One of the trickiest parts of eating a gluten-free diet is that it eliminates using many pre-made, store-bought dressings, pasta sauces, and condiments. Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of 12+ gluten-free sauce recipes–including BBQ sauce, gravy, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, and more–that you can quickly and easily whip up at home. Plus, I’m sharing some of my favorite ready-made jarred gluten-free sauce options to make dinner even quicker.
For those of you who are familiar with my book that chronicles my experience with autoimmune disease, you know that adopting a gluten-free diet (over ten years ago!) was one of the first and most profound changes I’ve made in the name of health.
Since 2011, I’ve oscillated from an open relationship with gluten—occasionally getting frisky with a pie of thin-crust pizza—to a strict, celiac-style breakup and have learned so much about food preparation in the process.
I’ve discovered how to decipher red flag words on restaurant menus, which gluten-free pasta brands taste like the real deal and what which will disintegrate right into your pasta water, and more importantly, how to cook gluten-free pasta to avoid that mess. But the biggest learning curve has been with gluten free sauces and condiment recipes, both store bought and the ones (like gluten free gravy for the holidays) that I’m more likely to make at home.
Now that I’ve made cooking gluten-free a central part of my work as a culinary instructor and chef, I wanted to put together all the information and resources I wished I’d had when I first took the plunge. It’s certainly a very different landscape for dietary restrictions than it was almost a decade ago. But that’s not to say that going gluten-free is without its challenges.
You can read my full dispatch on gluten-free living on Mind Body Green here. But I also wanted to shine a spotlight on the best gluten-free sauces to have in your arsenal that will make cooking quick weeknight gluten-free or low FODMAP dinners a breeze.
The biggest learning curve when I first went gluten-free was trying to navigate all the condiments that were now a landmine for wheat additives. The basic béchamels of the world were easy to spot when compared with a pulled pork taco that might have ½ a cup of non-gluten-free barbecue sauce thrown in there.
Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at asking questions at restaurants and reading the ingredient labels at stores before buying products. But more importantly, I’ve started making a lot of these gluten-free sauces at home.
I’ve put together some of my favorite easy gluten-free condiment recipes like gluten-free tomato sauce, gluten-free BBQ sauce (and more!) and also the best store bought gluten-free sauce brands to buy if you’re looking to cut some corners (no judgement!).
Especially if you venture to a friend’s backyard, it helps to have a basic knowledge of which brands are safe to put on your hot dog and also the sauces to watch out for if they’re not homemade.
With health and hedonism,
WHICH STORE BOUGHT CONDIMENTS AND SAUCES ARE GLUTEN-FREE?
Is ketchup gluten free?
Ketchup is what my friend refers to as a “primary condiment.” Like mustard and mayonnaise, ketchup tends to be the base for many other sauces and condiments. Luckily, like those other two, most commercially made Ketchup brands are gluten-free, including the classic Heinz!
How about BBQ Sauce?
Unfortunately, though ketchup is the main ingredient for many barbecue sauces, they are not guaranteed to be gluten-free. Make sure to check for a gluten-free certification on the bottle, and when evaluating a BBQ sauce’s ingredient list, scan for red flag ingredients like malt vinegar, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce — all of which are not usually gluten-free (more on those below).
My favorite brands of gluten-free BBQ sauce are Stubbs (for a classic smoky sweet flavor) and Primal Kitchen for something unsweetened, which is one of my favorites for topping gluten-free pizza crusts!
Is soy sauce gluten free?
Soy sauce is a tricky one. It used to be brewed from pure soy, but in the industrial era has become made in part from wheat. Some types of soy sauce like tamari tend to be gluten-free and taste almost identical (tamari is a little darker and richer). Still, make sure your tamari says gluten-free on the bottle.
Is horseradish gluten free?
Most horseradish and wasabi (which is usually made with horseradish) tends to be gluten-free as it’s a combination of water, vinegar and the root. Just double check to make sure there’s no malt vinegar used if you’re celiac.
My favorite brand of horseradish is Bubby’s.
Is worcestershire sauce gluten free?
If you can’t tell by now, malt vinegar is a big no no ingredient in many condiments, including worcestershire sauce, which uses it as the base. However, many brands are not changing their recipe to be celiac-friendly, including the most famous producer Lea & Perrins, who changed their US based products to be made without malt vinegar. You still need to be careful in the UK, where malt vinegar is a staple!
My favorite brand is WanJaShan.
Some other gluten-free condiments in my pantry:
THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE SAUCE RECIPES
This condiment gets a little help from store bought gluten-free BBQ sauce, but the added ingredients really turn it into something special that you can’t get at a store. I love this sauce to have some heat to it, so I leave the seeds in the jalapeno. You can choose how hot you’d like it and opt to remove the ribs and seeds. It tastes amazing with baked baby back ribs!
Gluten-free gravy is a must on my family table and this recipe with apple cider, shallots and rosemary will put your old version to shame. You can use AP gluten-free flour, white rice flour or even paleo flour as the thickener. If you’re serving any vegetarians or vegans, this can also be made with vegetable stock. I usually make it a day in advance and then if adding any turkey drippings reheat on the stove and simmer until thickened again.
Gluten-containing grains are off limits on a low FODMAP diet, so you know if there is a low FODMAP dressing or condiment, that automatically means it’s a gluten-free sauce. This simple gluten-free vinaigrette is all you need for any salad at home and you won’t have to worry about any mystery thickener or stabilizer that can make a store bought dressing not gluten-free.
My husband is the artist behind this magical marinade that works equally well for both vegetables and grilled red meats. The vinegar is dealer’s choice, but balsamic will give you slightly more sweetness. This gluten-free marinade is low FODMAP if you omit the garlic and use maple syrup! And vegan if you just do the latter. It’s one of my favorite all purpose gluten-free condiments!
Unlike béchamel, this mother sauce is usually made from an emulsion of butter and egg–no flour necessary. But if you are sensitive to dairy, you are better off trying this version which uses ghee and anti-inflammatory turmeric. It’s also served over paleo eggs benedict!
This two-ingredient oil-free salad dressing with tahini is one of the easiest gluten-free sauces to make at home, allowing you to forgo bottled options that are often full of stabilizers. I like it on top of basic kale salad, grilled fish and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.
Do you have any favorite gluten-free condiment brands that I missed? Any favorite gluten-free sauces that you need recipes for? Let me know in the comments!