Are Milk Duds Gluten Free? (You’d Be Surprised!)

Are Milk Duds Gluten Free

Milk Duds, a candy combining milk chocolate and caramel, is a very popular candy product from the Hershey’s Company. These are fun little balls of caramel, covered in a chocolate coating, and combine the smoothness of the chocolate with the chewiness of the caramel. Those who need to stick to a gluten-free diet may wonder if this food is okay for them to enjoy. 

Milk Duds are a gluten-free candy. They do not contain any ingredients which contain gluten, such as rye or barley. However, Milk Duds contain highly processed ingredients such as corn syrup and refined sugar. The best healthier and gluten-free alternatives to Milk Duds include Lily’s Sweet Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate and Cocomels Chocolate Caramel Bites. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Milk Duds, how they’re made, and some facts about the candy. We’ll also dive into why they are not a healthy food, and offer some alternative brands you can try out to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. Let’s get started!

How Milk Duds are made

The caramel mixture is created first, in batches of around 30,000 pounds each. This batch mixture then sits for an hour or so and then is transported into six different kettles for cooking. After cooking, water is used to cool off the caramel mixture, and then the mixture is brought to room temperature by having cold air blown on it. It only takes about 1 minute to bring it to room temperature! Finally, the caramel is molded into the not-so-round “dud” shape and them topped with chocolate coating. To make this amount of candy only takes about 4 hours!

Are Milk Duds Unhealthy?

There are many ingredients used in the production of Milk Duds which make them an unhealthy treat. Let’s take a look at some of them: 

Fructose in corn syrup causes issues. This fructose has to be converted into glucose in your body before it can be used as energy. Glucose is the basic form of carbs and is used by every cell in your body. The process your body has to go through for this conversion is what can lead to fatty liver disease, an increased risk of obesity, and a high risk for developing diabetes. 

The sugar in the Milk Duds candy is processed and refined. This type of sugar is also linked to an increased risk for obesity and diabetes, as well as heart disease.

The palm oil which is manufactured for use in food processing is hydrogenated. This means that the structure of the oil has been chemically altered, and this makes the oil have more trans fats. Trans fats are inflammatory for your body and can raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good, which are contributing factors to developing heart disease. 

In addition to these ingredients, Milk Duds are full of sugar and saturated fats. A serving size is just 36 grams, but in this small serving is 18% of the recommended daily allowance for fat intake. For parents who want to protect their children’s teeth, Milk Duds are one of the worst candies to eat, as the chewy caramel is horrible to remove from in between the teeth. 

Do Milk Duds contain any allergens?

Although we have confirmed that Milk Duds are a gluten-free candy option, how do these chocolate-caramel morsels stack up as it relates to other commonly known allergens?

It’s safe to say, by their name alone, that you should steer clear of Milk Duds if you have a dairy allergy, but soy is also found within these candies, so those allergic to soy should also think twice about consuming this candy.

If you are also one who follows a vegan-centric diet, Milk Duds are not a sweet treat for you to consider beneficial to your lifestyle, because of the dairy and chocolate components, ingredients being derived from animals.

Milk Duds Nutritional Information


  • Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil (Cocoa Butter, Palm, Shea, Sunflower And/Or Safflower Oil)
  • Dextrose
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Reduced Protein Whey (Milk)
  • Chocolate
  • Contains 2% Or Less Of:
    • Brown Sugar
    • Whey (Milk)
    • Mono And Diglycerides
    • Sodium Bicarbonate
    • Milk Fat
    • Salt
    • Resinous Glaze
    • Soy Lecithin
    • Tapioca Dextrin
    • Vanillin
    • Artificial Flavor

Nutrition Facts (for 36 gram serving): 

  • 160 – Calories
  • 6 g – Total Fat
  • 3.5 g – Saturated Fat
  • 0 g – Trans Fat
  • 0 mg – Cholesterol
  • 95 mg – Sodium
  • 26 g – Total Carbohydrate
  • 0 g – Dietary Fiber
  • 19 g – Sugars
  • 1 g – Protein

Alternative brands of caramel and chocolate candy

There are some healthier alternative candies to Milk Duds. While all candy should be eaten in moderation, these brands do offer some better quality ingredients, and meet allergen-free guidelines. 

Lily’s Sweets Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate

Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Style Bar by Lily's | Stevia Sweetened, No Added Sugar, Low-Carb, Keto Friendly | 40% Cocoa | Fair Trade, Gluten-Free & Non-GMO | 2.8 ounce, 12-Pack Free from GMO milk ingredients, and gluten-free, the Lily’s Sweets brand of caramel milk chocolate is both sweet and salty. 


