It’s been nine years since I adopted a gluten-free diet.
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 pasta brands taste like the real deal and what which will disintegrate right into your pasta water. But the biggest learning curve has been with gluten-free sauces and condiments, both store bought and the ones I 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 revisit this long forgotten post about the best gluten-free sauces to have in your arsenal.
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 and also the best store bought gluten-free sauce brands to buy if you’re looking to cut some corners this grilling season. Especially if you venture to a friend’s backyard, it helps to have a basic knowledge of which brands are safe and also the sauces to watch out for if they’re not homemade.
This list also serves as an easy way to search some of your favorite gluten-free dressings, pasta sauces, and marinades from the archives!
With health and hedonism,
THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE SAUCE AND CONDIMENT RECIPES
This Korean condiment is usually made with wheat. However using this GF store bought base, I’ve created a super flavorful marinade for chicken and other meats.
My friend Tom made the distinction between primary condiments, like ketchup, mayo, and mustard, and secondary condiments like barbecue sauce, which usually contain a whole host of other premade sauces in the ingredient list. The problem with secondary condiments is there are a lot of potential sources of gluten to keep track of. Soy sauce is one of the items that can give dark BBQ sauces their color and umami flavor. And a lot of store bought brands, including Sweet Baby Rays and KC Masterpiece, use wheat to thicken their product. This is a great list of gluten-free BBQ sauces, including my personal favorites Stubbs Original and Annie’s Organic. We also love FODY Foods for a low FODMAP option. But the best way to prepare healthy barbecue sauce is to do so yourself! This recipe for Chipotle-Honey Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce is allergy-friendly and made with honey.
Gluten-Free Carrot-Ginger Dressing and Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Brands
I used to have a crazy obsession with sushi restaurant salad dressing. I’d practically lick the bowl and/or use the remaining sauce to dip my sushi in. But unfortunately, like most dishes at Japanese restaurants, a lot of these dressings contain soy sauce. Luckily, that amazing orange carrot-ginger dressing is very easy to make at home with the substitution of gluten-free Tamari for the soy sauce. My favorite brands are San-J or Eden Organic. For a more traditional, slightly milder and less concentrated version, Kikkoman is now making gluten-free soy sauce too. Finally, La Choy soy sauce is all gluten-free! I love this riff on my ginger dressing that uses kimchi for a little kick!
Romesco is a delicious Spanish condiment made from ground almonds and roasted red peppers. It’s delicious alongside grilled meats and seafood. Unfortunately though, if you see romesco on the menu at a restaurant, you need to double check that the sauce isn’t made with stale bread to thicken it. My version that I make all the time at home couldn’t be easier. It relies just on the nuts and olive oil to get that thick creamy texture. Here’s another version that includes sundried tomatoes and is also low FODMAP!
Tomato sauce is naturally gluten-free and most generic brands like Rago and Prego are deemed as such. But my favorite brand of gluten-free spaghetti sauce in a jar is Rao’s Homemade Marinara or Arrabiata Sauce. But if you’re looking for something more complex than just basic pureed diced tomatoes with herbs, it’s best to make your own at home. Homemade puttanesca sauce is so easy, and this recipe will blow any store bought brand, gluten-free or not, out of the pasta water.
Like carrot ginger dressing, you have to be careful of the soy in peanut sauce and most store bought brands are not currently making their versions gluten-free. It takes quite a few condiments, but making homemade gluten-free peanut sauce is incredibly easy and it keeps in the fridge for a few weeks. Here is another variation that’s a great dressing for salads!
Similar to the above, but made with almonds for those who are allergic to peanuts in addition to wheat!
Kikkoman is now also making gluten-free teriyaki sauce. But if you already have gluten-free tamari on hand, this sauce is easy to whip up on your own. I like to make my homemade version a little healthier by using maple syrup instead of refined white sugar. It’s a great marinade for pork or chicken, and a nice gluten-free sauce to have on hand to drizzle on your rice.
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!
Most popular mayonnaise brands like Hellmann’s, Kraft, and Heinz are all gluten-free. My favorite mayo brands are Sir Kensington‘s or Spectrum Organic, which I like jazzing up at home with different flavorings. This sriracha mayonnaise is one of my new favorites for using on toasted gluten-free bread with turkey.
Also be sure to check out this other compound spin on mayonnaise with lots of briney flavors like olives and capers.
Mexican cuisine is fairly gluten-free friendly, but you always have to be careful of thickeners in store bought enchilada sauces. This recipe for roasted tomato enchilada sauce is one of my favorites for making it at home. For green version (that is also low FODMAP) I like FODY Foods brand!
This two-ingredient salad dressing 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.
This cooling cucumber and yogurt sauce is one of my favorites in Greek cuisine. Some others like taramasalata sometimes have stale bread in the mix. Luckily, this tzatziki sauce is very easy to whip together at home and tastes fantastic on top of lamb burgers or gluten-free falafel patties.
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!