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Is Mayo Gluten Free?

Mayonnaise or “mayo” is a classic condiment that can be used in a variety of ways.  It has been around for hundreds of years, and has become a major condiment staple with hundreds of millions of gallons produced annually. With so much mayo out there, the question begs – Is mayo gluten free?

Like many foods, the answer isn’t as straightforward as we’d like. Largely in part because different companies use different ingredients when producing their mayonnaise.  In some cases, mayonnaise is safe for those on a gluten free diet, and in some cases it is not. Some types of mayo contain poor quality or inflammatory ingredients that are not recommended for those seeking a healthy diet, or to heal or repair their gut after years of gluten induced damage.

This article will take a closer look so that you can feel safe and confident in selecting a mayo to include in your gluten free diet.

What is mayonnaise?

Mayonnaise in an emulsion of eggs, oil, and an acid (typically lemon juice or vinegar). When made simply and safely without the chance of cross contamination, mayo can be easily made gluten free. 

However, mayonnaise is at risk of containing gluten as it can often include additives that have gluten proteins in them, or are cross-contaminated. This may include gluten containing vinegar, or being easily contaminated by a gluten-laden ingredient without manufacturers realizing or warning consumers.

What to Consider Before Eating Mayo on a Gluten Free Diet

It is important to not just look for a gluten free label on a jar of mayo. We recommend also reviewing the ingredient label to evaluate the quality of the ingredients in the product. Quality can vary significantly by brand and type of mayo. Here are some key items to look for:

  • Quality of eggs: Eggs are a key ingredient in mayo. Be sure to look for mayo that contains well sourced eggs. Organic pastured eggs are best, but some brands will list other thoughtful practices, like “cage free eggs” or “certified humane free range eggs”. If nothing is listed, you can assume that the eggs come from an environment that is not ideal for the quality of the chicken and egg, like a factory farm. 
  • Type of oil: Oil is the other major ingredient in mayo. Look for a mayo that contains a high quality oil like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. Avoid all inflammatory seed oils like sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.
  • Vinegar: Some types of vinegar can contain gluten. While distilled vinegar is typically safe, be sure to check for a certified gluten free label to ensure that there is no chance of being cross-contaminated. Keep in mind that many vinegars are produced using GMO corn.  If this is the case, it is recommended that you avoid the product altogether, as many with gluten issues react to corn and corn based products as well.

Other additives, gums, etc.: many mayo products contain other questionable additives like natural flavors, high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum, modified food starch, and more.  Sometimes these additives are derived from gluten and grains, in which case they are best to avoid.

What mayonnaise brands are safe and recommended for a gluten free diet?

Below are a few brands that are made with high quality ingredients and are certified gluten free.

How to enjoy mayonnaise on a gluten free diet

There are a number of healthy ways to enjoy mayo on a gluten free diet. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

The bottom line

In its simplest state, made with high quality ingredients in a dedicated gluten free environment, mayonnaise is gluten free. 

However, it is important to check ingredients for questionable additives and gluten containing ingredients that could make you sick. In addition, we recommend researching the company behind the product to understand how it sources ingredients and manufactures its products. Browse Gluten Free Society for more do’s and don’ts of a gluten free diet. And if you think you may have gluten intolerance, take the sensitivity test to learn more!

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