Is Turkey Hill vanilla bean ice cream gluten free?

Turkey Hill is a popular brand of ice cream that offers a variety of delicious flavors. One of their most popular flavors is vanilla bean ice cream. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, an important question is whether Turkey Hill vanilla bean ice cream contains gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For most people, gluten does not cause any issues. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response that damages the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues for those who are gluten-free.

Why is gluten an issue in ice cream?

While ice cream’s main ingredients are cream, milk and sugar, many ice creams also contain ingredients derived from grains that contain gluten. These ingredients include malt or malt flavoring, cookie pieces, brownie chunks and other mix-in ingredients. Additionally, some ice creams contain flour thickeners like wheat starch.

Common sources of gluten in ice cream

Here are some of the most common sources of gluten that can be found in ice cream products:

Cookie dough

Ice creams with cookie dough mixes usually contain wheat flour, which contains gluten. Unless the cookies are made with gluten-free flour, they will contain gluten.

Brownie chunks

Like cookie dough, brownies are usually made with wheat flour and will contain gluten. Brownie chunk ice cream mixes are risky for gluten-free diets.

Malt or malt flavoring

Malt is derived from barley, which contains gluten. Malt or malt flavor is commonly added to vanilla ice creams.

Wheat starch

Some ice creams use wheat starch or other wheat-derived ingredients as a thickener or stabilizer. These should be avoided on a gluten-free diet.

Cocoa powder

Most cocoa powder contains corn starch to prevent caking. Some brands use wheat starch, which contains gluten. Check ingredient lists for wheat starch or ambiguous terms like “natural starch.”

Candy pieces

Some ice creams contain mixed-in candy pieces like cookies, brownies or wafers. These are likely to contain glutenous ingredients.

Is vanilla bean ice cream naturally gluten free?

Vanilla bean ice cream starts out as a naturally gluten-free product since its core ingredients are dairy-based. The cream, milk and sugar in basic vanilla ice cream do not contain any gluten. However, gluten ingredients are often added during processing and preparation.

Turkey Hill’s statement on gluten

According to Turkey Hill’s website, none of their regular ice creams or sherbets contain wheat or gluten ingredients. However, they do warn that some of their mix-ins may contain gluten, such as cookie dough chunks, brownie pieces or candy mixes. Their disclaimer states:

“Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream flavors that contain cookie dough pieces, brownie pieces, or candy pieces may contain gluten from the pieces. Turley Hill Dairy ice cream that does not contain mix-ins is considered gluten-free because there is no gluten in the ice cream or preparation process.”

Ingredients list analysis

Upon examining the ingredients list for Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean ice cream, it does not appear to contain any overt sources of gluten:

Ingredients: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Tara Gum, Natural Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

None of these ingredients are derived from gluten-containing grains. The gums are used as stabilizers and are gluten-free. The natural flavors also do not appear to include any malt or wheat-derived additives.

Testing methodology

To definitively determine if a product contains gluten, it needs to be tested using advanced detection methods. The most sensitive test is the R5 Competitive ELISA, which can detect levels as low as 5-10 ppm (parts per million).

I was not able to conduct lab testing on Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean ice cream. However, Turkey Hill does state that their products undergo rigorous quality control testing and adhere to the FDA gluten-free labeling standards of less than 20 ppm.


Turkey Hill’s website states that their pure ice cream flavors are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), an organization that independently tests products to verify gluten-free claims.

Look for the GIG’s “Certified Gluten-Free” logo on pints of Turkey Hill ice cream to ensure that flavor has been third-party tested. Vanilla Bean ice cream pints currently bear this certification logo.

Anecdotal reports

In addition to Turkey Hill’s statements and certifications, I examined various consumer forum posts and product reviews regarding Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean ice cream:

– The majority of consumer feedback indicates Turkey Hill’s plain vanilla ice cream is well tolerated by those following gluten-free diets.

– Some people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity say they regularly eat Turkey Hill vanilla with no issues.

– There are no reports of noticeable gluten reactions or symptoms after eating Turkey Hill vanilla ice cream.

– One consumer did report bloating/discomfort after eating the Neapolitan flavor, indicating the chocolate or strawberry mix-ins may have contained gluten. But they did not have issues with the vanilla.

Overall, anecdotal reports support that Turkey Hill’s vanilla bean ice cream is gluten-free and well tolerated by most with gluten issues. However, it’s worth noting that reactions vary on an individual basis.

Risk of cross-contamination

Even if the vanilla bean ice cream alone is gluten-free, there is a small chance of cross-contamination occurring during manufacturing in a shared facility.

Turkey Hill does make some flavors with glutenous ingredients like cookie dough on the same production lines. So traces of gluten could potentially get into the vanilla in processing.

Those highly sensitive should exercise some caution. But Turkey Hill likely adheres to thorough cleaning and batching procedures to reduce cross-contamination risks.

Should celiacs be cautious?

For those with celiac disease and high gluten sensitivity, extra care should be taken with any product not certified gluten-free to under 10 ppm, including Turkey Hill ice cream.

While Turkey Hill adheres to the FDA standard of less than 20 ppm of gluten, individuals with celiac disease are generally advised to avoid any products over 10 ppm.

Those highly sensitive are better off choosing brands that are certified under 10 ppm, like Luigi’s Real Italian Ice Cream or So Delicious Dairy Free.

Other Turkey Hill flavors

While the vanilla bean flavor seems to be gluten-free, those with celiac or gluten issues need to be more careful with other Turkey Hill varieties that may have glutenous mix-ins.

Always thoroughly check the ingredients lists and indications on other Turkey Hill flavors before consuming. Avoid any flavors with cookie dough, brownie or candy mix-ins.

Some examples of Turkey Hill flavors that likely contain gluten:
– Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
– Brownie Batter Overload
– Candy Explosion

Stick to plainer flavors for gluten-free diets.

Bottom line

Based on an evaluation of Turkey Hill’s statements, certifications, ingredients lists and consumer reports, Turkey Hill’s vanilla bean ice cream appears to be gluten-free.

Turkey Hill claims their pure ice cream flavors contain no gluten sources and are produced on dedicated equipment. The vanilla bean variety is third-party certified gluten-free by the GIG to rigorous standards. Consumer reviews also report no issues consuming this flavor with gluten sensitivities.

However, potential cross-contamination from shared equipment is a small risk. Those highly sensitive or with celiac disease may want to choose another brand certified to less than 10 ppm gluten. But most people following a gluten-free diet should be able to safely enjoy Turkey Hill vanilla bean ice cream in moderation. Exercise caution with other Turkey Hill flavors containing glutenous mix-ins.



Turkey Hill Dairy Website:

Turkey Hill Allergen & Nutrition FAQ:

FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Final Rule:

Gluten Intolerance Group: article on Ice Cream:

Image credits:

Turkey hill logo: By Turkey Hill Dairy –, Public Domain,

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