Ever wondered if sugar is gluten-free? We’re breaking it all down, from types of sugar, to which brands are gluten-free and more!
So, you’re ready to bake gluten-free, but you’re not sure… is sugar gluten-free?
I GET IT!
Especially at the beginning of transitioning to a gluten-free diet, it’s so overwhelming to have to re-think every ingredients and re-read every label to check that everything is safe to eat. Today we’ll take the guesswork out of sugar.
Here’s what you need to know about gluten-free sugar…
Gluten-Free Sugar, At A Glance:
Short Answer: Is Sugar Gluten-Free?
Yes! Pure sugar (without any additional flavorings or additives) is considered gluten-free and safe to eat if you’re gluten sensitive or diagnosed with Celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (durum, semolina, kamut), and several other grains, like barley, rye, bulgur, triticale, and spelt. Sugar is made without any of these ingredients.
This is GREAT NEWS! That means it’s easy to add sweetness to your favorite gluten-free recipes and gluten-free foods.
HOWEVER. There is some nuance, such as when additional flavorings or additives have been added to the sugar, or the way the sugar has been handled. Read on to find out what you need to know about each kind of sugar.
Is White Sugar Gluten-Free?
One thing to note is that commercial white sugar is usually processed with natural carbon (or bone char) to help decolorize it and give it that super white appearance. This is all gluten-free, but does mean that most regular white sugar is not vegan. (Organic sugar in the United States is always made from sugarcane and is not processed with bone char.)
Is Brown Sugar Gluten-Free?
Brown sugar is actually just white sugar with added molasses! Both sugar and molasses are considered gluten-free, so brown sugar is safe for Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
What about light brown sugar vs dark brown sugar? That’s simply a matter of how much molasses is in the sugar! Dark brown sugar has more molasses than light brown sugar. Both light brown sugar and dark brown sugar are gluten-free.
Is Powdered Sugar Gluten-Free?
Most of the time, yes! Powdered sugar (sometimes labeled confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar) is unique from other kinds of sugar because it usually contains some sort of starch to help avoid clumps. Most brands use cornstarch or arrowroot starch, which are both gluten-free. This is one sugar you’ll want to double-check before using!
What About Other Kinds Of Sugar?
So what about all the other kinds of sugar? There are a lot of kinds of sugar and sweetener out there, but here’s a breakdown of all the common kinds. (Learn all about different kinds of sugar and how to use each one in this post all about sugar!)
- Coconut Sugar – Coconut sugar is made from coconut blossom nectar and is considered gluten-free.
- Date Sugar – This type of sugar is made from dehydrated dates and is gluten-free.
- Maple Sugar – Made from crystallized maple syrup, maple sugar is considered gluten-free. (Read more about gluten-free maple syrup here)
- Muscovado Sugar – This dark sugar is gluten-free!
- Pearl Sugar – Pearlized or pearl sugar, like Swedish pearl sugar and Belgian pearl sugar, is gluten-free. It won’t melt and is typically used for decoration only.
- Superfine Sugar/Caster Sugar – this fine-grained sugar is gluten-free. It’s just like white sugar, simply with smaller granules. It dissolves more easily than other sugar, making it great for mocktails & beverages, simple syrup, meringues, and more.
- Sparkling Sugar & Sanding Sugar – these decorative sugars are both gluten-free.
- Sugar Cubes – Are sugar cubes gluten-free? YES! They’re just sugar or sugar held together with sugar syrup, so they’re gluten-free. (Do check your labels on this one, though!)
- Demerara Sugar & Turbinado Sugar. Raw cane sugar, sometimes labeled Turbinado sugar, Demerara sugar, or raw sugar, is also considered gluten-free. It’s typically used as a garnish or to sweeten coffee and tea.
- Honey, Agave & Maple Syrup. In their pure form, these are all gluten-free.
- Sugar Alternatives – Most alternative sweeteners, sugar substitutes, and artificial sweeteners, such as erythritol (Swerve), sorbitol, xylitol, stevia (liquid and powdered), aspartame (Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet N Low) monk fruit, allulose, and others are gluten-free. As always, read the labels on anything you plan to use!
FAQ + Tips For Buying Gluten-Free Sugar
What Brands Of Sugar Are Gluten-Free?
Most brands of sugar are gluten-free. This includes common brands, like:
- Bob’s Red Mill*
- Crystal Sugar
- Florida Crystals*
- Good & Gather
- Imperial Sugar*
- India Tree
- In The Raw*
- Simply Organic*
- Simple Truth*
- Trader Joe’s*
- Wholesome Sweeteners*
* = also vegan/not processed with bone char
Avoid Cross Contamination With These Tips!
If you’re baking for a gluten intolerant family member (whether they have Celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity), it’s very important to avoid cross contamination (getting gluten-containing ingredients mixed into gluten-free ingredients.) Even a very small amount of contact with wheat, barley, or other gluten ingredients can cause symptoms of a reaction, immune response, or illness in Celiacs or gluten-intolerance.
- To avoid this, the best practice is to use a separate bag of sugar JUST for gluten-free baking.
- Additionally, do not use tools that have come in contact with wheat flour to scoop or measure gluten-free sugar when baking.
- Either pour the sugar out into your measuring cup or use clean or separate measuring tools for gluten-free ingredients.
What About Flavored Sugar?
If you’re buying an infused or flavored sugar, it’s important to check the label to ensure it’s gluten-free. Many infused sugars and flavored sugars use simple ingredients, like vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, etc. that are clearly gluten-free, but it’s important to double-check before using. Avoid extras like malt, which is made from barley.
When In Doubt, Ask A Doctor!
As with any food you’re unsure about with a gluten-free diet, consult a doctor, registered dietitian, or nutrition professional for medical advice about your specific situation. They can help you learn what intake works best for you, how to balance your blood sugar, and how to deal with any digestive symptoms you may be experiencing (headache, constipation, blood sugar spikes, etc.)