- Tomato is a popular choice for any sauce base.
- Tomato sauce may refer to tomato concentrate, the base for pasta or pizza, or even ketchup.
- Ready-made tomato sauces of all kinds are easily available in cans or bottles.
- Ideally, tomato sauce should be gluten free, though some brands add gluten-containing additives.
Is tomato sauce gluten free? This is such a basic question that most people naturally think the answer is YES!
Well, there is no gluten in tomatoes, but any product you buy off the shelves needs to be carefully examine to see it does not have any cross contamination and does not contain any gluten ingredients.
In the article below we are going to answer the question is tomato sauce gluten free, give you a few safe brands choices to choose from and also how to make your very own gluten free tomato sauce at home.
In different cuisines across the world, tomato is a popular choice as a sauce base. You can use it as a condiment with your chips or spice up some puree to serve with your pasta or beef.
When we say tomato sauce, we can mean various things. It can mean the condiment into which we like to dip our chips or the thick base for pasta or any other dish, either cooked or uncooked.
Thankfully, it is possible to skip the process of cooking tomato sauce at home and pick up bottles or cans of tomato sauce from the store instead.
But, is tomato sauce gluten free? There’s good news, and there’s bad news here. The good news is that tomato sauce of all varieties can be made without gluten, and most of the standard tomato sauces are made from gluten free ingredients.
The bad news is that many brands use additives like preservatives, flavorings, colorants, thickeners, and more. And, these may contain gluten.
Plus, there’s always the possibility of cross-contamination. So, just because it is a tomato sauce, you shouldn’t blindly pick it up, believing it to be gluten free.
Instead, look at the ingredients list. It would help if you also looked for a “gluten free” label.
Is Tomato Sauce Gluten Free?
Any sauce, condiment, or gravy that has a tomato base can be referred to as the tomato sauce. All around the world, there are many different names and definitions of it.
You can say that it depends on your location and the context. While the gravy-like versions that are served as a part of a dish, like the pasta sauce or the side of chicken, it’s also served as a condiment, like the ketchup, or even salsa!
Most of us have bottles of ketchup or cans of pasta sauce in our kitchen. Honestly, there’s no denying that tomatoes can change the taste of the food, add body to the gravy, and bring a balance of tastes with the acidity.
The rich flavor of tomatoes, the texture of the flesh, the water content – all these work together to make a great dish every time.
There are different kinds of ready-made tomato sauces available. If you’re in the US, asking for tomato sauce will fetch you either of the two types of sauces.
You can get a sauce with aromatics, olive oil, garlic, and more, to be heated and served with your pasta or gravy dish. OR you can buy tomato concentrate with minimal herbs and salt, waiting to be cooked with other ingredients.
Fortunately, these tomato sauces do not need gluten ingredients. Even though some brands use thickeners, it’s usually corn starch, which makes it ok for a gluten-intolerant person to enjoy them without worrying about allergic reactions.
However, it is essential to be careful about the additives. Tomato sauces are of different tastes and types. From the minimally spiced and seasoned tomato sauces to the ready-to-eat gravies like marinara sauce or ragu, the taste and texture are the results of additives.
Flavoring and texturizing agents, thickeners, preservatives, and more are added in different amounts and combinations by various companies. And, many of these ingredients may contain gluten.
To know whether the sauce you’re buying is a good fit for you, check out is ingredients list.
Is tomato sauce gluten free – Tomato Ketchup
In many parts of the world, especially the UK, the American ketchup is referred to as tomato sauce. We all know that it is a popular condiment. From French fries to hot dogs, it can make everything better. But can you have it if you are allergic to gluten?
Just like in the other forms of tomato sauce, ketchup’s main ingredient is tomato, which is gluten free[ and like, other tomato sauces, ketchup recipes, too, don’t demand gluten content. So, most of them are naturally free from gluten.
Once again, it is upon the brands to use gluten-containing additives in the recipe to enhance the taste, texture, and longevity. If the ketchup contains vinegar, then it is essential for this acidic component to be gluten free.
Ingredients that Add Gluten to Tomato Sauce
The only way out is to look at the ingredients listed on the sauce bottle. The first thing to look for is a “gluten free” label.
The other thing to do is to look for ingredients or additives that can possibly fill your sauce with gluten. The preservatives, flavoring agents, and texturizers may contain gluten.
One of the key additives to be careful about is the thickener. While most brands use corn starch now, some of them still use wheat flour, which is glutinous.
You must also be cautious about modified food starch, which can also add gluten to the sauce.
Another important ingredient to check is the vinegar. The ketchup is safe if the vinegar used in it is one of the following:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red/white wine vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Corn vinegar
Don’t buy ketchup that uses malt vinegar that is derived from barley. Also, if you see that the vinegar contains white vinegar, but the distillation is not mentioned, you need to probe further for more clarification.
You can give the brand a call to know more as brands are not legally bound to cite the source of vinegar used in condiments.
Cross-Contamination of Tomato Sauce
The ingredients of the tomato sauce are not the only source of gluten in it. Another significant issue is cross-contamination.
This can happen in the manufacturing facilities, as well as the restaurant or eatery. You must also be careful about cross-contamination at home!
