Gluten-Free Hot Sauce List

What brands of hot sauce are safe when you're gluten-free?

many different hot sauces on shelf
Photography by Paula Thomas / Getty Images

Whether you're adding just a tiny bit of hot sauce to spice up your chili or you're planning on coating your chicken wings with the sauce, any hot sauce you use must be gluten-free when you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

It's not common to see any of the gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye) added to hot sauce as an ingredient (although it can occur with Asian-style hot sauces that also contain wheat-based soy sauce).

However, gluten cross-contamination in manufacturing from shared equipment or shared facilities remains a concern.

In addition, a few hot sauces include smoke flavoring, which often includes barley, and some people who are particularly sensitive to trace gluten react to vinegar that was distilled from gluten grains, a frequent ingredient in hot sauce.

Fortunately, there are many good hot sauces on the market that avoid all these concerns (see the bottom of this article for specific recommendations for your own level of sensitivity).

Gluten-Free Hot Sauces (Plus Some That Aren't)

Here are 14 top-selling brands of hot sauce (in alphabetical order), including what their manufacturers say about their gluten-free status and the source of their vinegar:

  • Cholula Hot Sauce. This authentic Mexican hot sauce (which features a color-coded wooden cap) became popular in Texas and spread throughout the U.S. It's available in five flavors: original, chipotle, chili lime, chili garlic, and green pepper. The company reports that Cholula is gluten-free, but does not say whether its vinegar is derived from gluten grains.
  • Crystal Hot Sauce. Crystal is a Louisiana-based company that produces numerous sauces, including original Crystal hot sauce, Crystal extra-hot sauce, soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, Buffalo sauce and liquid smoke. Ingredients in Crystal original hot sauce include: aged red Cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, and salt. Crystal doesn't make any gluten-free claims, and the company didn't respond to a request for information on its products' gluten-free status.
  • Dave's Gourmet Hot Sauces. Specialty foods producer Dave's Gourmet makes 14 different hot sauces, with heat levels ranging from "barely mild to warm" to "insanely hot ++." All are considered to be gluten-free and use cane vinegar in their formulas.
  • Elijah's Extreme Gourmet Sauces. Elijah's Extreme Gourmet advertises "father and son handcrafted hot sauces," including Ghost Pepper hot sauce and Carolina Reaper hot sauce. Both are advertised as gluten-free, but note that the Carolina Reaper flavor contains Kentucky bourbon (a potential problem for those who react to alcohol distilled from gluten grains). 
  • Frank's RedHot Sauce. Frank's claim to fame is that it was the hot sauce used to make the original Buffalo chicken wings in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1964. It's now made by the same company that makes French's mustard. According to the company, Frank's RedHot Original, XTRA Hot, Buffalo Wings Sauce, Chile 'n Lime, Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce, Kickin' BBQ Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce, Sriracha Chili Sauce and Ketchup Style Sauce are gluten free. Frank's does not consider its RedHot wing sauce to be gluten-free—instead, it says no gluten ingredients were used to make that product, indicating some risk for gluten cross-contamination. The vinegar it uses can be made from wheat, as well as other materials.
  • Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Sauce. With its rooster mascot and bright red bottles with bright green caps, Huy Fong makes one of the most popular hot sauces in the U.S. Ingredients include: chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, and xanthan gum. Huy Fong doesn't make any gluten-free claims, and didn't respond to a request for information on its products' gluten-free status.
  • Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce. This bills itself as the original Louisiana hot sauce, made in the best Cajun cooking traditions. According to a customer service representative, the hot sauce does not include gluten ingredients—"flour, gluten, germ, farina or malt"—but the company doesn't test ingredients or the finished product for gluten, and so can't say the hot sauce is gluten-free. Louisiana Brand hot sauce does include grain-based vinegar.
  • Organicville Sky Valley Sriracha Sauce. This product, made from cayenne peppers, red jalapenos and garlic, is the only certified gluten-free hot sauce I was able to find. Organicville is certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, and its products are made to contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. Sky Valley Sriracha Sauce is also vegan, and its vinegar is sourced from organic corn or cane.
  • Pickapeppa Hot Red Pepper Sauce. Jamaican Pickapeppa sauce probably isn't the first hot sauce to cross your mind—Pickapeppa is better known for its sweeter mango-based sauces. But the company's gluten-free hot sauce may be one of the best options for those who can't eat vinegar produced from gluten grains, since Pickapeppa uses cane vinegar. Pickapeppa also makes hot mango sauce, a very spicy version of its best-selling mango sauce. You're not likely to find either of these Pickapeppa hot sauces in stores, but you can order them online.
  • Tabasco. This may be the most popular brand of hot sauce offered in the U.S. It's still made by the family-owned McIlhenny Company on Avery Island, Louisiana. Tabasco comes in seven flavors: original, green pepper, chipotle pepper, Buffalo style, habanero, garlic pepper, and sweet and spicy. According to the company, all are considered gluten-free to international Codex Alimentarius Commission standards, which are roughly equivalent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration gluten-free standards (products must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten). The company reports that its vinegar is made from cane alcohol, and is non-GMO certified.
  • Tapatio Hot Sauce. Tapatio only offers one flavor: hot. The 45-year-old hot sauce company is still family-owned and operated. The company reports that the hot sauce is considered gluten-free, but does not provide a source for the acetic acid (the main component of vinegar) in its formula.
  • Texas Pete's Hot Sauce. Texas Pete's makes a variety of different hot sauces, including original, hotter, garlic, Mexican-style, Sriracha, extra-mild Buffalo wing sauce, fiery-sweet wing sauce, honey mustard sauce, Buffalo wing sauce, green pepper sauce, and seafood cocktail sauce. The fiery-sweet wing sauce contains liquid smoke, which frequently is made with barley. The company doesn't make any gluten-free claims about its products.
  • TorchBearer Sauces. TorchBearer Sauces makes Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Sauce, which is billed as "the hottest natural sauce in the world," with more than 16 scorpion peppers (one of the world's hottest peppers) per bottle. The company also makes Zombie Apocalypse Ghost Chili Hot Sauce (its second-hottest hot sauce) and a variety of other sauces. According to the company, the sauces are gluten-free. They use a small amount of distilled white vinegar in their hot sauces from a variety of different sources, potentially including from gluten grains. "We have never had anyone with issues with gluten complain that they had any issues due to the sauces," says a company spokesperson.
  • Valentina Salsa Picante. This hot sauce is manufactured in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is the best-selling hot sauce in Mexico. It comes in two flavors: red label (regular) and black label (extra hot). Valentina doesn't contain any obvious gluten ingredients, but the company doesn't state whether gluten cross-contamination is a potential issue, or whether its vinegar is made from gluten grains.

Which Hot Sauce Should You Buy?

There are good hot sauce options available even for those following the gluten-free diet who are particularly sensitive to trace gluten. Organicville Sky Valley hot sauce is certified gluten-free and does not include gluten grain-based vinegar, and Dave's, Pickapeppa, and Tabasco also would be safe gluten-free choices that avoid problems with cross-contamination or vinegar.

Meanwhile, if you're not especially sensitive to trace gluten and can handle vinegar made from gluten grains, you can expand your list of possibilities to include any of the hot sauces that are labeled "gluten-free," including those made by: Cholula, Elijah's, Frank's, Tapatio, and TorchBearer.

Finally, note that even if you buy a perfectly gluten-free hot sauce, you still might experience digestive problems if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Spicy foods can trigger your IBS, and hot sauce certainly qualifies as spicy.

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