Gluten Free Sauces

gluten-free sauces: grilled salmon with aioli sauce.

This page is about buying gluten-free sauces.  If you'd like to learn about homemade gluten-free sauces go here.

You know that I encourage you to cook from scratch where it’s possible and practical, but you also know that I’m all about balance.  Life gets busy and you’ll want to keep a few bottles of store-bought gluten free sauces in your pantry to dress up your meals.  Condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, or dipping sauces like sweet chili or honey garlic and spicy hot sauces can all be part of your gluten-free pantry.    

Here is your complete guide to which sauces are naturally gluten-free and which ones you need to be careful of.

Gluten-Free Sauces - What You Need To Know

Gluten-Free Labels

Things may be different depending on where you live.  I live in Canada and I’ll do my best to give you guidance if you live elsewhere.  It’s very important to understand labelling guidelines for your country so you can be confident that the sauces you buy are really gluten free.

If you live in Canada you can trust labels. 

Go here for health Canada's guidance on gluten free labelling and here for a comprehensive guide from the Canadian Celiac Association.
If you live in the US,  here are the USDA guidelines

If you live in a country with less strict guidelines then you'll want to look up every brand or even call the manufacturer.

Ingredients To Watch For

In addition to wheat, rye, barley and oats, some sauces contain barley malt or malt vinegar made from barley.  Some sauces have other sauces as ingredients.  For instance, barbecue sauce may have Worcestershire or teriyaki sauce may have soy sauce in it.  Both often contain gluten. 

back of gravy package with with the ingredient wheat flour circled in red.

Cross Contamination

Bottles from which you pour or squeeze the sauce directly onto your food are the best defense against cross contamination at home.  It won’t do you much good to buy gluten free sauces only to have a family member leave their breadcrumbs in the jar.  Squeeze bottles are safer and will save you a lot of anxiety.   

What To Buy and What Not To Buy

Gluten-Free Condiments

Many of the most common sauces that you’ll spread on a sandwich, squirt on a hamburger or slather over your fries are naturally gluten free.

Ketchup

The basic ingredients in ketchup are tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, spices.   The major brands of ketchup which are: Heinz, French’s, Hunts and Del Monte are all gluten free.  Of course, the rule still applies, if a product has a label then read it to make sure, but ketchup is low risk.

What to watch for: Gourmet or flavored ketchups may stray from the basic recipe so be extra careful.  Watch for malt vinegar.

Yes, Heinz ketchup is gluten-free.  It contains, tomato concentrate, vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavoring.  None of these ingredients contain gluten.

squeeze bottle of Heinz ketchup

Mustard

Maille whole grain mustard in jar and squeeze bottle front and back, highlighting wheat as an ingredient in the squeeze bottle but not the jar.

There are more varieties of mustard and recipes vary around the world so really watch your labels.  Most mustards I’ve found in Canada are gluten-free with a couple of exceptions.  English mustards often contain wheat flour. 

Classic prepared mustard is naturally gluten free.  That’s the bright yellow stuff you squirt on your hotdog.  The standard ingredients are vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt and turmeric, likely with some additional spices added.  Heinz, French’s and Kraft are all gluten free.

Dijon mustard is naturally gluten free.  It originates in France and is softer in color than the bright yellow of prepared mustard.  The main difference in the ingredients list is the turmeric is left out and white wine is sometimes added..  The major brands like Maille, French’s, Grey Poupon  and in Canada, President’s Choice are all gluten-free. 

Grainy mustard or whole grain mustard:  Grainy mustard is similar to Dijon mustard except that the mustard grains are left whole, so it is likely to be gluten-free.  BUT look at the photo.  Two containers of Maille whole grain mustard, one in a jar and the other in a squeeze bottle.  The jar is gluten-free, the squeeze bottle contains wheat.  ALWAYS READ LABELS.

Mayonnaise

squeeze bottle of hellman's mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise is a naturally gluten free sauce.  It's made with eggs, oil, an acid like vinegar or lemon juice and salt.  Hellman’s mayonnaise is gluten-free.  Kraft mayonnaise is gluten-free.  Miracle Whip salad dressing is also gluten-free.  Chipotle mayo is mayonnaise with chipotle chilies added so will likely be gluten-free.  Check the label on the brand you’re buying to be sure.

Convenience Flavorings and Bouillon:

box of oxo beef cubes with red circle and line through it.  Also shows ingredients.

There are some products out there that essentially replace the stock, like bouillon in cubes or powder form or other flavoring agents.  Be careful.  As a rule of thumb, the cubes tend not to be gluten free.  In some cases the powders are.  For example, Oxo cubes contain gluten, the powder does not.  Check label to be sure.

Barbecue Sauce

Three bottles of Bull's Eye barbecue sauce on supermarket shelf.

It seems like there are as many brands of barbecue sauce as there are stars in the sky and just as many recipes.  Unlike the condiments above where I can give you a basic recipe, barbecue chefs seem to pride themselves on their own special and unique concoctions.  Many are gluten-free and many are not so be sure to read labels.  Malt vinegar and Worcestershire are common ingredients in barbecue sauce. If you are eating barbecued ribs or steak in a restaurant, be sure to ask if the sauce is gluten-free.  Here are a few examples of the most popular brands.

