

  • Corn meal
  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellow 5&6, red 40, blue 1, natural flavor)
  • Natural Flavor
  • Salt
  • Tripotassium phosphate
  • Annatto color

The key difference is that this formula does not contain barley malt or any other gluten-containing ingredients. The corn meal and rice provide the base while natural flavors help mimic the classic Lucky Charms taste profile without using barley. This allows the cereal to be labeled gluten-free and safe for gluten-free diets when consumed according to package directions.

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only

The marshmallow-only version contains:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified corn starch
  • Gelatin
  • Natural and artificial flavor
  • Colors (red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1)
  • Sodium citrate
  • Carnauba wax

Again, this formula sticks to gluten-free ingredients only. Since there is no cereal base and just the marshmallow pieces, issues with cross-contamination are also reduced in this product. Those who need to be very strict with a gluten-free diet may prefer the marshmallow-only version.

Manufacturing Processes

For the gluten-free Lucky Charms products, General Mills implements rigorous protocols to avoid cross-contamination with gluten. However, the facilities that produce the cereals are not guaranteed gluten-free environments. The brand states:

“General Mills gluten-free products are produced with gluten-free ingredients. They may be processed on shared equipment so there’s potential for gluten exposure. For individuals who are unable to consume any gluten we cannot guarantee these products are completely free of gluten exposure.”

So while unlikely, there is a small chance of gluten exposure when products are run on shared equipment. Individual sensitivity levels vary when it comes to amounts that may trigger reactions. The gluten-free Lucky Charms contain less than 20ppm of gluten from cross-contact, per the GFCO certification. For reference, the FDA defines “gluten-free” as less than 20ppm. General Mills recommends those with celiac disease or wheat allergies consult their healthcare provider before consuming.

Testing and Verification

Here are some key steps General Mills takes to test and verify the gluten-free claim on their products:

  • Gluten-free ingredients are used in dedicated gluten-free production runs
  • Extensive sanitation protocols are implemented before production
  • Finished products are randomly tested to verify gluten-free status
  • GFCO certification requires testing of at least 60 samples per year
  • No ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains can test over 5ppm
  • Average annual testing must remain 10ppm or below

Following these strict procedures minimizes the chance of gluten cross-contamination. Combined with the use of inherently gluten-free ingredients, this allows the gluten-free Lucky Charms products to safely contain less than 20ppm of gluten.

Nutritional Profile

When comparing the gluten-free formulas to original Lucky Charms, there are some slight differences in nutritional profiles:

Original Lucky Charms Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cup (35g)
Calories 110
Total Fat 1g
Sodium 290mg
Total Carbohydrate 24g
Sugars 12g
Protein 1g

Gluten-Free Lucky Charms Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cup (35g)
Calories 100
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 220mg
Total Carbohydrate 25g
Sugars 12g
Protein 0g

Marshmallow Only Lucky Charms Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1/2 cup (35g)
Calories 140
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 100mg
Total Carbohydrate 34g
Sugars 26g
Protein 1g

The main differences are slightly lower calories and sodium in the gluten-free formulas, with no protein coming from the grain ingredients. Sugar content remains similar between all three varieties. Those on a gluten-free diet should ensure they are meeting daily protein needs from other food sources if consuming the gluten-free Lucky Charms regularly.

Where to Buy Gluten-Free Lucky Charms

The two certified gluten-free Lucky Charms cereals are widely available at many major grocery stores and online retailers. Here are some places you can typically find them:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Kroger
  • Safeway
  • Publix
  • ShopRite
  • Stop & Shop
  • H-E-B

Be sure to check the product details to verify you are purchasing a certified gluten-free formula. Prices may vary between retailers. Purchasing online can be convenient but be aware of added shipping costs. Signing up for retailer promotion emails or apps can help you discover discounts and deals on gluten-free cereals.

Alternatives to Lucky Charms

In addition to the two gluten-free versions of Lucky Charms, there are some other “magically delicious” cereal options to consider if you need to avoid gluten:

Malt-O-Meal Gluten Free Marshmallow Mateys

– Very similar taste and whimsical marshmallows as Lucky Charms

– Rice cereal base

– Explicitly labeled gluten-free

EnviroKidz Gluten Free Choco Chimps

– Gluten-free chocolate rice cereal

– Contains marshmallows and chocolate chip marshmallows

– Organic and made with non-GMO ingredients

Nature’s Path Gluten Free EnviroKidz Koala Crisp Cereal

– Gluten-free crispy rice cereal

– Real fruit flavors like cherry, orange, strawberry and raspberry

– Each box features an animal character

Cascadian Farm Organic Gluten Free Fruitful O’s

– Gluten-free oat and rice cereal

– Natural fruit flavors like peach, berry and orange

– USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified

Making Your Own Gluten-Free Lucky Charms Copycat

If you want 100% control over ingredients, you can also make DIY Lucky Charms at home:


  • Gluten-free cereal like Corn Chex, Rice Chex or EnviroKidz Amazon Frosted Rice Cereal
  • Your choice of gluten-free marshmallows or marshmallow bits
  • Natural food coloring (optional)


  1. Select your base cereal and pour some into a bowl or jar.
  2. Add marshmallows on top, using colors of your choice.
  3. Repeat layers until your container is full.
  4. Shake or mix to combine before serving.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Get creative with the marshmallow colors and shapes! Using a gluten-free cereal base gives you control over the ingredients.


When consuming gluten-free Lucky Charms, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Check labels carefully for “gluten-free” wording and certification
  • Verify ingredients against your diet, as formulas can change
  • Look for signs of cross-contamination like crumbs or residue
  • Consult your doctor if you are highly sensitivity
  • Consume gluten-free oats only if advised you can tolerate them
  • Rinse mouth after eating if also avoiding contact with gluten
  • Wash hands and kitchen surfaces to prevent cross-contact

Following label directions and being careful during preparation can help minimize risks. Know your personal tolerance levels and comfort with shared equipment when choosing gluten-free cereal options.

Enjoying Lucky Charms on a Gluten-Free Diet

Here are some tips for enjoying gluten-free Lucky Charms as part of a tasty gluten-free diet:

  • Use gluten-free milk like almond, oat, coconut, and lactose-free milk
  • Top with fresh fruit for added nutrients and fiber
  • Mix in other gluten-free cereal for more texture
  • Add to gluten-free yogurt or ice cream for a treat
  • Use as an edible garnish for desserts
  • Incorporate into gluten-free snack mixes and trail mixes
  • Bake into gluten-free treats like rice crispy treats

The colorful marshmallows brighten up any gluten-free dish. Get creative with how you use them in recipes beyond just cereal!


While original Lucky Charms cereal contains gluten, General Mills has developed two gluten-free formulas so people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities can enjoy this classic brand. By using only gluten-free ingredients and implementing careful manufacturing protocols, the gluten-free cereals can safely contain less than 20ppm gluten. Check labels closely and know your individual tolerance when deciding if gluten-free Lucky Charms will work for your dietary needs. With some adaptations, you can still feel the magic in your gluten-free kitchen!

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