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Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

Various Brands Make Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

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Updated April 10, 2014

It usually comes as a shock to people who are new to the gluten-free diet when they find out that soy sauce usually isn't gluten-free — in fact, most brands contain wheat as their first ingredient. However, there is a type of soy sauce that's traditionally made without wheat — it's called tamari. There's a small (but growing) handful of tamari-style gluten-free soy sauce brands on the market. Here's what's available and where you can find it:

1. San-J Soy Sauce

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San-J makes a wide variety of gluten-free soy sauce products, including regular and organic tamari-style soy sauce, plus regular and organic reduced-sodium gluten-free tamari-style soy sauce. You can purchase San-J in either bottles or in convenient one-serving travel packs (see the Compare Prices link below to buy the travel packs in bulk). San-J's products are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), and San-J tests its products to contain less than 5 parts per million of gluten, or at a level of GF-5 (for more information on testing levels, see Why Gluten PPM Numbers Matter). In addition, San-J does not use any gluten-based alcohols in its gluten-free soy sauce and other gluten-free products; the alcohols it uses are derived from corn and sugarcane.

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2. Kikkoman Soy Sauce

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Kikkoman makes tamari-style soy sauce that it labels gluten-free, using only water, soybeans, rice and salt. You can find it in some grocery stores (especially larger supermarkets with extensive ethnic food selections), or you can buy it online (by the case or by the bottle). When buying Kikkoman soy sauce, make certain you get the gluten-free-marked bottle with the bright blue label. Kikkoman makes a wide variety of different soy sauces (including a second tamari-style soy sauce that's not gluten-free), and it's easy to pick up the wrong one if you're not careful. Kikkoman is considered gluten-free to 20 parts per million (GF-20).

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3. Eden Organic Soy Sauce

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Eden Food has two different organic tamari-style gluten-free (GF-20) soy sauce products — one made in the U.S. and one imported from Japan. Both are made from water, soybeans, grain alcohol, sea salt and koji (steamed rice with cultivated koji mold spores, an ingredient also used to make sake). The grain alcohol in the imported tamari is from rice, while the grain alcohol in the U.S. product comes from corn, according to the company.

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4. Kari-Out Soy Sauce Packets

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Kari-Out, a company that specializes in small carry-out (get it?) packets of condiments, offers low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce. Kari-Out is headed by Paul Epstein, and both Epstein and his daughter, Lily, have celiac disease. You can purchase Kari-Out gluten-free soy sauce packets in bulk (400 at one time, which should be enough to keep you in soy sauce for a while), or you can look for them at your local Chinese restaurant.

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5. Little Soya Soy Sauce Packets

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Little Soya produces "less sodium" gluten-free soy sauce in little fish-shaped single-serving packets. Ingredients include defatted soybeans, water, salt, sugar, citric acid, modified food starch, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, and potassium sorbate (preservatives). According to the company, Little Soya tests down to 10 parts per million of gluten (GF-10). The company also is non-GMO, and is in the process of being non-GMO-certified. Little Soya is available in several major national grocery store chains.

6. Wan Ja Shan Soy Sauce

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Wan Ja Shan, which is based in Taiwan, makes both regular and lower-sodium wheat-free tamari, using just water, soybeans, salt and (in the case of the lower-sodium version) vinegar. The company advertises that it brews its soy sauces in traditional fashion, allowing them to age for up to one year before they're bottled and marketed. Note that Wan Ja Shan advertises these as "wheat-free" and not necessarily "gluten-free" — there's no information on any steps taken to eliminate gluten cross-contamination during brewing and processing, so I'd advise caution with this product, especially if you're sensitive to trace gluten.

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7. La Choy Soy Sauce

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I'm including La Choy soy sauce on this list because it's listed as gluten-free on many celiac websites, but I don't recommend you buy it. The product appears gluten-free by its ingredients (water, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup, caramel color, potassium sorbate), and it's made by a subsidiary of ConAgra, which will declare any gluten ingredient on the label. However, there are multiple reports of people reacting to La Choy soy sauce. Note that La Choy does not make any claims that its soy sauce meets the generally accepted 20 parts per million standard for "gluten-free" products.

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