Is Zatarain’s gluten-free?

Zatarain’s is a popular brand of boxed food mixes and seasonings based in New Orleans. With a wide range of Cajun and Creole-inspired products like jambalaya, red beans and rice, and shrimp Creole, Zatarain’s has become a staple in many Southern kitchens.

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, determining if Zatarain’s products are gluten-free is an important consideration. This article will examine what gluten is, provide background on celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, look at Zatarain’s product labels, and summarize whether Zatarain’s can be considered gluten-free.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It acts as a glue that helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a structural component. Gluten helps breads rise and gives elasticity to doughs. It also gives pastry its chewy texture.

When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky network of proteins. Kneading dough develops these gluten strands and gives strength and structure to baked goods. Gluten is what allows bread to rise and prevents crumbling.

There are two main proteins that make up gluten:

  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin

When these proteins are mixed with water, they bond together and form elastic strands called gluten. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate these gluten proteins.

Background on Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It affects around 1% of people worldwide.

When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine, damaging its villi. The villi are small fingerlike projections that absorb nutrients. Damaged villi lead to poor absorption of nutrients.

Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, and anemia. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. Even small amounts of gluten can cause issues.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition where gluten triggers symptoms in people without celiac disease. Symptoms can include digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain, and skin problems. It is estimated to affect around 6% of the population.

The treatment for NCGS is removing gluten from the diet through a gluten-free or reduced-gluten diet. Reactions may not be as severe as celiac disease. However, gluten intake still needs to be minimized.

For people with celiac disease or NCGS, following a gluten-free diet is important. This requires vigilant label reading to determine if foods contain any gluten.

Examining Zatarain’s Product Labels

So do Zatarain’s products contain gluten? Let’s take a look at some of their most popular mixes and seasonings to find out.


The Zatarain’s Jambalaya mix contains rice, seasonings, onion, bell peppers, and other ingredients. The label states it is gluten-free. It does not contain any wheat, rye, barley, or triticale.

Red Beans and Rice

Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice contains beans, rice, salt, garlic, and spices. The label states it is gluten-free. None of the ingredients are sources of gluten.

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole from Zatarain’s is made up of rice, shrimp, seasonings, tomatoes, and onion. According to the product label, it is gluten-free. It does not contain any glutenous grains.

Cajun Seasoning

Zatarain’s Cajun Seasoning contains salt, paprika, garlic, black pepper, oregano, and spices. The label states that it is gluten-free. The ingredients do not include any sources of gluten.

Crab Boil

Zatarain’s Crab Boil contains seasonings, salt, lemon, mustard, and paprika. The product label identifies it as gluten-free. None of the listed ingredients contain gluten.

Is Zatarain’s Gluten-Free?

Based on a thorough inspection of product labels, Zatarain’s mixes and seasonings do not contain any ingredients derived from wheat, rye, barley or triticale. The labels identify all their products as gluten-free.

Some people may still question if Zatarain’s seasoning blends are truly gluten-free, since they contain ambiguous ingredients like spices. However, Zatarain’s states that all their products undergo testing to verify they meet the FDA guidelines for gluten-free certification.

The FDA mandates that any product labeled as gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This trace amount is generally considered safe for most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Zatarain’s has a thorough testing process to confirm all their seasonings and mixes meet the FDA’s gluten-free standards. This involves testing products multiple times during the manufacturing process, as well as extensive sanitation protocols to avoid cross-contamination.

Zatarain’s states on their website: “We test every batch of product manufactured in our own gluten-free facility in New Orleans. Each batch is tested for gluten using the ELISA R5 antibody-based test method, the most sensitive analysis available.”

Based on their rigorous manufacturing and testing practices, Zatarain’s products stamped with a gluten-free label can be considered safe for gluten-free diets.

Some Exceptions

While most Zatarain’s products are gluten-free, there are a few exceptions:

  • Breading mixes like Crispy Southern Fish Fry, Crispy Chicken Fry, and Crispy Steak Fry contain wheat flour and are not gluten-free.
  • Some microwave rice cup products contain barley and are not gluten-free.
  • Certain products produced in facilities outside of New Orleans may contain gluten or risk cross-contamination. Always check labels to confirm gluten-free status.

As long as you double-check the label, the vast majority of seasonings and mixes under the Zatarain’s brand are considered gluten-free. They use tested recipes manufactured at their gluten-free facility in New Orleans.

Precautions for Celiac Disease

While Zatarain’s gluten testing meets FDA standards, some nutrition experts recommend extra precautions for people with celiac disease.

Since celiac disease requires a strict gluten-free diet with no cross-contamination, some registered dietitians advise avoiding products processed at facilities that also handle gluten. There is a small risk of cross-contact even with good manufacturing practices.

For people with celiac disease, they suggest choosing brands that are certified gluten-free and process all their products in dedicated gluten-free facilities. That way, there is no chance of cross-contamination from shared equipment.

For people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity who can tolerate small amounts of gluten, Zatarain’s products labeled gluten-free are generally considered safe. But for those with celiac disease, extra precautions may be advised.

Contacting Zatarain’s

If you have specific questions about certain Zatarain’s products and their gluten content, you can contact their customer service department:

Phone: 1-800-554-5477


Zatarain’s also provides a list of their gluten-free products on their website:

Checking this list can help identify which mixes are gluten-free versus those that contain gluten.

Cooking Gluten-Free with Zatarain’s

Many Zatarain’s spice blends can help add flavor to naturally gluten-free foods like vegetables, rice, beans, and lean proteins.

Here are some tips for cooking gluten-free meals with Zatarain’s:

  • Add Cajun seasoning to black beans, chicken, fish, or vegetarian dishes.
  • Make jambalaya or gluten-free gumbo using Zatarain’s rice mixes.
  • Flavor vegetables with spices like garlic herb or lemon pepper.
  • Use gluten-free Zatarain’s products to flavor soups, stews, and chilis.
  • Combine chili powder, cumin, and oregano for homemade taco seasoning.
  • Mix paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper for a homemade poultry seasoning.

With some creative substitutions, people with gluten sensitivities can still enjoy the big, bold flavors of Zatarain’s seasonings.

Bottom Line

Based on a careful inspection of their labels, the majority of Zatarain’s products do not contain gluten and are stamped gluten-free. This includes their spice blends, rice mixes, beans, and meal starters.

These products are made without wheat, rye, barley, or triticale and are tested to verify gluten levels below 20 ppm. This allows them to meet FDA guidelines for the gluten-free designation.

However, people with celiac disease may prefer brands processed in dedicated gluten-free facilities, to avoid any risk of cross-contamination. For non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Zatarain’s products labeled gluten-free are generally considered safe.

By double-checking labels and contacting the brand with any questions, most people following a gluten-free diet can safely enjoy the delicious flavors of Zatarain’s.

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