Are Reese’s Cups gluten-free? You’re gluten-free and you want to know if this crowd-favorite candy is safe to enjoy. I get it, it’s a delicious candy that combines the ultimate indulgent combo of chocolate and peanut butter.
The good news is that many of Reese’s products are gluten-free (yes, even the ones that aren’t marked gluten-free). Let’s dive into which products are safe and unsafe.
(NOTE: This is not an all-inclusive list and manufacturing and ingredients can change quickly in products. Always check food labels and assess safety and suitability for yourself when selecting food).
Before we get into if REESE’S are gluten-free, we first need to understand what they are. Reese’s peanut butter cups are an American candy featuring a chocolate cup filled with peanut butter in the middle.
They were created by H.B. Reese and later became owned by The Hershey Company. This is important to know because any questions you have about Reese’s candy should be directed to Hershey.
If you didn’t know, when reading food labels to identify gluten, there are some cases where you need to contact the company for clarification.
Speaking of the steps for checking food like Reese’s for gluten, let’s quickly walk through how to do this in the USA! As you know, label-reading with celiac disease can be complicated in the USA. To simplify it, I teach people to follow 4 steps to check their food for safety.
These 4 steps can be summarized with the acronym CANS. The CANS acronym stands for:
Now there is a lot of nuance and things to know when using this acronym to check food labels for gluten. So if you want a deep dive into this, check out my FREE USA Food Label-Reading Class.
In that class, I dive deep into these four steps and practice with you to help you feel confident and comfortable in checking your food for gluten. You can enroll with this link.
Now that we know what we’re looking for on food labels, let’s talk about if Reese’s Cups are Gluten-Free in the USA!
First, Hershey has a list of gluten-free candies on their website that you can check. But also note that they don’t necessarily mark all of their products that are gluten-free as gluten-free. So reading the label will be our best friend here.
In this post I’ll be breaking down food labels and the safety of different Reese’s products but please remember that the food system changes quickly. This means that the ingredients and labels of products may change quickly so always make sure that you’re checking the label for suitability and safety yourself too. Let’s start breaking down food labels…
Let’s start with determining if the classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are gluten-free. When checking food labels in the USA for gluten, the first thing you want to look for is if there are oats and if there is a gluten-free claim or certification.
In this case, classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups do not contain oats and they usually contain a gluten-free claim on the back. This signals that the product does not contain gluten and has been tested to verify that there is <20ppm of gluten in them.
Because we can see a gluten-free claim on the peanut butter cups, we know they are safe. But what about the Reese’s cups that don’t contain a gluten-free claim?
So the regular Reese’s Cups are gluten-free, but what about the seasonal-shaped Reese’s Cups? This is a big controversial topic that takes the celiac community by storm every holiday season.
So before we get into this I want to acknowledge that there are varying comfort levels in the celiac community and your comfort-level matters. Please know that I share the following information not to tell you to eat seasonally-shaped Reese’s but to help you make a decision on this based on informed caution rather than fear.
As you’ll read below, the seasonal Reese’s Cups are gluten-free as long as you don’t see any concerning ingredients on the label. So yes, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Reese’s Hearts, Reese’s Trees, Reese’s Bells, Reese’s Bats, and Reese’s Pumpkins are all generally gluten-free. Keep reading to find out why.
So let’s use Reese’s Pumpkin cups as an example label when checking these seasonal cups for gluten. When checking these cups for gluten we start by looking for a gluten-free claim for certification. Unfortunately, these cups don’t contain a gluten-free claim which tends to scare a lot of people but this does not necessarily mean it’s not safe.
Continuing through the CANS acronym, we now check for an allergen statement. This is a statement that notifies you if the product contains wheat. In this case, there is no warning for wheat.
Now we check for NOT safe ingredients on the label. These ingredients would be those that contain gluten. To easily remember which ingredients these are, remember the BROW acronym which stands for Barley, Rye, Oats (sometimes), and Wheat. When checking, we don’t see any of these ingredients so we can move to suspicious ingredients.
Now suspicious ingredients are any ingredients that could hide gluten per FDA labeling laws. Now if these ingredients were derived from wheat, they would have to be listed in the allergen statement. But that doesn’t protect us from barley and rye. So we still need to check on these ingredients to make sure they are safe.
In this case, Reese’s Pumpkins do not contain any suspicious ingredients and thus are gluten-free. And if you’re not sure what ingredients can hide gluten in the USA, check out my FREE label-reading class where I cover all of that! You can get the class with this link.
