Healthy Chocolate in 5 Mins! Dairy Free. Organic. Gluten-Free
Is Chocolate Gluten-Free?
Pure, unsweetened chocolate is gluten-free. That's because pure chocolate is made by liquefying roastedcacaobeans, and —isn't found in cacao beans and doesn't play any role in the process of liquifying them. However, almost every chocolate candy on the market contains multiple ingredients and is made alongside other products, and that's where gluten can sneak in. You need to be particularly careful of:
- Chocolate candy with cookie or pretzel ingredients (this type of candy almost always contains gluten, since cookies and pretzels generally contain gluten)
- "Crispy" chocolate candy, which often contains wheat flour and/or barley malt (two gluten-containing ingredients), and
- Chocolate candy made on equipment that's also used to manufacture gluten-containing products
Read on for more details on how chocolate is made and which types are gluten-free.
Why Only Some Chocolate Is Gluten-Free
Yes, pure chocolate—made from roasted cacao beans—is gluten-free. But it also doesn't taste very good. In fact, some people argue that it tastes a little like dirt.
To make the purest version of the sweetened, smooth candy we know as "chocolate," manufacturers take what's called "chocolate liquor" (which isn't alcoholic—it's just those liquefied cacao beans, sometimes also called "cocoa mass") and blend it with cocoa butter (fat from the cacao beans), plus sugar.
Some of the highest-quality chocolates available include only these three ingredients, and it's this combination that makes "chocolate" such a taste sensation. The purest milk chocolates contain just one additional ingredient: powdered milk.
Still, most of what we normally think of as "chocolate" contains many more than just those three or four ingredients. In fact, one of the most popular candy bars on the market—Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar—contains 11 ingredients, and the first two are sugar and milk, not chocolate or cocoa butter. (Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar is considered gluten-free, by the way.)
How Can Gluten Get Into Chocolate?
It's possible even for pure, unsweetened chocolate to contain a bit of gluten if it's been subjected to gluten cross-contamination in harvesting or processing (for example, if the cacao beans are processed on equipment that also processes wheat, barley, or rye).
Sadly, the chances of having your chocolate contain gluten just go up from there—the more ingredients used in your chocolate (or that are used in the facility that makes your chocolate), the higher the risk.
Obviously, some chocolate candy products feature gluten ingredients—either in the form of wheat (most frequently in chocolate-cookie confections) or in the form of barley malt (a popular sweetener frequently used in candy, especially in crispy rice and malted confections). For example, Hershey's Whoppers include both barley malt and wheat flour in their recipe, which places them off-limits for those following the gluten-free diet.
Other chocolate candies contain no gluten ingredients, but they are subject to gluten cross-contamination because they're made on the as those gluten-containing items. In my surveys of candy manufacturers, this seems to be the biggest reason many chocolates aren't considered gluten-free.
Which Chocolate Contains Gluten?
Examples of chocolate candy that are notgluten-free include:
- Hershey's Cookies 'N' Creme bar and Nestle's Kit Kat bar, both of which feature chocolate combined with cookie ingredients
- M&Ms Pretzel, since the pretzels used are made with wheat
- Butterfinger Crisp Bar, which contains wheat flour
- Lindt Chocolate's Lindor Truffles, because they're made with barley malt
Finally, most chocolate candy made on equipment that's also used to manufacture gluten-containing products will not be considered gluten-free. Examples of this include:
Is White Chocolate Gluten-Free?
Generally, pure white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk, and sugar—it gets its much milder taste from the cocoa butter, and doesn't include any chocolate liquor (which contains the flavor we think of as "chocolate"). Since cocoa butter, milk, and sugar are gluten-free ingredients (assuming they've been protected from gluten cross-contamination), pure white chocolate made from only those three ingredients is gluten-free.
However, most white chocolate bars contain more than just those three ingredients, and therefore could include gluten ingredients or be subject to gluten cross-contamination. You should carefully check the label of any white chocolate bar before purchasing. Ghirardelli's Premium White Chocolate baking bar is gluten-free, but Lindt Chocolate's white chocolate products are not safe.
A Word From Verywell
Chocoholics have no need to despair—there are many gluten-free chocolate candies on the market.
Although many chocolate products you see in stores won't be considered gluten-free, it's still possible to get your chocolate fix even if you're following a by choosing a gluten-free chocolate from one of those lists.
Video: How to Make 5 Ingredient Chocolate (Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)
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