Gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular, even for those who don’t have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. When you’re avoiding gluten, it can be tricky to find convenient dessert options that are safe to eat. Fortunately, there are quite a few gluten-free instant pudding mixes on the market these days.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For most people, gluten doesn’t cause any issues. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine.
This damage makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food. Over time, this can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, fatigue and more. Following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease.
Gluten-Free Diet Basics
When you follow a gluten-free diet, you avoid foods and drinks that contain gluten. This includes:
- Breads, cereals, crackers, baked goods made with wheat, barley or rye
- Pasta, couscous, gnocchi and some rice noodles
- Beer and malt beverages
- Foods coated with batter or breadcrumbs
- Soups, sauces and gravies thickened with wheat flour
On a gluten-free diet, you can eat:
- Fruits, vegetables and meat
- Rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn and legumes
- Gluten-free oats
- Wine, distilled alcohols and ciders
- Gluten-free versions of bread, pasta, cereal and baked goods
It’s important to read labels carefully, as gluten can hide in unexpected places like salad dressings, soy sauce and seasoning mixes. When dining out, let your server know you need to avoid gluten.
Benefits of Gluten-Free Instant Pudding
Having quick and easy dessert options like instant pudding on hand can make following a gluten-free diet much more manageable. Here are some of the benefits of gluten-free instant pudding:
- Convenience – Just mix with milk and let set in the fridge. No baking required.
- Portability – Individual servings can be made in minutes and packed to-go.
- Variety of flavors – Chocolate, vanilla, pistachio and more.
- Nostalgia factor – Brings back memories of enjoying pudding as a kid.
- Kid-friendly – Most children love pudding for an after-school snack or dessert.
- Affordable – Pre-packaged puddings tend to cost just a few dollars.
What to Look for When Buying
When purchasing gluten-free instant pudding mixes, be sure to check the label for a “gluten-free” claim. The product should also clearly state that it’s made in a facility free from gluten, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination.
Avoid puddings that simply say they’re made without wheat, but don’t confirm they’re gluten-free. Some brands that don’t contain gluten will say “gluten-free” right on the front of the box, which makes it easy when scanning the pudding aisle.
It can also be helpful to look for a certification label from organizations like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) or the Celiac Support Association (CSA). This provides added assurance that the product has been tested to meet strict standards for gluten-free labeling.
Top Gluten-Free Instant Pudding Brands
Here are some of the top brands of gluten-free instant puddings:
Jell-O Instant Pudding
Many of the Jell-O instant pudding varieties are labeled gluten-free right on the box. Flavors like chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, butterscotch and cheesecake are gluten-free and safe to enjoy.
Shaws Original Pudding
This brand offers gluten-free instant pudding in chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, banana cream and lemon flavors. The puddings have a rich and creamy texture.
Kozy Shack Instant Pudding
Look for the gluten-free labeled options from Kozy Shack, including chocolate, vanilla, banana, pistachio and tapioca puddings. The puddings have a smooth, velvety texture.
Snack Pack Pudding
Snack Pack makes gluten-free rice pudding cups in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch and pistachio. These portable puddings are ready to eat after chilling.
ZenSweet Desserts Gluten Free Pudding
This brand offers gluten-free instant vegan pudding in unique flavors like chocolate peanut butter, lemon coconut, chocolate hazelnut and banana cream pie.
Tips for Making Gluten-Free Instant Pudding
Making gluten-free instant pudding is simple, but there are a few tips to get the best results:
- Use cold milk – Heated milk will not set up properly. Make sure milk is refrigerated.
- Whisk briskly – Whisk pudding mix into milk for about 2 minutes to prevent lumps.
- Chill completely – Let pudding chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 minutes to fully set.
- Use whole milk – For creamiest results, use 2% or whole milk. Non-dairy milk also works.
- Check consistency – If pudding seems runny, whisk in another spoonful of dry mix.
- Top it off – Top with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, crushed cookies or fresh fruit.
Gluten-Free Instant Pudding Recipes
Instant pudding makes a great base for all kinds of fun recipes. Here are a few recipe ideas:
Gluten-Free Chocolate Pudding Pie
Make a chocolate pudding pie by pouring chocolate instant pudding into a prepared gluten-free Oreo or graham cracker crust. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings before chilling.
Layered Gluten-Free Pudding Dessert
In a glass, layer different flavors of gluten-free pudding like chocolate, vanilla and pistachio. Top with crushed cookies, whipped topping and cherries.
Gluten-Free Pudding Pops
Pour gluten-free pudding into popsicle molds. Add popsicle sticks and freeze until solid. Kids love these tasty treats!
Fruit and Pudding Parfaits
In a parfait glass, alternate layers of gluten-free instant pudding and fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries or pineapple. Top with granola or crushed cookies.
Gluten-Free Pudding Snack Mix
Fold crushed gluten-free cookies, mini marshmallows and dried fruit into instant vanilla pudding. Chill until firm and scoop into snack-size portions.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse
Blend one large container of chocolate gluten-free pudding with 1 cup whipped topping and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Chill until set and serve topped with shaved chocolate.
Storing and Freezing Gluten-Free Instant Pudding
Properly stored, gluten-free instant pudding will last:
- Pantry – Unopened box lasts 12-18 months past printed date.
- Refrigerator – Leftover prepared pudding keeps 5-7 days in airtight container.
- Freezer – Pudding can be frozen up to 2 months. May change texture slightly.
To freeze, place prepared pudding in a freezer-safe container. Cover surface with plastic wrap before sealing lid. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Following a gluten-free diet provides relief for those sensitive to gluten. Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten-free instant pudding options to satisfy your sweet tooth. With tasty flavors from brands like Jell-O, Kozy Shack and Snack Pack, you can easily whip up portable gluten-free pudding whenever a dessert craving strikes.
Be sure to check labels and opt for puddings marked “gluten-free” to avoid cross-contamination. Store-bought puddings make great afternoon snacks or bases for gluten-free dessert recipes. With proper refrigeration or freezing, you can keep gluten-free puddings on hand for up to several weeks.