Gluten free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people avoiding gluten for medical reasons or by choice. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, adhering to a strict gluten free diet is medically necessary. For others, eliminating gluten is a lifestyle choice they find beneficial. Regardless of the reason, more and more people want to know – is that delicious looking dessert gluten free?
One such tempting treat is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie. With a chocolate peanut butter cup filling and chocolate crumb crust, it sounds like a dream come true for peanut butter and chocolate lovers. But is it safe for those avoiding gluten? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and find out.
What is Gluten?
Before determining if a food item like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is gluten free, it helps to understand what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Some examples of foods that contain gluten include:
For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response that causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, headache, and more. The only treatment is following a strict lifelong gluten free diet, avoiding any foods, beverages or medications that contain gluten.
Reading Labels for Gluten
When determining if a food product contains gluten, it’s essential to carefully read the ingredient label. Key things to look for include:
- The words “wheat,” “barley,” or “rye” in the ingredients
- Vague terms like “starch,” “flavoring,” or “natural flavors” that could potentially hide sources of gluten
- Statement like “made in a facility that processes wheat” or similar warnings
In the United States, foods labeled “gluten free” must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This threshold is generally considered safe for most people who need to avoid gluten. However, some individuals are highly sensitive and require diets with absolutely no detectable gluten at all.
Analyzing the Ingredients in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Now that we understand what gluten is and what to look for on labels, let’s take a look at the ingredients list on a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie and see what our analysis shows:
- Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
- Cocoa processed with alkali
- Palm oil
- Soy lecithin
The first ingredient listed is wheat flour, which clearly contains gluten. This means the crust of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is not gluten free.
Peanut Butter Cup Filling Ingredients
- Palm kernel oil
- Cocoa processed with alkali
- Whey (milk)
- Skim milk
- Egg yolks
- Artificial flavor
- Corn syrup solids
- Soy lecithin
The filling contains no gluten-based ingredients. Peanuts, milk, sugar and oils are all naturally gluten free. While artificial flavors could potentially contain gluten, Reese’s doesn’t use wheat, barley or rye in their artificial flavors based on their manufacturing practices.
- Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, artificial flavor)
- Dark chocolate (sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, natural flavors)
The milk chocolate and dark chocolate toppings also appear to be free of any gluten containing ingredients.
Verdict: Not Gluten Free Due to Crust
Based on a careful analysis of the ingredients, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is NOT gluten free. While the chocolate peanut butter filling itself does not contain any gluten, the crust is made with wheat flour. This means the pie as a whole contains gluten and is unsafe for anyone following a gluten free diet.
Many people who enjoy Reese’s candies hope to also indulge in their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie, but unfortunately this popular pie is off limits for those avoiding gluten. While the filling may be gluten free, trace amounts of gluten from the crust are likely to contaminate the entire dish.
Options for Gluten Free Alternative
For those wanting to enjoy the chocolate peanut butter taste in a gluten free dessert, there are a few options:
- Make a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie using a gluten free Oreo crust or other gluten free crust option
- Use Reese’s gluten free Peanut Butter Cups and create a gluten free crust to make your own pie
- Look for other Reese’s gluten free products like their gluten free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream
While Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie itself contains gluten, with a little creativity you can find ways to enjoy the classic chocolate peanut butter combination in a gluten free way. Just be sure to carefully read all ingredient labels, even on products branded Reese’s, to ensure your dessert is gluten free.
Understanding Gluten Cross-Contamination
Even when a food item itself does not contain any gluten-based ingredients, cross-contamination is still a concern for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Cross-contamination means gluten is unintentionally introduced during the manufacturing process.
Some examples include:
- Sharing equipment or facilities with gluten-containing foods
- Using the same utensils to handle both gluten free and gluten containing foods
- Processing on shared equipment without adequate cleaning procedures
Even tiny amounts of gluten introduced through cross-contamination can be enough to cause issues for some individuals. This is why those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity need to look for products that are produced in dedicated gluten free facilities when possible.
Is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie Produced in a Facility with Gluten?
According to Reese’s website, their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pies are produced in a facility that also processes wheat and gluten containing ingredients. This means there is a high risk of cross-contamination.
For people with celiac disease or who are extremely sensitive, even a small amount of cross-contamination could be dangerous. So this provides an additional reason why Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is not considered safe for a gluten-free diet.
Other Dairy Desserts That Often Contain Gluten
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is far from the only dairy based dessert that commonly contains gluten. Many popular pies, ice creams, puddings and other milk-based treats often have surprise sources of gluten. Here are a few other examples:
- Pecan pie (wheat in crust)
- Cheesecake (wheat in crust and sometimes batter)
- Key lime pie (wheat in crust)
- Pumpkin pie (wheat in crust)
- Cookies and cream (cookies contain gluten)
- Rocky road (marshmallows may contain gluten)
- Breyers crunch bars (cookies contain gluten)
- Instant pudding mixes (typically contain wheat)
- Pre-made puddings thickened with wheat-derived ingredients
As you can see, it’s so important to carefully check the label on any dessert, even if it seems like it would naturally be gluten free. Dairy-based foods often sneak in sources of gluten like cookies, wheat-thickened batters, and wheat-based crusts.
Validating Gluten Free Claims
In addition to reading ingredient lists, it’s also important to validate any claims that a dessert or other food product is “gluten free.” Here are some tips on verifying gluten free status:
- Look for certification from GFCO, the Gluten Free Certification Organization. This entails third-party auditing to ensure proper protocols.
- Check for verification on websites like Glutenfreewatchdog.org which independently test products
- Look for manufacturing in a dedicated gluten free facility
- Call the company’s customer service line and ask specifically about gluten testing procedures
Since food labeling laws allow for some discretion, don’t assume a product is truly gluten free even if it says so on the label. Do some extra research to validate any claims against your own standards and level of sensitivity.
Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity hoping to indulge in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie will unfortunately be disappointed. While the chocolate peanut butter filling itself may not contain any gluten sources, the pie crust is made with wheat flour making the entire dessert off limits.
Careful label reading, awareness of cross-contamination risks, and validating gluten free claims are all essential for anyone following a strict gluten free diet. And even seemingly safe dairy desserts often sneak in hidden sources of gluten.
By understanding where gluten hides in foods and asking the right questions, you can enjoy delicious desserts while still adhering to your gluten free dietary needs.
Nutrition Facts for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Here is a nutritional overview of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie:
|Nutrition Facts||Per 1/6 pie|
As you can see, while delicious, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie is quite high in calories, fat, and sugar. Those looking for a more balanced indulgence may want to consider a gluten free pie made with less processed ingredients and dark chocolate.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie has a crust that contains gluten, so it is not safe for those following a gluten free diet. Careful label reading and awareness of manufacturing practices is key for anyone with gluten sensitivities hoping to enjoy desserts worry-free. With some gluten free substitutions and creativity, chocolate peanut butter lovers can find ways to satisfy their cravings despite dietary restrictions.