Do salad dressings contain gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause serious health issues. This has led many people to adopt gluten-free diets, avoiding foods that contain gluten.

When transitioning to a gluten-free diet, salad dressings may be a concern. Many popular salad dressing brands contain ingredients derived from gluten sources. However, there are also plenty of delicious gluten-free salad dressing options available.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of gluten in salad dressings. It will cover:

  • What is gluten and why is it problematic for some people?
  • Common sources of gluten found in salad dressings
  • Salad dressings that contain gluten
  • Gluten-free salad dressing options
  • Tips for finding gluten-free salad dressings
  • Homemade gluten-free salad dressing recipes

Whether you need to avoid gluten for health reasons or are simply curious, read on to learn all about gluten in salad dressings.

What is Gluten and Why is it Problematic?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It acts as a “glue” that helps foods maintain their shape and texture. The two main proteins that make up gluten are:

  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin

When flour is mixed with water, these proteins bind together and form elastic strands that allow dough to rise and keep baked goods from crumbling apart.

For most people, consuming gluten is not a problem. However, for those with certain medical conditions, gluten can cause serious health issues:

  • Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten consumption. Gluten damages the small intestine and prevents proper absorption of nutrients. About 1% of the population has celiac disease.
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: People experience celiac disease-like symptoms when consuming gluten, but do not test positive for celiac disease. Up to 13% of the population may have NCGS.
  • Wheat Allergy: An allergic reaction triggered by proteins in wheat, including gluten. Symptoms may include hives, swelling and anaphylaxis.
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis: A severe itchy, blistering skin rash caused by gluten sensitivity.

For people with these conditions, consuming even small amounts of gluten can cause gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, neurological symptoms and damage to the gut over time.

The only treatment is adopting a strict lifelong gluten-free diet by avoiding all foods and products that contain gluten. This includes obvious sources like bread, pasta and baked goods, as well as less obvious foods like salad dressings.

Common Sources of Gluten in Salad Dressings

Many popular salad dressings contain ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains, especially wheat and barley. Here are some of the most common sources of gluten lurking in salad dressings:

Malt Vinegar

Vinegar made from barley malt contains gluten. Malt vinegar is a common ingredient in vinaigrette-style dressings.

Soy Sauce

Many soy sauces contain wheat. Always verify soy sauce is labeled “gluten-free” before using in dressings.

Modified Food Starch

Starches are often used to thicken and stabilize salad dressings. Unless labeled specifically “gluten-free,” these can come from wheat and contain gluten.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)

HVP is produced by breaking down plant proteins into amino acids. The plant source is often wheat and contains gluten unless specifically labeled gluten-free.

Stabilizers and Thickeners

Xanthan gum, cellulose gum and other stabilizers are sometimes derived from wheat or barley sources.


Added as a thickening agent, flour contains gluten if derived from wheat, rye or barley.

Barley Malt

Extracted from barley, barley malt and malt flavoring contain gluten.


Beer contains gluten if made from barley, rye or wheat. Some dressings use beer as an ingredient.

As you can see, many common salad dressing ingredients can potentially contain gluten in the form of wheat, barley or rye. It’s important to thoroughly read labels to identify gluten-containing ingredients.

Salad Dressings That Contain Gluten

To avoid gluten, you’ll need to steer clear of salad dressings containing wheat, barley, rye or oats as ingredients. Here are some well-known salad dressing brands that contain gluten:


Many Kraft salad dressings contain gluten sources like malt vinegar, wheat starch and soy sauce, including:

  • Kraft Classic Caesar Dressing
  • Kraft Catalina Dressing
  • Kraft Ranch Dressing
  • Kraft Thousand Island Dressing
  • Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

However, a few Kraft dressings are labeled gluten-free, like their Red Wine Vinaigrette.


Heinz distributes many gluten-containing salad dressings, including:

  • Heinz Tomato French Dressing
  • Heinz Cucumber and Sour Cream
  • Heinz Caesar Dressing
  • Heinz Ranch Dressing
  • Heinz Thai Sweet Chili Dressing


Most Wishbone dressings contain questionable ingredients like flours, soy sauce and malt vinegar:

  • Wishbone Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Wishbone Creamy Caesar Dressing
  • Wishbone Ranch Dressing
  • Wishbone Thousand Island Dressing
  • Wishbone Zesty Italian Dressing


Ken’s Steak House dressings often contain gluten. Check labels carefully as some flavors are gluten-free.

