Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce List

Plus Several to Avoid

Barbecue sauce

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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Barbecue sauce may not seem like a food product that would inherently include gluten, and it's true that many of the sauces on the market are in fact considered gluten-free. However, not all store-bought barbecue sauces are safe when you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Quick Gluten-Free Picks

It helps to have a handy list of barbecue sauces that should be safely gluten-free. Keep these in mind when shopping or dining.

5 Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauces:

  • Bone Suckin' Sauce
  • Jack Daniels BBQ Sauces (some flavors)
  • Organicville
  • Stubbs Legendary Bar-B-Q
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Gourmet Sauces

Ingredients That Contain Gluten

In many brands, you might find gluten ingredients such as barley-based beer, soy sauce, or even bourbon, to which some of us will experience a reaction. In fact, these are more common in more brands of store-bought barbecue sauce than you might realize.

Lots of barbecue sauces contain natural smoke flavoring, and barley malt flour can be used to produce this ingredient. To avoid potential problems with natural smoke flavoring, stick with smokey barbecue sauces that have been explicitly verified as gluten-free by the manufacturer.

In addition, many sauces contain vinegar derived from gluten grains. This isn't always a problem for those of us who are either celiac or have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, since distilled vinegar is considered safe for the gluten-free diet. However, there are some of us in the gluten-free community who may experience a reaction to a gluten grain-based vinegar.

Gluten Information by Brand

Whether you want to cook up some great ribs or barbecue some chicken on the grill, there are plenty of good choices. Here's the list of popular barbecue sauces and what their manufacturers have to say about their ingredients and gluten-free status.

Bone Suckin' Sauce (Gluten-Free)

This product is advertised as "a Western North Carolina tomato-based sauce." You can buy it in its original blend, a hot version, a thick version, and a hot/thick version. All have been tested to contain less than 5 parts per million (ppm)of gluten, according to the company's website.

Note that the company also makes Bone Suckin' Yaki, a teriyaki-style sauce that does contain wheat in the form of soy sauce but (confusingly) also tests below 5 ppm for gluten. As indicated on its website, all of the Bone Suckin' products are all-natural with no preservatives and are non-GMO with no high-fructose corn syrup, no canola oil, and no added MSG.

Budweiser Barbecue Sauce (Contains Gluten)

Budweiser sauces come in containers that look just like beer bottles, which may be enough by itself to ward you off. If that's not enough, though, take a look at the ingredients: these sauces contain barley-based Budweiser beer. Be sure to steer clear.

Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce (No Gluten Ingredients)

Bull's-Eye, which makes eight different barbecue sauces, is a Kraft Heinz brand. Kraft Heinz will disclose any gluten-containing ingredients on its food labels, but products that aren't explicitly labeled "gluten-free" may be subject to gluten cross-contamination in processing, and therefore may not be safe for those of us who are sensitive to trace amounts of gluten.

Hunt's BBQ Sauce (No Gluten Ingredients)

Hunt's, a ConAgra Foods company, manufactures barbecue sauce flavors in Hickory Cracked Black Pepper, Mesquite Molasses, and Cherrywood Chipotle, none of which appear to have gluten ingredients. 

However, according to ConAgra's website: "Foods that have been validated as gluten-free will contain a “gluten-free” statement on the label. Other products may not contain gluten but have not yet been verified as gluten-free; these products will not contain a “gluten-free” statement."

Therefore, since Hunt's BBQ Sauce is not labeled "gluten-free" by ConAgra, it's probably safer to avoid this product if you are particularly sensitive since you could be subjected to gluten cross-contamination.

Jack Daniels BBQ Sauces (Some Gluten-Free Flavors)

As the name suggests, these barbecue sauces get their distinct flavor from a small amount (1% of the recipe) of Jack Daniels whiskey.

Kraft Heinz actually makes Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, and though there are numerous flavors, only four of them—Full Flavor Smokey, Smooth Original, Extra Hot Habanero, and Hot Pepper Steak Sauce—are deemed as safe for celiacs and those with non-celiac sensitivity, according to the company's website.

KC Masterpiece (No Gluten Ingredients in Most Flavors)

KC Masterpiece, which makes barbecue sauces, marinades, and seasonings, states on its website that many of their barbecue sauces do not contain allergens like wheat, barley, or rye in the ingredients, and that any gluten ingredients will be clearly disclosed on the package label.

