What Steak Sauce Is Gluten-Free? Is A1 Steak Sauce Safe?

The most popular steak sauce brands are not gluten-free

steak on grill being brushed with sauce
 Ross Durant Photography / Getty Images

To source truly gluten-free steak sauce, you'll need to venture beyond the most popular products on store shelves. A.1. Steak Sauce, the number one steak sauce product, doesn't include gluten-containing ingredients, but it's not manufactured to be gluten-free and therefore may not be safe on the gluten-free diet. In addition, Heinz 57 sauce—which also is popular as steak sauce—contains barley malt, and is not gluten-free.

Fortunately, there are other options for steak lovers who simply want some sauce to spice up their meat. Gluten-free steak sauce options include:

  • Dale's Steak Seasoning
  • Golding Farms Vidalia Onion Steak Sauce
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • LC Foods Low-Carb Steak Sauce & Marinade
  • Paleochef Steak Sauce
  • Rufus Teague Steak Sauce
  • Stonewall Kitchen Roadhouse Steak Sauce
  • The New Primal Classic Marinade & Cooking Sauce

Here's the lowdown on the ingredients used in steak sauce, what companies say about their steak sauces' gluten-free status, which ones are recommended to purchase, and how to use steak sauce.

Ingredients in Steak Sauce

Recipes for steak sauce vary in the details—some may be sweeter or spicier than others, for example, while others may rely more on the tang of vinegar. However, most include the following ingredients: ketchup or tomato paste, mustard, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper, and spices.

In order for a steak sauce product to be considered gluten-free, everything that goes into it must also be gluten-free (the manufacturer will need gluten-free ketchup and gluten-free spices, for example).

In reality, the main gluten-containing ingredient ever used in steak sauce is barley malt. Barley malt is an ingredient in Heinz 57 sauce, and is also more commonly found in products made in the United Kingdom, as opposed to the United States.

However, steak sauce is a highly processed condiment with many different ingredients, which makes gluten cross-contamination throughout the ingredient sourcing and manufacturing process an issue.

Vinegar—a key ingredient in steak sauce—also can be an issue for some people who can't eat gluten. Manufacturers obtain distilled vinegar from a number of different ingredients, including wheat. A fraction of those who react to gluten also react to vinegar derived from gluten grains, even though the distillation process is supposed to eliminate the gluten molecules. Sources of vinegar in individual steak sauce products are listed where available below.

Gluten-Free Status of Steak Sauce Brands

Here's a list of steak sauce brands available in the United States, plus what each manufacturer has to say about the product's gluten-free status:

  • A.1. Steak Sauce. Not gluten-free. A.1. Steak Sauce is a product of Kraft Foods, which does not label many of its items gluten-free but will call out gluten grain-based ingredients on its labels (even when not required by law). The gluten-free status of A.1. Steak Sauce is the subject of much debate in the gluten-free community. But the bottom line is that A.1. is not labeled gluten-free, which means Kraft has reason to believe it does not meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's legal standard of less than 20 parts per million of gluten. A.1. Steak Sauce does not contain any obvious gluten grain-based ingredients (based on Kraft's gluten-free labeling policy, the company would disclose a caramel color that contained gluten, for example). Therefore, it's likely that the main problem with A.1. is the risk of gluten cross-contamination in processing. There are better choices in steak sauce out there if you need one that's gluten-free.
  • Dale's Steak SeasoningGluten-free. Dale's comes in two varieties: original (red label) and reduced sodium (green label). Ingredients include: gluten-free soy sauce, sugar, spices, and monosodium glutamate (so steer clear of this product if you're sensitive to MSG).
  • Golding Farms Vidalia Onion Steak SauceGluten-free. This tomato-based sauce contains plain distilled vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, Vidalia onions and spices. It's labeled gluten-free, meaning it contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
  • Heinz 57 SauceNot gluten-free. Malt vinegar—which contains barley malt—is an ingredient in Heinz 57, so avoid it.
  • Lea & PerrinsGluten-free. Technically, Lea & Perrins is Worcestershire sauce, not steak sauce—Worcestershire is a darker sauce that, unlike steak sauce, doesn't usually contain tomatoes. However, many people use the two types of sauces interchangeably to season their steak. Lea & Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce, made by the Kraft Heinz Company, is labeled "gluten-free" by the company in the United States (a version sold in the United Kingdom contains malt vinegar, and is not gluten-free). Note that it contains distilled white vinegar, which most likely is derived from corn but can be derived from wheat.
  • LC Foods Low-Carb Steak Sauce & MarinadeGluten-free. According to the company (which specializes in gluten-free, low-carb foods), this steak sauce tastes more like Heinz 57 than A.1. steak sauce. Ingredients include: cider vinegar, stevia, gluten-free soy sauce, and red wine. Note that it does contain less than 2 percent bourbon, which is distilled from gluten grains. Bourbon is considered by many experts to be gluten-free, but some people react to it.
  • Paleochef Steak SauceGluten-free. This product, produced by Steve's Paleogoods, is gluten-free and made with no additives, preservatives, or refined sugars. It's sweetened with honey and golden raisins, and contains olive oil. Two different types of vinegar are used: balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, both of which are derived from wine (not gluten grains).
  • Rufus Teague Steak SauceGluten-free. This product comes in two varieties: original (in the green wrapper) and spicy (in the orange wrapper). Both are non-GMO verified, Kosher, and gluten-free, and are bottled in a reusable glass whiskey flask. Ingredients include: vinegar (which may be derived from gluten grains), raisin paste, tomato paste, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), anchovies, and spices.
  • Stonewall Kitchen Roadhouse Steak SauceGluten-free. Stonewall Kitchen's Roadhouse product is another tomato-based steak sauce, with seasoning from green chiles, mustard, raisins, and molasses. It contains red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. The company labels it gluten-free (to less than 20 parts per million of gluten).
  • The New Primal Classic Marinade & Cooking SauceCertified gluten-free. This marinade, made by small brand The New Primal, is certified paleo and certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which requires testing to below 10 parts per million of gluten (less gluten is better, obviously). It's also dairy-free, oil-free, and sugar-free. The product contains organic coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, pineapple concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, and spices.

A Word From Verywell

Finding true steak sauce that's truly gluten-free at your local grocery store might be challenging, especially if the store is smaller or not particularly well-stocked. Many of the most-popular products (including A.1. Steak Sauce) are not considered safe on the gluten-free diet.

If you want something to put on your steak and you're in a hurry, consider turning to Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. It's not technically steak sauce, but it's tasty and gluten-free...and available in most grocery stores. Alternatively, plan ahead to source the truly gluten-free steak sauces online. For those who stick with only certified gluten-free products, The New Primal is your only current choice.

Wondering how to use steak sauce? You can use it before cooking as part of a marinade: combine enough steak sauce to cover your meat with salt, pepper, olive oil, and your preferred gluten-free spices (onion and garlic powder work well) in a covered bowl or a zip-lock plastic bag for at least an hour (preferably more) before grilling your steak. You also can use steak sauce as seasoning for side dishes, as a topping for hamburgers, or even to spice up homemade chili.

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