Salads represent a colorful, healthy staple on the gluten-free diet but you obviously need a gluten-free salad dressing to go on top.
Yes, you can choose to dress your salad with plain olive oil and vinegar, but there's nothing wrong with wanting something richer and (perhaps) creamier. But which of the myriad grocery store options are safe?
To help, I've compiled this list of salad dressing brands (there are a lot of them!), complete with what the manufacturers have to say about their products' gluten-free status. Bear in mind that this list applies only to the United States ingredients and manufacturing differ (sometimes dramatically) from country to country, so if you live somewhere else, you'll need to call the company.
In addition, some people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity react to vinegar that's based on gluten grains. To help you choose a safe salad dressing if you're in that group (as I am), I've included information on the vinegar sources of each of these brands.
For more on vinegar and the gluten-free diet:
Also, there's some controversy over whether blue cheese or Roquefort cheese can be consumed safely on the gluten-free diet or not. I avoid these types of cheeses, but others report they can eat it with no problem, so you'll need to make up your own mind. Here are the details:
Finally, many of these salad dressings contain soy (usually in the form of soybean oil). Since soy is a problem for many people who can't have gluten, you'll need to read labels carefully, and potentially stick with more upscale brands (which are less likely to use soy-based ingredients). Learn more here:
Here's the list of commercial salad dressings, along with their gluten-free status:
- Annie's Naturals. Some, but not all of Annie's salad dressings are considered gluten-free to GF-20 (less than 20 parts per million of gluten) levels. Be sure to check ingredients to make certain your particular choice is safe for example, Annie's popular Goddess Dressing contains wheat-based soy sauce and therefore is not gluten-free. Annie's reports that it uses vinegar derived from corn or beets.
- Brianna's Salad Dressings. Upscale dressing manufacturer Brianna's makes 14 different salad dressings, 10 of which are considered gluten-free to GF-20 levels (steer clear of Asiago Caesar, Chipotle Cheddar, Lively Lemon Tarragon, and Saucy Ginger Mandarin). A few Brianna's dressings include white vinegar, which the company says can be made from gluten grains.
- Cardini's. Cardini's is one of several salad dressing brands actually made by Marzetti's. Two-thirds of Cardini's nine salad dressings are listed as gluten-free by the company (again, to GF-20 levels). Many contain distilled vinegar that can be derived from gluten grains, so check ingredients carefully if this is a problem for you. Marzetti's reports that "our suppliers have stated that the vinegar is gluten free in accordance of the proposed FDA regulations of a 20ppm threshold."
- Girard's. This is another Marzetti's sister brand. Girard's makes a dozen or so premium salad dressings, many of which are considered gluten-free to GF-20 levels. Many of Girard's dressings contain distilled vinegar that can be derived from gluten grains.
- Hidden Valley. Many of Hidden Valley's salad dressing products are considered gluten-free to GF-20 levels if the product is safe, the label will include a yellow and green "gluten-free" check-mark circle. A consumer services rep at Hidden Valley told me the company does not disclose the source of its distilled vinegar.
- Ken's Steakhouse. Ken's Foods' gluten statement includes a list of several dozen salad dressings that "do not have gluten present in their recipes." However, Ken's does not test for gluten, and these products with no gluten ingredients still can be subject to gluten cross-contamination.
- Kraft. Kraft Foods makes a huge variety of salad dressings. Kraft does not test its salad dressings for gluten, nor does it label them gluten-free, but the company will disclose any gluten ingredients clearly on its labels. That being said, Kraft salad dressings with no gluten ingredients listed still can be subject to gluten cross-contamination in manufacturing.
- Maple Grove Farms. Most of this specialty company's salad dressings are considered gluten-free to GF-20 levels look for the words "gluten-free" just below the list of ingredients. Also, many of Maple Grove Farms' products contain only cider or balsamic vinegar, not distilled vinegar again, check the label.
- Marie's. Marie's found in the produce section with other refrigerated salad dressings makes a variety of "classic," lite and yogurt-based dressings. One of Marie's dressings Sesame Ginger contains gluten (in the form of soy sauce), according to a customer service representative. The rest have been formulated to be "wheat gluten-free," but still may contain gluten from barley or rye. The company is working with its ingredient suppliers to determine if there's any gluten in its products, according to the rep, and eventually will make that information available to the public. Marie's dressings contain vinegar that can be derived from gluten grains.
- Marzetti's. This brand (sister brand to Cardini's, Girard's and Pfeiffer) features both refrigerated and shelf-stable salad dressings in a wide variety of flavors. Most (but not all) are gluten-free to GF-20 levels, so check your label carefully before purchasing any gluten ingredients will be disclosed. Marzetti's uses distilled vinegar that can be made from gluten grains in many of its salad dressings.
- Newman's Own. Only two of Newman's own salad dressings contain gluten, according to the company's frequently asked questions: steer clear of Family Recipe Italian Dressing and Low-Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing. Most contain distilled vinegar that can be derived from gluten grains.
- Organicville. Organicville, which has a variety of salad dressings, is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which tests to below 10 parts per million, or GF-10, levels. If you like Asian flavors, the company's Miso Ginger Organic Vinaigrette is safe, and Organicville also offers vegan and dairy-free options. Company founder Rachel Kruse tells me that the vinegar used is organic and comes from corn or beets, not wheat or other gluten grains.
- Pfeiffer. All of Pfeiffer's 14 salad dressings are listed as gluten-free as with the other Marzetti's sister brands, this will be to GF-20 levels. The majority of Pfeiffer's salad dressings use distilled vinegar that can be derived from gluten grains.
- Wish-Bone. Wish-Bone, one of the top producers of salad dressings in the U.S., is owned by giant food conglomerate Unilever Inc. Unilever does not have a gluten-free list, nor does it test for gluten, but the company will disclose any gluten-containing ingredients on its labels. Wish-Bone salad dressings (and other Unilever products) can be subject to gluten cross-contamination in manufacturing.
How About Making My Own Salad Dressing?
It's easy to make your own salad dressing, and it might represent your best option if you want a particular flavor but need to avoid some of the ingredients in commercial dressings. Here's a sampling of gluten-free recipes:
- Gluten-free Caesar salad
- French salad dressing (plus nine other gluten-free recipes)
- Herbed vinaigrette dressing
- Blue cheese salad dressing (low-carb)
- Green Goddess salad dressing
One last caveat: if the recipe calls for mayonnaise, just remember to use a safe option from my gluten-free mayonnaise list. Enjoy!