Are Rice Krispies Gluten Free? 7 Cereal Treats Options

Nicole Austin

Learn how to make gluten-free Rice Krispies treats!

Simple, delicious, and sweet, Rice Krispies treats are a dessert that’s easy to make and will magically disappear before your very eyes!

With only four ingredients in the classic Rice Krispies treats recipe, you may find yourself making these last minute for just about any event, or on a whim.

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They’re popular to make for holidays — just this past Easter, my kids and I had Rice Krispies treats with little pastel-colored sprinkles on top. You can even cut them into little trees with our super cute Christmas Rice Krispies treat recipe that makes for a gorgeous, colorful display. 

However, people with restrictive diets or who are avoiding gluten for health reasons are often left wondering if something they want to indulge in is an option, and therefore may be wondering: are Rice Krispies gluten free?

The simple answer is no, Rice Krispies are not gluten free, and Rice Krispies treats also are not, when prepared as the classic recipe calls for. What that last bit means is that there’s some wiggle room for modifying the original recipe to make it work for your own needs, and we’re all about that here.

Read on for ideas on how to make gluten-free Rice Krispies treats using an alternative cereal, and to learn more about the name brand option.

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Why Aren’t Rice Krispies Gluten-Free?

It may be easy to assume that Rice Krispies are gluten-free because rice is a safe food for people who have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten.

In fact, rice is one of the foods that dieticians recommend in correct portions as part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

So, logically, you might assume that anything touted as a rice product would therefore also be safe. And that’s where the problem lies.

Rice Krispies are made of relatively few simple ingredients, which seems innocent enough at first glance for people on a gluten-free diet. However, tucked in the ingredient list is the culprit: malt.

Malt is derived from barley, a breakfast grain that is one of the three that cannot be consumed on a gluten free diet. (The other two are wheat and rye.) 

Despite being a common ingredient found in many foods, it is not required to list barley on a food label. Shockingly, wheat is the only gluten-containing grain that must be labeled per the FDA.

It is important to check labels and not just rely on the name of a product to determine the true ingredients, especially for people with severe allergies or autoimmune responses.

“Malt flavor” is listed as an ingredient in Rice Krispies, and does contain malt.

Christmas Tree Rice Krispie Treats Recipe Photo

How Are Rice Krispies Made?

Now that you know there’s a little more to this popular breakfast cereal than what meets the eye, you may wonder how Rice Krispies are made.

Rice Krispies are made by creating a rice and malt mixture as a base. These are then cooked, dried, rolled, and rested.

The next step is key to the perfect bowl of Rice Krispies — they are toasted into light, airy puffs.

The air inside the puffed rice is exactly what makes the signature “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” sound that became synonymous with three lively, elvish characters you see on the boxes today.

When milk fills the cereal, the air inside must quickly escape. This process creates a small sound that, when in unison, sounds like a fizzling bowl of cereal.

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Are Rice Krispies Dairy Free?

Rice Krispies cereal is dairy-free.

It’s possible to have a dairy free bowl of Rice Krispies by using a milk alternative, such as almond or soy milk.

Rice Krispies treats call for butter, which means they are not dairy-free.

Some people choose to substitute the butter with a plant-based butter, or coconut oil that has been refined to remove the coconut flavor.

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Are Rice Krispies Vegan?

Rice Krispies are not vegan, as they contain Vitamin D3 which is derived from animals.

If you’re exploring vegan options for this crispy rice cereal, however, you do have some choices! There are companies that make a vegan form of Rice Krispies, such as Nature’s Path.

These types of breakfast cereals can be used to make vegan Rice Krispies treats, as long as you can also replace butter and marshmallows.

If you're vegan, you're probably already very familiar with vegan butter.

Most brands of marshmallows contain gelatin, a product derived from animals.

There are some vegan-friendly marshmallow mixture options made of syrups and starches, or agar-agar, which is derived from seaweed, that can be used in place of regular marshmallows.

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Are Rice Krispies Nut Free?

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal is nut-free. The ingredients do not contain nuts, and the package does not state that it was manufactured in a facility that processes or contains tree nuts or peanuts.

It is always best to refer to the packaging to see if there is any indication that it may contain nuts or other allergens.

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Can You Make Gluten Free Rice Krispies Treats?

These crispy treats can be made gluten-free by modifying the recipe to incorporate a substitute for the traditional name brand Rice Krispies.

Kellogg’s used to make a gluten-free version of their Rice Krispies cereal, but this has since been discontinued, leaving people wondering if there’s such a thing as a safe alternative on the market. took the time to compile a list of similar products to Kellogg’s Gluten Free Rice Krispies, and the list is impressive! There are several gluten-free options available at grocery stores like Aldi and Wegman's, or you can order one of the gluten-free cereals listed online (assuming you live in the United States, at least).

Many companies have made a safe crisp rice cereal alternative that would be easy to substitute 1:1 in a Rice Krispies treat recipe, and there are some very high reviews. 

We shared some awesome gluten-free recipes for the classic treats in the past, which call for certified gluten-free Rice Krispies brand. Any of the crisp cereals on the list above are the perfect replacement when you’re making the rice treats.

Check out our Nutella-based gluten-free Rice Krispies treats recipe.

You can also use a chocolate cereal as a Rice Krispies replacement to make Chocolate Gluten-Free Rice Krispie Treats! Look for easy-to-find, gluten-free cereal brands such as Cocoa Pebbles.

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Are Rice Krispies Healthy?

Rice Krispies are low-calorie and are low in sugar and fat. When part of a balanced diet, they can be consumed for those trying to lose weight.

If you’re looking to avoid trans fats and saturated fats, the good news is that Rice Krispies contain none.

Rice Krispies are high in carbohydrates, which the body uses for energy.

However, like all boxed cereals, Rice Krispies are processed food, which means they lack a full nutritional profile.

As part of a healthy, balanced diet, they are perfectly fine.

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Fast Facts About Gluten and Rice Krispies

  • Rice is gluten-free, but not all products containing rice are gluten-free.
  • Rice Krispies contains malt flavoring, which is derived from barley. Barley is not gluten-free.
  • It is possible to make gluten-free Rice Krispies treats by replacing the cereal with gluten-free alternatives.
  • Always check the ingredient label, regardless of the product name, especially if you have gluten intolerance, and look for a "certified gluten-free seal" when possible — it’s the gold standard.

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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