Now many people have said these candies are not gluten-free because they can be processed on the same lines as gluten. However, when contacting Hershey, they reassured me these candies do not contain gluten and that the reason they don’t have a gluten-free claim is that they are not tested for gluten like the classic peanut butter cups that are sold year-round.
They also assured me that while these cups can sometimes be made on lines that process candy with gluten, they have strong cross-contact protocols to prevent contamination. This is the case for most processing plants because not only do they need to manage cross-contact but they also need prevent food-borne illness.
All of this is why Reese’s that come in holiday shapes are in fact, generally gluten-free. However, recipes and manufacturing is subject to change so never skip reading the label. That said if you’re still uncomfortable eating these cups, it’s totally fair to just by the regular ones.
And most importantly, if your celiac specialized dietitian told you to do something different, discuss this with them because they are more aware of your unique circumstances than anyone on the internet.
When talking about if Reese’s cups are gluten-free, it can be really tricky to navigate. There are many dietitians who say things like the seasonal shaped Reese’s aren’t celiac-safe, and there are people who say the react to the seasonal Reese’s.
Here’s the thing: there are many things that cause a reaction that looks like gluten and there are many different approaches and opinions on celiac safety in the celiac dietitian world.
If your dietitian told you something different, discuss that with your dietitian. They likely have a different approach or are individualizing your experience for a variety of reasons.
If your body still reacts to these Reese’s you should trust that and work to get to the bottom of it! And remember that it can take the body anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to cause symptoms from eating gluten.
Also remember, celiac disease can cause other food intolerances that can cause similar symptoms to gluten (like lactose intolerance which btw… Reese’s literally has Lactose listed as an ingredient). Read more about celiac disease and lactose intolerance here.
This might be something to discuss with your dietitian if you’re having trouble figuring out what’s going on.
And all of that to say, I’m not saying you absolutely have to eat seasonally shaped Reese’s and other Reese’s candies that are sometimes said not to be gluten-free. I’m merely presenting the information to help you make an informed decision. Ultimately, your comfort level matters.
If you check the Hershey’s list of gluten-free candy, you’ll find that Reese’s Pieces are listed as gluten-free. But if you don’t have access to that list while in the grocery store, no worries! They also have a gluten-free claim found on the back of the product to help you quickly identify that they are safe.
Many of the holiday-packaged Reese’s pieces also have this claim too. However, the uniquely shaped pieces themselves, like Reese’s Pieces Eggs, don’t have a gluten-free claim.
However, if you use the CANS acronym introduces earlier and taught in this FREE USA Food Label Class, you won’t find any signs of gluten. Meaning that Reese’s Pieces Eggs are also gluten-free even without a gluten-free claim for similar reasons discussed in Reese’s Pumpkins section.
Do Reese’s Thins contain gluten? Similar to many of the seasonally shaped products, these products do not contain a gluten-free claim. They also are not listed on the Hershey’s Gluten-free Candy list. This might make some people feel uncomfortable and that’s fair.
But remember, Hershey even says that their products can be gluten-free without a claim. And when we check the label of both normal and dark thins, there are no signs of gluten, and remember, Hershey has strict cross-contact protocols to prevent the allergenic contamination of products. Not only that but lines must be washed in between use to prevent foodborne illness.
This means that Reese’s Thins and Dark Thins are gluten-free even though they aren’t found on Hershey’s Gluten-Free Product list and they don’t contain a gluten-free claim.
Are Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups gluten-free? If you check the label or check the list of gluten-free products posted by Hershey, you’ll find these candies are safe. Even the holiday-shaped mini Reese’s cups seem to usually have a gluten-free claim.
However don’t forget, a gluten-free claim isn’t needed but it doesn’t make it easier to identify safe candy. And if you feel more comfortable only buying the products that have a gluten-free claim, that’s fair and these are candies that you can enjoy!
Are Reese’s Fast Break Bars gluten-free? Yes! This chocolate peanut butter nougat bar is listed on the Hershey’s website as gluten-free. It also has a gluten-free claim on the package. So break-away!
Are Reese’s Big Cups with Pretzels gluten-free? Well, pretzels usually contain gluten so you might automatically assume they’re not safe. However, Reese’s came through for the gluten-free community and used gluten-free pretzels in their recipe.