Bull’s Eye Barbecue Sauce is gluten-free except for the Guinness Draft Beer blend.  

Kraft has many different varieties of barbecue sauce and come out with new variations all the time.  At time of writing there are nine on their website, and all are gluten-free.  Kraft has always been very good with labelling practices, even before laws on gluten labelling were enhanced so you can trust that any gluten ingredients will be listed. 

Stubbs BBQ Sauce is one of the few that is a certified gluten free sauce.  

bottle of Diana sauce circled with line through and ingredients highlighting malt vinegar (barley)Diana sauce ingredients

 Avoid Diana sauce, it has gluten.  Look for soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and malt vinegar on the ingredient list.  They are common in barbecue sauces and are no no’s for your gluten free diet.

Gluten-Free Products: Go here for my recommended list of products.  The link will take you directly to the sauces and dressings section.

bottle of Bull's Eye bold original barbecue sauce.

Soya Sauce or Soy Sauce

Traditional soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and wheat.  It contains gluten and is not safe for people with celiac disease.  There are two types of gluten-free soy sauce on the market.  One is tamari which is a Japanese soy sauce that is lighter in color and taste.  There are now gluten free versions of the traditional soy sauce.  VH Soya Sauce is gluten-free.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is often made with soy sauce so may not be gluten-free.  Check the ingredients.  VH Teriyaki sauce is gluten-free.

bottle of vh soya sauce.

Gluten-Free Teriyaki Sauce Recipe:  I'm actually happy I never found a store bought teriyaki I like because this homemade version is sooo amazing.  Freezes well too!

Worcestershire Sauce

Is Worcestershire Sauce Gluten-Free?  It depends on the brand and where you live.  Many brands of Worcestershire sauce in the U.S. use white vinegar which is gluten free, and the same brands in the U.K., Australia, Canada and Europe use malt vinegar which is not gluten free.  So don’t rely on checking brands on the web.  Check the label yourself and look for malt vinegar.  Malt vinegar is usually made with barley and is not gluten free.  

Is Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?  At the time of writing it is in the United States but not in Canada, U.K., Australia or Europe where they use malt vinegar instead of white vinegar.

Is Heinz Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?  It appears to be the same situation as with Lea & Perrins.  Heinz uses white vinegar in the United States, but in Canada, U.K., Australia and Europe they use malt vinegar.

Which Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free?  The only one I’ve found in Canada is French’s.  It has gluten free right on the label and if you look at the ingredients it just says “vinegar” and not “malt vinegar”.  French’s is a Canadian company and I’ve not been able to find reference to them on any of the U.K. or Australian sites I was able to find and I even went out to my forums to ask if anyone knew of a brand.  Let me know on the Facebook page if you know of one or perhaps get a friend in Canada to send you some 😊.

bottle of French's Worcestershire sauce.

Hot Sauces

Most hot sauces are gluten free.  The basic ingredients are hot peppers, vinegar, and salt.  Some may have water, oil, sugar, spices and maybe a thickener like xanthan gum.  A few of major brands of hot sauce on the market are Frank’s Red Hot, Tabasco, Sriracha, and Chulula.  They all have essentially the same ingredients and all are gluten-free.  Read all labels to be 100% sure. 

Yes, Frank’s Red Hot, like most hot sauces is gluten-free.  

Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish is a root and the horseradish we love as a side to roast beef is ground horseradish root mixed with vinegar and salt.  It is a naturally gluten free sauce.  Some will add in oil and xanthan gum or egg yolk as emulsifiers.  

Gravies and Gravy Mixes

two packages of Club House gravy mix, one indicating gluten free the other not.

If you cook you know that gravy is most often made with a roux.  That is a mixture of flour and fat which serves to thicken the stock or pan drippings.  Canned gravy and gravy mixes are often made with flour as well.  Those are not gluten-free.  There are some gluten-free options available that use cornstarch instead of flour. Club House has a gluten-free gravy mix, just be very careful which one you pick up.  The packages look very similar.  

Tomato Sauce  and Pasta Sauce.

Tomato sauce in its simplest form is crushed tomatoes, salt and herbs, maybe a little olive oil and sugar.  It is a naturally gluten free sauce.  Most canned and jarred tomato sauce and pasta sauce is gluten free as well.  

bottle of Classico pasta sauce.

I always keep a few jars of spaghetti sauce on hand.  In Canada, PC Organics is good.  I also like Classico, though it’s not organic.  There is one at bulk barn called Mediterranean Garden.  It’s really good, organic, and has a refreshingly short ingredient list.  The label says it’s certified gluten free with no preservatives, no sugar or corn syrup, no starches or thickeners no added colors or artificial flavors.  This is now my new favorite.

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Gluten-Free Salad Dressings: To buy or to make?  Makings your own is sooooo easy, with just a few simple ingredients.  But sometimes it's nice to have a store bought bottle or two on hand as well.  I'll walk you though both approaches.

Four different salad dressings. Hellman's mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise, vegan salad dressing and Kraft salad dressing.

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