Is Cocoa Powder Gluten Free?

Posted on 21 Jul 2016 20:13

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Cocoa powder, as long as it is pure, should contain nothing from any type of cereal grain. Cocoa is simply the chocolate solids from which most of the cocoa butter (the fat portion of the cacao) has been removed. Since there is no gluten in the cacao pods from which chocolate is derived, there is no gluten in cocoa powder or other chocolate products, unless a gluten containing ingredient is added. So, pure cocoa powder is gluten-free and perfectly safe for celiacs to use in baking and any other cooking.

You may wonder about different types of cocoa powder. There are two basic types: Dutch processed cocoa powder or "alkalized" and regular unalkalized cocoa powder. The alkalized type must be labelled as such, and will often be called Dutch on the label. Another name for it is European cocoa powder. In this type, an the cocoa is treated with an alkalizing ingredient, such as potassium carbonate, which brings the pH up to around 7 or 8, basically neutral. This makes the cocoa powder a little smoother in flavor, darkens it, and makes it more water soluble (dissolves better in water). This makes no difference to the gluten status.


You can tell the difference between alkalized cocoa powder and natural unsweetened cocoa powder by the color. Alkalized Dutch process cocoa powder will be a very dark brown color, while natural cocoa powder will be a reddish-brown like the closeup photo of cocoa above. It will taste stronger and will not dissolve as well in liquids. When in doubt about which one to use, follow the recommendations on the recipe you are making. Both are safe for celiacs and can be used as part of a gluten-free diet.

This information is provided for those who have been medically confirmed to have a need for a gluten-free diet and in no way should be taken to mean that Ground Up Strength endorses the general "gluten free living" trend.

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