If the manufacturing unit deals with other gluten-containing products, the tomato sauce might end up with traces of gluten that have been left behind in the manufacturing, processing, or packaging facilities.
Apart from this, cross-contamination is also possible at restaurants while cooking, or when utensils and cutlery are shared.
For instance, it could use the same cooking spoon to stir your gluten free tomato sauce and another customer’s gluten-containing tomato dish.
Needless to say, this problem can easily happen at home, too. A vital step to avoid cross-contamination at home is to aim for separate cooking utensils, as much as possible.
It is also a good idea to educate everyone around you. Store the tomato sauce in specially marked containers or squeeze bottles.
In fact, you can purchase a new set of containers and service spoons and make sure that they are not used for anything other than gluten free tomato sauce (or any other gluten free food item.)
Gluten Free Tomato Sauce Brands
Many tomato sauce brands are now taking a conscious step towards making their products suitable for everyone, including those who are allergic to gluten.
So, here’s a list of brands that offer gluten free tomato sauce. Take a look:
Amy’s Kitchen: This company produces four different tomato-based pasta sauces. The brand claims that all four are gluten free, which indicates that they contain less than the permissible limit of gluten, i.e., 20 ppm.
Classico: This brand sells jarred pasta sauces, including tomato sauces, and all of them are gluten free to 20 ppm or less. The company doesn’t produce gluten-containing sauces. So, there’s no chance of cross-contamination, either.
Organico Bello: This a small brand that produces four different tomato-based sauces, all of which are certified gluten free products. In fact, it also employs a thorough program to ensure there’s no possibility of cross-contamination.
Dei Fratelli: This brand offers eight different pasta sauces, including tomato-based ones, and all are considered gluten free. It also offers canned and boxed tomatoes so that you can make your own sauce at home.
Eden Foods: It offers tomato-based sauces for spaghetti, pizza, and pasta, and all of these meet the FDA’s requirement to be considered gluten free. It’s also stringent about the manufacturing process to avoid cross-contamination.
Prego: It produces 24 sauces, including tomato-based ones, which are free from gluten content as per the FDA’s requirements. It checks ingredients and the final product every six months to maintain the gluten free status.
Gluten Free Tomato Ketchup
As we are discussing gluten free tomato sauce brands, let’s also take the opportunity to take a look at the popular choices for gluten free tomato ketchup brands, as well.
Annie’s Naturals: This company’s tomato ketchup is tested to 20 ppm of gluten, which is the permissible limit. The vinegar used in it is derived from beets or corn. The company will also reveal information about shared facilities.
Heinz: This popular tomato ketchup brand only produces condiments that are considered gluten free, with less than 20 ppm of gluten. It used only distilled vinegar that is derived from corn to make the world’s favorite ketchup.
Organicville: The organic tomato ketchup and sauce produced by this brand are certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization as a gluten free product. It is made using vinegar that is derived either from corn or from cane.
Walden Farms: It is a brand that aims to bring customers healthy products and produces tomato ketchup that’s not only gluten free but also free from carbs, fat, and sugars. It uses white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
Homemade Gluten Free Tomato Sauce Recipe
The appeal of store-bought jars of tomato sauce is understandable. After all, at the end of a busy day, no one wants to spend hours in the kitchen.
A bottle of sauce that just needs to be heated and served is like a god-send at this point. But for the days when you are in the mood to whip up some magic in the kitchen, here is a simple gluten free tomato sauce recipe.
- Olive oil – ½ cup
- Onions (large) – 4
- Carrots – 1 lb
- Tomato puree – 100 oz (or 4 cans of 28 oz)
- Italian mixed herbs – 1 tbsp
- Dried thyme – 2 tsp
- Cayenne pepper – To taste
- Salt – To taste
- Bay leaves – 2
- Parsley (chopped) – 2 cups
- Garlic cloves (large) – 8
- Balsamic vinegar – 2 tbsp
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil. Add chopped onions and carrots into it and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to put the lid on.
- When the carrots start to become tender, add the tomato puree, along with the dried herbs. Also, add a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and the bay leaves. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the sauce occasionally.
- Discard the bay leaves and turn the sauce into a puree. You can use a hand-held immersion blender for this. Or, you can put the sauce in a food processor and blend it, and pour it back into the cooking pot.
- On medium heat, continue to cook the pureed sauce. Add garlic and parsley and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and give it one last stir before you remove it from the heat.
Isn’t that a super-easy recipe? You can cook it in large batches and store them for reuse.
Ladle it over some gluten free pasta and top it off with cheese. Or, simmer some vegetables and bacon with the sauce to dip your gluten free bread into.
The main ingredient in a tomato sauce is the tomato, of course, which is naturally free from any gluten content. So ideally, a tomato sauce should not contain any gluten.
However, if you are aiming for a completely gluten free life, you will need to do more than just go with blind faith.
Many brands use gluten-containing additives in their tomato sauces, including ketchup. So, make sure to read the list of ingredients thoroughly before you buy any product.
The best thing to do, of course, is to find the gluten free label on the product.
There are plenty of brands that put gluten free tomato sauces on the shelves of your favorite store. You can also cook a large batch of a basic tomato sauce and use it for different purposes.
Either way, you must make sure to use separate utensils for the storage and service of the sauces to prevent cross-contamination.