Is Vanilla Gluten Free? Flavouring, Extracts and What it all Means

  • As per the Canadian Celiac Association, most vanilla extracts are gluten free.
  • YES, vanilla is gluten free. However, processed extracts and flavorings may be subjected.
  • Vanilla extract is a fragrant, dark-amber (non-syrupy) solution that is primarily used in confectionery baked goods
  • It is important to look out for a few factors and do some researches before making your next vanilla purchase.

Is vanilla gluten free? That small and sometimes not thought about strong flavor that is actually present in many dishes and meals is something that celiac people need to think about.

While the pure natural vanilla is gluten free, you need to learn about what makes it dangerous to people who need to keep a gluten free diet.

As per the Canadian Celiac Association, most vanilla extracts are gluten-free. However, some limitations could alter vanilla’s gluten free status.

It is best to ensure that you thoroughly go over the ingredients mentioned on the label at the back of the packaging or even visit the supplier website to gather more information. 

If you are gluten intolerant or a coeliac, you are more likely to fall prey to stomach-related allergies. Allow us to walk you through the required information about vanilla.

We will also look into its limitations, how it is manufactured, and the gluten-free possibilities that are readily available. This will ensure you don’t miss out on all the vanilla-goodness without compromising on your health. 

Is Vanilla Gluten Free or Not?

YES, vanilla is gluten free. However, processed extracts and flavorings may be subjected to (non-gluten-free) additives that pure vanilla may contain, some of which may include; corn syrup, alcohol, sugar, caramel color, etc. 

The United States has a standard of identity that brands must comply with to label their vanilla-infused products as ‘pure.’ Every gallon must measure a balance of 65% distilled water, 13.35% of vanilla bean extraction that amounts to 10 oz of moisture-free solids, and 35% alcohol. 

Sugar, corn syrup, and caramel color may be used to mask the bitter, harsh after-taste of alcohol present in the vanilla or to enhance the flavor and/or smell of the extract, especially if the vanilla beans were of not good quality. 

What Is a Vanilla Extract?

Vanilla extract is a fragrant, dark-amber (non-syrupy) solution that is primarily used in confectionery baked goods. Vanilla extracts act as flavor enhancers, similarly as salt is used on the savory side.

Related: Is sesame oil gluten free | Is baking powder gluten free

The extract masks unnecessarily strong scents, such as eggs helping your dish not only to taste great but also smells divine.

Types of Vanilla and How It’s Made 

While pure vanilla extract may have vanilla as the key ingredient (thanks, captain obvious), other types of vanilla are also often used in baking, as a substitute or even as a priority. 

  • Pure vanilla is extracted from vanilla beans, which is mixed with a water solution and alcohol. It is made by submerging vanilla pods in a blend of ethanol and water. Depending on the intensity of the extract and the way it is manufactured, it is also available in different strengths. Such as double or triples the power in every drop. Vanilla extract is entirely gluten-free, case closed. 
  • Imitation vanilla – as the name suggests, is an ‘imitation’ of the vanilla extracts and consists of artificial flavorings that include clove oil, coal tar, pine bark, paper industry by-products, and bran. It has a bitter after-taste (what a no brainer), is a little harsh on the tongue, but the difference between the two is almost indistinct. Imitation vanilla is most likely gluten-free; we’ll get to why the uncertainty exists in just a minute. 
  • Vanilla flavoring – contains the required amount of pure vanilla extraction; however, exclusive of the alcohol makes it an excellent substitute for those who are trying to avoid alcohol. Due to legal reasons, it cannot be referred to as an extract since it’s alcohol-free. Propylene glycol is the primary carrier used to replicate the flavor.

The Benefits of Vanilla 

  • It lowers cholesterol levels and is good for your heart.
  • It contains healing properties that help in recovering from injuries and illnesses faster. 
  • Great for hair
  • Acts as an anxiety reliever 
  • Reduces acne and breakouts
  • Promotes a healthy digestive system
  • Eases respiratory conditions 
  • Help reduce weight 

Gluten-Free Vanilla options

McCormick’s pure vanilla extract

This well-known brand imports its vanilla beans from all over the world. It contains a wide range of gluten-free products, often applauded for its pure authenticity by transforming vanilla beans into vanilla extract directly. 

Main features

  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten-free
  • No Corn Syrup

Nielsen Massey’s fine vanillas and flavors

Manufacturing vanilla products since 1907, this brand, also imports its beans from Madagascar to Mexico and Tahiti. Their wide array of products ranges from powders, beans, extracts, and sugars.

Main features

  • Gluten-free certified 
  • Allergen-free
  • Kosher

Singing dog gluten-free pure vanilla extract 

is vanilla gluten free - Singing dog gluten-free pure vanilla extract
via azurestandard

The Singing Dog Vanilla Extract labels its products ‘gluten-free’. Organically grown in Indonesia, this extract brand contains pure cane sugar alcohol as opposed to wheat, soy, or corn.

Main features

  • Animal-Cruelty Free
  • Sugar-free
  • Gluten-free

Heads up!

Even the slightest bit of gluten or any other allergen can be catastrophic for your digestive system. It is important to look out for a few factors and do some researches before making your next vanilla purchase.

Ingredients: Vanilla imitations or extracts that are flavored with sugar or caramel color could be a cause of concern. Though caramel color in the United States is likely to be gluten-free, it might contain malt syrup (made from barely), lactose, or wheat starches. 

Cross Contamination: Depending on the availability of vanilla beans worldwide, you must take note of the brand’s change in geographical locations in terms of bean extraction. Cross-contamination occurs, and they alter the gluten-free label on vanilla products. 

Alcohol Moonshine: Although this is not related to the gluten in vanilla extracts, it must be taken into account that moonshine alcohol used in vanilla and is the only alcohol that burns during baking. Therefore, you should use flavorings, but always read the labels or confirm from the manufacturer. 

The Bottom Line 

Most vanilla extracts and flavorings are gluten-free. Extracts mainly contain distilled alcohol, or distilled vinegar, which is also gluten-free. The other two ingredients are water and, of course, vanilla itself.

The ingredients list is simple, mainly if it contains no additives and flavorings. 

However, you must keep check the ingredients and get in touch with the manufacturer if you have any doubts or fear cross-contamination. 


About the Author: Johnny

I am the senior editor and writer of Gluten Free Heroes, before that, I wrote for various well established online magazines about food and health. I love working out, traveling and eating healthy.