Cheese has to be one of the most delicious and versatile ingredients ever made. It comes in so many different varieties and flavors. You can spread it, dice it, shred it, and even spray it! If you follow a gluten free diet, you’re probably wondering: Is cheese gluten free?
Yes! Many types of cheese are gluten free. However, there is also a lot of nuance when it comes to cheese.
Keep reading because in this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about which cheeses are safe on a gluten free diet.
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The gluten-free guide below is based on personal experience and research. Always be sure to discuss any medical changes with your doctor for your personal medical needs. Additionally, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My full disclosure isn’t that interesting, but you can find it here.
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Is cheese gluten free?
Cheese is a dairy product. Most cheese is made of milk, salt and rennet. Naturally, all of those ingredients are gluten free.
While hard cheeses like cheddar, monterey jack, parmesan and swiss are naturally gluten free, processed cheeses are another story.
When we start to look at cheese that has been processed, things get more complicated. Processed cheese is often made with binders, fillers and coatings that keep them from sticking together.
Other processed cheese can be made from yeast strains that contain gluten.
How do you know if cheese is gluten free?
For people following a gluten free diet, learning how to determine which products are safe to eat is obviously super important.
Learning to read and understand the ingredient label is a good start. In order for a manufacturer to put a gluten free claim on the packaging, the product must meet FDA standards.
For food producers that want to take their gluten free claim to the next level, there is something called gluten free certification. This is a process that involves third party testing of the product to validate the gluten free claim.
This really helpful blog post on labeling and certification is definitely worth reading, especially if you’re new to gluten free eating.
When reading cheese labels the first thing you want to do is look for anything on the ingredients list that contains wheat, rye or barley.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley, which is why you need to be on the look-out for those ingredients on your cheese label.
What cheeses aren’t gluten free?
While no natural cheeses explicitly contain gluten, there are some that are questionable. Keep reading below to find out which cheeses are not gluten free.
Is shredded cheese gluten free?
The issue with shredded cheese and gluten doesn’t come from the cheese itself. In order to keep shredded cheese from clumping, manufacturers often add starch or cellulose.
Starch and cellulose are usually gluten free but you will definitely want to check the ingredients label to ensure there is no wheat or rye. Quite often manufacturers will use potato starch which is gluten free.
Many of the big brands label their shredded cheese as gluten free, so you can always choose one of them to keep things simple.
Is deli cheese gluten free?
When it comes to deli cheese, there’s more than just the cheese you need to think about.
Cross contact can definitely come into play when we’re talking about deli cheese. Cross contact occurs when a kitchen tool, like a slicer, is also used to prepare other foods that contain gluten.
To ensure that your deli cheese does not come into contact with gluten, it is important to either confirm that the deli uses a separate gluten free slicer, or ask them to clean the slicer prior to cutting your cheese.
Is Blue Cheese Gluten Free?
What makes blue cheese unique, and gives it that distinct flavor is the addition of mold spores to the milk before it begins the aging process.
The challenge with blue cheese is that traditionally, these mold spores are grown on rye or wheat bread like in the case of roquefort blue cheese.
The good news is that the mold spores used in today’s manufacturing of blue cheese are not usually grown on rye bread. According to WebMD, even spores that are grown on rye bread do not contain more than 20 PPM gluten, and therefore should not trigger a gluten allergy.
The Canadian Celiac Association indicates that blue cheese in general is safe to consume and has listed it as an approved ingredient in their acceptable foods pocket dictionary.
The safest choice is always to choose a brand that is labeled gluten free. Some brands even verify that their mold spores are from gluten free sources.
Organic Valley Blue Cheese, for example, lists their cheese as gluten free in the product description on their website.
You can find Organic Valley Blue Cheese at Whole Foods through Amazon here.
Is Cottage Cheese Gluten Free?
Cottage cheese is usually gluten free, however again you will want to check the ingredients list carefully.
Like shredded cheese, occasionally cottage cheese will contain wheat starch or modified food starch. Modified food starch is used as an anti-caking ingredient and is gluten free in the United States unless it has a “contains wheat” statement.
Good Culture offers a wide variety of cottage cheese that is all certified gluten free.
You can easily add it to your next Target pick up order here.
Is Cream Cheese Gluten Free?
Cream cheese is usually gluten free, however again you will want to check the ingredients list carefully.
This is because lots of cream cheeses contain additives (especially fat free) to act like emulsifiers and fillers. Many cream cheeses are also flavored so there is a risk there as well.
This said, I’ve personally never seen a cream cheese that directly contains gluten!
Perhaps the greater risk of cream cheese and gluten is the high risk for cross contact once the package is opened. This could happen if someone uses the gluten free cream cheese on a gluten bagel. Even a miniscule crumb could cause intestinal damage for someone with Celiac Disease .
Learn more about how to prevent cross contact in your kitchen here.
Is Philadelphia cream cheese gluten free?
If you’re wondering specifically about Philly brand cream cheese, none of their cream cheese flavors are made with gluten containing ingredients.
Furthermore, their website claims that Philadelphia cream cheese is gluten free.
However, the bagel chips & cream cheese dips, cheesecake cups, and pretzel chips and cream cheese dips do contain wheat and therefore are not gluten free.
Is dairy free cheese gluten free?
When it comes to dairy free cheese, some are gluten free and some are not. If you want to eat vegan cheese, always read the ingredients list or look for a gluten free label.
DAIYA brand makes a variety of gluten free dairy free cheese like these cheddar style shreds.
Order yours on Whole Foods through Amazon here.
Is string cheese gluten free?
String cheese is usually gluten free. To be certain, check the ingredients list and look for a gluten free label.
Is there gluten free beer cheese?
Beer cheese is not traditionally gluten free as beer usually contains gluten. But you can make gluten free beer cheese as long as you use gluten free ingredients!
This gluten free beer cheese recipe gets rave reviews.
Also, check out this post to learn How To Make Any Recipe Gluten Free.
Is canned spray cheese gluten free?
Good news, spray cheese lovers! You can get gluten free spray cheese. While some brands may not be gluten free, you can always count on the Kraft brand when it comes to labeling.
Grab some gluten free spray cheese on Amazon here.
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