Wondering if cream cheese is safe for your gluten-free diet? Discover what cream cheese is made of, what brands are gluten-free, and things to be aware of when eating cream cheese on a gluten-free diet.
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If you love cream cheese with your breakfast or in your favorite dip recipe, you may be wondering if this ingredient is safe for a gluten-free diet. Cream cheese is popular in many dip recipes, cheesecakes, and used as a spread for bagels and sandwiches.
If you’re just getting started with a gluten-free diet or are just trying to find your way with foods you’ve been eating and looking to find out if they contain gluten, this post is for you.
In this post, we’re going to discuss what cream cheese is, what it’s made of, if it’s gluten-free, and how to find gluten-free cream cheese brands. We’ll wrap it up with a few things to look for before purchasing or taking a chip dip at your next party or get together too.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
What is cream cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft cheese often used as an appetizer with crackers, in cheesecakes, as a spread on sandwiches or bagels.
The FDA has standards in place that every cream cheese product must meet in order to be called “cream cheese.”
These standards are:
- The cheese must contain at least three 3% milk fat
- It has to have a moisture content of less than 55%
- The dairy ingredients must be pasteurized
The most popular and commonly available cream cheese that most folks know of is Philadelphia Cream Cheese, although there are plenty of other brands that are available at grocery stores as well.
What is cream cheese made of?
Cream cheese is made of a combination of milk and cream, and can contain salt, cheese whey, and stabilizers to help keep the cheese from separating.
If you buy cream cheese from the store, you can expect to also find gums or carrageenan, which are added as stabilizers.
For homemade cream cheese, you’ll often find lemon juice in the recipe. This ingredient is used to give the milk it’s tangy flavor that is so prominent in cream cheese.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
You can find gluten in whole grains, but also in many processed foods as well. If you purchase wheat bread, there will be gluten in it, because wheat by nature has gluten.
Many processed foods have hidden gluten in them in the form or gluten or wheat derivatives. These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Is cream cheese gluten free?
Cream cheese is naturally gluten-free as it contains no gluten-containing ingredients. Since it is made mostly of milk and cream, as well as salt or stabilizers, it is safe to consume on a gluten-free diet.
Cream cheese is also free of wheat, nuts, eggs, and soy.
Is cream cheese dairy free?
Cream cheese is not dairy-free, because it contains milk and cream which are animal products. If you follow a dairy-free diet, you may consider making your own dairy-free cream cheese spread or finding another ingredient to use in your recipe.
Dairy-free cream cheese alternatives
- Soy-based cream cheese
- Cashew-based cream cheese
- Almond-based cream cheese
- Coconut-based cream cheese
- Homemade dairy-free cream cheese
- Soft tofu
Read on: Is tofu gluten-free?
Are my favorite brands of cream cheese gluten-free?
If you’ve been enjoying a specific brand of cream cheese for a long time, you may be wondering if that brand is gluten-free and safe to continue eating.
Let’s go over some popular cream cheese brands and help you get the information you need to determine if you’re going to continue eating that brand and flavor moving forward.
Is Philadelphia cream cheese gluten free?
According to the Kraft Heinz website, which owns Philadelphia Cream Cheese, most flavors of this brand contain no gluten ingredients. The cream cheese products are safe for a gluten-free diet, but not the crackers that come in the Dips packs.
These are the flavors of Philadelphia cream cheese that have no gluten-containing ingredients:
- Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia ⅓ Less Fat Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Strawberry Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia ⅓ Less Fat Chive & Onion Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Blueberry Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese
- Philadelphia Dips Buffalo Style with Celery Cream Cheese Dip
- Philadelphia Dips Caramelized Onion & Herb Cream Cheese Spread & Dip
- Philadelphia Dips Buffalo Style with Celery Cream Cheese
The Kraft Heinz brand is really good about noting products that contain gluten and you can find more information about how they label their products are gluten-free on their website here.
Is Happy Farms cream cheese gluten-free?
Based on the ingredients list for Happy Farms cream cheese, this, ALDI brand doesn’t have any gluten-containing ingredients.
As always it’s best to check the ingredients list to be sure that there are no hidden sources of gluten before purchasing.
Is Lucerne cream cheese gluten free?
Yes, Lucerne cream cheese contains no gluten-containing ingredients and is safe for a gluten-free diet.
Is Crystal Farms cream cheese gluten free?
According to the Crystal Farms website, all their cream cheese is gluten-free.
Try one of their eight flavors:
- Crystal Farms Blueberry Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Light Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Onion & Chive Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Original Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Strawberry Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Whipped Cream Cheese
- Crystal Farms Neufchatel Cheese ⅓ Less Fat
Is Organic Valley cream cheese gluten free?
A quick look at the ingredients lists tells us that there are no gluten-containing ingredients, and should be considered safe for a gluten-free diet.
Is Great Value cream cheese gluten free?
According to the Walmart website, most flavors of Great Value cream cheese are gluten-free.
These are the flavors of Great Value cream cheese that contain no gluten-containing ingredients:
- Great Value Cream Cheese
- Great Value Cream Cheese Spread
- Great Value Fat Free Cream Cheese
- Great Value Whipped Cream Cheese Spread
- Great Value Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Spread
- Great Value Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread
- Great Value Strawberry Whipped Cream Cheese Spread
Is Good & Gather cream cheese gluten free?
The ingredients list shows that this product is gluten-free. Although there is no gluten-free label, there are also no gluten-containing ingredients in this product.
Here are the gluten-free options for Good & Gather brand cream cheese:
- Good & Gather Whipped Plain Cream Cheese Spread
- Good & Gather Neufchatel Cheese Bar
- Good & Gather Whipped Plain Cream Cheese Bar
- Good & Gather Whipped Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread
Is spreadable cream cheese gluten free?
Most spreadable cream cheese is gluten-free, as long as the ingredients have no hidden sources of gluten in the form of flavorings or preservatives. Check ingredients lists before purchasing.
Things to look out for in cream cheese on a gluten-free diet
While most cream cheese is naturally gluten-free because it is made only from dairy products, there are few things to look out for when you are eating cream cheese on a gluten-free diet.
The first is that you need to be aware of: where you are eating cream cheese. Cross contamination can occur at parties or at cafes. To be sure that there aren’t crackers dipping into cream cheese to leave crumbs behind, open a new container.
At cafes, ask for a new package to be opened so you know a knife hasn’t been double-dipped in and spread on a bagel that has gluten.
If you love cream cheese and follow a gluten-free diet, you can feel good that most cream cheese brands are safe. Don’t eat the crackers that come in packages with cream cheese, as these contain gluten. Be aware of crumbs and cross contamination.
If you follow a dairy-free diet like I do, look for a dairy-free alternative to cream cheese or learn to make your own at home!