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Expert Tips for a Safe and Healthy Gluten-Free BBQ with Celiac Disease

Updated: Jun 7

Check out these 10 Must-Have Gluten-Free BBQ Safety Tips for a Delicious and Safe Summer Cookout

A barbecue grill loaded with a variety of vegetables and meats sizzling over the flames. The colorful assortment includes skewers of bell peppers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, along with juicy sausages, chicken breasts, and steaks, all beautifully seared and emitting aromatic smoke. The background shows a sunny outdoor setting, perfect for a cookout.

As a celiac disease registered dietitian, it's shocking how many people with celiac disease have shared with me me that they have gotten sick ("glutened") after eating grilled foods from a barbecue where gluten-containing items are also cooked.

Whether you're at home or going to the cottage this long weekend, it's important to remember these expert safety tips for a safe and enjoyable barbecue.

Tip # 1: Prepare in Advance

Make a detailed plan for your gluten-free BBQ, including the menu and shopping list. Check all food labels carefully to ensure they are gluten-free (for more info on this check out my blog on label reading)

Tip # 2: Create a Safe Cooking Zone

You don't need to have a fully dedicated gluten-free grill, but you do need to make sure that the cooking surface is safe and free of gluten. Make sure to clean the grill thoroughly before cooking to remove any traces of gluten. If this is not possible, you'll want to use aluminum foil, a cooking mat (like this one - cookina), or an aluminum tray to keep your food from contacting a contaminated surface. Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and grilling equipment to avoid cross-contamination.

Do your gluten-free cooking first (meats, produce, buns etc.) before grilling any gluten-containing items to avoid mixing up utensils and risking cross-contamination.

Tip # 3: Opt for Gluten-Free Marinades and Sauces

Choose gluten-free marinades, sauces, and condiments to add flavor to your dishes. If someone else is hosting, ask them if you can see the containers to double-check ingredients to avoid hidden gluten in pre-made sauces. Also, be sure to avoid "double-dipping" from containers or sharing dips with gluten-containing items.

Tip # 4: Grill Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your BBQ menu. Grilling fruits and veggies enhances their flavors without the need for gluten-containing seasonings.

Tip # 5: Communicate with Guests

Inform your guests about your gluten-free restrictions and ask for their cooperation. If you're visiting someone else's home, give them a heads up in advance and plan ahead to make sure you've got something tasty to eat and not be left out (sometimes this means bringing your own gluten-free snacks or a potluck item to share).

Tip # 6: Offer Gluten-Free Alternatives

Provide gluten-free bread, buns, and snacks for all guests to enjoy. If you're visiting elsewhere, you can bring GF items to share. Ensure that gluten-free options are clearly labeled and separated from gluten-containing foods.

Tip # 7: Stay Hydrated

Offer a selection of gluten-free beverages, such as fruit-infused water, lemonade, or iced tea. If you plan to enjoy alcoholic beverages, note that wine and pure spirits are gluten-free, but beer and mixed drinks or coolers often contain gluten unless clearly marked gluten-free. Read the ingredients on any mixed drink labels to look for sources of gluten. If cocktails are being made, ask about all ingredients (e.g. Caesars are made with Worcestershire sauce which usually contains gluten).

Tip # 8: Mindful Dessert Choices

Serve gluten-free dessert options like gluten-free baked goods from a trusted gluten-free dedicated bakery (like Bunner's or Schiroso) or ice cream.

Tip # 9: Be Allergy-Aware

Inquire about any other food allergies or intolerances your guests may have. Accommodate various dietary needs by offering allergen-free options alongside gluten-free dishes.

Tip # 10: Enjoy the Experience

Relax and savor the moment with friends and family while enjoying a safe and delicious gluten-free BBQ.

If you want more expert safety tips, check out my comprehensive Cross-contamination guide for a stress-free and enjoyable dining experience!

Remember, with a bit of preparation and attention to detail, you can host a memorable gluten-free BBQ that everyone will love!

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