Dessert Talks: Is Pudding Gluten-Free?

Love pudding?

Well, for me, I got a weak spot with sweets!

Those creamy, sweet desserts most of us crave after a hearty meal. That soft melting sensation on your palate?

OMG! I always love it and will always ask for more!

And although almost everyone cannot resist its sweet allure, some are cautious and most often will ask:

“Is it healthy?” or “Is it gluten-free?”

Let’s find out!

Understanding Gluten

Before I answer the question, let us first have a better understanding of what gluten is.

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Gluten is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in some plants. It is a mix of different proteins which are used by grains to store resources for later. It is mostly found in rye, barley, oats, wheat, and other related plants.

In simpler terms: Gluten is primarily found in grains.

In general, foods that are not grains are gluten-free. This includes foods like spices, most vegetables, meats, sugar, milk, corn, rice, and various other food items.

However, it does not mean that if something does not have any cereal grains, it is gluten-free. There is a concept known as “cross-contamination,” which makes a variety of safe ingredients susceptible to being sold having small quantities of gluten in them. Depending on a person’s gluten sensitivity, cross-contamination might be a big deal or a total non-issue.

Understanding Pudding

Different from some types of food, “pudding” has no universally accepted definition. In the US, the term “pudding” usually refers to a sweet, thick dessert. Puddings are usually made with gelatin, eggs, and other thickening agents and are rarely made with grains.

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In other parts of the world, the term “pudding” can refer to a wide variety of other dishes. This includes black pudding, which is a mix of barley or oats and blood, and Yorkshire pudding, a British dish somewhere between a muffin and a pancake.

And while some other “puddings” do not have any gluten in them, these two examples most definitely do!

Creamy Pudding: Is it Gluten-Free or Not?

I give you the good news now: Yes, most puddings are gluten-free.

But, I said most, right?

So, how do you know if a pudding is gluten-free?

Puddings which use wheat or other cereal as their primary ingredient are certainly not gluten-free.

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In other words, if you are looking at a box of instant pudding or a pudding cup at the grocery store, there is almost certainly no gluten in it. If you are looking at a menu item in a restaurant, there is a good chance there might be some gluten, depending on the variety of pudding you choose and how it was made. The best thing you can do in such situations is to ask the server.

How About Jello Pudding?

Both the mix-it-yourself and pre-made varieties of Jello pudding don’t have notable amounts of gluten. Such desserts are made with various ingredients, and cereal grains are not among those ingredients.

Jello does not market its products as “gluten-free” since they are enhanced with artificial colors. And because Jello does not have control in manufacturing these colorants, there is no way of knowing whether or not any glutens accidentally ended up in them.

But, of course, there is not a huge amount of food coloring in Jello pudding. Even if a small amount of gluten did happen to get in the coloring of the pudding by accident, then you will certainly not notice it in a normal serving. In simpler terms, you can treat it as gluten-free.

How about specific varieties? Jello vanilla or chocolate pudding? Again, the answer to that is yes. All Jello puddings are generally gluten-free. So, there is no need to worry about particular varieties.

And Instant Pudding?

I’d say it again:

There are no grains in the type of pudding that you are likely to eat in the United States. This includes both pudding you make, the ones you eat at a restaurant or the pudding you got from the store, whether in a single-serve cup, a tub, or a box.

Instant pudding is no different. And it is a mixture of flavors, cornstarch, sugars, and a few fancy ingredients for the finishing touches.

Are All Puddings Safe To Eat?

As I have mentioned before, pudding has a wide variety. And not all of them are gluten-free!

So, if you accidentally ordered a Yorkshire pudding, it is pretty obvious that you do not have a gluten-free dessert. Yorkshire puddings are a lot like bread, so it is quite easy to realize that it is not a gluten-free dessert as you were expecting.

There are various versions of puddings across the world.

For instance, rice pudding is made from milk, rice, and lots of sugar. Bread pudding is quite alike rice pudding except that it is made with bread rather than rice. Haggis is a type of pudding made from sheep organs, oatmeal, onions, and seasoning.

So, it is quite easy to be confused.

However, it is not that difficult to determine if a certain pudding is gluten-free based on its ingredients and appearance.

You can always take a look or ask about the ingredients, and you will easily know if it is gluten-free or not.

Gluten-Free Puddings Exist But Stay Cautious

In conclusion, pudding is a yummy dessert that you can certainly add to a gluten-free diet. However, you need to be cautious and check labels and ingredients when food shopping.

Remember, if your pudding is sweet, thick, and quite similar to custard, then that’s a thumbs up for gluten-free puddings. However, if it is made of bread or looks like the bread or has cereal grains as one of its ingredients, then it is a no-no!

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