  • Unsweetened Chocolate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Erythritol
  • Chicory Root Fiber
  • Dextrin
  • Whole Milk Powder (rBST Free)
  • Milk Fat (rBST Free)
  • Natural Flavor
  • Sea Salt
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Stevia Extract
  • Vanilla Extract

Nutrition Facts (for 30 gram serving): 

  • 130 – Calories
  • 11 g – Total Fat
  • 6 g – Saturated Fat
  • 0 g – Trans Fat
  • 5 mg – Cholesterol
  • 75 mg – Sodium
  • 17 g – Total Carbohydrate
  • 10 g – Dietary Fiber
  • <1 g – Total Sugars
  • 5 g – Erythritol
  • 2 g – Protein

Cocomels Chocolate Vanilla Caramel Bites

Cocomels Chocolate Vanilla Caramel Bites, Organic Candy, Dairy Free, Vegan, Gluten Free, Non-GMO, No High Fuctose Corn Syrup, Kosher, Plant Bases, (3 Pack) Cocomels brand of chocolate and caramel candy is organic, dairy and gluten-free, contains no high fructose corn syrup, and is vegan and kosher. 


  • Chocolate Liquor
  • Cane Sugar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Coconut Milk
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Cane Sugar
  • Sea Salt
  • Madagascar Vanilla Extract

Nutrition Facts (for 5 pieces / 20 gram serving): 

  • 90 – Calories
  • 4.5 g – Total Fat
  • 3 g – Saturated Fat
  • 0 g – Trans Fat
  • 0 mg – Cholesterol
  • 20 mg – Sodium
  • 11 g – Total Carbohydrate
  • <1 g – Dietary Fiber
  • 7 g – Total Sugars – Includes 7 grams added sugars
  • <1 g – Protein

Freakin’ Wholesome Chocolate Covered Caramel Almond Bites

Freakin' Wholesome Freakin’ Wholesome Chocolate Covered Bites, Vegan and Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Snacks, Low Carb Snack, Caramel Almond Bites, Pack of 3 x 2.82 Ounces Made with real, clean ingredients, the Freakin’ Wholesome chocolate bites are gluten and dairy-free, and contain no palm oil or GMO ingredients. 


  • Almonds
  • Cocoa Mass
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Organic Coconut Sugar
  • Dates
  • Hazelnuts
  • Coconut Nectar
  • Pea Protein
  • Vanilla Flavor
  • Natural Cocoa Powder
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Natural Vanilla Bean Powder

Nutrition Facts (for 1 piece / 20 gram serving): 

  • 110 – Calories
  • 6 g – Total Fat
  • 2.8 g – Saturated Fat
  • 0 g – Trans Fat
  • 5 mg – Cholesterol
  • 10 mg – Sodium
  • 11 g – Total Carbohydrate
  • 0 g – Dietary Fiber
  • 4 g – Total Sugars – Includes 4 grams added sugars
  • 3 g – Protein

UNREAL Dark Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bars

Unreal Bar Dark Chocolate Peanut Caramel Nougat Multi, Caramel Peanut Nougat, 3.4 Ounce (Pack of 3), 10.2 Ounce Using fair-trade certified chocolate, organic peanuts and pea protein, and containing no soy ingredients, corn syrup, or sugar alcohols, the UnReal chocolate caramel bar is “nothing to snicker at!” The bar contains 40% less sugar than leading brands of chocolate caramel candy. 


  • Organic Cassava Syrup
  • Cocoa Beans
  • Cane Sugar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Vanilla Beans
  • Organic Peanuts
  • Organic Cane Sugar
  • Organic Palm Oil
  • Almonds
  • Organic Pea Protein
  • Organic Powdered Sugar
  • Less than 0.5%:
    • Cashews
    • Vanilla Extract
    • Sea Salt
    • Organic Grass-Fed Whey Protein
    • Organic Spelt Flour

Nutrition Facts (for 1 bar / 34 gram serving): 

  • 160 – Calories
  • 8 g – Total Fat
  • 3 g – Saturated Fat
  • 0 g – Trans Fat
  • 0 mg – Cholesterol
  • 65 mg – Sodium
  • 19 g – Total Carbohydrate
  • 2 g – Dietary Fiber
  • 11 g – Total Sugars – Includes 11 grams added sugars
  • 3 g – Protein

Final Thoughts

Milk Duds are a popular chocolate and caramel candy treat. They are gluten-free, so safe for a person with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to consume. However, the ingredients used to make the Milk Duds candy are not good for you. Consider trying one of the alternative brands mentioned in this article, and you’ll feel better about satisfying your sweet cravings!

Related Questions

Are Milk Duds vegan?

Milk Duds are not vegan, as they contain a dairy product, in the form of non-fat whey. Confectioner’s glaze is also used for the chocolate coating, and this is also a non-vegan product. 

Do Milk Duds contain gelatin?

Milk Duds do not contain straight gelatin. However, the confectioner’s glaze used in the chocolate coating is not vegan-friendly, as it can be derived from shellac, which is made from the crushing of insect shells. 

Are Milk Duds peanut free?

Milk Duds do not contain peanuts, unlike many of the Hershey’s milk chocolate products. They are completely nut-free, so they should not cause any issues for those with nut allergies.

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Leslie Cole

Leslie C. has always been very conscientious about her health and what goes into her body. She takes pride in her physique and commits to exercising multiple times a week to keep her mind and body strong. Nutrition and intentional health choices are not only interests to Leslie, but concentrated ways of life. Leslie is a market and creator, and she also co-owns custom clothing and homemade décor online stores with her husband, which also bring out her creative side in her spare time. Leslie is mom to a husky named Lily and a kitty named Lina, and she lives in Lansing, MI.

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