Many major brands of vanilla pudding are gluten-free, including Jell-O, Snack Pack, Kozy Shack, and Simply Delish. Always check the ingredients list to confirm the pudding is made without wheat, barley, rye or derivatives. Puddings labeled “gluten-free” are a safe bet. Making homemade vanilla pudding with gluten-free ingredients is another good option.
Evaluating Vanilla Pudding for Gluten
When selecting a vanilla pudding, checking the ingredients list is crucial to verify it does not contain any gluten sources. The main ingredients to look out for are:
- Malt extract or malt flavoring
Any pudding containing these ingredients should be avoided on a gluten-free diet. Many major brands use modified food starch and cornstarch as thickeners instead of wheat-derived ingredients.
Focus on the ingredients list rather than marketing claims on the front of the packaging. An item described as “wheat-free” may still contain barley, rye, or malt-derived ingredients. Checking for a “gluten-free” label is ideal, but always verify by reading the ingredients.
Some people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity react to oats. If you need to avoid all traces of gluten, choose pudding made without oats or oat flour.
When in doubt, call the manufacturer to inquire about any potential cross-contamination risk. Some facilities process wheat and gluten-free foods on shared equipment. The company should be able to disclose whether any wheat dust or flour particles may come in contact with the finished product.
Gluten-Free Vanilla Pudding Brands
Many popular vanilla pudding brands offer gluten-free options:
The following Jell-O vanilla pudding products are labeled gluten-free:
- Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding
- Jell-O Instant Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding
- Jell-O Instant Fat Free Vanilla Pudding
- Jell-O Vanilla Pudding Snacks
Jell-O puddings are thickened with cornstarch and do not contain any wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients. Always verify gluten-free status by checking for an updated ingredients statement.
Snack Pack Pudding
These Snack Pack pudding cups are gluten-free according to the ingredients list:
- Snack Pack Vanilla Pudding
- Snack Pack Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding
- Snack Pack Fat Free Vanilla Pudding
- Snack Pack Lemon Vanilla Pudding
Snack Pack uses modified food starch and tapioca starch rather than wheat-derived thickeners. Check labels for the latest ingredient information.
Kozy Shack Pudding
The following Kozy Shack pudding cups are gluten-free:
- Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
- Kozy Shack Rice Pudding with Raisins
- Kozy Shack Vanilla Pudding
- Kozy Shack Vanilla Pudding with Shortbread
Kozy Shack puddings are made without barley malt, wheat starch or gluten ingredients. Always check ingredient labels for potential formula changes.
Simply Delish Pudding
Simply Delish offers many gluten-free pudding varieties, including:
- Simply Delish Jell-O Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- Simply Delish Vanilla Pudding Snack Cups
- Simply Delish Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Snack Cups
Simply Delish puddings use tapioca flour and modified tapioca starch as thickeners. Verify gluten-free status through updated ingredient lists.
Some additional brands with gluten-free vanilla pudding options include:
- Wegmans Vanilla Pudding
- ShopRite Vanilla Pudding Cups
- Food Club Vanilla Cook & Serve Pudding
- Musselman’s Vanilla Pudding Cups
Always read the labels thoroughly to confirm gluten-free status. Ingredients may vary between flavors and varieties. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly.
Risk of Cross-Contamination
Even if the vanilla pudding ingredients are gluten-free, there is some risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing. Wheat flour is commonly processed on shared equipment in facilities that also make gluten-free foods.
How Cross-Contamination Happens
Cross-contamination occurs when trace amounts of gluten are unintentionally introduced into a gluten-free food. Potential sources include:
- Shared equipment – Scoops, utensils, pipes, mixing vats used for wheat-based products
- Shared facility – Airborne wheat flour settling on surfaces or packaging
- Worker errors – Not changing gloves between handling wheat and gluten-free items
Strict protocols are necessary to prevent cross-contamination in facilities that process multiple product types.
Verifying Gluten-Free Status
Contact the manufacturer if you need to avoid any trace gluten from cross-contact. Many companies test their products to verify gluten levels below 20 parts per million (ppm). This is the recognized standard for labeling items “gluten-free.”
Sensitive individuals should look for pudding products certified “gluten-free” by GFCO or another independent organization. Certification indicates robust measures to avoid cross-contamination.
Making Homemade Vanilla Pudding
Preparing vanilla pudding from scratch with gluten-free ingredients is a tasty option. This gives you full control over the ingredients.
These ingredients help create the rich, creamy texture of homemade vanilla pudding:
- Cornstarch – The most popular thickener for gluten-free pudding recipes
- Arrowroot – Used alone or with cornstarch
- Tapioca starch – Derived from cassava root
- Rice flour – For a subtly sweet flavor
Mix the starch with sugar and milk or cream, then cook over medium heat until thickened. Allow to chill thoroughly before serving.
Potential Recipe Adjustments
When adapting traditional pudding recipes, a few modifications may help:
- Increase cornstarch or tapioca starch slightly – Typically 1-2 extra tablespoons per 1/4 cup of starch
- Reduce milk slightly – Thickeners absorb more liquid in gluten-free recipes
- Increase cooking time – Gluten-free starches take longer to reach full thickness
Monitor the pudding carefully as it cooks and refrigerate thoroughly before serving. The texture may be slightly softer than wheat-based pudding.
Basic Vanilla Pudding
Makes 4 servings
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar and cornstarch
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened and bubbling, about 10 minutes
- Whisk egg yolks in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk into hot pudding to temper
- Cook 2 more minutes, continuing to whisk
- Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla
- Transfer to serving cups or bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly on surface to prevent skin
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream if desired
Vanilla pudding has many tasty ways to serve it beyond a simple bowl topped with whipped cream. Consider these serving ideas:
Layer vanilla pudding in a glass with crushed cookies, brownies, or graham crackers. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Pour vanilla pudding into a pre-baked pie crust. Chill thoroughly before slicing. Top with fruit like strawberries or bananas.
Frozen Pudding Pops
Pour vanilla pudding into popsicle molds. Insert a popsicle stick in each mold and freeze until solid. Kids love these!
Prepare a vanilla cake batter and divide between ramekins. Top each with a generous layer of vanilla pudding. Bake until the cakes are cooked through and serve warm.
In a glass serving bowl, layer cubed pound cake, vanilla pudding, fruit, and whipped cream. Repeat layers until the dish is full, ending with whipped cream.
Storing and Freezing
Follow these tips to store leftover gluten-free vanilla pudding properly:
Store sealed containers of cooked vanilla pudding in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Eat refrigerated unsealed leftovers within 2 days.
Freeze vanilla pudding in airtight containers up to 2 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Stir thoroughly once thawed.
Place refrigerated vanilla pudding in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until warmed through. Or heat in a saucepan over low, stirring frequently. Do not boil.
Discard vanilla pudding that smells or tastes unpleasant after storage. Do not freeze pudding made with egg yolks more than 1-2 days for food safety. Use leftover egg yolk pudding within 3-4 days.
Many store-bought and homemade vanilla puddings can fit into a gluten-free diet. Reading ingredient labels diligently and contacting manufacturers about gluten testing protocols is key for identifying safe brands. Preparing homemade vanilla pudding allows you to control all ingredients. With an array of serving suggestions, vanilla pudding makes for a versatile gluten-free dessert.