A salad is only as satisfying as its dressing, but finding a high-quality gluten-free salad dressing can be tricky. A wide variety of salad dressings are naturally gluten-free, but some manufacturers choose to add gluten or gluten-containing ingredients to enhance flavor, texture, or to increase its shelf-life. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear whether a salad dressing contains gluten as there are many “hidden” forms of gluten in ingredient lists (1). The simplest way to distinguish whether you’re choosing a gluten-free salad dressing is by looking for the Certified Gluten-Free label. To be certified gluten-free, brands must meet specific requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).According to the FDA definition, a food product must not contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to be labeled gluten-free. Additionally, the product cannot contain wheat, barley, rye, or other grains that contain gluten (2). These rules apply to all certified gluten-free labels, as well as any product that claims it’s gluten-free anywhere on the package (3).However, gluten-free labeling is optional, and manufacturers aren’t required to disclose if their product is gluten-free on the label. Certain salad dressings may still be gluten-free despite a lack of labeling, but you must be more diligent about scanning the ingredients list. And, for those with celiac disease, cross-contamination is a risk factor.Here are some common gluten-containing ingredients to avoid:
- All types of wheat, barley, and rye
- Malt, including malt vinegar
- Brewer’s yeast
- Yeast extract
In addition, there are several vague ingredients such as artificial colorings, flavorings, and other processed ingredients that may or may not contain gluten. Searching for food products that are gluten-free can be exhausting, especially when purchasing something as simple as a salad dressing. We’ve selected 12 of the best gluten-free salad dressing options and how to find them to take your salad to the next level.
How to choose a gluten-free salad dressing
There are some key components to pay attention to when shopping for a gluten-free salad dressing:
- Type of vinegar. Vinegar is a staple ingredient in a lot of salad dressings. While most vinegar options like white and apple cider vinegar are gluten-free, other flavored and seasoned vinegar may contain gluten in the form of malt. Read the ingredients list on any prospective gluten-free salad dressing carefully to ensure malt vinegar isn’t listed (4).
- Oil and saturated fat. Many different oils are the base for salad dressings, but not all oils are equal. Some oils — such as coconut oil — contain high amounts of saturated fat. High amounts of saturated fat are associated with higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. Try to limit your saturated fat intake to somewhere around The American Heart Association (AHA)’s recommendation of 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat per day to promote a healthy diet (5, 6, 7).
- Sodium content. Salad dressing can contain a surprising amount of sodium, linked to high blood pressure and negative effects on heart health. The FDA’s recommended daily value for sodium is less than 2,300mg per day, so read nutrition labels and consume in moderation (8).
- Added sugar. Salad dressings might not seem sweet, but they’re a common source of added sugars in the diet. Added sugars supply energy via calories but lack vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients. AHA’s recommended daily intake of added sugar is only 10% of the total calories per day (9).
- Level of processing. Pre-packaged salad dressing typically contains a variety of highly processed ingredients that extend its shelf life, prevent separation, and improve the flavor and texture of the final product. In general, a higher intake of ultra-processed foods can cause negative health effects. Be sure to pay attention to the ingredient label and consume in moderation (10).
Top Rated Gluten-Free Salad Dressing – No Cross-Contamination
Bragg-Organic Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Frontier Herbs-Simply Organic Italian Dressing Mix
Organicville-Organic Dressing French
Bragg-Live Food Products Organic Ginger & Sesame Salad Dressing
Brianna’s Home Style Dressing Blush Wine Vinaigrette
Annie’s Organic Honey Mustard Dressing
Primal Kitchen-Balsamic Vinaigrette & Marinade
Sky Valley Foods Organicville Herbs De Provence Organic Vinaigrette
Briannas Organic-Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Primal Kitchen Sesame Ginger Avocado Oil Dressing
Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette
Top Rated Gluten-Free Salad Dressing – Possible Cross-Contamination
Tree Of Life-Organic Glaze With Balsamic Vinegar
Munster Specialty Hongar Farms Benissimo Naturals Balsamic Garlic
Annies-Light Vinaigrette Raspberry
Annie’s Homegrown Organic Caesar Dressing
Key takeaways for buying a gluten-free salad dressing
Your salad dressing search should be just as simple as enjoying the salad, but when you’re gluten-free, there can be a few extra hurdles. If you know what to look for though, finding a gluten-free salad dressing can be a breeze. Vinegar is a key ingredient in many staple salad dressings, but some salads may include malt vinegar in their ingredients lists. To avoid accidentally consuming malt vinegar, carefully check nutrition labels to ensure it isn’t listed. Another key ingredient in most salad dressings is oil, and oil can contain a lot of saturated fat. To limit your saturated fat intake and exposure to its associated health risks, try to limit consumption to somewhere around 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat per day. Sugar and sodium can also often sneak up in salad dressing ingredients so be mindful of each salad dressing’s contents, and consume in moderation to meet your daily values for both sugar and salt. Lastly, pre-packaged dressing can contain a number of highly-processed ingredients to enhance its product and extend its shelf life. If you’re looking to limit your consumption of processed foods or ingredients, make sure to pay attention to the ingredient label.
We hope our list of the 12 best gluten-free salad dressing brands to buy and how to find them helps you find the salad dressing of your dreams.
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