Which blue cheeses are gluten-free?

For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, determining which cheeses are safe to eat can be challenging. While many cheeses are naturally gluten-free, some varieties may contain gluten due to added ingredients or cross-contamination during processing. Blue cheese is one type of cheese that often leaves gluten-free diners wondering if it’s off limits. The good news is that many blue cheeses are gluten-free, but it’s important to understand which brands and types to look for.

What is blue cheese?

Blue cheese is a general classification of cheeses that have cultures of the mold Penicillium added so that the cheese ages with blue or blue-green veining throughout. This mold imparts a distinctive pungent and salty flavor. The characteristic blue veins come from needles that are inserted into the cheese to let air get inside and feed the Penicillium cultures.

There are many different varieties of blue cheese made worldwide. Some of the most popular include:

  • Roquefort – One of the oldest known blue cheeses, this is a sheep’s milk cheese that is aged in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France.
  • Stilton – An iconic English blue cheese that is semi-soft and crumbly with blue veining throughout. It has a bold, tangy flavor.
  • Gorgonzola – A veined Italian blue cheese made from cow’s milk. It can be soft and spreadable when young or firm and crumbly when aged.
  • Danish Blue – A strong, tangy blue cheese from Denmark made from cow’s milk.
  • Blue Castello – A Danish blue cheese similar to Danish Blue but with a milder flavor.
  • Cambozola – A combination of soft-ripened triple cream cheese and blue cheese that has a rich, creamy flavor with mild blue notes.

The process of making blue cheese allows the Penicillium mold cultures to thrive. Air gets into the interior of the cheese so oxygen can feed the mold. The enzymes and bacteria generated by the Penicillium cultures break down the fats and proteins in the cheese to give blue cheese its characteristic tangy, piquant flavor.

Which blue cheeses are naturally gluten-free?

Many traditional blue cheeses are naturally gluten-free. This includes blue cheeses made from just milk, cultures, salt, and enzymes like:

  • Roquefort
  • Stilton
  • Gorgonzola
  • Danish Blue
  • Blue Castello

These cheeses do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients in their production. The only potential source of gluten would be cross-contamination, which is unlikely with high-quality, certified gluten-free brands.

Some blue cheeses are also made to be gluten-free, meaning they are produced with extra precautions to avoid any cross-contamination. These include:

  • Cello Rugate Gluten-Free Danish Blue
  • Organic Creamery European Style Gluten Free Gorgonzola
  • Gluten Free Roquefort by Papillon
  • Redwood Hill Farm Gluten-Free & Vegan Mt Tam

The gluten-free certification ensures no detectable levels of gluten from equipment or ingredients. This provides extra assurance for gluten-free consumers.

Which blue cheeses contain gluten?

While many types of blue cheese are naturally gluten-free, some varieties may contain gluten for a few reasons:

Added ingredients

Some blue cheeses have additional ingredients beyond the basic milk, cultures, enzymes, and salt. Potential gluten-containing additions can include:

  • Cereal crops like wheat, barley, or rye
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Malt extract
  • Beer or ale

These added ingredients may be used for flavor or to influence the texture of the cheese. Always check the label for gluten-containing additions.


Even cheeses without gluten ingredients can get contaminated with gluten during processing, especially in facilities that also handle wheat and gluten grains. Equipment, surfaces, and handling may not be thoroughly cleaned between gluten and gluten-free cheeses.

Imitation blue cheeses

Some cheese products labeled as “blue cheese” are actually imitation cheeses made with vegetable oils instead of milk fat. They may contain gluten as a stabilizer. Check that any blue cheese is cultured and made from real milk.

How to find gluten-free blue cheese

When selecting a gluten-free blue cheese, look for:

  • Naturally gluten-free varieties like traditional Roquefort, Danish blue, Stilton, etc.
  • Cheeses certified gluten-free from a reputable third-party
  • Labels listing only gluten-free ingredients like milk, cultures, salt, enzymes, etc.
  • Cheeses made at facilities that are gluten-free

Avoid blue cheeses with:

  • Added wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients
  • Imitation cheeses made with vegetable oils
  • Any uncertainty about gluten-free status

When dining out, ask about the source of any blue cheese and request gluten-free options to stay safe. Talk to your server about the kitchen’s precautions to avoid cross-contact if you have celiac disease or are highly sensitive.

