Unlike, say, bread or beer, salad dressing seems like it should be naturally gluten-free, right? Nope! Many salad dressings hide gluten-containing ingredients, especially if you’re buying bottled dressing from the store. Here’s a guide to which dressings are gluten-free, dressings that often contain gluten and what to watch for on the label.
Safe Gluten-Free Salad Dressings
In general, many salad dressings are naturally gluten-free. These options are generally safe. If you’re buying bottled salad dressing, always check the label. Many brands proudly call out that they’re gluten-free; if not, check the nutrition facts.
- Vinaigrette. Vinaigrette is almost always gluten-free, whether it’s made with red wine, champagne or balsamic vinegar. If you’re buying bottle vinaigrette, stop! It’s so easy to make homemade vinaigrette.
- Italian dressing. A vinaigrette jazzed up with herbs and garlic, most Italian dressing should be GF.
- Caesar salad dressing. Traditional Caesar dressing is gluten-free even if prepared with Worcestershire sauce. Unless you’re going homemade, best to check.
- Mayonnaise. Making tuna or potato salad? Mayonnaise, which is generally thickened with eggs, is almost always gluten-free.
- Yogurt- or buttermilk-based dressings. Perfect for creamy spring salads, dressings made with dairy tend to be gluten-free because they don’t require artificial thickeners.
- Ranch dressing. The beloved creamy dressing is typically available gluten-free, but be careful. Hidden Valley makes both Original Ranch Homestyle and Original Ranch Light gluten-free, but Organic Ranch is not GF. It’s tricky, so always check the label!
Our top-rated gluten-free recipes will please every eater.
Safe Gluten-Free Salad Dressing Brands
Many brands specialize in gluten-free dressing and clearly label their products. A few popular options include:
- Drew’s Organics
- Ken’s Foods
- Newman’s Own
- Primal Kitchen
You might want to keep this list on your refrigerator. Then, bookmark our favorite allergy-free recipes for kids.
Warning Signs That Salad Dressing Contains Gluten
So, why would salad dressings even need to add gluten? Understanding why gluten is added can help you spot it more quickly.
For flavor: A gluten-containing ingredient might contribute flavor to the dressing. Malt vinegar always contains gluten. Soy sauce is generally made with wheat, so be careful around Asian-flavored dressings. Some brands of mustard and other condiments contain gluten. Blue cheese often contains gluten due to the cheesemaking process. The good news is, if gluten is added for flavor, it’s usually pretty obvious because it’s not a hidden or mysteriously named ingredient.
For thickening: Creamy or unctuous dressings may use gluten ingredients as thickening agents. Look for ingredients like “food starch,” “modified food starch,” and, of course, “flour” on the label.
As filler ingredients: This catch-all category is the trickiest to spot. Generally, the more processed and artificial a salad dressing is, the more likely that it will contain a sneaky gluten filler. Check the ingredients list for these vague, red-flag words: flavorings, artificial flavorings, natural flavorings, artificial color, Dextrin and spice blend.
If you’re new to eating gluten-free, it can seem overwhelming to learn what’s safe and unsafe. The good news is, more brands than ever are aware of gluten and are careful to label their products; many are even cutting out unnecessary gluten entirely. There’s no shame in skipping the fine print and only buying a product that’s clearly labeled.