Among the biggest misconceptions of a gluten-free diet is that it is restrictive. And it is just as well that notion is a fallacy because an estimated 8.5 million people in the UK avoid gluten.
Eating a strict gluten-free diet for life is the only treatment for coeliac disease, which is not a food allergy or intolerance, but an autoimmune disease that affects at least one in 100 people in the UK and Europe.
Avoiding gluten – a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley – is vitally important because eating it can lead to damage of the gut lining, nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, a rare type of cancer of the small bowel and infertility problems.
Beyond those living with coeliac disease, people with a wheat allergy and others with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity follow a gluten-free diet.
The good news is that snacking is very much taken care of with the abundance of gluten-free options available. Satisfy sweet cravings with cake and snack bars, or reach for some nutty nibbles or crisps if you have the appetite for a savoury morsel.
We scoured the market for the tastiest gluten-free titbits that required no preparation, were easily accessible wherever you’re based and could be quickly grabbed to satisfy anyone hankering for a snack.
Grazing our way through the pickings, we identified several factors that were key to making our selections for this round-up, including nutritiousness, environmental impact, the use of naturally gluten-free ingredients and, most importantly, flavour profile because avoiding gluten should never mean missing out on delicious food.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Chika’s plantain crisps
Chika’s is founded on a mission to share iyanu – a native Nigerian word for “amazing” – goodness. And the brand’s plantain crisps are brimming with it. Thinly sliced plantain is shallow fried by hand before only a few natural ingredients are added to create each flavour, tantalising chilli and lightly salted. Both perfectly balance sweet and savoury for a crunchy, well-rounded snack and the crisps are naturally gluten-free and plant-based. Eating these crisps also does good because 1p of every packet is donated to causes helping empower girls in Africa through education. Chika’s aims to give 38,000 girls access to education by 2025 and build schools for children across the continent in the next decade. Chika’s also has a range of gluten-free corn- and nut-based snacks and rice crisps. £8.34 for six 35g bags.
Buy now £8.34, Amazon
We marvelled at these crunchy popped cheese snacks. That they are pure cubes of cheese – no other added ingredients – that have been dried and baked is quite frankly amazing. They take cheese to another level, transforming the much-loved dairy product into delicious bites that are perfect for gluten-free children and adults (particularly if paired with a glass of red) alike. Cheesies are carb and sugar-free, high in protein and vegetarian, and they are available in cheddar, emmental, gouda, goat’s cheese and red leicester varieties. £9.99 for eight 20g bags in a variety pack.
Buy now £9.99, Cheesies
We Love Cake slices
Afternoon tea and cake is very much on the menu for people with coeliac disease thanks to products like these slices, which are made in a dedicated free-from bakery. We tried both flavours, the British classics of rip-roaring raspberry ripple and totally toffee sticky toffee, and found them to be deliciously sweet, moist and indulgent. We like that each box contains two wrapped twin packs of cake slices, so there is no risk of them drying out if you don’t manage to scoff the lot in one go. And as well as being gluten-free, they are vegetarian and wheat- and milk-free, making them ideal for people with other allergies and intolerances. £1.80 for a four-slice pack.
Buy now £1.80, Morrisons
Karma Bites popped lotus seeds
Popped lotus seeds make for a uniquely tasty snack. With a texture akin to popcorn, Karma Bites are light and nutty with a satisfying crunch. The lotus seeds carry flavour well and we love that there are both sweet and savoury varieties, including peri-peri, wasabi, coconut and vanilla (our favourite), Himalayan pink salt and caramel, depending on what you fancy. These snacks are also pretty healthy because they are low in cholesterol, fat and sodium, high in magnesium and contain anti-ageing enzymes. They are vegan, non-GMO, and chemical, refined sugar and palm oil-free too. £1.29 for a 25g bag.
Buy now £1.29, Ocado
Growers Garden broccoli chips
Now, this is a sneaky snack to get gluten-free, veg-dodging children (and adults) eating more greens. They are thin and crispy bitesize chips that contain at least 28 per cent fresh broccoli, making them a good source of fibre without any hint of vegetable involvement. Flavours include original, sour cream and chive, chilli, and cheese, which was our favourite because there is nothing like broccoli cheese. Broccoli chips are also free from artificial colours and preservatives and vegan-friendly. £1.12 for a 22g bag.
Buy now £1.12, TheVeganKind Supermarket
Abakus Foods seaweed crisps
Regular crisps are crunchy, but these are next level crunchy. They are made with seaweed harvested from South Korean shores that is coated with a thin layer of tapioca for a seriously crispy bite. They are light, vegan-friendly and healthy as a source of fibre and iodine, while having around 100 calories a bag. The seaweed crisps come in sea salted, salt and vinegar and cheese flavours. 99p for a 18g bag.
Buy now £0.99, Holland & Barrett
Pep & Lekker seed snacks
Finding great-tasting crackers that are healthy and gluten-free is considered a big win among our gluten-avoiding testers. These seed snacks from Pep & Lekker are mini baked squares made with 14 natural allergy-free ingredients, including rice flour and protein, buckwheat flakes, five varieties of seeds, apple puree and chicory root fibre – which is good for gut health. They come in rosemary and hemp, fennel and chia, cumin and linseed, cacao and coconut, and apple and cinnamon flavours and all are brilliantly crunchy and satisfying. We enjoyed the savoury flavours with houmous and cream cheese, and love that they come in fully compostable pouches. £10 for a mixed box of five pouches.
