Gluten-Free Cheez-Its: Your Questions Answered

Cheez-Its are one of the most popular and – in the opinions of many – one of the most delicious snack crackers on the market. In any grocery store, the red boxes with the fully detailed illustration of a salted cheese flavored square are unmistakable and unavoidable. 

But if you’re one of the many Americans suffering from celiac disease or any form of gluten intolerance, it can be tough to find an alternative as delicious as the original Cheez-Its. Fortunately, in recent years, there have been several companies specializing in gluten-free snack crackers that have become mainstream on grocery store shelves. 

In this article, we will explore the complications of gluten on the digestive system of those afflicted with celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance. We’ll review several well-known brands of gluten-free snack crackers, and we’ll also investigate whether Kelloggs – the company who manufactures Cheez-Its – offers gluten-free versions of its popular snack crackers. 

What is gluten?

 According to the Celiac Disease foundation, gluten is the name for certain proteins commonly found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (a grain crossed between wheat and rye). 

Wheat

Wheat is most commonly found in the following foods: 

  • breads
  • pastries
  • pasta
  • cereals
  • soups
  • roux
  • sauces
  • salad dressing

Barley

Barley is found in: 

  • malt 
    • Includes malted barley flour, malted milkshakes and milk, malt vinegar, malt flavoring, malt liquor, malt extract, and malt syrup
  • beer
  • food coloring
  • soups
  • Brewer’s yeast

Rye

  • Rye bread 
    • The most common types of rye bread include pumpernickel, dark rye bread, light rye bread, marble rye bread, and Scandinavian crispbreads
  • Rye beer
  • Cereals

Triticale

  • breads 
  • pasta 
  • cereals

While the products mentioned above in each grain section are the most common products containing gluten, gluten can also be found in places you wouldn’t expect. Certain condiments may include gluten as a thickening agent, even though many – like mayonnaise – don’t ordinarily need gluten as a main ingredient. 

Cross-contamination is common in products that don’t contain gluten, and allergen labels often warn consumers of whether a product was manufactured in the same plant that also manufactured products containing gluten and other allergens. 

Gluten can even be found in trace amounts in many vitamins and supplements, necessitating extra caution for those with celiac disease. 

What does gluten-free mean? 

In foods, drinks, and other consumables such as vitamins and supplements, gluten free simply means that the product contains no gluten. 

When you see a label certifying a product as gluten-free, it means that the product contains no gluten and certifies that the manufacturing plant that made the product didn’t come in contact with products containing gluten. 

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. Those with celiac disease cannot consume gluten, as their bodies are unable to process it and causes damage to the small intestine. 

The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates that as many as 1 in 100 people suffer from this disease, with far fewer being properly diagnosed. 

When people afflicted with celiac disease consume gluten, their symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Itchy rash
  • Anemia
  • Ulcers
  • Missed periods (in women)
  • Decreased spleen function
  • Weight loss

Celiac disease ranges in severity, with some people being almost asymptomatic while others – especially children – suffer more severe symptoms. 

Where can I find gluten-free Cheez-Its? 

While Kellogg does NOT make gluten-free alternatives of its popular cheese-flavored snack cracker, there are several alternatives that not only taste like genuine Cheez-Its but resemble them as well. 

These alternatives switch out the ingredients containing gluten (mainly the wheat flour) and replace them with gluten-free versions of that same ingredient, such as almond flour or rice flour. 

What are gluten-free Cheez-Its made out of?

While every alternative to Cheez-Its has a different recipe, the most common approach to gluten-free snack crackers is to switch out the ingredients that contain gluten – the main one being wheat flour – and replace them with a gluten-free alternative. Almond flour or rice flour are popular alternatives for wheat flour that are used in many foods. 

In order to certify these alternatives to Cheez-Its as gluten-free, the snack crackers must be manufactured in a plant that does not share equipment with products containing gluten. 

What are the best gluten-free alternatives for regular Cheez-Its?

The best brands of gluten-free snack crackers that best resemble Kellogg’s Cheez-Its are as follows. 

  • Rice Thins White Cheddar
  • Whisps Cheddar Flavor
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Cheddar Crackers
  • Almond Nut-Thins Cheddar Cheese Crackers
  • Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, White Cheddar
  • Lance Gluten-Free Sandwich Crackers
  • Vans Say Cheese
  • Three Baker’s Snackers

Rice Thins White Cheddar

These powdery crackers are made with rice flour instead of wheat, hence the name. 

Whisps Cheddar Flavor

Made with the one simple ingredient of cheese, this crispy snack is flavorful and airy. 

Simple Mills Almond Flour Cheddar Crackers

Not only are these crackers gluten-free, but they are also considered suitable for a paleo diet, containing almond flour, flax, and sunflower seeds instead of wheat flour. They are crunchy, crispy, and flavorful.  

Almond Nut-Thins Cheddar Cheese Crackers

While relatively plain in taste, Almond Nut-Thins pair well with charcuterie and, as the name suggests, uses almond flour instead of wheat. 

Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, White Cheddar

Using brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower instead of wheat flour, these crackers are full of whole grains without the gluten. 

Lance Gluten-Free Sandwich Crackers

These bite-sized sandwich crackers contain a layer of powdered cheese between round crackers made of rice flour. 

Vans Say Cheese

Instead of wheat flour, these crisp, flavorful crackers contain a gluten-free blend of oats, brown rice flour, millet, quinoa, and amaranth. They are low in fat and are a great source of calcium, whole grains, and potassium. 

Three Baker’s Snackers

These gluten-free snack crackers are packed with protein and are airier and crispier than crunchy. Three Baker’s Snackers use brown rice flour instead of wheat flour.

With real cheddar cheese as its main ingredient, these crackers are a great source of calcium and protein. 

 

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