Gluten-Free on the Fourth of July: Celiac-Friendly BBQ Tips and Tricks

Photo: Mrsdkrebs/flickr

Happy Fourth of July! Whether you’re gluten-free and plan on grilling at your place, or you’re hosting someone who’s gluten-free, it’s not that hard to take a standard barbecue and make it celiac-friendly. That’s because the standard fare at barbecues are simple: meats (hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks), snacks (chips, fries, beans), and fruits and veggies (watermelon, corn on the cob, salads). Most of these foods don’t contain gluten by themselves, so all you need to do is understand where gluten can slip in and how to avoid it. Below we have eight tips on how to make a great gluten-free barbecue:

  1. Keep it simple: Your best bet is to stick to simple foods that don’t require much prep, like fruit, veggies, and meat for grilling. Simple foods means that it’s easier to tell what the ingredients are and less likely that there will be hidden gluten. This is generally a good time/effort saving tactic for barbecues in general.

  2. Look for easy “no-prep” items to replace with certified gluten-free food: Sometimes, it’s just as easy to choose a gluten-free food as a regular one, you just have to be aware of it. For example, most corn tortilla chips don’t contain gluten from the ingredients, but they can be subject to cross-contamination at the facility. Try buying chips that are labeled “gluten-free.” They’ll taste the same and your celiac friends will thank you.

  3. Watch out for hidden gluten in store-bought, pre-packaged foods: Many sauces, pre-made appetizers, and snacks can contain gluten. Two things in particular to watch out for are sauces and seasonings. Try to make sure that you’re not inadvertently adding gluten to your meat by sticking to gluten-free condiments.

  4. Substitute gluten-free ingredients or try gluten-free recipes for the dishes you’re preparing: Some recipes might call for an ingredient that is not gluten free. These can usually be easily substituted for gluten-free alternative. For example, try substituting a gluten-free pasta in a pasta salad or use a gluten-free baked bean recipe. We guarantee no one will be able to tell the difference.

  5. Try buying some gluten-free foods you wouldn’t have tried otherwise: If you’re the host, use this as an opportunity to try some gluten-free cookies, pastries, or other goodies that you might not normally eat. You might just surprise yourself. If you’re a gluten-free guest, try preparing a gluten-free dish to show your friends that “no gluten” doesn’t mean “no taste.” We recommend Gluuteny chocolate chip cookies–they’re delicious.

  6. Make gluten-free substitutes available: While it’s possible to substitute many foods and ingredients with gluten-free alternatives, sometimes there isn’t anything quite as good as the real thing. For things like hamburger and hotdog buns, rather than substitute everything for a gluten-free alternative, which your guests might notice, you might just want to make gluten-free ingredients available to those who want them. We recommend Udi’s and Three Bakers for great gluten-free buns.

  7. Watch out for cross contamination: Particularly on the grill, be careful of cross-contamination, especially if you’re serving both gluten-free and non-gluten-free food. That might mean using two grills, adding seasoning after grilling, or not toasting your buns on the grill. And be mindful of other cross-contamination areas as well.

  8. Provide some gluten-free beverages: Whether you’re a guest or a host, it’s always a good idea to provide some gluten-free beer or other alcoholic alternatives. We’re big fans of beer, and there’s one gluten-free beer we’re particularly fond of (hint: it’s ours), but if you can’t get your hands on an Aurochs, we’ve laid out the list of gluten-free beers available in a past blog post. Another option is cider, like the excellent local Arsenal Cider House in Pittsburgh or widely available Woodchuck.  Other options are cocktails and mixed drinks, ideally made with either rum, tequila, or potato-based vodka (check out why that is in our post on gluten-free alcoholic beverages). Just be sure to communicate what the ingredients are. Out recommendation? Mojitos.

Are you planning on throwing a gluten-free barbecue today? What are some other tips for a delicious, celiac-friendly BBQ? Let us know by posting a comment below!