Summer has arrived and that can only mean one thing – gluten free BBQ season is upon us once again.
But coeliacs do not fear – while your first gluten free barbecue may seem daunting it is not impossible.
Creating a coeliac-safe barbecue is simple with a few tips and tricks to remember.
I’ve put together these easy tips to help you barbecue safely on a gluten free diet.
Either use these tips yourself for a fuss-free gluten free BBQ or share them with your family and friends if they are hosting you.
Cross contamination on the BBQ
The main worry with a BBQ is the risk of cross contamination.
As someone with coeliac disease, even a tiny speck of gluten can make me ill and cause long-term damage, so it’s something to be taken seriously.
Despite the rumours, heat unfortunately does NOT kill gluten, so don’t believe anyone who tells you ‘it just burns off’.
That sadly is just not true.
Here are a few tips to remember for a gluten free BBQ:
- The essential rule for BBQs, as with preparing any gluten free food for people with coeliac disease, is to always ensure the gluten free food is kept completely separate from any gluten-containing food.
- Always use a clean grill. Make sure the BBQ has been cleaned down before using it to cook anything gluten free.
- If your grill has multiple shelves I’d recommend having one as a ‘gluten free shelf’. It’s best if this is the highest one to avoid any contaminated food dripping or crumbling onto your gluten free goods.
- Using disposable BBQs? The best idea is to either make sure everything cooked is gluten free or have one as a dedicated gluten free BBQ only.
- If you are concerned about cross contamination, it can be a good idea to cook the gluten free food first and remove it before any other food is cooked. If you don’t want to eat separately from everyone else you can just wrap it in foil or place in a low oven to keep warm.
- Always use clean plates, tongs, skewers and utensils for cooking gluten free food and make sure this is not shared with any gluten-containing foods.
- Be careful of crumbs from burger buns. If these are toasted on the grill you’ll want to make sure your gluten free food stays well clear. Always use separate chopping boards for cutting gluten free buns too.
- When it comes to sides and salads make sure each dish has its own serving spoon and that these are not shared to avoid any cross contamination. Again, it’s sometimes a good idea to have first dibs before everyone tucks in with their gluten-y fingers.
Finding gluten free BBQ foods
Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find gluten free BBQ foods without even having to look in the free from aisle.
Most supermarket burgers and sausages are gluten free and it’s often the minority which are not.
Some are made with breadcrumbs (and you may also find many homemade burger recipes are too) so be aware of this and always double check.
This makes it really easy to be able to put together an entirely gluten free BBQ menu without feeling like people are missing out.
A lot of the pre-marinaded meats and fish are also gluten free, though they may not be labelled as such.
As long as there is no gluten in the ingredients and no ‘may contain’ warnings, then they should be safe for coeliac consumption.
Fresh meat and fish (unseasoned/marinaded) are also naturally gluten free – though be aware some supermarkets do (for some obscure reason) mark them as a ‘may contain’.
Morrison’s – I am looking at you.
Gluten free BBQ sauce and marinades
A lot of BBQ sauces, spice mixes and marinades are gluten free, but not all of them.
While a gluten free marinade should be easy to find, you’ll have to double check all of the ingredients lists.
But again, marinading all of the meats/fish/vegetables in a gluten free sauce will help to eliminate any cross contamination risk.
As for sauces to throw onto your burger, check out my guide to gluten free sauces and condiments for more information on what’s coeliac-safe.
Sides and salads
If you’ve managed to nail the BBQ itself, don’t forget the sides and salads too!
Fresh vegetables are always gluten free, so you can throw together a salad with everything from lettuce and tomatoes to carrots, radishes and peppers.
Potato salad is a favourite of mine and an absolute BBQ classic.
Sadly my two childhood BBQ side favourites – pasta salad and couscous – are not gluten free, but you can easily make gluten free alternatives to these.
You can find gluten free pasta in most free from aisles and I have spotted gluten free couscous made from maize too.
Jacket potatoes are another easy gluten free win – just make sure if you serve them with butter that it doesn’t have any crumbs in.
The main difficulty will be with the burger or hot dog buns.
Always ensure any gluten-containing bread is cut separately and that you have a dedicated chopping board and knife for gluten free.
Those pesky crumbs can get everywhere so if you can, it’s best to keep any gluten-containing bread as far away as possible.
Open communication is key!
At the end of the day, preparation and communication are the key to hosting a gluten free, coeliac-safe BBQ.
It’s important whoever is cooking understands the importance of avoiding cross contamination and is on board with helping out.
Some people find it hard to explain it’s a serious thing and not a ‘faddy diet’, so try to remain calm and explain things gently.
If you are really unsure, it can always be a good backup plan to have a cool bag in the car ready with some pre-cooked burgers or sausages you can reheat!
Try to remember if someone is hosting for you, how difficult it was when you first tried to get your head around gluten free.
People often have the best intentions but can still slip up, so offer to help in a friendly and non-evasive way.
Perhaps you can offer to bring along some side dishes or help with the grilling so you can keep a watchful eye and be able to relax.
Hosting for someone who is gluten free and think you’ve accidentally dropped crumbs on a burger?
Or can’t remember which ones are gluten free? Please say!
I’d much rather know to avoid something that accidentally get glutened which could cause more arguments down the line.
Gluten free BBQ recipes
If you're looking for some inspiration for your own gluten free barbecue recipes, I do have a few already!
Check out some of these for easy sides, mains and desserts for BBQ season: