Even if your child doesn't have a nut allergy, many classrooms and cafeterias have a nut-free policy, and it may even forbid nut-free products made in facilities or on equipment that may have come into contact with nuts. Once you learn to look for the little "this could be nut-contaminated" notice on food packages, you realize that it's everywhere. And so figuring out what to pack for lunch, or what to bring for parties or snack duty, can get frustrating fast.
There are more options out there these days than ever before, however, and there are plenty of delicious nut-free snacks. You don't have to go to the special allergy store on the edge of town to get them, either. You can find many of the following items on the shelves of your local market or Trader Joe's, or online.
A note when buying: Check packaging for "may contain" warnings before buying and eating, whether you buy in-person or online, just to make sure. Trader Joe's snacks, in particular, may be made at different manufacturers, and in some states, may not be nut-free though they are in others. We have only linked to products with labels we could check for warnings.
Some snacks come only in big packages; some schools require snacks to be brought in their original packaging only. Check with your school for their rules.
1. Trader Joe's Pita Chips with Cinnamon & Sugar
Sweet, crunchy, just the thing to dip into yogurt or cream cheese – Horizon is a nut-free brand often recommended by allergy families.
2. Smartfood White Cheddar Flavored Popcorn
This right here is what you need for those nut-free Halloween parties. All but one flavor of Smartfood's absolutely delicious popcorn snacks are nut-free (Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn Flavored is the one processed on non-nut-free equipment), so you can serve them with abandon. Kids love popcorn. This stuff tastes delicious. And this even comes packaged in individual bags, so it works for schools that insist on original packaging.
3. Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers
If your child likes salsa, you'll find many brands are nut-free; hummus is another great dipping choice: as of press time, Tribe, Athenos, Sabra, and Holy Land hummus were all nut-free – unless you choose a pine-nut flavor, of course (don't do that). This one is weirdly expensive online, so unless you're just desperate for a corn chip option, might want to buy these at your local Trader Joe's instead.
Yes, the crackers you grew up with are nut-free, and make great little rafts for whatever nut-free item you're dressing them up with: cheese? Sunflower butter? Cream cheese and jelly?
5. Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter
It smells like peanut butter, it spreads like peanut butter, it even pretty much tastes like peanut butter. But it's nut-free. It's also expensive online, but we couldn't leave it off the list.
6. Kashi Soft Baked Cereal Bars
They're delicious, kids love them, and they make a great and substantial lunch side dish or field-trip snack. Kashi's Soft Baked Cereal Bars are come in two nut-free flavors: blackberry graham and strawberry.
7. Annie's Bunnies
Packaged in one-ounce bags that will please schools that prefer individual packaging, all of the flavors in this variety pack – honey graham, cheddar, chocolate chip, and chocolate – are all nut-free, and will delight children at parties or snacktime.
8. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers
There's controversy over whether the sweet graham varieties of Goldfish are truly nut-free, but the classic cheddar Goldfish are a nut-free fave, so buy and serve with abandon. All of the flavors in this variety pack of bag – Cheddar, Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar, and Colors – are nut-free, so here's a great option to bring for the whole class.
9. Pirate's Booty Aged White Cheddar
The baked rice and corn snack is popular with adults and children alike. Tuck a nut-free pouch in your child's lunch, or bring them to the school picnic.
10. Trader Joe's Cheddar Rocket Crackers
They're super-good, kids love 'em, and no nuts about them. Why are they so expensive online? Dunno! Buy them at the store instead, or give them a try once and then have your relatives from a Trader Joe's town bring you boxes.
11. Utz Cheese Balls
Okay, okay, they're not the healthiest snack, but they're yummy and make kids smile, so they may be an occasional indulgence you can deal with. If you're buying for an occasion where individual bags are called for, Utz makes festive bags of mini cheese balls for Halloween. But this big barrel is good for lunches and big-bowls-of-snacks. Utz (a brand Mad Men fans may remember from a show subplot) makes many other nut-free snacks, too, like cheese curls, corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips.
12. Herr's Bite-Size Sourdough Pretzels
The pretzel section of the snack aisle is a great place to look for nut-free options – you can also find pretzels from Rold Gold, Bachman, Pepperidge Farm, Herr's, and Utz that are nut-free. Kids like eating them as is, or using them as dippers, particularly when they're as hard and hearty as these sourdough beauties.
13. The Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter Chocolate
It's so expensive to buy online, so if you can find it in a local market, do it – some say they've spotted it at Target, Walmart, and World Market. But if you can't, you may be willing to pay the price when you need a nut-free alternative that many claim tastes very similar to Nutella.
14. Baked Lay's Chips
There are so many varieties of Lay's chips that are nut-free: Classic, Barbecue, Sour Cream & Onion, Lightly Salted, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Wavy Original, Salt & Vinegar, Garden Tomato & Basil, Honey Mustard, Honey Barbecue. Many Kettle varieties are also options: Original, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Reduced Fat, Jalapeño. But parents who want a lower-variety option may prefer these baked chips, all of which are nut-free: Original and Barbecue Lay's, Baked Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles, Baked Cheetohs.
15. The Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter, Grab and Go
You can find peanut-butter alternatives on the shelves of even mainstream grocery stores these days. What's harder to find: nut-free butter packaged conveniently like this, so very easy to take on road trips or slip into a lunch box in a second.
16. Skinny Pop Popcorn
The Original, Dusted Dark Chocolate, Jalapeño, Naturally Sweet, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and White Cheddar flavors of Skinny Pop are all nut-free. But only the White Cheddar and Original flavors come in small bags, so if you want individual servings, you're limited. If you can pack snacks in reusable bags, you should know that the Dusted Dark Chocolate has a cult following but it's hard to find – even online.
17. Teddy Grahams
Honey, Chocolate, Chocolatey Chip, Mini, and Cinnamon Teddy Grahams are all okay, as are Honey Maid Graham Crackers in Cinnamon, Low-Fat Cinnamon, Honey, Low-Fat Honey, and Chocolate. If your child can take snacks from a larger bag to school, any of these varieties will work. But if you need an individually packaged snack, you can find snack-size bags of Cinnamon and other kinds.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program which allows us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.