What Italian sausage is gluten-free?

Italian sausage is a popular staple in many cuisines, but for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, navigating the various types and brands can be tricky. Many traditional Italian sausages contain wheat as a binding agent, making them off-limits. Thankfully, as awareness of gluten-free diets has increased, more high-quality gluten-free Italian sausage options have become available. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the gluten-free status of different types of Italian sausage, top brands that offer gluten-free versions, and tips for identifying gluten-free Italian sausage when dining out or shopping.

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to commonly asked questions about gluten-free Italian sausage:

What types of Italian sausage are gluten-free?

Sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, and fennel sausage can all typically be found in gluten-free varieties from certain brands. Always check labels.

Are Italian sausage links gluten-free?

Italian sausage links may contain gluten as a binding agent. Check brands and labels to find gluten-free options.

Can you buy gluten-free Italian sausage at the grocery store?

Yes, many national sausage brands like Aidells, Applegate, and Williams offer gluten-free Italian sausage options that can be found in mainstream grocery stores.

Is Italian sausage gluten-free at restaurants?

It depends. Some restaurants may offer gluten-free Italian sausage, but you’ll need to ask about ingredients and preparation to be sure.

Gluten-Free Status of Different Italian Sausage Types

Italian sausage comes in many distinct styles and flavors. Here is a breakdown of the common types and whether they can typically be found gluten-free:

Sweet Italian Sausage

Sweet Italian sausage has a blend of fennel seed, garlic, paprika, and other warm spices that give it its distinctive flavor. It is on the milder end of the Italian sausage spectrum. When no wheat-based fillers are used, sweet Italian sausage is naturally gluten-free. Look for brands that specifically advertise themselves as “gluten-free” to be safe.

Hot Italian Sausage

Spicier than sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage gets its heat from additions like red pepper flakes, hot paprika, and cayenne pepper. Like sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage can be gluten-free when no wheat fillers are added. Check labels for reassurance.

Fennel Sausage

This style highlights the flavor of fennel seed. It has a milder anise-like licorice taste. Gluten-free fennel sausage is available from many brands.

Italian Chicken Sausage

Some Italian-style sausages use ground chicken in place of traditional pork. These are typically gluten-free, but check for any questionable ingredients.

Italian Turkey Sausage

Ground turkey also makes a frequent substitute for pork in Italian sausages. Be aware though that some turkey sausages rely on fillers like breadcrumbs to retain moisture. Verify gluten-free status before eating.

Italian Veal Sausage

Ground veal combined with Italian seasoning makes a lighter-tasting sausage. While these are often gluten-free, wheat flour may sometimes be added. Examine labels first.

Popular Brands Offering Gluten-Free Italian Sausage

When looking for gluten-free Italian sausage, your best bet is to stick to reputable national brands that make a point to accommodate special diets. Here are some top brands with gluten-free options:


This popular gourmet sausage company based out of San Francisco offers an extensive line of gluten-free chicken, pork, and turkey Italian sausages in links and bulk rolls. Their classic flavors include sweet Italian, hot Italian, sun-dried tomato with basil, and more. Aidells products are certified gluten-free.

Al Fresco

Al Fresco makes gluten-free Italian-style chicken apple sausage and sun-dried tomato chicken sausage with Parmesan cheese. Their products feature clean, straightforward ingredients.


This brand offers organic and natural meat products, including a line of gluten-free chicken andouille and Italian chicken sausages made with simple spices. Applegate sausages contain no wheat, soy, fillers, MSG or artificial ingredients.


Known for jerky and snack meats, Oberto’s gluten-free offerings include dried Italian sausage bites made with pork, chicken and turkey. These make an on-the-go protein snack.

Pederson’s Natural Farms

Pederson’s is dedicated to gluten-free and preservative-free meats. Their Italian sausage selection includes sweet, hot and sweet fennel pork sausages, free of wheat, fillers and allergens.

Teton Waters Ranch

This brand offers gluten-free chicken apple sausage and sun-dried tomato sausage with Italian seasoning. Their chicken sausages have simple, natural ingredients.

