When it comes to gluten free snacking, it’s in a celiac sufferer’s (or those who just don't tolerate gluten) best interest, to always be prepared. Let’s face it, that doesn’t always happen. The best planner will still find themselves running on an impromptu errand or filling up the gas tank and realize they’re starving. The nearest gas station or convenience store is not the place to stop.
Or is it? It’s easy to assume it’s a snake pit of food you can’t eat, and starve until you get home, maybe wait it out for these tasty granola bars? But surprisingly, those shoulder height shelves are lined with some options that won’t make you sick. We’ve created this helpful guide so you can easily navigate to a safe, emergency gluten free snack.
Frito Lay has worked hard to convert products into safe alternatives for their gluten-free customers, and have tested since 2011. Lays, Ruffles, Tostitos and Doritos potato chip flavors as well as Cheetos contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. For a complete list of products that you can feel good about snacking on, click here.
Additionally, all flavors of Kettle Chips, Food Should Taste Good, and Cape Cod chips are also gluten free.
It might be a little more challenging to find gluten free crackers in a gas station, but if you see these options, grab a few as they are gluten free:
- Milton brand crackers - the Baked Crackers variety
- Good Thins - all varieties are GF!
- Schar Table Crackers - Schar foods are all GF
- Simple Mills crackers - Simple Mills is a gluten free company also
- Nut Thins - there are 9 varieties that are gluten free
- Glutino - Glutino is a GF company
- Crunchmaster - also a gluten free company
- Back to Nature Crackers - not everything is GF, watch the labels!
Candy for the Sweet Tooth
Candy and sweets can be deceiving. And with cross contamination, it might be tough to know for sure which sweets to say yes to. Here’s a long list of gluten free candy and bars that you can snag from convenience store shelf without worrying. And those appealing licorice candies... they DO contain gluten, so write those off right away.
- Baby Ruth
- Milk Chocolate
- Oh Henry!
- Regular M&M's
- Original Flavor Butterfinger Bar
- 3 Musketeers Bars (all flavors)
- Milky Way Midnight Bar
- Milky Way Caramel Bar
- Plain Dove Chocolate products Snickers Bars (all flavors)
- Tootsie Rolls
- Junior Mints
- Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Tootsie Pops
- Almond Joy (all)
- Mounds (all)
- Hershey Kisses
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, only in the 1.55 oz. size
- Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bar, only in the 1.45 oz. size
- Hershey's Air Delight
- Hershey's Milk Duds
- Hershey's Nuggets
- Heath Bars
- Regular Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
- Reese's Pieces (all except for Reese's Pieces Eggs)
- Rolo Caramels in Milk Chocolate (all except for Minis)
- Skor Toffee Bar
- York Peppermint Patties (all except for York Pieces, York Minis and York Shapes)
- Nips - check the packaging to be certain
- Sugar Daddy Pops
- Sugar Mama Caramels
- Sugar Babies
- Wonka Pixy Stix
- Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy
- Tic Tacs
- Creme Savers
- Sour Patch Kids
- Sour Patch Xtreme
- Laffy Taffy
- Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
- Fruit Rolls
- Tropical Dots
- Swedish Fish
- Dubble Bubble
- Charms Blow Pops
- Charms Super Blow Pops
- Charms Pops
- Zip-A-Dee-Mini Pops
- Mike and Ike's
- Jelly Belly jelly beans
Enjoy Life brand - all candy is GF
Other Snack Options
Aside from chips and candy, there are a couple handfuls worth of options at a gas station that you can indulge in.
Nuts are full of protein, filling, and have a nice crunch. They’re naturally gluten free. However, not all nuts are processed equal. Blue Diamond Almonds are gluten free and processed on separate machinery, so grab those little bags if you spot them. (Or stock up on them!) A great tip to reduce risk of contamination is to purchase nuts roasted in their shells.
Popcorn is also a great option.
String cheese and hard-boiled eggs are a couple quick grabs that won’t bother your stomach. Additionally, fresh and dried fruits are usually a great option.
Another regular find in gas station are energy or protein bars. KIND bars protein bars, Quest bars and No Cow Bars are all gluten free, check out 11 more options for protein bars here. If the gas station has them, RXbar and Lara bars are also great options with no worry in the wrapper.
Also check out 8 Simple and Delicious Gluten-Free Kids’ Snacks
Jerky is a great protein boost and are always hanging somewhere in a small convenience shop. It’s easy to assume they all are good, but artificial flavors (especially those with soy) tend to contain wheat in the marinade. Oberto and Jack Links original and pepper flavors are safe, with testing done regularly and product handling being done to minimize contamination.
Wash it Down
Keep in mind, most of these snacks are processed and not super healthy, and you’re probably going to want a drink. Those rows of refrigerated cases might be a bit daunting. Juices or tea are your best bet.
Coca Cola has made major strides in creating drinks that test below 20 parts per million and have contracts with other companies for production as well. These include Fuze and Minute Maid.
Gatorade's simplest flavors are all great options, especially on hot days.
Other juice companies that claim ALL their juices are gluten free are Arizona Iced Teas, Snapple, Dole, Simply Orange, Sunkist sodas and juices, V8 blends, and Welch’s.
In recent years, coconut water has edged its way into many small stores and refill stations. It’s popularity isn’t a hype. It’s a natural way to get more electrolites and is naturally gluten free. A big bonus is most major brands you’ll commonly find ONLY make coconut water, so there’s no need to worry about cross contamination.
Just because smaller stores stock up on junk food doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find something your body can handle. Companies big and small are becoming more and more aware of Celiac and gluten-related illness, and thankfully, convenience store owners are considering all types of customers. Armed with this read, you’ll feel more confident stepping into one and walking out with a safe and tasty snack.
Need recipes you can make ahead and reheat later? These fit the bill!
Oatmeal crepes (easy to make and store)
Oat flour pancakes (freezer friendly)
Granola bars (easy to eat in the car)
Banana Blueberry Muffins (travel really well!)
Do you have a corner store favorite to add to the list? Please share it in the comments below!
This is extremely helpful, Christine. Thank you for all the effort and research involved with this list! I'm printing it and keeping a copy in the car!
Thank you so much for the kind words Vicki - I originally had about 25 and then just kept digging to find more and more.
I appreciate the comment 🙂
I'm allergic to chocolate. "Original Flavor Butterfinger Bar" is listed on the "non-chocolate" list. Isn't Butterfinger covered in chocolate? Is there a variety of Butteringer that isn't chocolate covered?
Good catch! I've relocated that one!