Is there gluten in Zatarain’s jambalaya?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can cause adverse health effects. As a result, these individuals must follow a strict gluten-free diet and avoid foods that contain gluten. Jambalaya is a popular Cajun rice dish that typically contains rice, meat, vegetables, and Creole seasonings. With its complex ingredient list, some people wonder if popular jambalaya mix brands like Zatarain’s contain gluten. Here is a thorough look at whether or not Zatarain’s jambalaya contains gluten.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and other closely-related cereal grains. The two main proteins that make up gluten are:

  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin

When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form an elastic network that gives the dough its chewy texture. Gluten helps baked goods like bread rise and provides structure. It also helps give a chewy, satisfying texture to foods like pizza crust and sandwiches.

Most people can digest gluten without problems. However, for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten triggers an abnormal immune response that causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can cause issues. That’s why following a strict gluten-free diet by avoiding all foods and products with wheat, barley, and rye is necessary for managing these conditions.

What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is a hearty, flavorful dish that originated in Louisiana. It consists of rice, meat, seafood like shrimp or chicken, onions, celery, bell peppers, and a unique blend of herbs and spices.

There are two main varieties of jambalaya:

  • Creole jambalaya – Contains tomatoes and is more red in color. Creole jambalaya originates from New Orleans.
  • Cajun jambalaya – Does not contain tomatoes and is more brown in color. Cajun jambalaya originates from the country areas of Louisiana.

While recipes can vary, some key seasonings give jambalaya its signature flavor. These include:

  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Celery

The rice absorbs all the flavors of the meat, vegetables, and seasonings to create a delicious one-pot meal.

About Zatarain’s Jambalaya

Zatarain’s is a popular brand of boxed rice and beans mixes, pasta, seasonings, and dinner mixes. The company was founded in New Orleans in 1889 and helped introduce jambalaya mixes to American home cooks. Today, Zatarain’s jambalaya mix is a convenient way for people to enjoy the classic Louisiana dish at home without the hassle of measuring out multiple spices and seasonings.

Zatarain’s jambalaya mix comes in several varieties:

  • Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Mix
  • Shrimp and Scallop Jambalaya Mix
  • Cajun Jambalaya Mix
  • Red Beans and Rice Jambalaya Mix

To make jambalaya, you simply brown the protein (chicken, sausage, or shrimp), sauté trinity vegetables (onions, celery, and bell peppers), then combine everything with the Zatarain’s mix, water or broth, and rice. In around 30 minutes, you can enjoy restaurant-quality jambalaya at home.

Does Zatarain’s Jambalaya Contain Gluten?

So does Zatarain’s jambalaya mix actually contain gluten? The short answer is no – Zatarain’s jambalaya is gluten-free.

According to the Zatarain’s website, all their jambalaya products are gluten-free. Zatarain’s states that any product labeled as gluten-free contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This trace amount is generally considered safe for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

It’s important to double check the ingredients list and packaging when purchasing any food product labeled gluten-free. Here are the ingredients for a few popular Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes:

Zatarain’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Mix

Ingredients: Rice, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Bell Peppers, Chicken Fat (BHA), Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Natural Flavor, Chicken Powder, Disodium Inosinate & Guanylate, Citric Acid, Silicon Dioxide (Anti-Caking Agent), Extractives of Turmeric and Annatto.

Zatarain’s Shrimp and Scallop Jambalaya Mix

Ingredients: Rice, Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Onion, Dehydrated Red Bell Pepper, Wheat Protein, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices,Natural Flavor, Shrimp Powder, Disodium Inosinate & Guanylate, Chicken Fat (BHA), Silicon Dioxide added to prevent caking.

Zatarain’s Cajun Jambalaya Rice Mix

Ingredients: Rice, Salt, Onion Powder, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic Powder, Spices, Chicken Fat (BHA), Chicken Powder, Annatto Extract Color, Silicon Dioxide added to prevent caking.

