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Did You Know Red Licorice Has Gluten?

“Is red licorice gluten-free?” is a popular question this time of year. But given that Twizzlers are readily available all year round, those with gluten intolerances definitely need to know if this red, chewy candy is off limits. 

Is red licorice gluten-free?

Unfortunately, red licorice is not gluten-free, so people with celiac disease should steer clear. One of the ingredients in red licorice is wheat, which can cause an immune reaction in the small intestines of people with gluten allergies. This can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

What’s wheat flour doing in licorice? It’s actually used to help stabilize the candy so you can enjoy a consistency that’s less like hard candy and more like the sticky, gummy texture you know and love.

The wheat in licorice also poses a problem for people with wheat allergies. In some cases, people with sensitivities to wheat may experience symptoms such as swelling and itching in the throat, hives, difficulty breathing, cramps, nausea, and vomiting. It’s rare, but some people can go into anaphylactic shock after eating wheat. 

Gluten-Free Licorice

If you’re gluten-free and are bummed at the thought of never enjoying a Twizzler again, don’t despair! There are plently of gluten-free licorice options out there, including homemade licorice recipes that taste just as good as the real thing. 

Dog lovers will appreciate Gimbal’s Licorice Scottie Dogs ($22.99/lb., Amazon), which are shaped like tiny dogs. A box comes with red and black licorice to satisfy all your chewy-candy cravings. The best part is that in addition to being gluten-free, the sweets are also peanut-free, tree-nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, trans-fat-free, gelatin-free, and soy-free. 

There are dozens of gluten-free licorice recipes out there, but we’re partial to this gluten-free red cherry licorice recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. That bright red sheen reminds us of the Red Vines we snacked on growing up!

This Halloween — and for years to come — you can still enjoy the sweet taste of licorice. In fact, the gluten-free licorice options are so delicious you may have to hide your stash from the rest of the family.

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