So, yes! These pretzel-stuffed peanut butter cups are gluten-free. You’ll even find them listed as gluten-free on the Hershey website. You’ll also find a gluten-free claim on the label. This also applies to their new(ish) potato chip Reese’s cups!
Are Reese’s Take 5’s Gluten-free? These Reese’s candies are one of the few Reese’s that are not gluten-free. This is because the Reese’s Take 5 contains pretzels that are not gluten-free, UNLIKE the Reese’s Big Cups with Pretzels.
This is why it’s important to never assume anything is or isn’t gluten-free. Always check the label to make sure manufacturing hasn’t changed or to make sure the candy truly is or isn’t safe.
Wondering if the NEW Reese’s Puff Cups are gluten-free? The answer is yes! These chocolate peanut butter cups do not contain gluten ingredients and they are marked gluten-free on the label. So if you want to try these new Reese’s, dive right in!
Are Reese’s Klondike Bars gluten-free? In this case, this product is manufactured by Klondike so there are some different considerations we have to weigh. In my Complete Guide to Gluten-Free Ice Cream, I discuss Klondike Bars and other ice creams in detail.
But to keep it brief: yes, these Klondike Bars are gluten-free. That’s because they do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients and the risk of cross-contact would be low. However, like everything else on my website, weigh the suitability of their products for yourself. I personally LOVE the Klondike Reese’s Dairy Dessert Bars
Now that we know Reese’s candy is generally gluten-free, let’s talk about if they are dairy-free. The only reason I bring this up is that lactose intolerance with celiac disease is common if someone is still healing from a damaged small intestine.
Lactose intolerance can cause similar symptoms to gluten exposure. I say this because often people think they’re being glutened by perfectly safe gluten-free food because they have unaddressed food intolerances like lactose intolerance with celiac. So this is something to keep in mind as many Reese’s products have lactose (the sugar from milk) added as an ingredient.
Basically, Reese’s candies are not dairy-free. If you are avoiding dairy products or lactose, you will want to choose a different candy to enjoy.
Looking for dairy-free and gluten-free Reese’s alternatives? Luckily there are many peanut butter cups on the market that are gluten-free. Below are some of your options!
If you’re looking for a GF and dairy-free alternative to gluten-free Reese’s, Justin’s may be a great option. This nut butter company sells nut butter, nut butter packets, and nut butter cups!
Their nut butter cups come in many flavors including almond butter, peanut butter, and cashew! Per their FAQ section, all of their products are certified gluten-free. This means if you’re extra nervous about your food, you can rest easy with their nut butter cups.
Unreal is another brand that may have dairy-free alternatives to gluten-free Reese’s. They’ve got lots of different candies to choose from, including nut butter cups.
Of note, Unreal has many certified gluten-free candies in their line up but some of their candy does contain gluten. For example, their dark chocolate caramel peanut nougat bars have spelt (a form of wheat) in them which makes them not gluten-free.
So Unreal has totally safe options but make sure you’re checking the label to make sure you’re not accidentally buying one that isn’t.
Lily’s Sweets is another option for those needing a milk-free version of gluten-free Reese’s. Specifically, their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are certified gluten-free and dairy-free.
And while not all of their products are dairy-free, all of their chocolates are gluten-free per their FAQ.
Another dairy-free option to substitute gluten-free Reese’s is Free2b Sun Cups. These are certified gluten-free and vegan chocolate cups filled with sunflower butter that are absolutely delicious. These are also perfect if you’ve got a nut allergy in your family because they are peanut-free too.
Lastly, another dairy-free but gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cup option are No Whey PeaNOT Cups. Isn’t that name SO clever?
Not only are these cups dairy-free and gluten-free, but they are also peanut-free. Definitely a fun option for those who need it.
Reese’s Cups can be gluten-free in the many variations discussed today. However, always be sure to do your due diligence to make sure they are safe for you, as processing and manufacturing can change quickly.
That said, there are real and valid fears around cross-contact with any food we are buying. However, often manufacturers have cross-contact protocols in place to keep us safe. Actually… this is one of the reasons the term cross-contact was developed so that manufacturing facilities could do a better job at preventing both the allergenic and the microbial contamination of food. Learn more about that here.
Overall, I hope this post helped you become more informed about the safety of this delicious candy in the USA! And if you need more help with learning how to identify gluten on a food label, don’t forget to sign up for my FREE USA Food Label-Reading Class Here!