As hosts we always want our guests to have a good time. And we plan our menus so that there is something for everyone’s preferences. I always have at least one vegetarian option on hand in case someone isn’t eating meat. A backyard barbecue seems like the perfect event to invite your gluten-free friends to doesn’t it? But there can be lots of hidden sources of gluten that are hard to detect. The last thing we want is to have anyone get sick or have to go home hungry because we failed to prepare foods they can eat. Here are some guidelines to help you make amazing food that everyone loves and that just happens to be gluten-free too!
Any plain cut of meat or poultry is naturally gluten-free, unless they have added broths, seasonings or marinades, but ground or composed products such as sausages often contain fillers, which are commonly wheat-based. Going completely against common sense because they are marketed as “healthy alternatives”, most veggie burgers are crammed with gluten, but there are some producers making gluten-free versions (such as Sunshine brand). Sausages, hot dogs, and veggie burgers should clearly state on the packaging that they are gluten-free or I would recommend you avoid them.
When cooking on a grill, it is easiest for you to cook the gluten-free foods on a sheet of aluminum foil in case the grill has traces of gluten from breads or buns on it. It will also help you remember to switch the utensils you are using if you are making other foods that have gluten in the marinade or sauces. Even turning a burger with the same tongs or spatula you used with a gluten-full meat or vegetarian burger can make some people sick. Better safe than sorry!
If you are going to be making hot dogs or burgers, you have quite a few options to consider for alternatives to bread buns. There are good quality gluten-free buns that you can buy in some grocery stores (look for Udi’s brand or Kinnikinnick for example in the freezer section), you can wrap the dogs or burgers in lettuce leaves (use trimmed iceberg for best results), or offer them plain on plates to eat with a knife and fork.
Grilled Main Courses:
Dry rubs, marinades, seasoning blends and prepared barbecue sauces can all contain gluten. Asian products and anything that contains soy sauce has gluten in it unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free (look for gluten-free Tamari or soy sauces). Note that many products contain soy for its flavor enhancement or “umami” quality. Marinades made with beer are off limits. Make sure you read the labels and when in doubt, either leave it out or contact the company to be certain that they are safe for all of your family and guests.
Barbecuing goes beyond just what is prepared on the grill. You always have side dishes, salads, beverages, and desserts to consider as well. Of course macaroni salad is one of the standards that would not be edible by those with gluten-intolerance unless you make it with GF pasta. You can substitute a rice salad instead. Remember that bulgar, farro, spelt, couscous, and barley are all grains that must be avoided by anyone with gluten sensitivities. The good news? Homemade potato salad, tossed green salads, and baked beans are easy to make and if you choose to buy prepared, are often gluten-free, but always check the labels carefully.
Each person varies in their degree of sensitivity to gluten. Ask your guests how careful they have to be. Some people, like me, do not have to be as careful about cross contamination, but others can become sick for days or even hospitalized when ANY gluten ingredient brushes against the foods they are eating. Look to your guests to help guide you on what they can and cannot have to eat and always read the labels looking for hidden sources of gluten!
Whenever possible, homemade foods are the safest option because you have complete control over the ingredients. Be very careful about cross-contamination, wipe down all the kitchen surfaces before preparing foods (flour dust flies everywhere), do not use wooden utensils or cutting boards, and serve the GF foods on a separate table if possible. This helps prevent people from using a spoon from a gluten-full dish to scoop out of a GF bowl. You can quietly instruct your gluten-free guests which dishes are safe for them.
All of the recipes on my website from mid-2012 forward (when I was diagnosed) include regular and gluten-free options and the photos are of my gluten-free creations. If I can do it, so can you! If you need more information on specific ingredients to avoid, learning about gluten-free baking, and other helpful hints, please click on the “Gluten-Free” tab at the top of the page.
Have fun with these recipes, you can mix and match them to create your perfect menu. All of them are gluten-free or have a GF option. You can use a purchased gluten-free flour blend for baking such as King Arthur’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour. These flour blends can also be used whenever a recipe calls for flour.
Enjoy all your summer cookouts with family and friends!
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Let’s connect! If you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, need to alter a recipe for gluten-free, or want recipe suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for joining the Heritage Cook Family!
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material from The Heritage Cook without prior approval is prohibited. This includes copying and reprinting content and photographs. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com. The suggestions here are not intended as dietary advice or as a substitute for consulting a dietician, physician, or other medical professional. It is the reader’s sole responsibility to determine which foods are appropriate and safe for their family to consume. Please see the Disclaimers page for additional details.