Find out what root beer is made of, if it is safe for a gluten-free diet and what brands to look for when shopping at the store.
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If you’re a big fan of root beer and just getting started on a gluten-free diet, you may be wondering if this popular drink is gluten-free. After all, gluten can hide just about anywhere in foods and beverages.
Sometimes a product can contain no gluten ingredients at all, but can come into contact with gluten, making that product not safe for folks who are celiac or some who are gluten intolerant.
In this post, we’re going to go over what root beer is, what it’s made of, and if root beer is generally considered to be a gluten-free soda. Plus, we’ll talk about which brands of root beer are safe for a gluten-free diet, as well as a few I wasn’t able to find answers on.
If you love root beer, this post is for you. Let’s find out what root beer we can enjoy while still avoiding gluten.
What is root beer?
Root beer is a type of soda that’s sweet in flavor and has a unique spiciness. This quintessential flavor of soda gets its flavor from a combination of sassafras and sarsaparilla.
According to DrPepperMuseum.com, “In traditional herbal medicine, many root beer ingredients are thought to contain a variety of health benefits. Now obsolete in natural and herbal medicine, sassafras was traditionally used as a diuretic and thought to cleanse the blood and promote skin health. Sarsaparilla, similarly, was typically used to beautify the complexion and as a diuretic.”
Though most manufacturers don’t use sassafras and sarsaparilla any longer, they do use “natural flavor” or “artificial flavor” that mimics these flavors. We can all conclude that root beer isn’t considered a health food any longer.
Root beer is a well known carbonated drink you can find at restaurants or at grocery stores. Many folks enjoy root beer on its own, while others make it into a dessert with a scoop of ice cream for root beer floats. Root beer, and other sodas, can even be used as a leavener in baking and makes for a unique twist on a chocolate cake.
What is root beer made of?
The ingredients in root beer can vary by brand and how it’s made. In traditional recipes, sassafras or sarsaparilla are the main flavors. However, in the United States, “the FDA has eliminated sassafras for commercial use,” according to allrecipes.com.
Most major manufacturers of root beer use very similar ingredients, but they’ll differ from one brand to another. Here are some of the ingredients you’ll find in many popular brands of root beer: carbonated water, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, citrus acid, phosphoric acid, acacia, caffeine, modified food starch, calcium disodium EDTA, quillaia extract, and red #40.
Though most root beer is caffeine-free, some brands like Barq’s add caffeine to their root beer products.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
Is root beer gluten-free?
Most soda is gluten-free, and yes, most root beer is too. That said, like any other food or beverage, it’s best to look at the specific brand and product to review ingredients lists for hidden gluten.
Read on: Is soda gluten-free?
Brands of gluten-free root beer
There are so many brands of root beer out there, but if you’re like me, it’s best to have a place to look for specific brands I can trust. I’ve researched these brands and have found either a gluten-free statement from the brand for the product or found other sources online to confirm that they are gluten-free.
You can use this list next time you’re looking for a gluten-free root beer at the store, knowing these will be safe options for you.
A&W Root Beer
- A&W Root Beer
- A&W Zero Sugar Root Beer
- Root Beer
- Diet Root Beer
- Root Beer
- Root Beer
Mug Root Beer
- Mug Root Beer
- Mug Cream Root Beer
- Diet Shasta Root Beer
- Shasta Root Beer
- Root Beer
- Lo-Cal Root Beer
- Maple Root Beer
- Caffeinated Root Beer
- Handcrafted Root Beer
- Zero Sugar Root Beer
WBC Goose Island
- Root Beer
- Diet Root Beer
- Creamy Root Beer
- Ginger Root Beer
Brands of root beer I wasn’t able to confirm as gluten-free
These brands of root beer I spent time researching, but wasn’t able to come up with a conclusive answer as to whether or not they are gluten-free.
Most of them contain no gluten-containing ingredients, but they also don’t make any gluten statements, so I’m hesitant to include them in a list of gluten-free root beers.
- Sioux City Root Beer
- Oak Creek Blonde Root Beer
If you’ve been wondering if root beer is gluten-free, I hope this post has helped you get the answers you’re after. Most root beer contains no gluten and many brands offer a gluten-free statement to help us folks avoiding gluten some peace of mind when we’re choosing a soda option.
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