Treatment Guide

Top Ten Gluten Free Tips for Safe Outdoor Parties and Barbecues

Barbecue and outdoor party season has arrived.  It is the time of year when we want to relax and enjoy time with friends.  But having food allergies and issues can put a damper on your party plans.  Here are ten ways to dine safely at an outdoor party.

Outdoor Gluten-free Grilling Courtesy:

1. Never show-up without something safe to eat
Always make sure there is something safe for you to eat at any event. offer to bring a salad or side dish. Make a quinoa salad that everyone will love.   That way you know there is something with protein to eat that will keep you full.  If you bring a dish that is just carbohydrates, you’ll be hungry before the party is over.

2. Call ahead and ask what they are serving
Most hosts and hostesses are more than happy to tell you a few things they are serving. Explain you are on a restricted diet (or say you have an “allergy” when you think someone won’t understand celiac disease or gluten intolerance.) Ask if there will be any plain fruit salad or green salads. They will most likely be more than happy to leave the salad dressing and croutons on the side. This is a great time to ask if they are marinating the chicken or what brand of hot dogs they are serving. You can then go do your research and see if you will be safe eating the prepared foods.

3. Have them grill the meat first and then the buns
Nothing is more nerve wracking then watching your beautiful burger be ruined by bread crumbs. Speak up! Ask to have the meat grilled first and then have them heat up the buns. You can safely whisk away your burger or chicken before the “regular” bread is even outdoors.

4. Offer to bring a fruit salad
Fruit salad is a welcome addition to any party. If you bring the fruit, you are assured to have a healthy, safe and delicious dessert.

5. Aluminum Foil is your Friend!
Cooking on a contaminated grill? Cook on a piece of double thick aluminum foil. This will allow you to prepare your foods on the same grill without the risk of cross-contamination.

6. Bring your own buns
You can easily bring buns to a friend’s house for a barbecue.  Toast the buns at home and spread a little butter, ghee or olive oil on the bun then wrap them in aluminum foil. At your destination, ask them to throw the foil pouch on the grill (preferably a spot where there were no other buns) and heat it for a minute. Or wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave it for a few seconds. It will soften the bun and be nice and warm.

7. Know your alcohol
Want to have a drink or two at your summer barbecues? If a gluten-free beer or glass of wine isn’t available, make sure you know which alcohol is safe on a gluten-free diet. Many are considered to be safe, but some are not – including Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Wine Coolers (THESE ARE NOT GLUTEN FREE)

8. Marinades, BBQ Sauces and Salad Dressings can be sneaky
This is one of those areas that you really need to read labels. There are many mainstream brands of sauces, marinades and salad dressings that are gluten-free. A favorite gluten-free BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s. Ask to read the labels of what you are eating. If they already threw the bottle out, then go without! Better safe than sorry when it comes to prepared foods.

9. Eat ahead of time if you are worried about getting sick or embarrassed to bring food
No one will know if you eat a big meal before you get to your barbecue gathering. If you are terrified of getting sick, have already gotten sick at that person’s home, or just plain embarrassed to bring along food, eat before you go. No one will even notice that you are only eating fruit and some veggies. Half the people will probably be on a diet doing the same thing as you for different reasons.

10. Relax and enjoy yourself
Do your homework, enlist the help of those that love you in keeping your food safe, and then relax. You can make yourself sick worrying about the cross-contamination issues.  There are many people that won’t go out to eat EVER, even if at someone’s home that is willing to keep them safe. Make the effort to educate your host/hostess, bring something to eat in case there is nothing available, and enjoy the company of those around you!

Author Information: Jen Cafferty, Chicago, IL
Jen Cafferty, Founder, The Gluten Free Cooking Expo
National GF Reporter for
Twitter: jenglutenfree
GIG Chicago

About Jen Cafferty


  1. Thanks for this advice…may I check? Do you mean you can double up aluminium foil on a BBQ grill? Will that work, not too hot? Or do you mean an indoor grill for that tip?
    Thank you again, it is a minefield with bbqs, salad dressings, mayo etc
    Best wishes for a long summer, charlotte

  2. Double or heavy duty foil on gas grill is a snap. I keep all foods separate. We developed a great easy BBQ sauce. Molasses,honey,apple cider vinegar with pure mustard. Pg 56 in our book. I take it with me eating out.

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