From quesadillas to grilled cheese sandwiches, shredded cheese has many different uses. In addition, there are many varieties of cheese for all different kinds of recipes.
But is this yummy, cheesy ingredient gluten-free? With all the different types of grated cheese out there, how safe is it for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance to eat? Is shredded cheese gluten free?
What Is Shredded Cheese?
Shredded cheese that you find at your local grocery store is a cheese that has been sent through a grater. They are then typically covered in anti-caking agents to prevent them from clumping. The agents can come in cellulose powder, food starch, potato starch, etc.
Many types of cheese can be found pre-shredded, like mozzarella cheese, swiss cheese, parmesan cheese, and more. There are even blends of different kinds of cheeses for specific flavor categories.
Shredded cheese is typically made with more complex cheeses, so you likely won’t find shredded blue cheese, feta cheese, or cottage cheese products. However, I am always wondering what cheese is gluten free.
You can use this dairy product in many different recipes like pizza, lasagna, grilled cheese, or to top a salad.
If you love cheese, be sure to check to read Is Cream Cheese Gluten Free.
What Is Cellulose Powder?
When looking at packages of shredded cheese, you will notice most have an anti-caking agent, aka cellulose powder. You may wonder what it is and if anti-caking agents have hidden gluten.
Most anti-caking agents used in shredded cheese are a form of cellulose powder. This is a fiber found in the cell walls of many plants. It is taken from the plants to make cellulose powder without taste or smell.
Cellulose powder can come from fruits, vegetables, or wheat. It depends on the cheese manufacturers and their vendors.
It is commonly used to add fiber to specific products. Still, it is also used as an anti-caking and thickening agent. If a caking agent contains gluten, the manufacturer should list it on the ingredient label.
Some brands add citric acid as a natural mold inhibitor as well. Citric acid is a gluten free ingredient.
Answer: Is Shredded Cheese Gluten Free?
The good news is that most shredded cheese brands are gluten-free, but please realize that not all brands are. Though cellulose powder comes from plants, it is sometimes extracted from wheat starch, making it a higher risk for those with gluten intolerance and allergies.
This is a rare case, and the ingredient list will mention if there are sources of gluten or cross-contamination.
Many shredded cheese manufacturers actually use potato starch or corn starch instead of cellulose powder. Potato starch is gluten-free and safe for those who cannot eat gluten.
If a company uses cellulose powder, it is best to check the manufacturer’s website for more information on where it is sourced. Cellulose powder is not always derived from wheat, so it is sometimes gluten-free.
Name-brand cheese brands tend to be more open about their ingredients, so it may be safer to buy from these companies over generic (private label) brands. Companies like Kraft Cheese test their shredded cheese for gluten and label any Kraft products with over 10ppm of gluten. Sargento also states on its website that it uses potato starch and gluten-free anti-caking agents for gluten-free shredded cheese.
Regardless of which brand of shredded cheese you purchase, always read the ingredients label to ensure there are no gluten-containing ingredients or gluten cross-contamination.
Also, be on the lookout for more processed cheeses with artificial flavors, artificial colors, and other ingredients added during manufacturing.
Check my list to see what meal ingredients are gluten free.
Brands of Gluten Free Shredded Cheese:
According to the listed companies’ websites, all the following top brands products of shredded cheese blends are gluten-free. Note none are certified, but these companies state their cheeses contain no gluten, and most state their products are gluten free on their websites and/or on the packaging.
- Crystal Farm
- Trader Joe’s
- 365 Whole Foods Sliced and Shredded Cheeses
- Boar’s Head
- Signature Select, Primo Taglio /O Organics(Albertson's/Safeway stores)
- Kirkland Cheese (Costco)
- Great Value at Walmart
If you are making sandwiches, be sure to read Is Spam Gluten Free?
Gluten Free Recipes With Shredded Cheese:
Simplifying the art of baking and cooking gluten-free recipes.