If you are not gluten intolerant yourself then you probably know someone that is. Having a nice barbecue with gluten free guests can be a great idea since a lot of what goes on the grill can be eaten without bread. But what the sauces and spices we use? Are all BBQ sauces gluten free? Is it possible to have gluten in spices? What is gluten exactly?
What is gluten?
Gluten is a composite of two storage proteins called prolamins and glutelins. They are stored with the starch that is in the endosperm of various cereal grains. The endosperm is what nourishes the embryonic plant during germination. Gluten is is appreciated for it’s viscoelastic properties. It helps the dough rise and gives it that elasticy we all love.
Gluten sensitivity is on the rise, it is estimated that more than 5% of the US population is intolerent to gluten on some levels. The most common side effects reported are Bloating, Diaharea and Excess Gas.
Contrary to what we might think, gluten is found not only in wheat but also in it’s derivatives such as wheat berries, durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro etc..
It is also found in Rye, Barley, Triticale, different malts, yeasts and sometimes even in wheat starch.
What Ingredients should i look for?
In your everyday grocery shopping life, to determine whether a sauce or any other type of food for that matter is gluten free, you should look out for these ingredients:
Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Malt, and Brewer’s yeast
Since the FDA implemented the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, it is unecessary to worry about other derivatives of wheat if the word wheat is not written. The reason is that if anything related to wheat is part of the ingredients, wheat has to written.
For the other grains, it is also usually not necessary to worry since derivatives of those have the name of the grain itself plus the other ingredients.
For example: Oat Starch, malted barley etc …
Gluten in Sauces and Condiments
Many sauces and condiments we use everyday contain gluten. There are lot of different sauces out there but two of them stand out since they are not only used very often but are also important ingredients in prepared sauces.
Soy sauce and Vinegar
Soy sauce is the base of Asian cuisine. Even though soybeans are naturally free of any gluten, many soy sauces are brewed using wheat to help the fermentation process. The two big producers of soy sauces are China and Japan. In China, most of them have little gluten while in Japan, soy sauces are categorized according to how much wheat or gluten is in the sauce. Tamari is the replacement of choice for the gluten free community.
While it resembles very much soy sauce, it’s gluten free. When using Tamari, a lesser amount is required since it has a stronger flavor and a darker color.
Vinegar is a very common cooking ingredient and a base in different BBQ sauces. It is made by fermenting certain foods including barley, one of the grains to watch out for.
Vinegar made from fruits is in most cases gluten free. White vinegar on the other hand is made from cereals. Does that mean you can’t have it? No!
Because white vinegar is distilled, almost all of the gluten content is removed in the preparation process. If you are gluten intolerant then go ahead, white vinegar won’t be problem for you, however if you suffer from Celiac disease you should refrain from using it or consult with your health advisor before consuming it since it can produce a reaction.
BBQ Sauce and Ketchup
Ketchup and Barbecue Sauce are your best friends when grilling. Unfortunately for the gluten intolerants, many of them contain wheat or vinegar.
The key when reading through the ingredients of a BBQ sauce is to look for malt vinegar, wheat flour or caramel coloring.
With ketchup it is easier since a lot brands are gluten free. Nonetheless you should look for vinegar in the ingredient since it can be made from distilled grain.
What about the other pre-made sauces?
There are thousand of pre-made ones out there so let’s focus on the barbecue oriented ones.
Teriyaki Sauce: It is made with soy sauce. You should look for a gluten free sign or use one made from Tamari and not soy.
Hoisin Sauce: The same rules as the Teriyaki apply.
Oysetr Sauce: Again the same rules apply, the only difference is that unless it is clearly written that is is gluten free you should not use it since the soy in this sauce is hard to replace.
Worcestershire Sauce: While most of them are gluten free, some are made with soy sauce or malt vinegar so be on the look out!
Gluten in Spices and Seasoning.
Spices don’t usually contain any gluten. In some cases, manufacturers will mix the spices with wheat flour or other flour to increase the volume. While the spices themselves don’t contain gluten, cross contamination can happen. If you are very sensitive to gluten, try not to buy spices from third world countries since packaging and manufacturing guidelines are less strict.
Seasoning and spices are not the same. Seasoning refers to a blend of spices, different spices that are mixed and packaged together to make your life easier. These will sometime have gluten ingredients in them such as wheat flour and wheat starch. In the US and Canada, laws require that those ingredients be written with the ingredients. Again, take the necessary precautions according to your gluten sensitivity.
Gluten Free BBQ Sauces
Now is the part you are all waiting for! Which BBQ sauce is gluten free?
Here is a list of the popular ones out there, enjoy!
Original – Blazing Chipotle – Honey Garlic – Chicken N Rib – Grilled Onions & Garlic – Sweet & Spicy – Steakhouse.
Original – Onion – Brown Sugar – Extra Rich – Chicken N Rub – Garlic – Sweet N Sour – Hickory
Apple & Chipotle – Smokehouse – Smokehouse Heat – Apricot Jalapeno
Sweet Baby Ray’s
Honey Hot – Hawaiian – Maple
Smoky Maple – Sweet & Spicy
Gold – Hot Smoky
Downtown Heat – Suburban Heat
Outta The Park – Gayle’s – Pork Barrel – Dinosaur – Russ and Franks – Cattle Boyz – Robbie’s – Organicville
Jack Daniel’s – Rufus Teague – Bone Suckin’ – Nephew’s – Grendeddy – Fiorella’s – Stubb’s – Sky Valley
These are not the only BBQ gluten free sauces. Other ones could be available at your local supermarket. We advise everyone that is sensitive to gluten to always read the labels on the foods they buy. Even though a lot of research was put into this article, manufacturers can change the ingredients.
That’s it! You can now invite some gluten free friends for a BBQ!