Is Raising Cane’s sauce gluten-free?

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is a popular fast food chain known for its crispy chicken fingers and signature Cane’s sauce. The tangy, creamy Cane’s sauce is a big part of what makes Raising Cane’s menu items so craveable. But for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, enjoying this popular chicken joint can be tricky. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and even small amounts of it can cause serious health issues for those with gluten intolerance. So an important question for many fans of Raising Cane’s is: is Cane’s sauce gluten-free?

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. For most people, gluten poses no health concerns. But for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger the immune system and cause damage to the small intestine. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, fatigue and more. Over time, eating gluten can result in serious complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and certain cancers. Because of the potential for serious harm, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must maintain a 100% gluten-free diet.

Gluten Hiding in Sauces and Condiments

For people avoiding gluten, it’s important to check labels carefully, even on condiments like ketchup, mustard and sauces. That’s because these products often contain ingredients that can be sources of hidden gluten. Some examples include:

  • Malt vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Modified food starch
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Natural flavor

So while a condiment may appear safe at first glance, looking closer may reveal an ingredient containing gluten. This is why it’s so important for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to thoroughly inspect labels before consuming any packaged food item. A sauce may seem inherently gluten-free, but without transparent labeling, it’s impossible to know for sure.

What Raising Cane’s Says About Their Sauce

So what about Raising Cane’s popular Cane sauce? Unfortunately, Raising Cane’s does not claim their signature sauce is gluten-free. On their FAQ page, here is their official response to the question “Does Raising Cane’s sauce contain gluten?”:

“Our sauce does contain a small amount of wheat starch, which contains gluten, so we do not claim that it is gluten-free.”

Additionally, the ingredients label for Cane’s sauce lists “wheat starch” as one of its ingredients. So according to both Raising Cane’s website and the sauce ingredients, there is wheat and therefore gluten present.

A Note on Wheat Starch

It’s important to understand that wheat starch does contain some gluten. However, it contains significantly less than regular wheat flour. The exact gluten content can vary based on the level of processing. Still, most experts advise those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to avoid wheat starch, since any amount of gluten can be problematic.

Precautions for Gluten-Sensitive Customers

So for customers avoiding gluten, Raising Cane’s Cane sauce is unfortunately off the menu. But with some modifications, you may still be able to enjoy their chicken fingers safely:

  • Request no sauce on your meal
  • Opt for one of their alternative dipping sauces instead, like coleslaw, ranch or honey mustard dressing
  • Ask for chicken fingers baked instead of breaded and fried, to avoid the breaded coating
  • Verify that side items like Texas toast are prepared without gluten-containing ingredients
  • Inform staff about your gluten restriction to avoid cross-contamination

Raising Cane’s website states that they cannot guarantee 100% avoidance of gluten exposure when preparing menu items due to shared cooking and preparation areas. But they do have protocols in place to reduce the risk of cross-contamination for gluten-free orders.

Homemade Gluten-Free Cane’s Sauce Alternatives

While you can’t get the exact Cane’s sauce gluten-free at the restaurant, you can recreate it at home with substitutions. There are a few recipes available online that use alternate thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot instead of wheat. Here are two popular options:

Gluten-Free Cane Sauce Recipe 1

Ingredient Amount
Mayonnaise 1 cup
Ketchup 1/4 cup
Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp
Black pepper 1/4 tsp
Garlic powder 1/4 tsp
Onion powder 1/4 tsp
Cornstarch 1 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp
Honey 1 tbsp

Gluten-Free Cane Sauce Recipe 2

Ingredient Amount
Mayonnaise 1 cup
Ketchup 3 tbsp
Worchestershire sauce 2 tbsp
Garlic powder 1/4 tsp
Onion powder 1/4 tsp
Black pepper 1/4 tsp
Pickle juice 1-2 tbsp
Arrowroot powder 1-2 tsp
Water 1-2 tsp

The above recipes mimic the tangy, creamy flavor of Cane’s sauce while avoiding the wheat starch. Arrowroot works similarly to thicken the sauce without using gluten sources. You may need to experiment a bit to get the perfect thickness.

Purchasing Gluten-Free Cane’s-Style Sauces

Another option is to purchase a pre-made gluten-free Cane’s-style sauce. Here are a few brands offering alternatives:

  • Bold and Sassy – Offers two gluten-free dupe sauces inspired by Cane’s – “Not So Secret Sauce” and “Finger Lickin’ Sauce.”
  • See Cane’s – Sells several flavors of gluten-free chicken finger sauces designed to mimic Cane’s.
  • GFCO Foods – Makes a gluten-free version of Cane’s sauce sold online.
  • G.F. Flatbush – Sells gluten-free and kosher “Finger Lickin’ Good Sauce” designed after Cane’s sauce.

Be sure to check the ingredients list when purchasing, even if labeled gluten-free, as manufacturing processes can change. Reputable brands certified gluten-free, like those verified through GFCO or NSF certification programs, are ideal when opting for pre-made sauce alternatives.

Is Raising Cane’s Chicken Gluten-Free?

Aside from the sauce, Raising Cane’s chicken fingers and many of their sides are gluten-free as prepared. However, there are still a few considerations:

  • Breading – The chicken is breaded in a typical flour coating that contains gluten prior to frying, so plain grilled chicken is safest.
  • Texas Toast – The Texas toast served at Cane’s is made with regular wheat bread, so opt for fries instead.
  • Cross-Contact – Even plain grilled chicken may come into contact with gluten sources in the kitchen, so inform staff of your allergy.

Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should consider the risks of cross-contamination at Raising Cane’s and gauge their own sensitivity levels before consuming items labeled gluten-free.

The Bottom Line

So is Raising Cane’s sauce gluten-free? According to Raising Cane’s itself, as well as the sauce ingredients, no – Cane’s sauce contains wheat and is not gluten-free. Those avoiding gluten cannot have the signature Cane’s sauce when dining at Raising Cane’s restaurants. However, with some menu modifications and extra precautions, you may still be able to enjoy their gluten-free chicken fingers safely. Opting for an alternative gluten-free dipping sauce or making your own Cane’s sauce duplicate at home opens up more possibilities as well. While the classic Cane’s sauce itself contains gluten, alternatives are available so gluten-sensitive diners don’t have to miss out completely.

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