What brand of cheddar cheese is gluten-free?

When it comes to cheese, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity often worry about whether their favorite cheeses contain gluten. The good news is that most pure cheeses, including cheddar cheese, are naturally gluten-free.

Why Worry About Gluten in Cheese?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine.

Many processed and packaged foods contain gluten as an additive. However, pure, unprocessed cheeses rarely contain gluten in their natural state. The main exception is cheeses that contain gluten-containing grains or flavorings.

Cheddar Cheese and Gluten

Traditional cheddar cheese is made by coagulating milk protein (casein) with rennet. The curds are separated from the whey, pressed into blocks, and aged. No grains or gluten-containing ingredients are used in this process.

According to both the Celiac Disease Foundation and Beyond Celiac, most brands of cheddar cheese are gluten-free. The main brands of cheddar cheese that are certified gluten-free include:

  • Tillamook
  • Cabot
  • Kraft
  • Laughing Cow
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Great Value
  • Kroger

Be sure to check the label or product information to confirm the cheese is 100% cheddar cheese. Some cheese products contain added flavors, starch or other ingredients that could contain gluten.

Potential Sources of Gluten in Cheddar Cheese

Although pure, unprocessed cheddar cheese is naturally gluten-free, there are a few potential sources of gluten to watch out for:

  • Flavors or Additives: Some cheddar cheese products have added flavors (like garlic or chives) or starch coatings that could contain gluten.
  • Cheese Spreads: Processed cheese spreads often contain additional ingredients beyond cheese, some of which may contain gluten.
  • Cross-Contamination: Cheese that is sliced or shredded on shared equipment may be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing foods.

To avoid gluten, look for cheeses that are labeled “100% cheddar cheese” and have no questionable ingredients. Opt for blocks of cheese rather than shredded or sliced cheese.

Other Cheeses That Are Gluten-Free

In addition to cheddar, other cheeses that are naturally gluten-free include:

  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss
  • Provolone
  • Blue cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Cottage cheese

Again, it’s important to verify the ingredients since flavors or additives could contain gluten. Additionally, washed-rind cheeses that are rubbed with beer or wheat during aging may contain trace amounts of gluten.

Being Gluten-Free and Following a Dairy-Free Diet

Those who are both gluten-free and dairy-free have an additional challenge. However, there are many great-tasting dairy-free cheese options to try, such as:

  • Cheeses made from nuts (like cashew)
  • Cheeses made from coconut milk or oil
  • Cheeses made from soy milk or soy protein
  • Vegan cheese substitutes

When shopping for dairy-free cheeses, be sure to check the labels for any hidden gluten ingredients.

Cooking Safely with Cheddar Cheese

When preparing food for a gluten-free diet, here are some tips for safely using cheddar cheese:

  • Avoid pre-shredded cheese, as the starch coating may contain gluten.
  • Check all ingredient labels for potential gluten sources.
  • Use a separate cutting board and knife just for the cheese.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling cheese.
  • Prevent cross-contact by cleaning cooking surfaces and utensils after use.


Most brands of pure, unprocessed cheddar cheese are naturally gluten-free. Potential sources of gluten include added flavors, starch coatings or cross-contamination. Sticking to plain block cheddar cheese and verifying all ingredients are gluten-free are the best ways for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to enjoy cheddar cheese safely.

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