Buy now £10.00, Melted Inside
Perkier immune booster super bars
We should, of course, be eating a balanced diet to get all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need, but that doesn’t always go to plan and so a little help is sometimes useful. That help is especially welcome when it comes in the form of a yummy, sweet snack bar that contains 100 per cent of your recommended daily amount of vitamins D, C and B12. Each of the varieties – nutty toffee with dark chocolate and salted caramel with dark chocolate – of these plant-based bars is pleasingly sticky and indulgent, and packed with nuts and flavour to keep you full until the suppertime. £2 for three 35g bars.
Buy now £2.00, Morrisons
Creative Nature Gnawbles
Gnawbles feel like a naughty treat, but they contain about 40 per cent less sugar than similar chocolate-coated crispy snacks on the market. The delightful little balls of sweetness come in four flavours: brilliant orange cacao, super salted caramel, creamy milk chocolate and cheeky choc hazelnut, and each is free from the top 14 allergens such as nuts, dairy and wheat. They are also vegan, palm oil-free, come in fully recyclable packaging, and are a fantastic after-dinner or in-front-of-Netflix sweet treat. £6.40 for a mixed taster pack.
Buy now £6.40, Creative Nature
Boundless activated nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a healthy snack in general, but those from Boundless are extra good because they are activated using a centuries-old process to boost the bioavailability of nutrients. What this means is that they are flooded with saltwater to begin the germination process and then soaked to remove phytic acid – a substance found naturally in nuts and seeds that binds to minerals, such as iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and manganese, and can reduce their absorption rate. Finally, they are baked with herbs and spices to give them a wonderful crunch and bags of flavour. They are high in protein and fibre, suitable for vegans, and come in a range of delicious flavours, including turmeric and smoked paprika, cayenne and rosemary, tamari and aleppo, and orange, ginger and maple. £12 for a mixed case of 12 x 30g bags.
Buy now £12.00, Boundless
5th Season freeze-dried fabulous fruit salad
Reaching for fruit is always great snacking, but if you’re bored of the fresh stuff, this mix of freeze-dried titbits is a fantastic alternative with more than 90 per cent of the nutrients retained. Inside the pouch we find strawberry, banana and apple, and the flavours taste almost intensified by the freeze-drying process with no added sugar. Each portion pack is only 38 calories and one of your five-a-day. Besides the fruit salad variety, 5th Season also offers freeze-dried pineapple and whole strawberries. £8.10 for six bags.
Buy now £8.10, Melted Inside
Clearspring organic seaveg crispies
These crispy seaweed thins pack a lot of flavour into a small bag and are just the thing when craving a salty snack. Made from only natural ingredients, including nori grown off the coast of Korea, seasonings and spices and sunflower oil, that are toasted for a few seconds to bring a real depth of flavour. The range includes original, black pepper, turmeric, ginger and chilli options. As well as being gluten-free, they are high in fibre, MSG-free, vegan, contain no additives, preservatives or GMOs and are super low in calories. Beyond the seaveg crispies, Clearspring has a huge range of gluten-free snacks, including Japanese rice crackers, rice and corn cakes, crispbreads and roasted nuts and seeds. £2.49 for three packs.
Buy now £2.49, Clearspring
The problem with snacking on olives is that once the jar is open, it’s not always easy to know when to stop and the freshness quickly begins to fade. But Olly’s Olives removes those worries by bringing us perfectly portioned snack pouches of pitted Greek olives in delectable flavours. There are basil and garlic, lemon and thyme, and – our favourite – chilli and rosemary, with all of them containing only natural ingredients. They make for a flavoursome and filling deli-style snack when you’re in the mood for something salty, and each pack contains up to only 75 calories. £15.50 for 12 pouches.
Buy now £15.50, Olly’s
Properchips lentil chips
The brand that brought us Propercorn also has a range of lentil chips that are super crunchy and big on flavour. These triangles of deliciousness are available in smoky barbecue, classic sea salt, fiery sweet sriracha chilli, tangy sour cream and chive, and one of the best, punchiest salt and vinegar flavours we’ve ever tasted. Properchips are excellent when eaten as they come, but their shape also means they are very dippable, so it makes sense to also pair them with your favourite houmous, salsa or guacamole. £7 for a mixed case of eight 20g packs.
Buy now £7.00, Proper
Creative Nature protein crunch bars
These scrummy sweet snack bars are both chewy and crunchy for a texture sensation. They come in spiced apple, orange cacao and salted caramel flavours, and each bar contains at least 7g of protein. We also found them rather satisfying as they kept us full for quite some time after snacking. Besides being gluten-free, they are also dairy, wheat and nut-free, and are suitable for vegans. £21 for a variety box of five bars of each flavour.
Buy now £21.00, Creative Nature
The verdict: Gluten-free snacks
Chika’s iyanu plantain crisps stood out as our favourite gluten-free snack because they are ever so crunchy, contain only natural ingredients and have a beautiful flavour. Our best sweet gluten-free snack has to be the We Love Cake slices, which were easily as good as homemade treats.