KC Masterpiece will label products "gluten-free" if they pass scheduled testing once the company conducts additional allergy protocols. The company also indicates that you should always check the label of the product you're considering to buy to make sure it's safe, particularly since product formulations can change.

Kraft Barbecue Sauce (No Gluten Ingredients)

This is probably the most ubiquitous brand of barbecue sauce on grocery store shelves. Kraft makes its sauce in 10 flavors ranging from Original to Sweet Honey and Slow Simmered Thick & Spicy.

Kraft does not label many products "gluten-free," but will specifically call out any wheat, barley or rye ingredients on its labels. However, a product that doesn't contain gluten ingredients isn't necessarily gluten-free, since gluten can creep in through cross-contamination in processing.

Lip Lickin' BBQ Sauce (Gluten-Free)

Distributed by Thomas Gourmet Foods, Lip Lickin' BBQ Sauce comes in two tomato- and vinegar-based sauces: Bold & Spicy and Sweet & Smoky. These all-natural barbecue sauces contain no fat or cholesterol and are labeled "gluten-free" by the company which means they are less than 20 ppm.

Organicville (Certified Gluten-Free)

Organicville products carry certification from the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which requires testing to ensure products fall below 10 ppm of gluten (lower is better, of course).

They also are certified organic (as you might have guessed from the name). Organicville makes two different barbecue sauces: Original BBQ and Tangy BBQ. The company uses a gluten-free vinegar derived from cane.

Sweet Baby Ray's Gourmet Sauces (Gluten-Free)

Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauces are labeled gluten-free below 20 ppm. According to the company's website:

"Only products that meet the FDA standard for gluten-free will be labeled as such. At this time, we are in the process of updating our labels to reflect this standard. Please refer to the ingredient statement on package labels or contact us for clarification. We have a program in place to support the use of the “Gluten-Free” statement. Our products are manufactured in facilities with stringent programs to insure label compliance." 

Sweet Baby Ray's makes nine different flavors, all of which are labeled "gluten-free:" Original, Honey, Hickory & Brown Sugar, Sweet 'n Spicy, Honey Chipotle, Sweet Vidalia Onion, Hawaiian, Raspberry Chipotle, and Sweet Golden Mustard.

Stubbs Legendary Bar-B-Q Sauces (Certified Gluten-Free)

Stubbs offers barbecue sauce in 10 flavors: Original, Simply Sweet Reduced Sugar, Sticky Sweet, Spicy, Sweet Heat, Smokey Mesquite, Smokey Brown Sugar, Sweet Honey & Spice, Hickory Bourbon, and Dr. Pepper.

The company, which makes a variety of marinades and rubs in addition to its barbecue sauces, will indicate its gluten-free products with a certified gluten-free label from the GFCO (testing to below 10 ppm).

A company spokesperson reports that the vinegar used is derived from corn. If you experience a gluten reaction to bourbon and to other distilled gluten grain-based alcohols, then you may want to avoid the Hickory Bourbon flavor since it includes a small amount of real bourbon in the ingredients.

Stone Brewing Co. BBQ Sauce (Contains Gluten)

Buyer beware: this barbecue sauce contains barley-based beer and therefore is definitely not gluten-free and should be avoided.

Trader Joe's Organic Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce (No Gluten Ingredients)

Unfortunately, Trader Joe's doesn't list its Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce on its current gluten-free list, so you probably want to avoid this one even though it doesn't appear to have gluten ingredients.

A Word From Verywell

As you can see from the above list, you can't just grab a bottle of any barbecue sauce and assume it's gluten-free. However, brands such as Sweet Baby Ray's and Bone Suckin' Sauce are fortunately available in most grocery stores, so you won't need to worry about eating your ribs and chicken without it.

Of course, you always have the option of mixing up your own gluten-free barbecue sauce (which gives you total control over the ingredients). But if you want the ease of a store-bought sauce, you should be able to find one pretty easily.

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Article Sources
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  8. KC Masterpiece. Frequently Asked Questions.

  9. Kraft Foods. Frequently Asked Questions.

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  11. Organicville Sky Valley Foods. Marinades.

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