I can confirm that Sun Chips are not gluten-free. All varieties of Sun Chips are made with wheat, which contains gluten. If you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, it's best to avoid Sun Chips and look for alternative gluten-free snack options.
Sun Chips are manufactured by Frito Lay and no, they are not gluten-free. All varieties of Sun Chips are made with wheat which contains gluten.
Answered from Michelle Ford
Are Sun Chips Gluten Free?
As someone who loves snacking on SunChips but also avoids gluten, I get asked this question a lot by friends and family. With so many people going gluten-free nowadays, it's important to know which snack foods are safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. In this FAQ, I'll cover everything you need to know about whether various SunChips products contain gluten ingredients.
Do original SunChips contain gluten?
No, regular SunChips like Original, French Onion, Harvest Cheddar, and Garden Salsa flavors are not gluten-free. They contain wheat, a core gluten ingredient.
Specifically, whole grain wheat is typically the second or third ingredient listed on original SunChips. Oats, another gluten grain, are also sometimes included.
Why are wheat and oats not gluten-free?
Wheat (including varieties like whole wheat, wheat bran, and wheat flour) naturally contains the proteins glutenin and gliadin, which together form gluten. Gluten is what gives wheat-based dough its stretchy texture.
Similarly, oats contain the proteins avenin and gliadin, which can trigger gluten reactions in those sensitive. So oats are also avoided on a gluten-free diet.
Do multigrain SunChips contain gluten?
Yes, SunChips labeled as “multigrain” do contain gluten. The main source is typically whole wheat kernels, included as one of the main “grains” in the multigrain blend.
Always check ingredient labels, but products advertised as “multigrain” very often use wheat as one of the grains, meaning they are not gluten-free.
What about whole grain SunChips, are they gluten-free?
SunChips varieties marketed as “whole grain” also contain gluten. Once again, whole wheat is typically one of the whole grains used to make these SunChips.
Whole grain simply means all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain are used – the bran, endosperm, and germ. But whole grains can still contain gluten.
Are there any gluten-free SunChips products?
Currently, there are no SunChip products that are certified gluten-free. Some users report less sensitivity to “corn-only” flavors like Original or Harvest Cheddar. But Frito-Lay confirms there is risk of gluten cross-contamination on shared equipment.
So at this time, those strictly avoiding gluten should not consume any mainstream SunChips products, even corn-based flavors. Frito-Lay does make some certified gluten-free chips under brands like Stacy’s, but not SunChips.
What ingredients signal gluten in SunChips?
When checking SunChip ingredient labels, watch for:
- Whole wheat
- Wheat bran
- Whole oats
- Malted barley
Any of these grains indicate the presence of gluten. If the ingredients contain only corn, sunflower oil, and seasonings, that may be a safer bet. But assuming cross-contamination still occurs.
Why don’t all corn chips have gluten?
Some corn chip brands are produced in entirely gluten-free facilities and thus avoid cross-contamination concerns. Or they use only corn for the base along with oils and other gluten-free seasonings.
But SunChips in particular incorporate wheat/oats into the corn base, rather than using just corn. Also, Frito-Lay's facilities and equipment process many snacks containing gluten, exposing all products to some degree of contamination risk.
Is risk of cross-contamination a concern?
Yes, Frito-Lay warns that any SunChips may contain traces of gluten due to shared processing and packing equipment. Gluten-containing snack products are produced on shared lines.
So while corn-only SunChips have no direct gluten ingredients, residual gluten transferred from other products can still trigger reactions in those highly sensitive.
Are SunChips safe in a gluten-free diet if I’m not highly sensitive?
It depends on your individual level of sensitivity. Many gluten-free followers can tolerate small amounts of cross-contamination with no obvious reaction.
But for those with celiac disease or who are highly sensitive, even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms or long-term complications. Strict avoidance is advised.
What snacks similar to SunChips are gluten-free?
Some good gluten-free alternatives to SunChips include:
- Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips
- Skinny Pop Popcorn
- Frito-Lay Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips
- Snyder’s of Hanover gluten-free Pretzel Sticks
In summary, mainstream SunChips are currently not gluten-free due to containing wheat, oat, and barley ingredients. Even flavors made with just corn have risk of gluten exposure during manufacturing. Those following a strict gluten-free diet should avoid SunChips and instead choose certified gluten-free snack chip alternatives to stay safe.