Williams Sausage Company

Williams makes a variety of gluten-free sweet and hot Italian pork sausages, chicken sausages, links and patties. They contain no wheat fillers or MSG.

What to Look for When Shopping for Gluten-Free Italian Sausage

When evaluating an Italian sausage to determine if it is gluten-free, here are some important things to look for on the ingredient list and label:

  • A clear “gluten-free” statement – This is the most straightforward way a brand can communicate the product is gluten-free.
  • No wheat, barley or rye – Key gluten grains will be called out if present.
  • No ambiguous fillers – Things like “natural flavors” or “spices” may be signals to investigate further.
  • Certified gluten-free – Third party certifications like GFCO can provide added assurance.

Also look at where the sausage is produced and sold. Products certified gluten-free are held to strict standards limiting cross-contamination risks during processing and distribution.

Ingredients to Avoid

Steer clear of Italian sausages with these grain-based ingredients:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Malt Extract
  • Pasta

Stick to simple, whole food ingredients you recognize for the greatest chance of being gluten-free.

Finding Gluten-Free Italian Sausage When Dining Out

Many restaurants now offer gluten-free menus and options, but it is still important to ask questions when ordering. Here are some tips for eating out gluten-free:

  • Mention you need a gluten-free meal when you sit down. This gives the kitchen advance notice.
  • Ask if the sausage contains wheat or other gluten grains.
  • Request that your meal be prepared in a clean area away from gluten.
  • Avoid breaded or fried sausage, as the coating is likely not gluten-free.
  • Stick to grilled, baked or poached cooking methods.
  • Request plain roasted potatoes or vegetables as a side instead of pasta.
  • Ask about shared equipment, oils and cross-contact procedures.
  • Thank the staff for accommodating your needs.

With proper planning and questions, you can enjoy Italian sausage safely when eating out with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Gluten-Free Italian Sausage Recipes

Once you’ve sourced some quality gluten-free Italian sausage, experiment with these delicious recipe ideas:

Gluten-Free Italian Sausage Frittata

Frittatas make an easy, protein-packed gluten-free meal any time of day. This recipe combines Italian sausage, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Italian Sausage

Satisfy your pizza craving with this fun cauliflower crust pie piled high with Italian sausage, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

Warm up with this hearty soup filled with cannellini beans, kale and rice alongside spicy Italian sausage.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Rolls

All the flavors of lasagna stuffed into individual gluten-free pasta rolls with ricotta, Italian sausage and marinara sauce.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

These appetizer-ready stuffed mushrooms are filled with a savory sausage and Parmesan stuffing.

Nutrition of Gluten-Free Italian Sausage

For those following a gluten-free diet, Italian sausage can be a good source of protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and other important nutrients. Always pay attention to fat and sodium content, as sausage can be high in these areas. Seek out high-quality brands that use leaner meats. Here is the nutrition profile of a typical gluten-free Italian pork sausage link (56g):

Calories 180
Fat 15g
Carbs 1g
Fiber 0g
Protein 8g
Sodium 370mg

When consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, gluten-free Italian sausage can have a place in your meal plan.

Precautions for Gluten-Free Italian Sausage

While many Italian sausage options are naturally gluten-free, here are some precautions those with celiac disease should take:

  • Thoroughly check labels and ingredients for any sign of gluten grains.
  • Look for brands that are certified gluten-free to reduce risk.
  • Avoid sausages with ambiguous ingredients like “spices” or “natural flavors”.
  • Grind your own sausage meat from certified gluten-free cuts of pork.
  • Stick to brands you trust and buy regularly without issues.
  • When eating out, ask detailed questions about shared equipment, prep areas and ingredients.

By being diligent and inquisitive, you can safely enjoy high-quality gluten-free Italian sausage.


From sweet to spicy varieties, Italian sausage can be a tasty gluten-free protein option when care is taken to evaluate ingredients and preparation methods. Seek out specialty gluten-free brands, read labels closely, ask questions when dining out, and stick to simple whole food ingredients. With an ever-increasing assortment of sausage choices catering to gluten-free diets, there are plenty of ways those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can still enjoy the hearty Italian sausage flavors they love.

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