gluten-free red, white and blue strawberries dipped in white chocolate and blue sprinkles

5 Tips to Stay Safely Gluten-Free at Summer BBQs

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Plus Hosting Tips: 8 Gluten-free Foods Guests Can Bring to Your Gluten-Free BBQ!

From Memorial Day to Labor Day… the summer is full of BBQs and potlucks. Once a gift to a busy mother, an opportunity to make just one big dish, count dinner as done, and enjoy the company of friends and the smiles of my children…. now, the word “potluck” means more work, not less. If you are navigating a gluten-free social life, here are a few tips to help you say yes to your friends’ invites and enjoy the summer fun while staying gluten-free at summer BBQs!

star-shaped watermelon and blueberry skewers for a fresh gluten-free bbq dessert

5 Tips for Safe, Gluten-Free at Summer BBQs When You Are the Guest:

  1. Cut yourself some slack on the “one big dish”. Unless you really want to, forget wowing your friends with your secret family recipe. You will essentially be toting your entire meal to the potluck, so just bring something easy to share, like a fruit or veggie tray. Bonus: whatever you bring, you know you can eat!
  2. Be the first to hit the buffet line. After folks have made their first pass at the food, there’s a good chance that even the gluten-free food will be cross-contaminated. Maybe from spoon-moving or from passing hamburger buns over the fruit tray… Either way, your safest bet is to be first and to only go through the food line once. 
  3. Bring aluminum foil… and use it to wrap up a hot dog, salmon, gluten-free buns, and corn on the cob… you get the idea. Grill your own food while protecting it from the likely contaminated grill.
  4. Pack your own simple sides: a bag of chips, fruit, or veggies (if you aren’t already bringing them to share), string cheese… While others graze on seconds and thirds, I always have a protein bar or bag of nuts in case things run long and Miss E or I get hungry for more. 
  5. Don’t forget dessert, if you have a sweet tooth. Tate’s Bake Shop gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are amazing! We particularly enjoy using these cookies for s’mores. Be aware that Tate’s also offers a gluten-filled version of this cookie, so check the package every time. Click on the links below to order a four-pack or a single package on Amazon.
Miss E playing with a water sprinkler
Celiac Disease is not keeping us from summer fun!

Hosting Tips: 8 Food Items Guests Can Bring to Your Gluten-Free BBQ:

We love entertaining, and since Miss E was diagnosed with celiac disease, I have found it less stressful just to host events. If friends want to bring something to our gluten-free BBQ, I give them a quick lesson on cross-contamination and steer them towards something simple from this list (including local “where to buy” tips). Here’s my go-to list:

  1. Fruit Tray – store-bought, prepackaged, pre-cut fruit
  2. Veggie Tray (confirm dip is labeled gluten-free or buy Sabra Hummus, available at Target)
  3. Gluten-free snack bags, like pretzels or chips (Pirates Booty, Cheetos, and many potato chips are labeled gluten-free)
  4. Bagged Salad (Please confirm dressing is labeled gluten-free, no croutons, use a glass bowl and metal spoon. Costco’s Superfood bagged salad with dressing is labeled gluten-free.)
  5. Ice CreamBreyer’s has many gluten-free flavors listed on its website.
  6. Prepackaged meat for you to grill (labeled gluten-free or nothing added)
  7. Gluten-free hamburger or hotdog buns
  8. Prepackaged gluten-free cookies
woman smiling and eating corn at a bbq

Some friends choose to do more complicated dishes. One very sweet friend made gluten-free pies from scratch, carefully double-checking each ingredient, and even borrowing my can opener to avoid cross-contamination. Whether friends are going to that much trouble or not, I make sure they feel welcome to just bring something simple or to call me with any questions if they choose to take on the challenge of celiac-safe cooking. Either way, I remember to graciously thank my friends, as accommodating celiac disease, even as a guest, requires a bit of extra effort.

What are your tips for staying gluten-free at summer BBQs?

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