Who doesn’t like pretzels? Crunchy, salty, and satisfying, they may be the perfect snack. But are pretzels gluten-free? Find out here!
Big, doughy pretzels dipped in gooey cheese or tangy mustard. Tiny twisted pretzels with that satisfying crunch. Soft pretzel rolls just the right size and saltiness for sliders. Pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles. And how about those mustard-flavored mini barrel pretzels? They’re ALL delicious. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine too.
But before we get too carried away, let’s find out: Are pretzels gluten-free?
Short answer: Not usually, but sometimes yes! Traditionally, pretzels are made from wheat flour, and wheat is a natural source of the gluten protein that is so harmful to celiac patients and others with gluten intolerance. But don’t despair: Gluten-free pretzels are real!
Read on for gluten-free pretzel recommendations, and get your snack on without a side of stomach pain.
Are Pretzels Gluten Free?
Unless your pretzels are specifically labeled “Gluten Free,” then no, this crunchy snack is not free from gluten. Regular pretzels are made primarily from wheat flour, and wheat is definitely a gluten grain. Anyone with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or a wheat allergy is going to want to avoid regular pretzels.
On the other hand, it’s getting easier to find gluten-free pretzel varieties, not only from specialty brands at health food stores, but from some of the mainstream brands at ordinary grocery stores as well! Gluten-free pretzels are made without wheat, utilizing gluten free flours and food starches that are celiac friendly.
When you’re shopping for pretzels, make sure the bag you buy is clearly labeled “Gluten Free,” meaning that it meets the FDA requirement, containing less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. These pretzels will be made without gluten ingredients, and they are guaranteed free from cross-contamination with gluten foods during the manufacturing process as well.
What Are Pretzels Made of?
Traditionally, pretzels are made from wheat flour and a few other ingredients. For example, these are the ingredients found in a bag of Frito-Lay Rold Gold pretzel sticks:
- Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid)
- Corn syrup
- Ammonium bicarbonate
- Malt extract
These pretzels absolutely contain gluten in the wheat flour, right at the top of the list.
For comparison, let’s take a look at the ingredients in Snyder’s Gluten Free pretzel sticks:
- Corn starch
- Potato starch
- Tapioca starch
- Palm oil
- Cellulose gum
- Sunflower lecithin
- Baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, and monocalcium phosphate)
- Citric acid
No wheat here, and no gluten! Corn, potato, and tapioca starch take the place of wheat flour. Snyder’s line of gluten-free products do not contain dairy, egg, or milk either.
For more articles on gluten-free living, check out gluten-free cereal, is naan gluten-free, are fritos gluten-free, are cheetos gluten-free, are pringles gluten-free and is peanut butter gluten free.
You also might like these collections of gluten-free chicken recipes and gluten-free desserts.
Brands of Gluten-Free Pretzels
Gluten-free pretzels are becoming easier and easier to find, which is fantastic if you’re on a gluten-free diet! Not only are standard pretzel twists available sans gluten, but soft pretzels, stuffed pretzels, dessert pretzels, and many interesting flavors are also popping up online and on local grocery store shelves.
These brands produce some of the best gluten-free pretzels on the market:
Snyder’s of Hanover* (with satisfying flavor combinations such as cinnamon brown sugar and hot buffalo wing)
Glutino pretzels (fudge covered and yogurt covered pretzels, too!)
Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps* (full size and mini)
Katz (soft pretzel nuggets)
Tonya’s Gluten Free Kitchen (soft pretzels)
Good Health by Utz
Gratify (regular and thins)
Quinn (pretzel nuggets stuffed with plant-based “cheese,” almond butter, peanut butter or chocolate peanut butter!)
Perfection Snacks (also carry GF snack mixes that include pretzels)
*These brands produce both regular, gluten-containing pretzels and gluten-free pretzels, so be cautious and make sure you pick up the bag labeled “Gluten-Free.”
RECIPES USING GLUTEN-FREE PRETZELS
No, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels are not gluten-free. Like most traditional pretzels, Dot’s are made with wheat flour, and wheat is a natural source of gluten.
If you’re living a gluten-free lifestyle and craving pretzels, try the GF line from Snyder’s of Hanover or Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps, or go for gluten-free snacks brands such as Glutino, Quinn, or Perfection Snacks. Any of these choices mimic the crunch and flavor of wheat pretzels, but they’re safe for celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.
Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps come in both regular and GF varieties. Right now, GF Pretzel Crisps come only in the classic flavor- large or mini- but we’re hoping for a flavor expansion in the future! When you’re shopping for Pretzel Crisps, read labels and make sure you pick up the gluten-free type rather than wheat-based pretzels, if that’s what you’re going for.
Most soft pretzels are made with wheat flour, so they do contain gluten. However, Tonya’s Gluten Free Kitchen does make gluten-free soft pretzels that are made with rice flour, corn starch, and tapioca flour in place of wheat flour. (Xanthan gum is also used as a thickener and ingredient binder.) Tonya’s pretzels are available in certain East Coast grocery chains.
For a homemade, delicious alternative, try this fabulous recipe for Gluten-Free Soft Pretzels and our Gluten-Free Cheese Sauce to go with them!
Yes, Rold Gold pretzels are made from wheat flour, and they do contain gluten.
For a mainstream pretzel brand that provides gluten-free varieties, Snyder’s of Hanover (aka America’s Pretzel Bakery) is a good choice. Currently, Snyder’s gluten-free offerings include pretzel rods, pretzel pieces, pretzel sticks, and mini pretzels in flavors such as classic, cinnamon brown sugar, hot buffalo wing, and honey mustard & onion.
The Bottom Line
Regular pretzels are made from wheat flour and a handful of other ingredients. Because wheat is a natural source of gluten, these regular pretzels are off limits to celiacs and anyone else who is pursuing healthier living by following a strict gluten-free diet.
The good news is that gluten-free pretzels are now widely available for sale at both health food stores and traditional grocery stores. Mainstream brands such as Snyder’s of Hanover and Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps sell a gluten free version (just make sure you pick up the gluten-free bag!). Many specialty GF brands such as Glutino, Katz, Gratify, Quinn, and Perfection Snacks sell all kinds of soft, crunchy, and stuffed gluten-free pretzels.
If you’d rather bake your own hot pretzel bites at home, try our recipe for Gluten-Free Soft Pretzels paired with our Gluten-Free Cheese Sauce. You’ll never miss the gluten!