Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to avoid gluten for medical reasons or simply as a lifestyle choice. For those following a gluten-free diet, it can be tricky to find tasty sweets and treats that fit within their dietary restrictions. One sweet that often comes up in the context of gluten-free eating is Andes Mints.
What is Gluten?
Before diving into whether Andes Mints contain gluten, it helps to understand what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It acts as a “glue” that helps foods maintain their shape and texture. While gluten poses no issues for most people, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate it. Exposure to gluten causes an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine in those with these conditions.
In addition to the obvious breads, pastas and baked goods made from wheat flour, gluten can also be found in less obvious foods. It is often lurking in sauces, seasonings, candies and more. This makes checking labels a must for those on a strict gluten-free diet. The FDA defines a food as gluten-free if it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
What are Andes Mints?
Andes Mints are a popular after-dinner mint produced by the Tootsie Roll Company. They feature a cool, refreshing mint flavor and are individually wrapped in a green and white striped wrapper. The mints have a smooth melting texture thanks to their original recipe dating back to 1950. Back then, they were manufactured using a candy roller machine that created their distinctive flattened shape.
In addition to their iconic candy mint rolls, Andes also produces crunchy chocolate-covered mints, chocolate-filled mints, holiday candies and other variations. However, the gluten-free status applies specifically to the original Andes thin mints.
Are Andes Mints Dairy-Free?
In addition to avoiding gluten, many people also follow dairy-free diets. Those with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, vegan diets or certain autoimmune conditions may need to avoid dairy products. When it comes to Andes Mints, they do contain dairy ingredients.
The full ingredient list for Andes Mints is as follows:
- Palm oil
- Dairy butter
- Peppermint oil
- Soy lecithin (an emulsifier)
- Artificial flavor
The dairy butter and milk make these unsuitable for vegans or those with milk allergies. There are dairy-free candies that can be substituted, like Enjoy Life’s dairy-free chocolate minis.
Are Andes Mints Nut-Free?
Tree nut and peanut allergies are also common, affecting up to 4% of children in the United States. For those with nut allergies, avoiding nuts and food produced in facilities that process nuts is very important.
The good news is that Andes Mints do not contain any tree nuts or peanuts directly. However, they are produced in facilities that process peanuts, tree nuts and soy. Those with severe nut allergies may want to avoid Andes Mints or at minimum, contact the company to check details on the manufacturing process.
Are Andes Mints Gluten-Free?
Coming back to the original question, Andes Mints are gluten-free! None of the ingredients in the recipe contain gluten directly. The mints are produced in a facility that is free of wheat, rye, barley and their derivatives.
This makes Andes Mints a good gluten-free option, as long as no cross-contamination occurs. Those who need to follow a gluten-free diet should feel comfortable enjoying these nostalgic after-dinner mints.
Andes Mints Gluten-Free Certification
In addition to being labeled gluten-free, Andes Mints are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).
The GFCO is an independent program responsible for the certification of gluten-free foods and products. Their certification process confirms that items contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. This strict standard provides assurance for those who need to avoid gluten exposure at all costs.
The GFCO’s testing protocols verify that all ingredients, processing aids and food-contact surfaces in the manufacturing process are gluten-free. Products are also subject to annual inspections of the manufacturing facilities and re-testing to ensure ongoing compliance.
You can identify GFCO certified items by looking for their certification trademark on packaging:
The GFCO certification provides added assurance that Andes Mints are a reliably gluten-free treat.
Variations That May Contain Gluten
While the original thin Andes Mints are gluten-free and GFCO certified, some variations of Andes Mints may contain gluten or are produced in facilities with gluten. Examples include:
- Andes Crème de Menthe Minis – contain barley malt
- Andes Holiday Mix – contains pretzels made with wheat
- Andes Chocolate Mints – may contain gluten from facility
As long as you stick to the traditional gluten-free Andes Mints rolls, they are a tasty, safe gluten-free treat. But check labels closely on other products and flavors.
Other Dietary Restrictions
In addition to being gluten-free, Andes Mints are also:
- Sugar-Free: Andes Mints are free of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, making them keto-friendly.
- Non-GMO: They are made without genetically modified ingredients.
- Kosher: Andes Mints are certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU). This makes them suitable for those following a Kosher diet.
They are high in sugar, so they should be enjoyed in moderation by diabetics or those limiting sugar intake.
Where to Buy Andes Mints
Thanks to their popularity, Andes Mints can be found at many major grocery stores, candy shops, warehouse clubs, and online retailers. Some places where you can find Andes Mints include:
- Candy Warehouse
- Dollar Tree
Andes Mints typically retail around $1-3 per pack depending on the size. They are available in the classic rolled thin mints, along with chocolate covered, holiday shapes, sugar free, and other variations.
How to Enjoy Andes Mints
Andes Mints make for the perfect after dinner treat or breath freshener. Here are some serving ideas:
- Place a bowl of Andes Mints out after a dinner party for guests to enjoy.
- Keep a pack at your desk to help fight afternoon cravings.
- Add them to dessert trays for events or gift baskets.
- Use them as cake decorations to add a pop of color.
- Place one on each plate or napkin as a restaurant-style finish.
- Hand out as party favors or stocking stuffers.
However you choose to enjoy them, you can do so without worry if gluten is your main dietary concern. Andes Mints are a classic candy now made accessible to gluten-free fans.
Homemade Gluten-Free Andes Mint Recipes
In addition to buying pre-made Andes Mints, you can also find various copycat recipes online for making gluten-free Andes Mints at home. This allows you to control the ingredients and customize to meet any dietary needs. Here are two highly rated recipes to try:
Easy Homemade Andes Mints
This simple microwave recipe from My Sequined Life only requires 4 ingredients:
- White chocolate chips
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Peppermint extract
- Candy melts for dipping
You just mix everything together in the microwave, chill until firm, and dip into melted chocolate. They come together quickly with minimal effort.
Andes Mint Thins Copycat Recipe
Love and Zest created a copycat recipe that mimics the thin rectangular shape of traditional Andes Mints. It requires:
- White chocolate
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Heavy cream
- Peppermint extract
- Green food coloring (optional)
You make the mint filling, pour into a lined pan to set, then cut into strips. It takes some effort but produces mints very similar to the originals.
For those needing to avoid gluten, it can be difficult to find store-bought candies and sweets that are safe to enjoy. Andes Mints stand out as a gluten-free certified classic. The nostalgic thin mints offer a cooling, refreshing burst of peppermint, now in a gluten-free formula.
Because they are produced in a facility free of gluten, Andes Mints provide peace of mind to those with celiac disease or sensitivity. Just be sure to double check labels on specialty flavors, which may differ in gluten-free status. Overall, the original Andes Mints are a tasty gluten-free dessert option.