Gluten-free brands of blue cheese

Here are some recommended gluten-free brands of blue cheese:


  • Papillon Roquefort Cheese
  • Bonne Bouche Roquefort
  • Gabriel Coulet Roquefort


  • Cropwell Bishop Stilton
  • Long Clawson Stilton
  • Shirevale Farm Stilton


  • Organic Creamery European Style Gorgonzola
  • Pastureland Gorgonzola Dolce
  • Green Valley Creamery Gorgonzola

Danish Blue

  • Cello Rugate Gluten-Free Danish Blue
  • Bornholm Cheese Danish Blue

Domestic blue

  • Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese
  • Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese
  • Roth Buttermilk Blue Cheese

Always confirm the gluten-free status with the manufacturer if concerned. In some cases you may need to contact them directly to verify their protocols.

Safety of gluten-free blue cheese

While most properly aged blue cheeses are likely safe for gluten-free diets, always verify the gluten-free status of any brand if you have celiac disease or are highly sensitive. Some general tips include:

  • Check labels carefully for gluten-containing ingredients
  • Look for dedicated gluten-free facilities and procedures
  • Select well-known brands that identify gluten-free status
  • Call manufacturers with any questions or concerns
  • Start by tolerating milder blue cheese varieties if concerned

Be aware that some people with celiac react to the fermented, aged aspects of blue cheese even without gluten. Use your best judgment based on your individual tolerance levels. Always check with your doctor if you have severe gluten reactions.

Gluten-free substitutes for blue cheese

If you cannot find a gluten-free blue cheese that you feel comfortable with, some alternatives provide similar bold, tangy flavors. These include:

  • Feta cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Gruyere
  • Parmesan
  • Sharp cheddar
  • Queso fresco
  • Sour cream
  • Plain Greek yogurt

You can also make “blue cheese” dressings and dips by combining these ingredients with milk, mayo, sour cream, lemon, garlic, and herbs. Add gluten-free crumbles for texture. This provides the creamy tang without the uncertainty of gluten.

Is blue cheese mold dangerous?

The Penicillium mold used to make blue cheeses is safe for most people. Penicillium roqueforti is the main strain used and is considered a food-grade mold that is not hazardous if properly made into cheese. Roqueforti produces penicillin, giving many blue cheeses antibiotic properties that prevent dangerous molds from growing.

Of course, anyone with mold allergies or sensitivities may need to avoid blue cheese. Pregnant women are also sometimes advised to avoid soft molded cheeses due to a small risk of listeria, though this is not due to the Penicillium. As long as you don’t have an allergy, most blue cheese mold is considered safe to eat.

Using blue cheese in gluten-free cooking

Here are some tips for cooking and baking with gluten-free blue cheese:

  • Crumble it over salads, roasted veggies, grilled meats, or gluten-free pizza
  • Mix crumbles into dips, spreads, dressings, or compound butters
  • Stuff it into burgers or gluten-free bread dough
  • Garnish soups or risottos
  • Bake into frittatas, quiches, or casseroles
  • Fold it into omelets or scrambled eggs
  • Top baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash
  • Add to gluten-free pasta dishes
  • Use in place of feta or goat cheese in recipes

When baking, minimize crumbling or melting by adding blue cheese chunks or dollops just before serving baked dishes. Opt for milder, crumbly types of blue cheese rather than soft creamy varieties.

Storing blue cheese

To maintain freshness and flavor, proper storage is key for blue cheese. Here are some tips:

  • Keep refrigerated at all times in the coldest section, ideally around 40°F
  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil – try to minimize air exposure
  • Place in a sealed container if not finishing quickly
  • Wipe any condensation that accumulates inside packaging
  • Use within 2-4 weeks for the best quality
  • Cut off any moldy parts rather than discarding the entire cheese
  • Avoid repeated temperature fluctuations (don’t leave out at room temp)

With optimal storage, most blue cheeses will retain their signature tangy flavor for several weeks. Cold temperatures prevent additional mold growth while an airtight seal prevents drying out. Let your senses guide you – if a blue cheese smells very ammoniated or looks excessively moldy, it’s best not to take chances.


Many delicious types of blue cheese can be safely included in a gluten-free diet. Look for traditionally gluten-free cheeses like Roquefort, Stilton, and Gorgonzola from trusted brands. Verify gluten-free status on packaging labels and with manufacturers to determine the safest options for your individual needs. With so many quality gluten-free blue cheeses available, you don’t need to miss out on the bold, rich flavors of these special cheeses. Incorporate crumbles into your favorite recipes or enjoy a wedge alongside fruit, nuts and gluten-free crackers for a memorable tasting experience.

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