  • Ken’s Lite Asian Sesame Dressing
  • Ken’s Steak House Italian Dressing
  • Ken’s Steak House Ranch Dressing
  • Ken’s Steak House Honey Mustard Dressing

Newman’s Own

Newman’s Own Caesar, Ranch and Sesame Ginger dressings contain gluten sources.


Brianna’s makes many gluten-free dressings, but some flavors contain questionable ingredients like food starch.


Marzetti slaw dressings and some salad dressings contain malt vinegar and wheat ingredients.


Prego Italian dressings contain gluten from hydrolyzed wheat protein and soy sauce.

As you can see, many major dressing brands include potential sources of gluten in at least some of their salad dressing varieties. It’s always important to carefully read the label before purchasing or consuming.

Gluten-Free Salad Dressing Options

The good news is there are still plenty of delicious salad dressings that are naturally gluten-free or labeled certified gluten-free. Here are some excellent gluten-free salad dressing brands to look for:

Annie’s Naturals

Annie’s offers many clearly labeled gluten-free dressings including Goddess, Green Goddess, Organic Thousand Island, Organic Creamy Rosemary and other flavors.

Primal Kitchen

Primal Kitchen makes a line of gluten-free classic salad dressings like Ranch, Italian, Thousand Island, and Greek.


Bragg has a variety of affordable apple cider vinegar based dressings that are certified gluten-free.


Tessemae’s dressings are made with whole ingredients and are certified gluten-free, including their lemon garlic, ranch and caesar flavors.

365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods)

Whole Foods 365 brand has several gluten-free dressing options like balsamic vinaigrette, Italian and apple cider vinaigrette.

Olive Garden

Olive Garden Italian salad dressing is well-loved, affordable and gluten-free. You can find it at most grocery stores.


Girard’s Champagne Vinaigrette is gluten-free and one of the most popular pre-made dressings.

Maple Holistics

Maple Holistics dressings like lemon dill and pomegranate vinaigrette are labeled gluten-free.

Newman’s Own

While some Newman’s Own dressings contain gluten, others are labeled gluten-free like their balsamic and red wine vinegarette.

The list of gluten-free pre-made salad dressing options continues to grow as more companies make them. Organic brands tend to be safer bets for avoiding gluten. Reading labels is still important to verify gluten-free status.

Tips for Finding Gluten-Free Salad Dressings

When purchasing salad dressings, keep these helpful tips in mind to avoid hidden sources of gluten:

  • Check the label for wheat, barley, rye, malt or oats.
  • Look for the words “gluten-free” clearly printed.
  • Opt for oil-and-vinegar based dressings which are less likely to contain thickeners.
  • Verify no soy sauce, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or “natural flavors.”
  • Buy certified gluten-free dressings to reduce risk.
  • Stick to reputable gluten-free brands like Annie’s Naturals.
  • Check company websites which often list gluten-free options.
  • Call or email companies to verify gluten-free status.
  • Shop at health food stores which have more gluten-free choices.

When in doubt, contact the salad dressing manufacturer directly to inquire about gluten-free options. Many major brands now offer customer service lines with staff knowledgeable about gluten-containing ingredients.

Gluten-Free Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

One of the best ways to control ingredients is to make your own homemade salad dressings. This allows you to avoid questionable thickeners, stabilizers and flavorings.

Here are some delicious recipes for gluten-free salad dressings you can easily make at home:

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Adjust vinegar, mustard and oil to taste preferences.

Creamy Italian Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Whisk together all ingredients or blend until smooth and creamy.

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix or blend well. Adjust honey and mustard to taste.

Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients or blend until creamy and smooth.

With basic ingredients like oils, vinegars, mustard, herbs and spices, you can whip up endless gluten-free salad dressing options at home. Making your own also allows you to control the flavors and customize dressings to suit your tastes.


In summary, many mass-produced salad dressings contain ingredients derived from gluten sources like wheat, barley and rye. However, more gluten-free options are becoming available from mainstream and specialty brands. Reading labels carefully and contacting manufacturers is key to identifying gluten-free choices. Making your own salad dressings at home using basic ingredients is an easy way to control gluten. With some care in ingredient selection, people avoiding gluten can still enjoy flavorful salad dressings.

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