Is Cheese Gluten-Free?
Cheese confuses many followers of the gluten-free diet. Most cheese does not have gluten, but it is very important to read labels of all packaged or processed cheese before eating it.
Aside from wheat, barley and rye, you also want to make sure the cheese does not contain wheat starch or modified food starch made from wheat. If you go to a deli counter to purchase cheese, not only must the cheese itself be gluten-free, but the machine used to slice the cheese must also be cleaned to prevent cross-contact.
- Blue cheese is usually gluten-free. Some suggest that mold cultures of cheese may be grown on wheat or rye bread, so read the ingredients label. Generally, unless the ingredients label includes wheat, barley, rye or their derivatives, cheese should be safe. Tricia Thompson at Gluten Free Dietitian has more information on gluten in blue cheese.
- Brie is gluten-free. Read more about brie in Answers from a Dietitian.
- Cheddar cheese is gluten-free.
- Cottage cheese is usually gluten-free, but some brands may contain wheat starch or modified food starch made from wheat. Check the ingredient list to make sure. Read more about “modified food starch” in Answers from a Dietitian.
- Cream cheese is gluten-free.
- Feta cheese is gluten-free.
- Goat cheese is gluten-free.
- Mozzarella cheese is gluten-free.
- Parmesan cheese is gluten-free.
- Provolone is gluten-free.
- Ricotta cheese is gluten-free.
- Swiss cheese is gluten-free.
- Shredded cheese is usually gluten-free. Some may contain starch or cellulose to prevent the shreds from sticking together. However the starches/cellulose used in shredded cheese typically don’t contain gluten. Often potato starch is used, which is gluten-free. If a cellulose used is derived from wheat, this should be called out on the label. If you’re unsure about a particular brand of shredded cheese, read its label to see if it includes any gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat, barley or rye.
- Cheese whiz is usually gluten-free. Read more about cheese whiz in Answers from a Dietitian.
- Dairy-free cheese may not be gluten-free. Some dairy-free cheeses are made with flour, so read the ingredients label before eating dairy-free cheese.
- String cheese or cheese sticks are usually gluten-free.
- Cheese powder is usually gluten-free but check the label.
- Cheese spreads are usually gluten-free, but make sure to read the label, as there may be gluten in the ingredients used to create the spread’s consistency or add flavoring.
Foods Containing Cheese
While most cheeses by themselves do not contain gluten, foods that contain cheese as one ingredient may not be gluten-free, so you should always read the label.
- Cheesecake is not gluten-free (unless specified on the label) because the crust is made with wheat flour.
- Breaded mozzarella sticks are not gluten-free (unless specified on the label) because they are coated in breadcrumbs. Additionally, mozzarella sticks from a restaurant are likely to be fried in the same oil used for gluten-containing foods.