As you can see, the main ingredients are rice and seasonings. There are no wheat, barley, or rye-containing ingredients listed. The mixes rely on rice as the main carbohydrate instead of noodles or pasta. Therefore, Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes are considered gluten-free.

Is All Zatarain’s Products Gluten-Free?

While Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes are gluten-free, not all Zatarain’s products are gluten-free. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some pasta and rice mix products contain wheat flour or wheat ingredients and are not gluten-free. Always thoroughly read the ingredients.
  • Products made on shared equipment that also processes wheat are not gluten-free.
  • Zatarain’s warns that any product not labeled gluten-free may contain traces of gluten due to cross-contamination.

If you need to avoid gluten, look for Zatarain’s products that are certified gluten-free or explicitly labeled “gluten-free” on the packaging.

Are There Any Gluten-Free Concerns with Zatarain’s Jambalaya?

While Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes don’t contain gluten ingredients, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are sensitive to gluten:

  • Cross-contamination – While unlikely, trace gluten could be introduced during manufacturing on shared equipment. Zatarain’s does not claim their facilities are gluten-free.
  • Recipe variations – If you add your own ingredients like wheat-based noodles or thickening agents, the jambalaya will no longer be gluten-free.
  • User error – Make sure to carefully check the packaging to ensure you purchase a certified gluten-free Zatarain’s jambalaya variety. Accidentally purchasing a wheat-based mix by mistake could expose you to gluten.

As long as you choose a gluten-free Zatarain’s jambalaya variety and avoid adding your own gluten-containing ingredients, the jambalaya mix should be safe for a gluten-free diet. If you are highly sensitive, you may want to check with the company about their manufacturing processes and gluten testing.

Cooking Gluten-Free Jambalaya With Zatarain’s

Making gluten-free jambalaya at home using Zatarain’s is simple. Here are a few tips:

  • Select a gluten-free certified Zatarain’s jambalaya variety like their Chicken and Sausage or Shrimp and Scallop mixes.
  • Avoid replacing the rice with wheat-based noodles or pasta.
  • Check all added ingredients like meats, vegetables, and chicken broths to ensure they are gluten-free.
  • Use cooking utensils and cookware that have been thoroughly cleaned to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Follow package instructions carefully.
  • Enjoy your hearty gluten-free jambalaya!

Here is a gluten-free jambalaya recipe using Zatarain’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Mix:

Gluten-Free Jambalaya Recipe


  • 1 box Zatarain’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Mix
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth


  1. Heat olive oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and sausage and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove meat from pot and set aside.
  2. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic to pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes until vegetables are softened.
  3. Stir in jambalaya seasoning mix until combined then add chicken broth and meat. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in rice from seasoning packet and cook for an additional 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through.
  6. Remove from heat and serve jambalaya warm. Enjoy!

Is Zatarain’s Jambalaya Gluten-Free: The Verdict

In summary, Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes that are specifically labeled “gluten-free” can be part of a gluten-free diet. Gluten-containing ingredients like wheat, barley, and rye are not found in Zatarain’s gluten-free certified jambalaya. However, those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should always double check the ingredients list and package labeling just to be safe.

While the risk of cross-contamination exists during manufacturing, it is low and Zatarain’s gluten-free jambalayas fall well below the FDA limit for gluten content of less than 20ppm. As long as you avoid adding your own gluten-containing ingredients and follow good gluten-free practices in the kitchen, Zatarain’s jambalaya makes for a delicious gluten-free meal.

The Bottom Line

Zatarain’s jambalaya mixes labeled gluten-free do not contain wheat, barley, rye, or gluten-containing ingredients. The brand’s gluten-free jambalaya varieties are made with rice and spices that are safe for gluten-free diets. Always double check the label to ensure the jambalaya mix you select is certified gluten-free. With minimal risk of cross-contamination and gluten-free ingredients, Zatarain’s jambalaya is a convenient shortcut to enjoying gluten-free Creole cuisine at home.

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