A backyard party or barbecue can sometimes mean navigating a buffet full of landmines for an individual with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Oftentimes there are items at a party that should inheretenly be gluten free, but only if the proper steps are taken during the preparation process. This can leave gluten-free guests scared to grab that juicy hamburger and lettuce wrap, and it leaves party hosts feeling as though they cannot successfully accommodate their gluten-free guest.
To make things a bit easier for us all, I have explained five tips for accommodating a gluten-free guest at your backyard party or barbecue. I reviewed these tips during my gluten-free segment on the TV show, Rebecca Regnier’s Full Plate. You will find that these steps are relatively simple but can mean a WORLD of difference for your gluten-free friend or family member. You can read through the tips below or skip to my video at the end!
5 Tips for Accommodating a Gluten-Free Guest:
1. Put foil on the grill when cooking the gluten-free food
If the host of the party is not gluten free, it is likely that their grill has seen its fair share of gluten. There are several types of foods that can touch the grill and cause contamination for a gluten-free guest. For example, if the host has grilled chicken in the past with a marinade on it that contains gluten, or if they toasted their buns on the grill the last time they had burgers, they have contaminated the surface for a gluten-free individual. An easy way to prevent your gluten-free guest from getting “glutened” because of your grill is to place foil down on the surface, protecting their food from the gluten that has previously graced the surface.
Bonus Tip: Cook the gluten-free meat first so there’s no chance of things getting mixed up on the grill. Use separate utensils (labeled gluten free OR choose a different color spatula) when cooking and immediately place the gluten-free meat on a separate plate for your gluten-free guest.
2. Serve the gluten-free food on a separate platter
When you serve the gluten-free meat at your party (you’re safe with hamburgers made from fresh ground meat, kosher hot dogs, fresh grilled chicken with gluten-free BBQ sauce), you’ll want to keep it separate from the food that the other guests will be eating. You will also want to place the toppings that the gluten-free guests will be using on a separate platter. The reason this is so important is because cross-contamination can occur through the use of serving utensils. For example, a gluten-eating person would take a hamburger with a pair of tongs from the meat platter and places it on their wheat-containing hamburger bun. If the tongs touch the bun at any time, they have been contaminated with gluten and could possibly cause your gluten-free guest to become ill. The same thing goes for the toppings – lettuce, tomato, onion – if the utensil that is used to serve these touches a bun at any time, it can potentially cause havoc on your guest’s intestines!
3. Use condiments that are in squeeze bottles
Serving condiments in squeeze bottles rather than jars/bowls + knives makes things a whole lot easier when you’re accommodating a gluten-free guest. The reason why serving condiments in containers with a knife is not safe is because the knife that is used goes into the condiment, onto the bun, and back into the condiment – aka it puts a whole lotta gluten all up in the ketchup or mayo. To keep things safe and simple at your party, offer squeeze bottles that all guests can use.
4. Offer gluten-free bun alternatives
Gluten-free buns are available at many major grocery stores these days. If you really want to impress your guest, pick up a small pack of buns for them to use at your party and keep them separate (labeled and on a different plate). You can also simply provide a lettuce wrap alternative and they can fork & knife it up.
5. Label gluten-free utensils
If you’re providing side dishes that will be enjoyed by both gluten-free and gluten-filled guests, make sure the utensil is labeled to be gluten free. For example, if you have a quinoa salad that will be enjoyed by all guests and it’s sitting near a pasta salad that is filled with gluten, you don’t want there to be any chance of the serving utensils switching dishes. I recommend clearly labeling the utensil, making guests think twice before letting it get mixed up in other things. You can also set the gluten-free side dish in an area where there is no risk for side-dish utensil swaps.
Bonus Tip: Gluten-Free Labels has a variety of labels that are perfect for labeling gluten-free dishes, utensils, and even food.
Hosting a Gluten-Free BBQ
As you can see, the steps to take when hosting a gluten-free guest are not difficult, but many people don’t know the little things during food prep that can cause cross-contamination. By taking minor steps during the process, you can keep your gluten-free guest safe, happy, and healthy!
To learn more about accommodating a gluten-free guest, watch my appearance on Rebecca Regnier’s Full Plate where I explain all of the above, and more!