Gluten-Free Meat

Now that you are on a gluten-free diet, you may be wondering about gluten-free meat.  Is there anything you should be watching out for or is all meat naturally gluten-free?  Meat after all is still a significant part of many of our diets, and can be an important source of protein.

Uncooked T-bone steak on plate with herbs.

You can jump right to the recipe section, or read through for important info about buying and cooking gluten-free meat. 

Is Meat Gluten-Free?

All whole fresh cuts of meat, fish and poultry are naturally gluten-free.

What to Watch For

4 uncooked sausages

You need to be careful of meats that have other ingredients added. For example, sausages and ready made hamburger patties often have bread crumbs added as a filler.

Pre-marinated or pre-seasoned meats that you see in the butcher’s display case may not be gluten-free so be sure to ask. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce are common ingredients in marinades so watch for those specifically.

Gluten-Free Lunch Meat

Deli-meats often have gluten ingredients added, so be sure to check the label. Several brands carry a gluten free label which is really helpful. If you are in Canada, Australia or UK, gluten sources must be called out on the label so you don’t need to look for a gluten-free claim.

pillar's gluten free kolbassa
butterball turkey pepperoni
maple leaf natural selections ham

A few North American lunch meat brands that offer gluten-free meat choices are:

  • Grimm’s
  • President’s Choice
  • Butterball
  • Applegate
  • Piller’s
  • Boar’s Head.

This doesn’t mean all of their products are gluten free so be sure to check labels.

Gluten-Free Lunches:  Here are 50 gluten-free lunch ideas that (mostly) don't need a recipe.  You're covered whether you're eating at home, packing your lunch for work or looking for kid friendly gluten-free options. 

Is Grain Fed Meat Gluten-Free?

Yes! You don’t need to worry about what the animal was fed when it comes to gluten-free meat. Gluten does not pass through the digestive system to the meat.1

free range chickenFree Range Chicken

You may wish to choose grass feed beef or free-range chickens for other reasons, and I fully support that. But if you choose not to or if it’s just not in the budget, no need to worry about gluten.

Some people do report having gluten-like reactions to grain fed meat, so what does this mean? Although more studies are needed, there is some evidence that feeding grain to animals that were meant to graze on grass or forage in their natural environments may cause the meat to be higher in omega 6 fatty acids which can be inflammatory.2  Although this is not a conclusive explanation it is one possibility.

Is Farmed Fish Gluten-Free?

grilled salmon plated with lemon slicesGrilled Salmon

Yes, for the same reason that you don’t have to worry about grain fed meats, you don’t have to worry about what the fish or seafood is fed when it comes to gluten. I support choosing responsibly caught fish and seafood, but again, when it comes to gluten, no worries.

Cooking Gluten Free Meat, Fish and Poultry

This is a brief overview of gluten-free meat cooking methods.  For everything you need to know about gluten-free meat cooking go here.  Imagine being able to cook any piece of meat to tender mouth watering perfection, even without a recipe!

Methods for cooking meat, including gluten-free meat can be broken down into two categories, moist heat methods or dry heat methods.

Moist Heat Cooking

Think of stews, pot roasts or meaty soups. Moist heat cooking is great for tougher cuts of meat because the long, slow simmering breaks down the connective tissues and tenderizes the meat. Those connective tissues contain a lot of collagen which adds amazing depth of flavor and beautiful silky texture to you meat dish and the accompanying sauce.

uncooked pork cottage roll in pot with herbs and aromatic vegetables.Pork Cottage Roll

This pork cottage roll is simmered in water with herbs and aromatic vegetables for an hour and a half for a tender, hearty and flavorful meal. 

Poaching is a method of moist heat cooking in a small amount of liquid. You might poach fish in milk or poach chicken in water or chicken stock.

Liquids for moist heat cooking include: water, stocks or broths, wine, juices or milk.

In moist heat cooking the meat does not brown and is typically cooked all the way through. You would not do a pot roast to medium rare for example.

Dry Heat Cooking

Dry heat cooking is cooking without liquid. Surprisingly, frying in oil is a form of dry heat cooking. This method is used for more tender cuts of meat and it done quickly. Meats cooked using a dry heat method can be cooked to rare, medium or well done depending on preference.

Types of dry heat cooking include:

roasted cornish hensRoast Cornish Hens
  • Roasting – Cooking in an oven, uncovered with no liquid
  • Baking – This is the same as roasting although you may see the term “baked” in recipes for fish or chicken breasts.
  • Broiling – cooking on or under a direct heat source one side at a time
  • Grilling – Grilling and broiling are often use interchangeably. Grilling is often done outdoors on a barbecue or on an indoor grill.
  • Pan Frying – frying your meat in a pan with or without the addition of oil. This method is often used for fish or thinner cuts of meat. Pan frying is best done in small batches because if you over load your pan you'll cool it down and that will draw the moisture out of your meat. You'll end up boiling it and it won't brown.
  • Stir Frying – similar to pan frying but the meat and vegies are cut into bit sized pieces and stirred constantly through the hot oil. Similar to pan frying, don't overload your pan.

Braising – Combination Moist and Dry Heat Cooking

braised potroastBraised Pot Roast

This is my favorite method of cooking meat. Remember above under moist heat when we talked about stews and pot roasts? Most stews and pot roast are actually braises because the meat is browned first in oil and then the liquid is added for a long slow simmer.

Gluten-Free Meat in Restaurants

When dining out, there is a certain amount of planning necessary to ensure you get a safe, gluten-free restaurant meal.  It's usually easy to get gluten-free meat in a restaurant as meats are naturally gluten-free.  Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid anything breaded or battered unless it's specifically advertised as gluten-free.
  • Avoid anything deep fried unless you've confirmed there is a dedicated fryer for gluten free items.
  • Confirm that any spices or seasonings are gluten-free or ask that your gluten-free meat is prepared with simple seasonings like salt and pepper.
  • For any braises or stews, confirm that all the ingredients are gluten-free.
  • Ask about allergy protocols to protect against cross contamination.

Here are more tips to ensure that your restaurant meal is safe.

Gluten-Free Dining:  This is the most comprehensive guide to gluten-free restaurant dining on the internet.  I know, I've looked!

Gluten-Free Restaurant Meals: Fancy plate of chicken over risotto with green beans and herbs.  Dots of red sauce at bottom left.

Gluten-Free Meat Recipes

Here is a collection of Gluten-Free Recipes featuring meat, fish and poultry. These are recipes I make for my family on a regular basis, I think you will like them and they will find their way into your regular rotation.

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Gluten-Free Fruits and Vegetables: An apple a day may just keep the doctor away.  And the best part is, they're naturally gluten-free.  Plants are the foundational gluten-free food.  Click here to find out what to look for.

Gluten-Free Fruits and Vegetables: assortment of fresh vegetables.

Easy Gluten-Free Meal Ideas:  Try even a couple of these 10 tips to make gluten-free mealtime easy, and leave kitchen drudgery behind forever! 

easy gluten-free meal ideas.  roast beef sandwich on a gluten free bun topped with feta cheese and a green side salad.

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