Is Baileys Irish Cream Gluten-Free?

Also, how many calories does Baileys contain?

irish coffee
Is Baileys gluten-free?. Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

Baileys takes a cautious approach when it comes to gluten:

"The ingredients used in Baileys are Gluten free. On the basis of this and to the best of our knowledge there are no traces of Gluten in Baileys. As we are not qualified to give medical advice persons requiring a Gluten free diet should consult their medical adviser before consuming Baileys," the company says in a statement.

Irish whiskey—the alcoholic ingredient in Baileys Irish Cream—normally is made from three ingredients: water, corn and barley.

Barley, of course, is one of the three gluten grains

Now, many (but not all) authorities on the gluten-free diet say that distilled alcohol sourced from the gluten grains wheat, barley and rye will be gluten-free, since the distillation process removes the gluten protein. (Some of us nonetheless have reactions to alcoholic beverages made from gluten grains — for more details, see my article Is Alcohol Gluten-Free?)

Calories and Nutritional Information for Baileys

Baileys Irish Cream Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Serving (100 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 327 
Calories from Fat 117 
Total Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 8g40%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 0mg0%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 20g 
Protein 3g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 0%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

You probably won't be surprised to learn that Baileys Irish Cream is fairly high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, given that it's made from cream and alcohol.

A 1.3 ounce serving of Baileys (about what you'd get from the average shot glass) contains 327 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 25 grams of carbohydrates (20 grams of which is sugar)

So Should I Drink Baileys or Not?

If you're someone with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity who does tolerate alcohol made from gluten grains, can you drink Baileys?

It looks like the answer is yes. That being said, however, the company keeps the details on the rest of the ingredients it uses to make Bailey's Irish Cream under close wraps, which makes it difficult for you to judge the risk.

Anecdotally, Baileys is a mixed bag—some people report that it's fine, but others say they have had reactions to it. It's not at all clear whether those reactions were due to the distilled gluten-based alcohol, or to something else. Based on all this, you'll need to use your own judgement on whether to consume Baileys Irish Cream when you're following the gluten-free diet.

Potential Gluten-Free Substitutes for Bailey's

Bailey's offers another product which actually carries a "gluten-free" label: Baileys Almande Almond Milk Liqueur. It's not clear whether Baileys Almande contains alcohol distilled from gluten grains or not (again, Baileys doesn't disclose the ingredients, beyond saying it's "gluten-free" and "contains no dairy"). However, it almost certainly does not contain gluten grain-based alcohol, because U.S. law prohibits labeling any product "gluten-free" that contains wheat, barley or rye ingredients.

So Baileys Almande may work for you as a substitute for original Baileys.

There's also a Baileys alternative that might work for you if you find you have problems with original Baileys but can handle distilled gluten grains: Carolans Irish Cream. In its Frequently Asked Questions, Carolans reports that it's gluten-free.

Note that the whiskey in Carolans is still made from distilled gluten grains (as I said above, Irish whiskey most commonly is made from barley). However, if you don't react to distilled gluten-grain-based alcohol, you should be fine, since Carolans has verified the rest of its Irish Cream ingredients to be gluten-free.

More Options If You Can't Have Baileys

Another potential substitute for Irish cream is rum cream liqueur—it doesn't have quite the same taste, but you can use it in the same way to spice up coffee drinks and to make martinis and other cocktails.

Two manufacturers—RumChata and Sangster's—make commercial rum creams (Cruzan discontinued its version).

RumChata publishes this statement about its product: "No ingredients containing gluten are used in the manufacture of RumChata. However, certain ingredients in RumChata are processed on equipment that may come into contact or may have been used to process ingredients containing gluten."

I wasn't able to verify if Sangster's (made in the West Indies) is considered gluten-free or not. 

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